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Lamb and Aubergine Stew

by Elizabeth David from At Elizabeth David’s Table

The delightful combination of lamb and aubergine makes up this dish. By Elizabeth David, this lamb and aubergine stew is enriched with tomato, basil and cumin.

From the book


In countries where aubergines flourish and are cheap, and where meat is scarce and expensive, a dish such as this one would be made with more aubergines and less meat, and the rice would be the really filling element of the meal. It can be cooked in a frying pan or sauté pan, or any wide and shallow utensil of rather large capacity.

Should you have a little mutton or lamb stock available – about 300ml/½ pint – omit the tomatoes and use the stock instead, adding it at the same stage of the cooking. This system makes a dish which has more distinction than the tomato-enriched version.

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2 small aubergines
4 tbsp oil
1 large onion
750g–1kg / 1½–2lb shoulder or middle neck of lamb boned and cut into 2.5-cm/1-inch cubes
fresh or dried mint or basil
250g / ½lb tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
2 heaped tsp cumin seeds or ground cumin if you prefer.


Slice the unpeeled aubergines into quarters and then into 1-cm/½-inch cubes, put them in a colander, sprinkle them with a tablespoon of salt, put a plate and a weight on the top and leave them for at least an hour so that the excess moisture drains out. Before cooking them press them as dry as you can.

Heat the oil in a heavy 25–30cm/10–12-inch frying or sauté pan and put in the thinly sliced onion. When it has just begun to take colour put in the meat, plentifully sprinkled with the herbs, salt and pepper. Turn the meat cubes over and over until they are nicely browned. (If this operation is neglected the dish will be pallid and sad-looking.) Remove the meat and onion to a dish with a draining spoon and into the same oil put the aubergine cubes. Cover the pan and let them cook gently for 10 minutes, giving a stir from time to time.

Now return the meat and onions to the pan, add the skinned and roughly chopped tomatoes, the crushed garlic and the heated and pounded cumin seeds. Cover the pan again, let it simmer very gently for I hour. Or, if it is more convenient, cook it only for 45 minutes and then heat it up very slowly for half an hour the next day. Strew with more mint or basil before serving. Plain boiled rice or pilaff rice goes with this dish.


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