Braised Moroccan Eggplant

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Ingredients

  • 1 large Italian eggplant, about 1 lb (500 g), trimmed and cut into ½-inch (12-mm) cubes
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp each ground cumin and sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 can (14 oz/440 g) whole plum tomatoes, with juice
  • ¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • ½ cup (¾ oz/20 g) each chopped fresh mint and cilantro
  • 2 tbsp minced preserved lemon peel (optional)

Method

Put the eggplant cubes in a colander, sprinkle with 1 tsp salt, and toss to coat evenly. Set the colander in a sink and let the eggplant stand for 10 minutes (liquid will bead up on the flesh). Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the cumin, paprika, and coriander. Pour the tomatoes and their juice into a bowl and crush the tomatoes with your hand or a potato masher.

In a large sauté pan or wok, warm the oil and garlic over medium-high heat, swirling the pan to flavor the oil with the garlic, until the garlic starts to sizzle but does not color, about 1 minute. Add the eggplant (do not rinse off salt) and stir until well coated with the oil. Pour in ¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) water and bring it to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until the eggplant is tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover and gently stir in the tomatoes. Raise the heat to medium-high and let cook, uncovered, at a brisk simmer, shaking the pan occasionally, until the tomatoes thicken, about 10 minutes longer.

Remove from the heat, gently stir in the mint and cilantro, and remove and discard the garlic, if desired. Transfer the eggplant to a serving dish, sprinkle with the preserved lemon, if using, and serve warm or at room temperature.

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