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Stuffed aubergine boats
Middle Eastern
Sharing plate
45 mins
Vegetables/vegetarian
Easy
Serves
4 as a main or 8 as part of a larger spread of dishes

Warm, pillowy eggplants are roasted to soften the insides, then topped with highly spiced ground lamb, and the affair is finished with a final hot turn as cheese melts.

The recipe uses our version of baharat or Lebanese mixed spice. You can use ready-made baharat or Lebanese seven-spice mix, which can be found in supermarkets, but they will give a slightly different flavour to the end result, so make your own if you want to recreate the Honey & Co flavour at home. Our spice mixes are the essence of our cooking.

Our sweet spice mix is used mostly for cakes and baked goods, but also for savoury preparations that require a lighter touch. Most importantly, it is the base for the savoury spice mix, giving it an extra layer of flavour.

Honey & Co. At Home: Middle-Eastern recipes from our kitchen by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, published by Pavilion Books. Image credit to Patricia Niven.

Recipe courtesy of
Ingredients

For roasting the boats

  • 4 small aubergines
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • a generous sprinkling each of salt and pepper

For the filling

  • 1 large onion (about 140g/5oz), peeled and finely diced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g/14oz/13⁄4 cups minced lamb
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baharat spice mix (see below)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp tomato puree

For the topping

  • 10–12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 80g/2¾ oz feta, crumbled
  • leaves from a few sprigs of parsley, chopped

For the baharat spice mix

  • 1 dried chilli
  • 3 tsp coriander seeds
  • 4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp ground pimento/allspice
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp sweet spice mix

For the sweet spice mix

  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 6 cloves
  • 1⁄2 nutmeg
  • 1 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp whole mahleb seeds
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
Method
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Method
  1. Halve the aubergines lengthways. Use a small knife to score the flesh of the aubergines in a criss-cross pattern, taking care not to cut through the skin. Mix the olive oil with the garlic, salt and pepper, and brush very generously all over the flesh of the aubergines. Place on a tray in the oven and roast, cut-side up, for 15–20 minutes or until the flesh is beautifully golden and feels soft when pressed. Remove from the oven.
  2. In the meantime, place the diced onion and oil in a frying pan over a high heat and cook until golden. Add the minced lamb and salt, keep the heat high and use a spoon to break the meat into little pieces so that it starts to brown. Mix in the spices and cook for 3–4 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree and 4 tbsp of water, and continue to stir while it cooks for a further 3 minutes.
  3. Spoon the mince onto the roasted aubergine boats, using up all the mixture, and spread to cover the cut surfaces. Top with the tomato halves and feta, and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with the chopped parsley just before serving.

For the baharat spice mix

  1. Heat your oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/gas mark 5. Crack the dried chilli open and shake out the seeds.
  2. Place the deseeded chilli on a baking tray with the coriander and cumin seeds, and roast for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the tray.
  3. Crumble the chilli between your fingers, then grind to a powder with the other roasted spices. Mix with the dried ground spices and store in a dry, airtight container. It will keep for up to six months, but ideally use within two months for the full effect.

For the sweet spice mix

  1. Heat your oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/gas mark 5. Roast the cardamom pods, cloves and nutmeg on a baking tray for 5 minutes, then add the fennel and mahleb seeds and roast for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before grinding to a fine powder.
  2. Mix with the pre-ground ginger and cinnamon, and store in a dry, airtight container. This will keep for up to six months, but I always think you should try to use it within two months to get the flavour at its best.

The Pass was created to help the many people now struggling to feed themselves and their families as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. If you like or use this recipe, please consider making a small donation to Hospitality Action to help those whose livelihoods have all but disappeared.

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