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Author Notes: Yatimcheh, literally "little orphan" is a simple eggplant dish served with one’s own bowl of vinaigrette (a mixture of red wine vinegar, chopped white onion, and dried mint.) A specialty of my father's hometown of Kermanshah in the Western region of Iran--I'd never tried this dish before and when I did, it was, no exaggeration, a revelation! Easy to make, outstandingly delicious (a mixture of flavors and textures in every bite–in no small measure thanks to the tangy, crunchy, aromatic vinaigrette), fun to eat, and elegant to boot! —Fig and Quince
For the eggplant
- 6 Chinese eggplants
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, grated (optional)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
For the vinaigrette
- 1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
- 4 teaspoons dried mint
- 1 small-sized onion, chopped
- Skin eggplants, stab each one a few times with a fork to make holes, sprinkle with salt and let stand for an hour, then rinse, dry, and chop into one inch cubes.
- In a big-enough frying pan heat oil and saute onion for a few minutes until soft and caramelized, then add minced garlic, ginger,turmeric, and a pinch of salt. Stir to mix, and continue to saute for another minute.
- Add the chopped eggplants to the pan, stir to mix, and continue to saute mixture for a bit (no longer than a minute.) Then cover frying pan with a lid (or transfer mixture to a lidded pot) and cook on low heat for approximately 15 minutes until all the eggplant juice is absorbed into the mixture and the chopped pieces are cooked and tender. Sample and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- For the vinaigrette: fill 1/2 or 2/3 of each small serving bowl with red wine vinegar, layer with 1 tablespoon of chopped white onion, and top with a sprinkling of 1 teaspoon of dried mint. (Measurements are roughly given -- defer to your own preference when layering the vinaigrette ingredients.)
- Serving: Each person gets a medium sized bowl of cooked eggplant and a small bowl of the vinaigrette. Serve with bread (flat bread or lavash would work best) and preferably some fresh herbs. Make a little bite of eggplant sandwich and chase it with a taste of the vinaigrette. Repeat till you run out of material!
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