Tuesday, April 10, 2012

For whatever reason, I have avoided cooking with eggplant for the most part lately.

But then, I discovered a new reason to enjoy eggplant. I was perusing my own cookbook library when I found a recipe for Patlıcanlı Iç Pilav (Turkish Aubergine Rice) that sounded interesting.

In "Secrets of the Turkish Kitchen" by Angie Mitchell, she describes this as one of 40 special eggplant dishes from the Ottoman palace kitchens. Apparently, the sultans couldn't get enough of this vegetable originating from southeast Asia.

With the Turks fondness for patlıcan, I thought there would be at least 100 different recipes. And maybe there are because every dish is up to the cook's own interpretation as well.

Well, this aromatic rice pilaf won us both over!

The cinnamon, allspice, dried currants and fresh herbs make for a flavorful and interesting dish. There's a pinch of sugar that makes the dish slightly sweet too. I paired the pilaf with a batch of traditional Turkish köfte thanks to Claudia's recipe at A Seasonal Cook in Turkey.

If you're bored with plain white rice for dinner, then you must try this Ottoman-style pilaf.

What's your favorite way to cook with aubergine, eggplant or patlıcan?

Afiyet olsun!
A delicious side dish of Turkish Aubergine Rice (Patlıcanlı Iç Pilav). 
Turkish Aubergine Rice/Patlıcanlı Iç Pilav
(Adapted from "Secrets of the Turkish Kitchen" by Angie Mitchell)

1          c.         (190 g.)            long-grain rice (Baldo pilav)
1          T.                                 dried currants (kuş üzümü)
3-4       small                            long aubergines or eggplant
4          T.                                 olive oil
2          T.                                 pine nuts (çamfıstığı)
1          ea.                                medium onion, finely chopped
1          tsp.                              salt
1/2       tsp.                              sugar
1/2       tsp.                              ground cinnamon
1/2       tsp.                              ground allspice
1          ea.                                large tomato, seeds removed and chopped
2          c.         (475 ml.)          hot water
1/2       c.                                 fresh parsley, mint and dill, combined together and roughly chopped
To taste                                   salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium-sized bowl, soak the rice and currants in hot salted water for 30 minutes. Then, rinse under cold water, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, peel the eggplant in alternate vertical stripes from the stem to the base. Cut off the stalk. Submerge and soak the eggplant in salted water for 30 minutes, drain and squeeze dry. (This step helps to remove the bitterness from the eggplant). Cut into small cubes about 1/2-inch wide.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the eggplant, with a pinch of salt and sugar, until they are softened. Remove the eggplant with a slotted spoon, and set aside on a paper towel to absorb any extra oil.
In the same pan, sauté the pine nuts and the onion with the remaining olive oil, until the pine nuts are golden and the onion has softened. Add the drained rice and currants, stirring to ensure the grains are evenly coated. Add the salt, sugar, spices, tomato and 2 cups of hot water.

Bring the rice to a boil, stirring once and cover with a lid. Cook on medium heat about 10 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Do not stir! Turn down the heat to lowest setting and cook for 3-5 more minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the eggplant and cover the top of the pan with a kitchen towel or paper towels and replace the lid. The rice will continue cooking in the steam and the towels will help absorb any extra moisture.

Let stand, covered, for 20 minutes before serving. Then, season the pilaf with salt and pepper; add the chopped herbs and stir to incorporate all the ingredients. Fluff the rice with a fork.

Serve immediately.

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Lizna Liisu A. said...

Aw, very nice recipe, looks so delicious and lovely photos, Joy!
My favourite way to cook Eggplant(Patlıcan) Karnıyarık(stuffed split eggplants with meat) and Hünkar Beğendi(lamb on a bed of eggplant puree) and lastly, moussaka, greek style! :)

Joy said...

@Lizna Liisu, thank you! I also love Turkish Karnıyarık and have made it a couple times for us. Yum! In January, we stopped at a restaurant in Sultanahmet that served Hünkar Beğendi with melt-in-your-mouth lamb.

Here's my recipe I did before for Karnıyarık. Afiyet olsun!
My Turkish Joys Cooking Karnıyarık

Mrs Ergül said...

I love aubergine pilaf! Since I have some at home I should make them again. I love all manners of aubergine prepared by the Turks. Can't get enough of it. Our friend's mother make some very mean eggplant dishes. Oh I miss her cooking already.

Joy said...

@ Mrs Ergül, I'm always looking for new eggplant dishes! If you have any recommendations or recipes from your friend's mother, I'd love hear from you. Thanks so much!

Lizna Liisu A. said...

Joycuğum, the presentation of Karnıyarık is beautiful, I bet it tasted as well as it looks! Also, you said you have yet to see eggplant as dessert, well, we also make Eggplant Jam! :D çok güzel bir blog ve çok güzel tarifler, bunları okumak çok güzel ve eğlenceli. :)

Joy said...

@Lizna Liisu A., Çok teşekkürler! Okuma için teşekkür ederiz!