Aubergine is the king of vegetables in Turkey. Like a tomato, it is actually classified as a fruit because it has seeds. This is one of my favorite and scrumptious Turkish eggplant recipes. Eggplant, Lentils and Peppers cooked in olive oil, also known as Mercimekli Mualla is from Antakya and has been cooked in the southern Turkish kitchens for generations. Dried mint and olive oil flavour the green lentils and aubergine/eggplant beautifully. We make this recipe using the Turkish Zeytinyagli method (Vegetables cooked in olive oil) and it’s important to let the dish cool in the pan so it can rest and the flavors develop. Passed on to me by my grandmother and mother, I share this recipe with you in the hope you enjoy it as much as we all do.
About Ozlem: I love Turkish food and would love to my share my homeland’s healthy, delicious, easy Turkish recipes with the home cooks and foodies. Having lived in Turkey over 30 years, I am also very passionate about the amazing history, landscape and heritage that my country offers. I look forward to sharing photos and stories of my culinary and cultural trips to Turkey and some wonderful Turkish recipes that you can easily create in your home. I started the blog with our favorite Turkish word, “Hosgeldiniz”, which means “Welcome”. Hospitality is a big part of Turkish culture and you can feel it everyday life all around. I was born and raised in Turkey, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of this rich, generous and welcoming culture.
Put the green lentils in a pan of boiling water, stir and cover. Simmer in low heat for 15 minutes. Drain the water and set aside.
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the aubergine/eggplant in zebra stripes. Then, cut the aubergine/eggplant in half lengthways and cut each half into medium slices. Spread them on a wide tray, sprinkle salt over and leave aside for 15 minutes. Using a paper towel, squeeze the excess water out of the aubergines/eggplants.
Heat the 3 Tbsps of olive oil in a heavy pan and very lightly sauté the aubergine/eggplant slices for a minute or two. This will help aubergines/eggplants to soften up and start bringing out their lovely sweet flesh.
In a large bowl, combine the partially cooked lentils, onion, garlic, bell peppers, chopped tomatoes, salt, dried mint, th rest of the olive oil, and the sugar. Season with ground black pepper, check the seasoning and add more salt if needed.
In a wide heavy pan, place a layer of the aubergine/eggplant slices. Spread the half of the vegetable mixture over the aubergines/eggplants evenly. Place the remainder of the aubergine/eggplant slices over the top and spread the remaining vegetable mixture over also. Add the water, cover and cook on a medium to low heat for about 35 minutes.
Once cooked, cover and cool the dish in the pan, this will allow the flavours to develop and blend well. Serve at room temperature with some crusty bread.
Afiyet Olsun (means ‘May you be happy and healthy with this food you eat”).
Ozlem Warren is a native of Turkey; she was born and raised in Turkey and lived in this magical land for 30 years. She is passionate about her homeland’s delicious and vibrant Turkish cuisine and has been teaching Turkish cookery in England – UK, Turkey, the USA and Amman, Jordan for 10 years. She has a popular Turkish recipe blog, Özlem’s Turkish Table” (www.ozlemsturkishtable.com) and hosts Supper Clubs, Meze Nights and Culinary Tours to Turkey. Ozlem was a part of the Turkish Chefs of the World (Dunyanin Turk Sefleri) TV programme, aired on the Turkish national TV Channel, TRT, as well as in 37 other countries. She participates prestigious events such as the Taste of London and various food festivals to promote Turkish cuisine and culture and publishes her articles in major national newspapers in Turkey and magazines around the world.