Are you mouth-watering already? Just by thinking of slowly braised eggplants releasing their full flavor palette? Then you should definitely try this North African braised eggplant with meatballs. Because it is really easy to make and a full explosion of flavors in your mouth!
About braised eggplant with meatballs
The main ingredients for this braised eggplant with meatballs are an eggplant (of course), ground beef, and a can of chopped tomatoes. So that can't be difficult at all. With the right herbs and seasonings, you create a heavenly dish with these ingredients. And if you've got a tajine, that's the ideal equipment to make this dish. But otherwise a regular pan or wok will also do.
For the meatballs I recommend taking ground beef or lamb. I love minced lamb, and that is an absolute must, especially in a North African stew. Unfortunately they don't sell that in the nearby supermarket. In that case ground beef is a valid alternative.
There are a thousand recipes for making meatballs. Just want to take your house recipe? No problem. That's okay too. But I still recommend that you give this specially seasoned variant a try. It goes wonderfully with the aubergine curry.
The classic flavor carriers such as a clove of garlic, an onion, egg and breadcrumbs are of course included. The perk here comes from the turmeric and smoked paprika. They give the color and flavor to the meatballs. And you will see, it fits wonderfully in the aubergine curry.
Once you have mixed all the ingredients together, you can start rolling the balls. Normally you get about 10 from 200 grams (7 ounce) of minced beef. That, of course, depends on how big or small you roll them. If the mixture is too moist, you will notice the meatballs falling apart. Then add some extra breadcrumbs. On hot summer days, the heat can also be a bummer. In that case, put the minced meat dough in the fridge for a while before rolling it. Then it is cold and will stick together better.
Finally, we need to briefly sear the meatballs in the pan. They only need to be seared from the outside in the pan on high temperature. The insides will then cook when we add them to the aubergine curry.
The eggplant (aubergine)
The eggplant (aubergine) is the protagonist in this African stew. So we will take special care of it. First and foremost, we wash them well. Then we cut off the ends. They remain hard and that you don't like this in your curry. Some people also peel the eggplant, but I don't. This leaves more flavor and color.
To cut the small cubes I first cut the aubergine in half lengthwise. Then I use almost the same tactics as to finely chop an onion. First cut horizontally and then vertically lengthwise. Until just before the end, so that the aubergine pieces do not fall apart yet. Then we cut the small cubes in width. And the last piece is freestyle ?
We are now going to fry these pieces in a pan with a good dash of oil. Then they are already well precooked. And frying releases the best aromas. Later on this will add to the delicious flavor ot the curry.
Braising the eggplant with meatballs
Now that we've prepared the meatballs and the eggplant, it's time to put everything together. In the tajine if you have one, otherwise a pan or wok will also do. Also don't turn the heat up too high, from now on we'll take it slow. This is to allow the meatballs and the aubergine to continue cooking slowly. And to give the flavors time to mingle.
First we bring the can of diced tomatoes up to temperature, along with some more garlic and the optional chili pepper. But when will those chopped tomatoes be up to temperature? Well, if the first bubble from cooking escape. Then it's time to add the eggplant and the meatballs.
Mix everything well and put the lid on the pan. Now our tajine has to simmer for another 15 minutes to fully cook and to come to taste. Stir a few times in between. This way the meatballs also get a tasty coating of eggplant and tomatoes.
Finishing and serving
What do you eat as a side with this braised eggplant with meatballs? Well, we want to stay in North Africa. So I prefer to have a couscous. It is very easy to prepare. One option is to use the couscous as a base and then divide the aubergine and meatballs over it later. Another option is to mix the couscous with the curry and then serve. Usually I follow option 1 on the day when I cook. And option 2 is the leftover option that I mainly use for my lunch on the next day.
A few finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves complete this delicious lunch.
First and foremost, let us give some credits to the inspiration. It is indeed a Youtube video (Dutch/Arab) that made my mouth water. I came across it on cuisine de oum siradj eddine's channel. Have you ever eaten eggplant with meatballs like this? No, but it certainly won't be the last time I prepare this. And the Youtube video is of course a good help to support you visually. It is definitely worth a look!
Do you like this type of recipes? Then I can certainly recommend the following ideas from our portfolio:
If you speak Dutch, you can find the Dutch version of this recipe on gerechtenweb.blog.