If you love trying dishes from around the world then this Iraqi casserole recipe known as tepsi baytinijan should definitely be on your list! Layers of soft fried aubergine, carrots, onions and tomatoes nestling around spiced beef meatballs make it a brilliant family meal.
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.
What is tepsi baytinijan?
Tepsi Baytinijan is a very popular Iraqi casserole recipe. It's a dish of sliced fried aubergines, layered with fried onions and garlic, and usually potatoes. Chunks of fresh tomato are then placed on top and small meatballs are placed between the tomatoes. In this version of the dish I've replace the potatoes with carrots.
Why did I want to make an Iraqi dish?
I love trying recipes from around the world and when I first made this dish I was taking part in a blogging challenge to make something from Iraq. At the time I didn't know much about Iraqi food and imagined it to be similar to other Middle Eastern cuisines. Even so, I wanted to try and find a recipe that was distinctly Iraqi.
As I researched traditional Iraqi recipes I came across lots of information saying that other well-known dishes such as tabbouleh and falafel are widely eaten in Iraq. The only problem is, Iraq is not the first country that I would associate them with. Luckily, I also ended up reading lots of recipes about tepsi baytinijan and decided to create my own recipe for it.
What ingredients do you need for tepsi baytinijan?
To make this Iraqi casserole you'll need:
- Minced beef
- Spices - chilli powder, cumin and coriander
- Tomato puree
Adaptations and substitutions
If you want this to be a bit heartier you could add sliced potatoes or just replace the carrots with sliced potatoes.
If you want to make a hotter dish you could add some diced fresh chilli peppers, either to the meatballs or just scattered on top of the onions.
Why not add some fresh herbs too? A little parsley or coriander is delicious.
You can also substitute the minced beef for lamb, turkey or chicken mince. Make the meatballs in exactly the same way but use a different mince.
Can you make a vegetarian version?
Yes! This dish also works as vegetarian dish. Just bake it without the meatballs. Or, add some halloumi for the last 15 minutes of the baking time.
If you make a vegetarian version it also makes a great side dish and can be served alongside grilled chicken or meat, not just as part of a vegetarian Iraqi meal.
What could you serve with this Tepsi Baytinijan?
Traditionally tepsi taytinijan is eaten with rice, salads and pickles. I think it would be great with all kinds of grains. Couscous or bulgur wheat would go well. Or just a pitta bread.
I have to admit that we have eaten this with jacket potatoes, which I'm sure is not very Iraqi but absolutely delicious!
What can you do with the leftovers?
If you have leftovers then just store them in the fridge for up to three days. You can reheat in the microwave or the oven. The meatballs may go a little dry but it will still be delicious.
You can also freeze it in an airtight container for up to three months. Defrost overnight in the fridge and then reheat thoroughly before eating.
More meatball recipes
If you like meatball recipes then why not try one of these?
You might also like my collection of easy spicy midweek meals recipes!
- 1 aubergine
- 2 carrots medium-sized
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 250 g minced beef
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- Cut the aubergines into slices about 1cm wide. Slice the carrots about 1-2 mm wide and slice the onions.
- 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.
- While cooking the vegetables, make the meatballs. Mix ½ a teaspoon of each spice and 1 crushed garlic clove into the mince. Make into small meatballs.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pour the water over the dish and cover with tinfoil. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 180°c