Make Ahead

Eggplant & Tomato Stew With Pomegranate Molasses

August 23, 2013
6 Ratings
  • Cook time 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Make bademjan, as this stew is called in Farsi, on a lazy day when you have time to caramelize the onions until they’re dark and sweet, then cook the stew and let it rest for a while on the stove before eating to let the flavors develop. It’s important to use Japanese eggplants in this recipe, because their flesh is sweeter than regular eggplant and they have fewer and smaller seeds. Traditionally, the eggplant is fried before being added to the stew; but in the interest of health, I’ve chosen to roast it instead, using very little oil, and I’m happy to report that the result is simply delectable. I prefer to use a sweetened pomegranate molasses in this recipe, but if you have the unsweetened variety, you can add a shot of honey to balance the flavors: start with 1 tablespoon and sweeten to taste. You can bake off the eggplant and cook the split peas the day before. (This recipe is from The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia.) —Louisa Shafia

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: How to Turn 7 Eggplants Into a Week of Meals. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 pounds Japanese eggplant, peeled and diced
  • Sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 cup split peas
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium to large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, boiling
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Spread the eggplant on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring gently every 10 minutes to prevent sticking. When the eggplant is completely soft, let it cool to room temperature.
  3. While the eggplant cooks, combine the split peas with the water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes, until the peas are tender. Drain and season with 1 teaspoon salt.
  4. Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven or a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes, until it starts to darken, then cook slowly over low heat for about 30 minutes, until it is dark brown and about half its original volume. Add the eggplant, tomatoes, turmeric, cinnamon, pomegranate molasses, garlic, split peas, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour. Uncover and simmer for 15 minutes, until the stew is thick.
  5. Turn off the heat and let the stew rest for 15 to 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • CurioCook
  • Tracy Downes
    Tracy Downes
  • Robin Duncan
    Robin Duncan
  • Edamamemonster
  • Petite fee
    Petite fee
My cookbook The New Persian Kitchen is a winner of Food52's Piglet award. I love cooking Iranian rice and hearing people crunch on the crispy tahdig from the bottom of the pot. I'm passionate about sharing the ingredients and techniques for making Persian food in my writing, cooking classes, and online store, Feast By Louisa where you can find my Persian Spice Set, Tahdig Kit, and other goodies.

23 Reviews

CurioCook April 12, 2019
Made this recipe again after many years, and it is still amazing! While somewhat labor-intensive, the process is not as daunting as it may look, as baking the eggplant, making the split peas, and caramelizing the onions can be done simultaneously. Then the stewing process is "hands off" - don't shortchange the time for this as it is key to a flavorful outcome! I love this vegetarian version of the dish, thank you!!
CurioCook April 12, 2019
Oh! And I used regular eggplants as Japanese eggplants are nearly impossible to find in New Zealand shops, where I live, and it's just fine with the regular variety. Making sure they're sufficiently cooked is important to avoid toughness. 40 mins baking was perfect.
nancy S. September 14, 2018
I thought this was a very strange recipe....You need to use less than half of the liquid in the recipe, I used a 425 gm can of lentils rather than split peas, and unfortunately baked the eggplant as she suggested...rather than frying that would have given it more colour. It was delicious but had to I crisp fried additional eggplant slices and then topped them with this mixture and sprinkled over crumbled feta cheese. It was divine.
Tina December 17, 2019
I think the recipe calls for dried split peas, not pre-cooked split peas, which is why you need more liquid.
Nishant May 26, 2017
Delightful! Mine is an Indian / British home, but we make something very similar at home.
Louisa S. May 26, 2017
What's in your version? Curious!
Tracy D. November 15, 2016
I made this last night. I didn't have any split peas but did have canned green lentils that I used instead. A fantastic, healthy and delicious recipe. I served it with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and some coriander - truly delicious.
judy August 20, 2016
I have an amazing mulberry molassas I used with this recipe--delish. Thank you.
Robin D. June 15, 2016
Regular green splits
Fatemah R. June 15, 2016
Hi sounds fab. Are the s split peas the yellow variety or green split peas?
Robin D. August 5, 2014
I cooked the split peas for 40 minutes per recipe and they were nothing but mush. Was that the intention? The package/bag directions were to cook for 25 minutes
maite October 24, 2013
Looks amazing, but what would be a good substitute for tomatoes?
Louisa S. October 26, 2013
Interesting question. If for some reason you can't eat tomatoes (maybe too much acid?), you could substitute diced winter squash like butternut or pumpkin, and adjust the acid with some lemon juice and extra pomegranate molasses.
lynx60489 September 4, 2013
Hi Louisa, I absolutely love eggplants and can't wait to try this stew. Quick question, how did you come up with the addition of split peas in this recipe and what do they add (texture, flavor)? I followed your links to the other Khoresht e Bademjan and none of them seem to call for split peas.
Louisa S. September 4, 2013
Hi lynx60489,
Great question. I added the split peas to give the stew body and thickness, without them it would be too thin. They're actually a traditional Iranian ingredient, you'll see split peas in other stews. This being a vegetarian stew, I wanted it to be able to stand alone as a main course, and the beans make the dish satisfying and give it protein.
lynx60489 September 5, 2013
Hi Louisa,

I prepped the split peas and eggplant yesterday and finished making the rest of the stew tonight. It was wonderful and I suspect it will be even better tomorrow! Both my boyfriend and I loved it.

I ended up adding 1 lb of cubed lamb shoulder and halving the amount of broth. I am really glad I did since my stew turned out really runny as is.

Also, I liked the split peas so much that I am thinking of upping the quantity to 3/4 cups next time.

Thanks for sharing a great and healthy dish! It is a great alternative to the Moroccan and Lebanese stews I frequently make. I loved it!
Louisa S. September 6, 2013

Excellent! I'm glad you riffed on the stew and made it your own. Sounds delish! Yes, experiment with adding more split peas and see how it comes out. And sometimes the texture ends up being perfect the next day, after everything has had a chance to mingle.
Edamamemonster September 3, 2013
If I can't find pomegranate molasses is there something else I can use as a substitute?
vivian W. September 3, 2013
You mentioned meat in the beginning. What kind of meat would be used and how and when do you incorporate it? I have eaten this dish in several Persian restaurants and love it.
Louisa S. September 3, 2013
Hi Vivian, I've seen it made with either lamb or chicken. If using either one, you would brown them with the onions during step 4. For a more detailed explanation, here is a version of the recipe on Food & Farsi that uses chicken, and here's one on Persian Recipes that uses lamb or beef
vivian W. September 3, 2013
Thanks! That will be very helpful.
Petite F. September 2, 2013 food!!
Lily September 2, 2013
This looks delectable! Eggplants are showing up at my local farmer's market so I can't wait to make this stew!