Mediterranean Layered Vegetables and Beef Recipe
This dish takes me back to my parents’ kitchen in Damascus where many cherished memories took place. The kitchen was a place where magical moments happened. Our social life was and remains centred around food and cooking, so it is not farfetched that the kitchen was the centre of all actions. Lots of social activities paired with food and cooking in our kitchen; gossiping, laughing, making decisions, debating, quarrelling, comforting each other, and talking to neighbours from the kitchen window. I come from a family of foodies and great cooks where each had his/her specialty. My sister was the master baker; my brother was the taster; I covered a wide spectrum of cooking styles; my mother was in charge of the traditional dishes; and my father, who absolutely loved his food, was the curry and aubergine master chef. We always joked that he had aubergine run through his veins. it is his favourite vegetable. He can eat it however cooked, but fried aubergine with raw garlic and parsley on the side would have to be the crown of all.
One of his signature dishes is Mnazalet beitinjan. It is a very simple dish of fried aubergine stuffed with minced meat then cooked on the stovetop or baked in the oven. He always has his own spin on the traditional thinking outside the box. I suppose that is where I get my out-of-the-box approach from. So with Mnazalet beitinjan he would add potatoes, peppers and chicken stock cubes. My take on my father’s recipe is just as delicious but rather simplified and prepared in a healthier method without taking away from the delectable originality of this dish and without sweating in the kitchen.
I have had many debates where people would claim that without frying the aubergine dishes are tasteless; I must disagree. when you opt to use aubergine as is, you end up with a light, soft, fluffy and delicate dish packed with nutritional goodness for the body. You can read about the nutritional benefits of aubergine in my mutabal recipe. Peppers are over 90% water and at 20 cal. per 100g grams with vitamin C content higher than that contained in oranges. Tomatoes too are 95% water and at 18 cal. per 100g, packed with vitamin C and K and rich in anti-oxidants.
Mnazalet Beitinjan is so easy to prepare and delicious and healthy at 262 cal. per serving. So why not make it a part of your Iftar or Eid table spread.
Served with steamed rice or country bread.
1 kg. Aubergine - eggplant
3 bell peppers
4 large beef tomatoes
1/2 kg. potatoes
500 g. lean ground beef
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 liter water
1 ½ tablespoons Himalayan salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons 7 spice or garam masala.
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons tomato paste
* In a fry pan, sauté the onions until translucent then add the beef, salt and pepper and sauté until the beef is cooked. Set aside.
* Peel the aubergine and slice them into 2 cm discs. Slice the peppers into 1 cm discs.
* Peel and slice the potatoes into 1 cm discs and slice the tomatoes in the same manner. Now the dish is ready for assembly.
* First lay the potatoes at the base of the pot then add a layer of tomato, then a layer of aubergine, then another layer of tomatoes, then a layer of peppers, then a layer of aubergine and finish with a layer of the fried beef.
* In a separate pot, bring 1 liter of water to a boil and add the beef bouillon, tomato paste and the salt as the vegetables are not seasoned.
* Pour over the layered vegetables and cook covered over medium heat about 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft and compact as in picture.
* Remove the lid and continue to cook uncovered until the stock has reduced to half around 30 minutes. Adjust the salt and serve with rice or rustic country bread.
* This dish can be prepared ahead of time, stored in the fridge then cooked when ready to eat.
* This recipe is great for those on a diet and for an even lighter dish omit the potatoes.
* For a vegan dish substitute the meat for chick peas and chicken stock for vegetable stock.
Per Serving (excluding rice): 262 Calories; 15g Fat (50.0% calories from fat); 12g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 38mg Cholesterol; 88mg Sodium.