There is a little bit of work in char-grilling the eggplant but it is well worthwhile to get that smoky eggplant flavor. Anyone who has had the wonderfully smoky baba ghanoush will appreciate that. When I make this recipe, I prepare the eggplant the day before on the BBQ when I am cooking something else such as kebaps. The smoky flavors have a chance to further develop. I also marinate the meat overnight.
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It really is worth using lamb for this dish. Lamb will produce a moister meat as the fat slowly bastes the stew as it cooks. It also has a wonderfully slight, gamey flavor. If you must, you can substitute with a good quality stewing beef. If you live in the US and you can’t source lamb, we have seen Australian legs of lamb sold in Costco or you can purchase from here.
To make the dish Gluten Free substitute corn starch, arrowroot or other flour of your choice for plain white flour. In this recipe, the flour is merely a thickening agent.
For an authentic, Turkish tomato paste, try this.
The Turkish pepper paste gives this dish an underlying depth of flavor. If not using, double the amount of tomato paste or Turkish tomato paste.
For something a bit different and very Turkish, add the dried figs. You could also use fresh figs and if so, add these to the stew right at the end of the cooking process.
The whole eggplant can also be cooked under a hot broiler (grill). If so, use a metal rack and place foil underneath to catch the drips. We char-grill the eggplant on the day that we purchase them and then let the smoky flavor develop in the fridge until they are needed for the puree.
The goat’s milk feta is quite sharp and mildly salty. Source the product in better delicatessens or Amazon.