One popular dish from Iraq is “Tepsi Baytinijan,” which is a layered eggplant casserole typically made with ground meat, tomatoes, and spices. Here’s a recipe for Tepsi Baytinijan:
- 2 large eggplants
- 1 pound ground beef or lamb
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 tomatoes, diced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, for heat)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Slice the eggplants lengthwise into approximately 1/4-inch thick slices. Sprinkle them with salt and let them sit for about 30 minutes to draw out excess moisture. Rinse the eggplant slices and pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the eggplant slices in batches until they are golden brown on both sides. Remove the eggplant slices and drain them on a paper towel-lined plate.
- In the same skillet, add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Sauté until the onion is translucent and fragrant.
- Add the ground beef or lamb to the skillet and cook until browned and cooked through. Use a spatula to break up any clumps of meat.
- Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne pepper (if using), salt, and pepper. Cook for a few more minutes until the flavors meld together. Remove from heat.
- In a baking dish, arrange a layer of the fried eggplant slices on the bottom. Spread half of the meat mixture evenly over the eggplant layer.
- Repeat with another layer of eggplant slices and the remaining meat mixture. Finish with a final layer of eggplant slices on top.
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes.
- Remove the foil and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes until the top is lightly browned.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly before serving.
- Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
Tepsi Baytinijan is a flavorful and hearty dish that represents the delicious cuisine of Iraq. Enjoy this delicious eggplant casserole!