When East Meets Chef

My masterpiece

Picking a book for my book club tends to be a slightly contentious undertaking each meeting. Although we are a small group, our different tastes in literature can provide us with a challenge in deciding what to undertake next. While a book club is a great excuse to read and catch up with friends, I also see it as an opportunity to test my culinary skills.

The hostess of each meeting is charged with providing the entire meal for the group. Personally, I love tying my meal to the book as closely as possible. Sometimes this is a daunting undertaking – A Million Little Pieces proved too much for my culinary creativity. Luckily, last month I had Reading Lolita in Tehran as my inspiration. The internets came to my rescue and provided me with an easy, scrumptious stew to serve my book club: Khoresh-E Bademjan.

I decided to use beef stew meat for my dish [not everyone is a fan of lamb], and changed the proportions around to ensure I would feed my guests AND guarantee leftovers! In the end I used:

2 large eggplants
2 lbs. beef stew, cubed
2 lg. white onions, diced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. turmeric
4 tbsp. tomato paste [I opted for the lowest sodium paste I could find, especially given my use of boullion]
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Water [I substituted beef bouillon for water, to give the dish a little more flavor]

Like Gansie, I am not really one to follow spicing measurements to a T. I just kept throwing them in and tasting the dish. This recipe called for plain rice to be served, but I used brown rice to add to the nutritional value. A more Persian option would be saffron rice. To go with the stew, I also made a salad featuring Chickpeas. Of course, I cannot find the original recipe I used so will have to go off memory here:

Romaine lettuce

Chick peas

Fresh parsley

Romano Cheese

Artichoke hearts

Lemon/EVOO/Dijon mustard dressing

I had some complaints the cheese was too stinky; even as avowed cheese freak I found it a bit potent for the salad. So I would suggest using some caution if you decide to add cheese.

Overall the meal was a hit. The stew was filling and tasty, and the salad provided a light compliment.

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