Tepsi Baytinijan

So soon after making moussaka, I was quite surprised to find myself making another baked dish involving aubergines, although that is about where the similarities end between that dish and this one.   As you know, I like to enter the My Kitchen My World event each month and this month the country was Iraq.  Now, I don’t know much about Iraqi food and I imagine it to be similar to other Middle Eastern cuisines.   Even so, I wanted to try and find something that was distinctly Iraqi, at least in my mind.   As I researched I came across lots of information saying that other well-known dishes such as tabouleh and falafel are widely eaten in Iraq.  The only problem is, Iraq is not the first country that I would associate them with.  I came across the dish, tepsi baytinijan on Wikipedia, described as a very popular Iraqi casserole and decided to research it further.   It’s a dish of sliced fried aubergines,layered with fried onions and garlic, and usually potatoes,although I found one recipe which said carrots could be used instead of potatoes and so that’s what I did – I wanted to avoid it being too similar to moussaka. Chunks of fresh tomato are then placed on top and small meatballs are placed between the tomatoes.   It is then baked in the oven and served with rice and salad.   Or in my case, jacket potatoes, which admittedly is not very Iraqi.

Ingredients – serves 2

1 aubergine

2 medium-sized  carrots

1 onion

2 tomatoes

250g minced beef

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tbsp tomato puree

How to make Tepsi Baytinijan

1. Cut the aubergines into slices about 1cm wide.  Slice the carrots about 1-2 mm wide and slice the onions.

2. Lightly fry the aubergines for about 5 minutes on each side. Put to the side and then in the same pan fry the onions and carrots until softened.  Add one crushed garlic clove a few minutes before they are ready.

3. While cooking the vegetables, make the meatballs.   Mix 1/2 a tsp of each spice and 1 crushed garlic clove into the mince.   Make into small meatballs.

4. Lightly oil an ovenproof dish.  Place the aubergines on the bottom of the dish.   Layer the carrots and onions on top.  Slice the tomatoes into wide chunks and put on top.   Put the meat balls between the chunks of tomato.

5. Put the rest of the spices and the tomato puree into  a cup.   Add 200ml of boiling water and stir till the puree has dissolved.

6. Pour the water over the dish and cover with tinfoil.  Bake in the oven  for 45 minutes at about 180C.