This recipe is a great hearty brunch dish, or even a delicious dinner. Typically Syrian, It marries all the flavors of the Bilad el Sham (Middle East) in one dish. It consist of several layers including fried eggplant, tomato sauce, ground meat, toasted pita bread and a savory garlic yogurt sauce.
This is not super necessary, but people claim that salting the eggplants and leaving them for a bit will allow the eggplant to release water and reduce its bitterness. You can do it if you want, or not. It needs around 30 minutes to 1 hour, so if you are going to do it, start now. Also, you're going to have to tap them dry before frying them later on! So make sure you have paper towels on hand.
Toast the Pita Bread
Preheat the oven to 210ºC / 425ºF. It doesn't need to be precise, we're just going to the toast the bread here.
Combine the cut up pita in a large bowl, and add the olive oil. Toss together then spread onto a baking tray (lined with parchment or foil).
Bake in the oven until it's golden and crispy. Keep an eye on it, because they brown quickly.
Remove, leave to cool and store in a ziplock or tupperware.
You can also make extra here if you plan on making fattoush later on! These crispy breads last for 1 week in a sealed environment.
Make the Yogurt Mix
Add all the yogurt mix ingredients together in a bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Make the Tomato Tamarind Sauce
Use a large sauté pan with a lid. It has to be big enough to hold 1kg of ingredients!
In the large sauté pan, sauté the onion rings in the sunflower oil, for around 15 minutes or until they start to become golden.
Add the the rest of the ingredients (passata, tamarind and salt). Stir and wait till it comes to boil. Then turn the heat down to medium low, cover and stew for 30 minutes.
Fry the Eggplants
In another heavy bottomed pot (or your go-to deep frying pot or pan), add the sunflower oil and begin to fry the eggplant rings a few at a time.
Fry on both sides until golden. Eggplants drink up alot of oil, so make sure to put them on paper towns after that to soak up the oil.
Sauté the Meat
In a frying pan, heat up the olive oil, and sauté the minced meat along with the other ingredients (black pepper, salt, cinnamon).
This should take around 10 minutes until all the meat is cooked through.
Layering the Fetté
So technically you are done all the layers. Now it's time to layer them into the serving plate. Make sure you layer it to serve immediately or maximum in 30 minutes. It's edible after that, but it's best served fresh. You can layer individual plates for each person, or into 1 large dish that people can scoop from.
Layer the bread as the first layer, covering the whole bottom of the dish. Save a bit of crispy bread for topping it later.
Add the yogurt mixture.
Add the tomato tamarind mixture.
Add the fried eggplants.
Add the minced meat mixture.
Scatter toasted pinenuts and parsely and some crispy bread on top.
That is it! Serve the dish and enjoy!
Try and make the layers ahead of time so you're not completely overwhelemed by the steps in this dish! It comes together really easily at the end, and everyone will thank you for it!