Preparing the eggplant bowl is the funnest part: first use a knife to cut the surface on one side, then scrape the inner flesh out with a spoon. Stuff the “bowl” with cooked lentils, bake simply until golden brown and you will have a saucy, satisfying dinner on your hands. This is a perfect hearty entrée or side dish which presents itself great when host friends. It’s delicious on its own, but it would also pair well with rice or vegetable/grain salads.
2 small eggplants
100g red lentils, soaked overnight
half medium sized onion, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 small sized tomatoes, finely chopped
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric (each)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley or coriander
salt and pepper, olive oil
Parmesan cheese for topping, herbs for garnish
1. Boil the lentils in a pot with enough water, reduce the heat to simmer for 15 minutes until the lentils are softened. Drain and put aside. Preheat the oven to 185℃.
2. Use a knife to cut the center out of the eggplants (better to use a spoon to scrape after the first cut). Leave enough eggplant flesh so it’s strong enough to hold the lentils later.
3. Heat a large pot over medium-low heat. Add oil and the eggplants, cover and cook on one side for 4-5 minutes. Flip the eggplants over on the other side, cover and cook for another 4-5 minutes. The eggplants should be softened and browned on the outside.
4. Set another pot on medium heat, add some oil and gently sautee the onion and garlic for 3 minutes, add in the bell peppers and tomatoes, season with tomato puree and all the listed powder, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Put in the cooked lentils and parsley, keep stirring until they’re mixed well.
5. Place cut-side up in a baking container and top with lentils. There would be some more lentils left, place them under the eggplants in the dish. Top with Parmesan cheese.
6. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until the eggplants are browned.Serve as is or over rice. Garnish with fresh herbs. Best when fresh, also good as leftovers.