Ramadan Stories From The Kitchen: Egg-cellent Palestinian eggplant

Ramadan Stories From The Kitchen: Tuck into this egg-cellent Palestinian eggplant and lentil dish
4 min read
04 May, 2021
A scrumptious vegan delight: In the third instalment of our Ramadan Stories From the Kitchen, Sarah Shaweesh rustles up one of her favourite comfort foods, inspired by her Palestinian auntie.
 
I have lived most my life abroad in Australia after my family moved from Jerusalem to Jordan during 1948. I have always yearned to inherit as many Palestinian recipes from my grandmother and aunties back home, to pass down to my future children, and keep our traditions thriving.

I refuse to allow Palestinians to be erased from history especially when a lot of our cultural dishes are appropriated in restaurants, blogs and cookbooks without crediting its Palestinian history.

When I cook Palestinian food I feel as though I'm still back home with my family and it makes missing out on family time a bit easier. These reasons motivated me to open Australia's first Palestinian restaurant and it's completely vegan. 

Rummaniya is a dish I remember an auntie making every time we went to a celebration. Everyone would bring a dish and my auntie Hajjar would always deliver the goods with a lentil and eggplant stew.

It's a staple dish in most Palestinian homes and is said to originate from the Gaza community of Palestinians displaced from Jaffa. My auntie Hajjar calls it habiet rummaneh, which translates to pomegranate seed. 

  When I cook Palestinian food I feel as though I'm still back home with my family and it makes missing out on family time a bit easier  
 
  The mouth-watering Rummaniya dish 

Pomegranates are a sacred ingredient in most Palestinian homes, if it's not inside the dish it's used to garnish the dish as a fresh seed.

Pomegranate molasses is also used to create depth in most Palestinian stews, especially ones with a tomato base and provides a tangy note to the flavours. 

Little did I know that at an older age I would grow to love it even more and appreciate the immense flavour from such a simple and easy dish that is also accidentally vegan.

It can also be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days to have ready when on the go. 

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I love that this dish is simple and easy to make in one pot and a baking tray and only needs 20-30 minutes to cook and prepare. It can be served hot and also enjoyed cold. It can be the main meal served with fattoush, tzatziki or a side dish or starter. Another reason to love this dish is that it's economical and accessible to all, especially families. It has essential nutritional value from the lentils, eggplant and pomegranate. 

I always like to play the recording of Mahmoud Darwish's poem Think Of Others on repeat as I cook Palestinian food. A reminder to help those in need.The eggplants are traditionally added uncooked to the lentils as they boil, however I found that the texture and presentation was held better if baked in olive oil and Himalayan salt before adding to the pot.

The eggplant still takes on a silken texture when added baked or you can add it in without baking when adding the lentils to the pot with water. 

I hope you enjoy the poem and cooking this recipe. You can reach out to me on my cafe page on Instagram @khamsacafenewtown if you would like me to help you veganise a Palestinian dish.

Recipe (Serves 2 for a main and 4 for a side dish) 

1 large eggplant (cut into large cubes)
3 cloves crushed garlic
Olive oil
Himalayan salt
1 cup lentils (washed and strained)
4 cups water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
Juice of one lemon
1 pomegranate seeded
1/4 cups fresh parsley chopped fine
1/4 cups sliced shallots
Garnish with sliced shallots, parsley, olive oil and pomegranate seeds.
Optional Shatta (crushed chilli) to serve on top or on the side 

Method

  1. Cut the eggplant into large cubes, place on a baking paper lined oven tray drizzle with olive oil and Himalayan salt and place in the oven at 180 degrees whilst preparing the pot
  2. Fry garlic in shallow olive oil in a pot at medium heat
  3. Add strained lentils with 2 cups of water initially once it comes to a boil add ground cumin, cinnamon and coriander and allow to simmer for 10mins 
  4. Add the next two cups of water before it thickens and the eggplant from the oven allow to simmer for another 10 mins 
  5. Then add freshly squeezed lemon juice and pomegranate molasses 
  6. Simmer for another 5 minutes allow to cool and serve on a plate with the garnishes followed by a drizzle of olive oil 
Sarah Shaweesh is a food creative and owner of Khamsa Cafe, a Palestinian vegan eatery in Sydney, Australia.

Follow her on Twitter: @xPinkKitchenx