Tunisian Chickpea, Eggplant & Mushroom Stew
Adapted from AMA Family Health Cookbook
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40-60 minutes and tastes even better the next day
1 medium eggplant, (about 1lb/500g)
1-2 tsp salt (to dehydrate the eggplant)
3-4 tbsp olive oil (the mushrooms really absorb any liquid like a sponge, so don’t add more than 4 tbsp)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups King Oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped (I used 3 huge ones)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp powdered ginger
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 can (28oz/794ml) crushed plum tomatoes with juice (when I can find them, I prefer fire roasted – awesome!)
2 cans (19oz/540ml) chickpeas, rinsed & drained
2 tsp honey
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped (they use parsley in the book, but the mint was fantastic)
1. Cut of the top & bottom of the eggplant but do not peel it. Cut it into small cubes (about ½”) and place in a colander and toss with salt. Do this over the sink or a bowl to catch all the liquid. Let it sit for about 20-30 minutes. Rinse well in cool water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Heat 2 tbsp of oil at medium heat in a Dutch oven. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes or until the onions are softened. Add the mushrooms and a little more oil. Toss and allow to cook for another 4 minutes or so to brown the mushrooms, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant…less than a minute. Remove from heat and set aside in a large bowl.
3. Return the Dutch oven back to the stove; add a little more oil and the eggplant. I do this in two stages because eggplant and mushrooms both absorb so much oil that the pan tends to burn if I don’t. Cook for 5 minutes, allowing the eggplant to brown and soften. Add the red peppers and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the bottom of the pan gets too dry, add just another smidgeon of oil. Stir in the cumin, cinnamon, coriander, ginger and cayenne and cook for 1 minute. All you want is to allow the fragrance to emerge. It should smell awesome.
4. Add the tomato, as well as the onion mushroom mixture back to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add the chickpeas and honey and simmer uncovered over medium heat for another 20 minutes. The eggplant should be tender and the flavors well blended.
Sprinkle with mint (or parsley) and serve. I like this over couscous to catch all the wonderful sauce.
Another alternative to prepare the eggplant, mushrooms and red peppers before adding the garlic, spices, tomatoes and chickpeas is to roast them in a hot oven (450°F/220°C) for about 5-10 minutes ...keep checking - you don't want them burnt! Do this on a foil or parchment covered lipped cookie sheet in one layer.