Call it what you will, a khoresh, tagine or stew this is essentially a delicious slow cooked lamb casserole from the Middle East. Persian cooks have been making this for centuries and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular in the region. There’s something a bit exotic about the combination of lamb and eggplant and together with the fragrant spices it’s a real treat. Best served when it’s cold outside which won’t be much of a stretch for those in the UK.
1 onion (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
500g lamb leg (diced)
salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
half a nutmeg, grated
60g brown lentils (soaked in water for 2 hours)
1 large or 2 small eggplants (cut into 3cm dices)
2 tablespoon fresh mint (chopped)
2 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley (chopped)
Heat the oil and butter in a large casserole pan or tagine over a moderate heat. Fry the onion for about 4-5 minutes until lightly browned and soft. Add the lamb and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until browned all over. Add the cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and some salt & pepper. Stir in the lentils and cover with about 600ml water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, partially covered for about 1 1/2 hours until the lamb is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent the lentils sticking. Add a little more water if the khoresh becomes too thick during this time.
Meanwhile, heat a separate frying pan with about 6-7 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is very hot, fry the eggplants until browned on all sides and drain on paper towels. After the khoresh has cooked for 90 minutes stir in the eggplant and cook for a further 20 minutes. Stir in half the mint and parlsey before serving.
Serve hot with rice or bread with the remaining mint and parsley scattered over.