Eggplant (danjal) is available year round in Morocco, and here it shows up as a key ingredient in an easy Moroccan tagine. You can opt to serve the dish with pieces of eggplant intact, or mash the cooked eggplant into the sauce. I like a presentation with a combination of the two. Note that meat and veggie tagines such as this are typically light on the meat; you can use more if you like. Serve the tagine with Moroccan khobz for scooping up the meat, vegetable and sauce.
The cooking time is for a pressure cooker. Allow at least double this time for conventional cooking, and triple the time if using a traditional clay or ceramic tagine.
Loosely adapted from a recipe by Anissa Helou in Cafe Morocco.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.
- 1 1/2 lbs. (700 g) eggplant (4 small or 2 medium-large)
- 1 1/2 lbs. (700 g) lamb, beef or goat meat, cut into 3" pieces
- 1 large onion, sliced or chopped
- 1 large tomato, grated (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley and/or cilantro
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 of a preserved lemon, quartered (optional)
- chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish
Trim the stems and ends from the eggplants. Partially peel the eggplants, leaving strips of skin which run lengthwise, creating a striped effect. Cut the eggplants lengthwise into quarters. (if the eggplants are large, you can cut them into sixths or eighths lengthwise, and then cut those pieces in half to reduce their length). Place the eggplant strips flesh side up on a tray lined with paper towels and salt generously. Set the eggplant aside while you begin preparing the meat.
Clay or Ceramic Tagine Method
Pour the olive oil into the base of a tagine; arrange the onion slices across the bottom and distribute the garlic on top. Add the tomato (if using), the cinnamon stick, the parsley and cilantro, and the meat bone-side-down.
Sprinkle the remaining spices as evenly as possible over the meat and onions and add about 2 cups of water. Cover the tagine and place on a diffuser over medium-low heat and allow the tagine to reach a simmer. This can take some time so be patient. Once a simmer is achieved, reduce the heat to the lowest temperature necessary to maintain the simmer, and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Rinse the eggplant, arrange it skin side up around the meat, (add the preserved lemon at this time if using, and a little more water if feel it's necessary) and continue cooking the tagine, covered, for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat is very tender and can be broken with the fingers. If necessary, reduce the sauce. Discard the cinnamon stick, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve the tagine directly from the cooking vessel.
Conventional Pot or Pressure Cooker Method
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or pressure cooker, mix the meat with the onion, tomato, garlic, parsley and cilantro, spices and olive oil in a large pot or pressure cooker. Brown the meat, uncovered, over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 cups of water and cover. Simmer the meat for about 1 1/2 hours (or cook with pressure for 35 to 40 minutes), until the meat reaches desired tenderness. If cooking conventionally, occasionally check on the level of the liquids.
Rinse the eggplant and add it to the pot, along with the preserved lemon and little more water if you feel it's necessary. Cover and simmer rapidly for about 10 minutes, until the eggplant is tender but still holds its shape. Reduce the liquids to a thick sauce and taste for seasoning. Discard the cinnamon stick.
To serve, arrange the meat and eggplant on a serving platter and pour the sauce over all. (If you like, you can mash some or all of the eggplant into the sauce.) Garnish with a little chopped parsley or cilantro for color.