This truly delicious dish comes from the city of Gaziantep, Turkey, which is very famous for its cuisine. After Hatay (my Province), I like Gaziantep’s food next and then Adana which is about two hours away from my hometown. I have only passed by Gaziantep and have not been there to taste all its delicious food. But when I was very young we had family acquaintances who were from Gaziantep and would come to enjoy the Mediterranean beach for the summer months. As our families spent a lot of time together during their summer vacation, I tasted some of their food.
One thing I still remember from those days was when one day we stopped by a lady who was making stuffed eggplants. She insisted that we try it before we left and we did. To this day, the taste of that stuffed eggplants is still in my mouth and have never forgotten it. It was hot, but extremely delicious and I must say I have not eaten any better stuffed eggplant than that. I have tried to recreate it in my adult life by asking my mom about the ingredients, but I have not been fully successful. Now that we’ve gone back to childhood memories, let’s get back to the eggplant kebab.
Gaziantep is known for its eggplant kebab which is normally made on a grill and tastes even better. But this one is also extremely good and probably easy to cook as you put it in the oven and forget about it. I made this twice so far; in the initial trial it is juicier than I would have liked and also I used the fat eggplants that I had in hand. In Gaziantep the long eggplants are know as “kebaplık patlıcan” meaning “eggplants specifically for kebap”. This version turned out better than the first one. The amount was perfect for two adults and two small children and we had leftovers. You can easily double the recipe for a larger amount.
1 lb ground beef
4-5 eggplants (long eggplants)
1 tomato (cut in half)
8 pearl onions
2 green peppers (any kind of long and thin peppers will work)
1 clove garlic (chopped fine)
1 small onion (grated)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 ¼ tsp salt
For the Sauce:
2 tbsp tomato sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 cup cold water
For Soaking Eggplant:
5 cups cold water
2 tsp salt
Mix ground beef, garlic, grated onions, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt well.
Pull a walnut sized piece and slightly flatten. 1 lb ground beef made 17 small patties.
Cut the eggplants 1-1.5 inches wide.
Cut as many pieces as the number of ground beef (in this case 17). Soak the eggplants in the salted cold water for about 30 minutes to get out any bitterness that may exist. In a round pan, arrange the beef and eggplants by alternating with one piece of eggplant and one piece of meat starting from the edge of the pan until all the meat and eggplants are used up. In the middle of the pan, place the tomato halves and the pearl onions.
Mix the salt, olive oil and tomato sauce with 1 cup of water. Pour it all over the pan.
Add the green peppers and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake at 400º F for about one hour and 15 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and continue to bake for another 15 minutes until the vegetables show signs of roasting. Five minutes of broiling also will work.
Enjoy with rice pilaf or just flat bread.
Note: If your pan is bigger and have a lot of room left in the middle, you may add more tomatoes, onions and green peppers inside.
This blog first appeared in Turkish Food Passion. Click here to go to the original.