Recipe from Baku

Eggplant, Pepper and Tomato Dolma (serves 4)

Azerbaijanis take pride in their cuisine: approach a random passerby and she will be more than happy to go into the intricate details of stuffing grape leaves, cooking rice to a crust and seasoning chicken. Attend any special occasion and you find yourself amazed by the colorful array of dishes displayed on the table. A multi-course dinner consisting of savory meat qutabs, zesty rice pilaf, guilt-inducing khingali coupled with fragrant herbs will leave you asking for seconds time and again.

One of my personal favorites is badimjan, biber and tomat dolmasi, which literally translates to eggplant, pepper and tomato. It is a bright combination of green, red and purple colors, usually served in the summer months. The name of the dish originates from the Azerbaijani verb “doldurmaq”, “to fill” – hence the meat stuffing.

The following recipe unlocks a well-kept secret and also sets you for a heartwarming dinner for four. Add some chili or yoghurt for taste and tuck in.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 eggplants
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 4 green peppers
  • 3 medium-sized onions, peeled
  • 500 g minced beef
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 100-150 ml of vegetable oil
  • 20g of butter (breakfast butter?)
  • Blender

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Wash the eggplants, peppers and tomatoes, leave them in the sink to dry
  2. Cut off the stalk end of the eggplants
  3. Put the onions in the blender
  4. Prepare the stuffing. Mix the onions with 500 g of minced beef, add table salt, ground black pepper and turmeric
  5. Knead all in a separate dish
  6. Cook the stuffing in a large frying pan, stir frequently until water/oil has evaporated for approx. 15-20 minutes (wait for the meat to turn golden brown), let it cool
  7. Slit the eggplants open in the middle, do not split into halves
  8. Salt the inside of the eggplants, approximately ¼ teaspoon salt in total for all
  9. Add 20 ml of vegetable oil, fry the eggplants on all sides for 15-20 minutes
  10. Cut the stalks and tops of the green peppers, remove the seeds, make sure you keep the tops for later use (will be used as lids for decorative purposes)
  11.  Apply the same method for tomatoes, scoop out the inside and place them in a separate bowl (will be later added to dolma for a flavorsome taste)
  12. Fill the eggplants, peppers and tomatoes with the stuffing and cover the tops of the vegetables with their tops/lids
  13. Place the vegetables in a deep pan, pour 30 ml of vegetable oil and 20g of butter on top. Pour the insides of tomatoes over the vegetables
  14. Cover and simmer over medium heat for approx. 30-40 minutes until vegetables are tender/softer/wrinkled
  15. Keep an eye on the peppers, remove the pan once peppers are soft
  16. And then serve with bread

 

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