Eggplant Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses

A few weeks ago I was wondering what to do with the end-of-season eggplants, tomatoes, and chiles from our garden and stumbled across this recipe from Food and Wine, which also calls for pomegranate molasses. The recipe comes from the coastal town of Antakya, Turkey. The ingredients are layered and not stirred, so the flavors of the different ingredients stay distinct. The stew is best when made ahead and allowed to mellow for a few hours before serving. I thought it needed just a touch of honey, which I will probably add next time.

Eggplant Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • One 1 1/2-pound eggplant (or enough eggplants for 1 1/2 pounds)
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup brown lentils
  • Water
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 long green chiles, such as Anaheims—stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses

Method

1 Partially peel the eggplant so it has lengthwise stripes, then cut it lengthwise into 4 slices. Score each slice on 1 side in a crosshatch pattern. Cut each slice crosswise into 3 pieces and set on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Let stand for 1 hour.

2 In a small saucepan, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the lentils.

3 Coat a small (3-quart) enameled cast-iron casserole with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. In a bowl, toss the onion with the garlic, tomatoes, green chiles, mint, tomato paste, crushed red pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt.

eggplant-lentil-stew-1.jpg
4 Rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Spread 1/2 cup of the vegetable mixture in the casserole and top with half of the eggplant. Cover with half of the lentils and half of the remaining vegetable mixture. Top with the remaining eggplant, lentils and vegetables. Pour the remaining olive oil around the side and over the vegetables, then drizzle with the pomegranate molasses.

5 Bring the stew to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the eggplant is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

26 Comments

  1. Jaspenelle

    This sounds really good! I am having a really hard time visualizing how you cut up the eggplant though. Are you taking the whole unpeeled eggplant and slicing it up lengthwise?

    Hi Jaspenelle, first peel the eggplant lengthwise so it has stripes, like a zebra. Then cut the eggplant lengthwise. Score one side of each slice with a cross hatch pattern, then cut each slice widthwise into thirds. ~Elise

  2. lydia

    In Boston, we lived down the block from a wonderful Middle East market, and I bought my first bottle of pomegranate molasses because the label was beautiful! Since then, I’ve been collecting recipes to use this delicious condiment. Though garden-grown produce is a distant memory here in the northeast, this will be lovely with store-bought eggplant and lentils from the pantry.

    PS — if you can’t find this in the stores, make your own by boiling down one quart of pomegranate juice (widely available in the markets these days) to half-cup of “molasses.”

  3. Suzanne

    When you tried to explain the cutting up of the eggplant a second time, you just copied your explanation from the recipe. Could you be more specific? What does “Score one side of each slice with a cross hatch pattern” mean?

  4. Elise

    Hi Suzanne,

    From answers.com:

    Score – To mark the surface of (meat, for example) with usually parallel cuts.

    Crosshatch –

    v.
    To mark or shade with two or more sets of intersecting parallel lines.

    n.
    A pattern made by such lines.
    The symbol (#).

    Hope that helps.

  5. Katie

    I tried this recipe for dinner last night, and it was incredible! The vegetables & lentils came out perfectly cooked and the flavors blended together so well. And the pomogranate molasses! I was sneaking sips of it all night. Thanks for posting this, Elise.

  6. Sanam

    Hi Elise, I found your website sometime ago when I was looking up recipes on line. I love what you have done with your blog and the passion that you put into it. Anyway, just wanted to say that my boyfriend made this dish and it was delicious! We are definitely going to make it again! Thanks! :)

  7. Scott from NYC

    After being seduced a few weeks ago by the photo of this dish, I finally got around to making it tonight. I added some honey into the vegetable mixture and served the whole thing over rice. WOW!

  8. Ana

    I have a question – I desperately want to make this dish, it looks amazing. But as an impoverished college student, I neither have, nor can afford a cast iron casserol dish. Is this essential? Will this dish be too tough on my measly non-stick soup pot?

    Thanks!

  9. Rose

    Ana — I think you could use your soup pot. Don’t let lack of a cast iron pan scare you away. I would watch the heat very carefully though. When I made this dish, I had to scrub a think layer of char off the bottom of my pot. Next time, I’ll cook it in the oven for more even heat. Was delish though.

  10. JK

    This is quite tasty. I made it with no trouble at all in my 3 quart stainless steel saucepan. I used only 1/3 c. olive oil & that was plenty for me. I also thought it was plenty sweet, maybe due to sweeter tomatoes? You might want to taste before adding honey.

  11. taiyyaba Qureshi

    This was delicious, Elise. Thank you. I did add the touch of honey – you’re right, it took the edge off the acidity from the tomatoes and the slight sour-bitter of the pomegranate. I also just chunked the eggplant after slicing/scoring/salting it as you suggested.

  12. sabrina

    This is absolutely delicious. But I had the same experience as Rose with the thick layer of char. Is there any reason to do it in this layered way rather than just stir everything together so it doesn’t stick to the bottom?

  13. Meg

    Made this for dinner and it was delicious. I decided to cook it on the stove top for 15 minutes and then 40 in the oven at 400 degrees. We topped it with a little feta cheese and it turned out really well!

  14. May Harris

    I made this tonight, and it was great! I added the honey (about 2 Tbsp) to the vegetable mixture and I served it over casbah couscous. My 13 year old practically licked the plate! Thanks, Elise.

  15. Hannah

    I want to express my appreciation for this blog. It has literally taught me how to cook since getting married! I love the recipes and the clear, unassuming way they are presented. Thank you.

    That being said, I want to make this soup for my in-laws. My father-in-law has a lot of food restrictions so this is one of the few recipes that will work for him. I too am wondering about cutting the eggplants — should there be any skin left on them when they begin cooking? I will follow the explicit directions you posted on how to cut them, but I am still not sure if, in the end, it should just be chopped bits without the skin or if there are unpeeled pieces being cooked.

    Thanks a lot.

    You cut peel the eggplant in stripes, so that there are some stripes of peel left on the eggplant. This means that some of the eggplant pieces will have some peel on them. ~Elise

  16. Liz

    Has anyone tried making this in a slowcooker? I’d love to hear about how long you cooked it for and how it turned out.

  17. Chris

    WOW. One of the best vegetable (vegan at that) stews I’ve had. Since it’s only veggies, use only the best you can find. Although I found half the oil was enough for me.

  18. Scott Citron

    I threw in garbanzos (not canned but dried, then soaked overnight and slightly cooked), which added a great texture to the soft lentils and eggplant. Great recipe and I’m not a vegetarian!

  19. thomas cappiello

    I found this recipe searching for pomegranate mollasses. I had bought some on a whim, because I love pomegranate.

    I didn’t do too well with this recipe; certainly didn’t “wow”. For one, it turned into mush mainly because I bought the wrong type of lentils, the red ones or petite crimson (looking for flavor and color). So may want to add a note to this recipe about that. Another contributing factor to mush was overcooking, but I had cooked it for about an hour as instructed. I don’t think you would really need to pre-cook any lentils for very long if at all if you are going to cook all this for an hour. On the otherhand, the eggplant goes to mush too, even as the somewhat thick slices as instructed, so may want to ease up on cooking time perhaps check it at 30 minutes by poking at the eggplants on top.

    I’m also not sure I like cutting the egg plants longitudinally because it seems more difficult to maintain an even thickness this way rather than in rounds (unless perhaps you square it off). Perhaps an additional photo or two on the process would help.

    All in all, this had nice flavors but I might add some additional middle eastern spices. Personally I wouldn’t add honey or sugar that’s why I like pomegranate; needs to be specific about lentil types, cooking time, eggplant thickness, to work on the texture perhaps. I know there’s debate, but I’m still not convinced salting eggplant is necessary.

    Hello Thomas, good point on the lentils. Yes, you should use brown lentils. I’ve now clarified that in the ingredients. Red lentils have a very different taste and they completely turn to mush after just a few minutes of cooking. Here’s some more information on the difference between brown, green, and red lentils. ~Elise

  20. Jen

    It was very yummy! I added dried apricots, cinnamon, and garnished with pomegranate seeds and mint at the end

  21. Hillary

    This was so delicious. I was especially happy to have finally cooked eggplant well! It’s usually the bane of my cooking, but this turned out wonderfully.

    I used thin Chinese eggplants cut into chunks for this recipe and left the skin on, and those work just as well as the larger eggplants.

  22. Alisa G

    First of all, thank you! I bought the molasses for a different recipe and had no idea what I’d do with it, and since the weather in NYC is perfect for a stew, I chose your recipe. To mention that I’ve never made stew or cooked eggplants or lentils would tell you that I’m a novice cook but a daring one.

    I was confused with the eggplant instructions but once I visualized it, it was no problem. Make ### marks all over the pieces! No problem.

    It turned out quite amazing, with a capital A. I didn’t put any honey because I’m cooking for a vegan, but next time I’d put some agave if need be. It’s slightly tart but delicious.

    Win!

  23. Itza

    This recipe is in my top 5! I couldn’t find pomogranate molasses so I made my own. So tasty and filling knocked my socks off! Can’t wait to make it again.

  24. poptop

    Used this as an accompaniment to duck and so it was perfect – the sweet tartness of the molasses and the gentle heat from the chillies off setting the richness of the duck.

    I used puy style lentils and red chillies – being what I had to hand – so very good.

  25. Carol T

    Wow! I normally don’t like any type of stew but this is amazing. I don’t even think it needs honey. I made my own pomegranate molasses and cooked the whole thing in a stainless steel pot since I don’t own an enameled cast iron casserole dish. It was perfect!

  26. Lynn Sanborne

    Yum Yum. Made for my daughter in law who is a wegan (vegan on weekdays!). I made the pomegrante molasses from scratch. It really blends in with the flavors, so hard to distinguish but, added color for sure and some sweetness. It took much less than 1. 5 hours. Probably closer to 50 minutes. Also scorched the Le Crueset pot I used, so glad I was checking regularly.

    I also found the directions for the eggplant confusing, but just winged it and it turned out great. Used 1 jalapeno, because that’s what I had on hand and certainly didn’t use as much oil as called for. Served over Israeli couscous. Next time though would probably serve over brown rice for the chewiness factor.

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