Persian Eggplant and Tomato Stew (Khoresh Bademjan)

Khoresh Bademjan Persian Eggplant and Tomato Stew
Persian Eggplant and Tomato Stew. © Miri Rotkovitz
  • 51 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 36 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4
Ratings (12)

Khoresh, (sometimes spelled khoresht) or stew, is a mainstay of Persian cuisine. While Khoresh Bademjan, or Eggplant Stew, often includes meat, it's a recipe well suited to vegetarian adaptations. This vegan version makes a delicious main dish served over plain steamed rice or crusty Tahdig. (For a less traditional take, serve it over quinoa or couscous. For dairy-eating vegetarians, the optional Yogurt Herb Sauce ties everything together nicely. 

Ingredient Tip: Pomegranate molasses -- a thick syrup made from reduced pomegranate juice and sugar -- gives the stew a distinctive tang and depth of flavor. You can find it in Middle Eastern markets and at some specialty groceries, or make your own with this recipe

On the Holiday Table: Stews like this one are ideal for cool weather al fresco dining during Sukkot. And since the palace intrigues of the Purim story took place in ancient Persia, this dish is the perfect addition to a Persian cuisine-inspired Purim seudah (feast). 

What You'll Need

  • For the Eggplant and Tomato Stew:
  • 1 1/2 pounds eggplant (stemmed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion (trimmed, peeled, and finely sliced)
  • 3 large cloves garlic (peeled, smashed, and finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (sea or kosher, plus extra for salting the eggplant)
  • 1 can/28 ounces tomatoes (whole and peeled; drained)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses (storebought or homemade)
  • Optional: 1 pinch saffron
  • For the Yogurt Herb Sauce:
  • 1 container/6 to 7 ounces yogurt (plain) 
  • 1/4 cup dill (fresh, chopped)
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic (smashed, peeled, and finely chopped)
  • Optional: 1 pinch salt

How to Make It

  1. Place the eggplant in a large colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with a generous pinch or two of sea or kosher salt and set aside. 
  2.  In a Dutch oven or large chef's pan set over medium high heat, warm the oil. Add the onions and saute until they are soft and translucent, and beginning to brown in spots, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and salt, and saute until the onions are coated and the spices are aromatic, about 1 minute more.
  1. Add the eggplant to the pan (if it has released a lot of liquid, pat it dry with paper towels or a clean tea towel first). Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute, turning to coat the eggplant in the onion and spice mixture, until the eggplant turns tender and shrinks in volume, about 8 to 10 minutes. 
  2. Stir in the tomatoes, using the spoon to break them apart into large chunks. Add the water, pomegranate molasses, and saffron, if using. Stir well. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook covered for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot over rice, quinoa or couscous. Top with the optional yogurt herb sauce, plain yogurt, and/or fresh chopped herbs, if desired. 
  3. To make the optional yogurt sauce: In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, dill, garlic, and salt, if using. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.