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Yemenite Eggplant in Spicy Tomato Sauce

Many people are familiar with the Neapolitan version of eggplant in tomato sauce, but this Yemeni version has a bit more kick to it. Both utilize garlic and tomato, but the addition of cumin, paprika, and other spices makes this eggplant recipe one you'll truly savor.


  • 1 large eggplant (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • onions
  • 6 tablespoons additional oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 3/4 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped or 2 28-ounce cans plum tomatoes, drained
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste, optional
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced


  1. Cut peel from eggplant. Remove ends. Cut eggplant into 3/8 inch crosswise slices.
  2. Sprinkle slices lightly but evenly with salt on both sides and put in a colander.
  3. Place colander over a bowl. In addition, place a second bowl on top of the eggplant slices in the colander. Put something heavy inside this second bowl. Let weighted eggplant drain for 30 minutes.
  4. Turn the eggplant slices over at this point and continue the weighting, draining process for another 30 minutes.
  5. Pat dry with paper towels.
  6. Heat oil for onions in saucepan.
  7. Add onion and sauté over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes until onions are soft and light golden.
  8. Add cumin, paprika, and turmeric.
  9. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  10. Add tomatoes and cayenne. Stir well.
  11. Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil.
  12. Reduce heat and cook over low heat, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until tomatoes are very soft.
  13. Add tomato paste. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as desired.
  14. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  15. Heat 3 tablespoons of remaining oil and sauté half the eggplant for 2 minutes on each side.
  16. Set sautéed eggplant aside and continue sauting procedure with remaining eggplant.
  17. Lightly oil a shallow 5-cup baking dish.
  18. Arrange alternate layers of eggplant and sauce, ending with sauce.
  19. Bake 30 minutes or until eggplant is very tender, basting occasionally. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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Hmmmm. Garlic is listed at the end of the recipe but nothing in the instructions about where or when to add it. I'm going to treat it like 99% of other recipes and saute it with the onion. Otherwise it would go in with the tomato sauce raw and that might be a bit 'much'.


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