The word fateh means “crushed” or “crumbs” in Arabic, and refers to the bread layer of this dish. You can think of fatet betinjan as a sophisticated middle-eastern eggplant casserole. The crunchy layer of pita and tangy layer of yogurt compliment the rich ground-beef stuffed eggplant very elegantly & will have your guests begging for more.
Prep & cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: 3 if served as a main dish; 6 if served as an appetizer
6 baby (Indian) eggplants*
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 pound 90/10 grass fed ground beef
1 small onion, cut into thin half-moon slices
3 ounces tomato paste (buy one in a glass jar to make it BPA-free!)
1 tablespoon white whole wheat flour
3 3/4 cups water, boiled
16 ounces low-fat plain organic yogurt
2 tbsp. tahini
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Bread or ‘Casserole’ Layer
1.5 pieces medium whole wheat pita bread
1.5 pieces medium white pita bread
1/8 cup almonds
1/8 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup parsley
Oils & Spices
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon 7 spice mix*
- Preheat over to 385 degrees.
- Core out the insides of the eggplant with a zucchini corer, taking note to keep a bit of meat on the eggplants.
- Divide 1/2 tsp oil among each of the eggplants, and baste on outside with a silicone brush (or with the best & most convenient tool—our hands!)
- Place eggplant in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. *Keep oven preheated for bread layer preparation below.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet. Add finely chopped onions and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add ground beef to skillet, and break up & incorporate with onions. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon 7 spice mix*. Cook on medium heat for approximately 5 minutes or until meat is browned. Transfer meat to a plate and allow to cool.
- Once you have removed eggplant from oven and allowed to cool for a few minutes, begin to stuff eggplant with ground beef mixture. Use a tablespoon to do so, or for a less proper albeit easier method—use those useful hands!
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot. Add half-moon sliced onions and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add flour to pot and mix well until onions are coated.
- Add tomato paste and mix along with onions and flour mixture for 3 minutes.
- Quickly add boiling water to pot. Raise heat to medium high, and stir mixture until tomato paste has dissolved to yield a broth.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper in to broth. Cover, reduce heat to medium low & let the flavors marry for 25 minutes. You will see that the color darkens and the broth grows thicker.
- Place eggplant into tomato broth, and allow to boil along with it for 2-3 minutes.
- Turn heat off under pot. For best results, allow eggplant to stew in tomato broth for up to one hour. If you don’t have the time, your eggplant fateh will still be delicious!
- Add yogurt, lemon, garlic, and 1/8 tsp salt to a bowl and mix well. Set aside in refrigerator until ready to use.
Bread or ‘Casserole’ Layer‘
- Put pita bread into one inch squares.
- Place on a baking sheet & drizzle olive oil on top.
- Place in oven for 15 minutes, taking note to remove when golden brown.
- Place almonds & pine nuts on a baking sheet and place in preheated oven (385 degrees) for 5 minutes, taking note to remove when golden brown.
- Roughly chop parsley and set aside.
Assembly (just when you thought the time would never come!)
- Heat broth & eggplant on high for 5 minutes.
- Place toasted pita bread in a 13×9 inch pyrex.
- Ladle 3 spoonfuls of broth out on top of bread.
- Using a large spoon, spread yogurt mixture on top of bread & broth layer.
- Using a ladle, place eggplant on top of yogurt layer, one by one.
- Top with toasted pine nuts, almonds, and chopped parsley.
And sahtein—or deux healths!
* Baby or Indian eggplants are a small variety of eggplant that are typically only a few inches long. They are round, egg shaped with dark purple skin.
*Arabic seven spice mix is actually made up of eight spices, including ground black pepper, cumin, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, and paprika. Find this mix at your local Mediterranean market.