Eggplant with Lentils (Mercimekli Patlıcan)

Summer time is a great time for the rich selection of fresh vegetables. My refrigerator is always stocked with eggplants, green peppers and tomatoes during the summer months when they are in season since these three vegetables are frequently used in Turkish cooking. Of the three vegetables, the eggplant is a star vegetable as the main ingredient in Turkey since it produces so many different varieties of delicious recipes. And the tomato and pepper just go perfectly with it.

I have already shared a few eggplant recipes on my blog and here is another one. Different people in Turkey make this recipe differently but they all taste good at the end. Many slice the eggplant and stew it with the rest of the ingredients. My approach is similar to ‘imam bayıldı’ recipe where the eggplant is still attached at the top but cut into fourths in the bottom. My mother makes it both ways so I tried this version first.

If you’re looking for a nutritious and succulent meal, this works perfectly. With pilaf and yogurt on the side, it tastes even better.

6 medium eggplants
4 medium tomatoes (chopped)
1 green pepper (chopped)
½ cup brown lentils (soaked overnight)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
¼ medium onion or small shallot (chopped)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 tbsp red pepper paste
1 tbsp tomato paste
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 cup water

Wash the eggplants, cut the stems and peel them in stripes (about 1 inch stripes). They will have one purple stripe and one yellowish (the peeled part) stripe. Slit the eggplant lengthwise in 4 pieces without detaching the top portion. The eggplant should have four long pieces that are attached at the stem. Fry the eggplants partially in the olive oil (less than 2 minutes). Remove and set aside.

Add onion and garlic to the pot and sauté until translucent. Add the soaked lentils, chopped tomatoes, green pepper, salt, black pepper, red pepper paste, tomato paste and stir. Simmer covered for 15 minutes on low heat until the lentils are slightly soft.

Add the partially fried eggplants back to the pot along with the water. Stir well to make sure the ingredients are incorporated into the eggplant. Cook for 30-40 minutes on low heat. Serve with rice pilaf and plain yogurt.

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