Creamy Tomato Melanzane

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for ages! It’s my go-to quick lunch nowadays. My friend Miriam and I just spent a long time trying to figure out what to call it: it’s sort of like a stew, since it’s nearly soupy and you can eat it over rice, but it’s more like a curry due to its spice. We came up with Creamy Tomato Melanzane (melanzane = another word for eggplant). Give this a try on its own or over some basmati!

The quickest “stew” you’ll ever make:

  • 5 cups of Japanese eggplant (or similar small eggplant), sliced into very thin roundels
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup tahina (sesame paste)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water
  • 1/2-1 tbsp Indian red chili pickle (or similar Indian wet/dry spice blend; if you don’t like spicy food, try seasoning it with fresh parsley, garlic powder, and paprika)
  • olive oil for the pan

This is going to happen very fast. It’s pretty important to have all of the ingredients measured out and ready to go before you start, because this dish will require adding and stirring in quick succession. Ready?

First, put the eggplant in a large frying pan with a liberal drizzle of olive oil. Cook it on high for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally so that it heats evenly. Next, add the tomato paste, tahina, and salt to the pan, stirring them in as evenly as you can (it’s a bit difficult with pastes, sorry!).

After a minute or two you’ll notice that things are getting pretty hot. Now you’ll parboil the whole thing: add the water to the pan and stir everything so that the tomato paste and tahina melt into the mixture. It will start to bubble pretty quickly; turn the heat down to medium to avoid any splatter. All you have to do now is keep stirring until the mixture becomes thick and creamy, almost a paste itself, no more than a few minutes. Add the chili pickle and any extra salt to taste, and you’re done!

This recipe should make enough for four people if served over rice, or two if served on its own.

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