There is something about the pomegranate fruit which baffles me. You might think this is weird, but I have trouble eating the fruit. I never knew whether I should chew the seeds or spit them out. They always managed to get stuck in my teeth some how. But I do love the taste and the sweetness of this fruit, so when I came across this recipe, I immediately filed it along with the many dishes I want to make. One of the ingredients in the recipe is pomegranate molasses, and it is not something that I can find readily at the local grocery, I managed to find a recipe for it, and last week had proceeded to make it just out of curiosity. The syrup has been sitting in the fridge for almost a week and thankfully it is still okay, so yesterday I finally got the motivation to “experiment” this dish so I won’t waste the syrup ( which was not cheap to make).
This dish does call for a few spices, and I have all of them labelled properly but even then I made a mistake, instead of putting two tsp of cumin with my peeled onion, I put in two tsp of cinnamon! I had to salvage this dish so did the only thing I could think of at the moment which was to wash all the spices out of the onion in a sift. I ended up not using the exact measurements for the spices but thankfully it was not as bland as I had expected. The little green chili pepper I used really spiced the dish up.
Except for the little mishap, the dish was rather simple to make, which is just the way I liked it. It turned out very delish, and it is definitely one I will make again. I love how the sweetness of the molasses balanced the heat of the pepper. The good thing is I finally master eating the seeds, it is a lot easier to chew on them when they were mixed in with the veggies.
Eggplant, chickpeas & Pomegranate Stew
Adapted from Cook Vegetarian magazine (online version here)
2 medium eggplants (about 1 lb each), sliced lengthwise into ½” thick slices
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 green chili pepper (or other small pepper), minced
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
Dash of cinnamon
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes (I used the no-salt added kind)
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Pinch of chili flakes (optional for a spicier stew, depending on how hot your chili pepper is – mine wasn’t very hot)
Salt and pepper to taste
~1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4-6 tbsp pomegranate seeds
Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and lay in a colander (I divided them into two colanders). Let sit for about 20 minutes, then rinse the salt off with water and dry the slices with paper towel.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 2 large skillets over medium-high heat. Pour 2 tbsp of olive oil in a small bowl and use it to brush the eggplant slices. Brush one side of each eggplant slice and lay the oiled side face down in the skillet. Repeat with as many eggplant slices as you can fit in the two pans without overlapping. Once the slices are in the pan, brush the top side with oil. Cook each side for 3-5 minutes, until well browned, then flip over and cook the other side. Transfer cooked slices to a plate and repeat process with the remaining eggplant slices until they are all cooked.
Bring one pan back to medium heat with 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, chili, and spices. Cook, stirring often, for about 4-5 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
Add the chickpeas and tomatoes to the pan. Stir in the pomegranate molasses and chili flakes (if using) and season with salt and pepper.
Layer half of the eggplant slices over the bottom of a greased 13×9” baking dish. Pour about half of the chickpea mixture over the slices, spreading with a spoon or spatula to distribute evenly. Cover with the remaining eggplant slices, then top with the rest of the chickpea mixture. Place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
When ready to serve, sprinkle the parsley and pomegranate seeds over top of the dish, or you can serve each portion and then add about 1 tbsp parsley and 1 tbsp pomegranate seeds (or more if desired) as a garnish to each plate. (Note: Before eating, you might want to use a knife to cut the eggplant into smaller slices; otherwise, you can just use your fork to break it up as you eat).
Makes 4-5 servings.