Stuffed Eggplant with Quince

Submitted by Judy on Tue, 04/22/2008 - 6:30am.

Source: “Aromas of Aleppo” by Poopa Dweck

2 dozen very small eggplants, cored
2 recipes hashu (recipe follows)
3 quinces, cored, peeled, and cut into 6 pieces each

For the sauce:
3 tablespoons tamarind concentrate, homemade or store-bought (see Cook’s notes)
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 pieces candied quince (recipe follows), for garnish

Cook’s notes: While Sephardic Jews eat rice for Passover, Eastern European Jews do not and will enjoy this dish after the holiday.

Tamarind concentrate is sold in Middle Eastern stores. If you cannot find kosher for Passover tamarind concentrate, you can make your own (recipe below).

Shape any leftover hashu mixture into 2-inch balls and cook it with the sauce.
1. Stuff eggplants with hashu.
2. Place alternating layers of quince and stuffed eggplants in a large ovenproof saucepan.
3. To make sauce: In a small bowl, combine tamarind concentrate, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and 1 cup water and mix well. Pour sauce over stuffed eggplants and quince. Place a heatproof plate over them to serve as a weight.
4. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, or until eggplants release moisture. Remove saucepan from heat. Add enough water to cover eggplants 3/4 of the way. Keep heatproof plate on top as a weight. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes, or until 1/4 of the liquid remains.
5. Preheat oven to 300ºF.
6. Transfer saucepan to oven and braise 45 minutes. Uncover and braise 30 minutes more. Garnish with candied quince, if desired.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup short-grain white rice
1 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 onion, chopped (1/2 cup, optional)
1 cup pine nuts (optional)

1. Soak rice in water, enough to cover, for 30 minutes. Drain.
2. Combine meat, rice, allspice, oil, cinnamon, salt, white pepper, and, if desired, onion and pine nuts in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.

Tamarind Concentrate
3 pounds tamarind pulp
3 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
3 tablespoons sour salt (citric acid)

1. In a large mixing bowl, submerge tamarind pulp in about six cups of water. Cover and soak 6 to 8 hours or overnight. After pulp has soaked, while keeping it in the water, pull it apart to make a mash-like, pulpy, soft mixture.
2. Line the bottom of a colander with cheesecloth. Fit the colander over a large nonreactive mixing bowl. Strain tamarind pulp by pressing it firmly against the surface of the colander, squeezing to extract as much liquid as possible. Pick out any plant matter and pits from the liquid and set it aside.
3. Place the strained pulp in a clean mixing bowl and submerge in fresh water. Work to pull it apart again, then strain and reserve the liquid. Repeat this process a third time.
4. Combine all the reserved tamarind liquid and strain through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer. Discard the pulp.
5. Pour the tamarind liquid into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the sugar, lemon juice if desired, and sour salt to the tamarind liquid. Increase the heat to medium and boil slowly, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the mixture has a silky consistency akin to a dark, thick syrup. Let the mixture cool thoroughly, then pour into a glass jar. Store in a cool, dry place up to a year.
Yield: 4 cups

Candied Quince
3 to 4 quinces, cored, peeled, and cut in 1-inch-thick slices (about 3 cups)
3 cups sugar

1. In a medium saucepan, cover quinces with sugar and cook over medium-low heat. The sugar will melt and liquefy, and the quinces will start to turn a beautiful dark and rosy color.
2. When mixture bubbles, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, or until quinces are thoroughly coated with a thick, gooey syrup. Transfer quince and syrup to a jar, and store in refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups