Prep 30 mins
Cook 1 hr
This is SO great looking and it looks so much harder to make than it is. Serves four as a main course--an excellent lunch or supper dish; serves 6 - 8 as an appetizer. Lots of instructions, but really not hard at all. Serve with rice or orzo and a simple tomato sauce.
- 1 large eggplant
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1⁄4 teaspoon fresh ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- coarse salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 1⁄4 lbs lean ground lamb
- 1 teaspoon paprika (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Trim the ends from the eggplant, and peel it--here's the tricky part--in five, long peels, using a large knife--the easiest way is to stand the eggplant on end, mark the other end in fifths and saw off the skin, allowing some pulp to be attached.
- Cube the remaining eggplant and grill or roast it lightly (this instead of saute-ing which uses much more oil).
- In a large skillet, heat the oil and then saute the eggplant peels, skin side UP, by covering the pan and cooking over moderate heat about five minutes, or until the pulp is lightly browned.
- Remove the slices and allow them to cool slightly.
- Arrange them in a one and a half quart round baking dish star fashion, with the narrow end in the center of the bowl and the wide end hanging over the top edge; the five pieces of peel should be equidistant from each other and should overlap in the bottom.
- Set aside.
- In the warm skillet, saute the onion and garlic until lightly browned, then add the grilled or roasted eggplant and combine with the 3 tablespoons of tomato paste and the allspice and cinnamon. Season to taste with salt and pepper, mix well, remove from heat and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix the ground lamb with the paprika and tomato paste and, if you like some salt and pepper.
- Wet your hands, and, little by little, press the lamb onto the bowl, on top of the peels and without disturbing the pattern formed by the peels; the inside of the bowl should be completely covered with the lamb mixture, though it need not come all the way to the rim of the bowl.
- Spoon the reserved eggplant/onion mixture into the meat -lined bowl and fold the ends of the eggplant peel over the top.
- Cover the bowl closely with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let the bowl rest for 15 minutes before removing the foil.
- Invert carefully onto a platter and serve, surrounded by rice or orzo and accompanied by a tomato sauce.
I made a very small timbale (1/2 recipe) for just DH and myself and we both thought it was lovely. The spices are a critical element in the 'greekness' of th is dish. The eggplant becomes almost buttery. Yum! Served with orzo.
I made a half recipe of this dish when DH came home w/a smaller-than-normal eggplant. This dish is all about the prep & eggplant, altho cooking it essentially upside-down does allow the lovely cinnamon flavour of the eggplant to infuse the otherwise straight-forward grd lamb mixture. I made 2 expedient chgs in the prep & was faithful to the recipe otherwise. The 1st chg came early as I looked at the eggplant & said to myself - Why fifths, Kate? The eggplant is round & the dish will be round, so why not sixths? I halved the eggplant from top-to-bottom & then split ea half into 3 equal segments. It was so easy now to prepare the eggplant skin segments & remove nearly all of the eggplant pulp. I also used 1 beaten egg in the recipe, adding half of it to the meat mix & half to the eggplant mix in the hope that all the parts of the whole would hold together well - which they did. The cinnamon shines in this dish. We loved the flavour & this dish. I will make it again for us, but save the gift-wrap presentation for guests. Pls see my rating system & thx for posting this tasty & unique recipe.