My parents have been together for 47 years. My Persian father was working and living in Brazil when he met my Brazilian mother all those years ago. I grew up in Brazil and only visited Iran once. Even though I was very young at the time I still remember some things very clearly. My most vivid food memory of Iran was eating Kabab Koubideh at the local bazaar. I can still remember the fragrance and amazing taste of the Koubideh and the fluffy, saffron-steamed rice full of butter served with egg yolk on top. Perhaps this is where my obsession with rice began. My mother, being the amazing woman she is, helped bring a little of Iran back into our Brazilian home by frequently cooking my father's favorite Persian dishes.
Legend has it that the original name my father had in mind for me when I was born was Bademjan, the Farsi word for eggplant. Apparently my mom didn’t go for that but what did stick with me was my love for this vegetable. I absolutely enjoy almost everything with eggplant. And yes I know I said that about rice as well so let me clarify: it is rice first and then eggplant (and a long list of other loves that follow). Given our familial excitement about eggplant, Khoresh Bademjan (Eggplant Stew) was a popular dish as I grew up at home with my parents. Served always with steamed plain rice, Khoresh Bademjan is traditionally made with lamb but my mom always cooked it with beef.
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 lb stew meat cut into cubes
About 5 eggplants (remember we really like eggplant so you might not need as many, perhaps 3 or so would do just fine....but not for my father and me)
1 heaping teaspoon cumin
1 heaping teaspoon black pepper
Extra virgin Olive Oil
About 2 cups of boiling water
Pomegranate Syrup or Pomegranate Molasses to taste
Peel eggplants in 1-inch intervals lengthwise. Slice lengthwise, sprinkle with a little salt and leave in a colander to drain for about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a pressure cooker (or Dutch oven) heat the olive oil and sauté the onion. Add the meat and sear it. Add the cinnamon, cumin and black pepper. Stir in tomato sauce. Salt to taste, and add 2 cups of boiling water.
Lock lid in place and bring to high pressure over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes or until meat is fork tender (if using a Dutch oven it will probably need about 1 hour). When meat is ready and pressure has been released open according to manufacturer's directions.
Wash and dry eggplant. Add a little oil to a frying pan and fry eggplant on both sides until they begin to turn brown. Let them drain on paper towels.
In a Dutch Oven or other heavy saucepan, layer sauce, eggplant and meat and repeat one more time. Heat on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Adjust salt and seasoning for your taste. Add about 2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses or to taste and cook for another couple minutes. Serve with Persian rice.