Of all the recipes I’ve posted over the years, eggplant and yellow-split pea stew has been the most viewed recipe, so I created this scrumptious Vegetarian Gheymeh Bademjan Khoresht recipe for the vegetarians and vegans out there :). Just because you’re vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean you can’t have your favorite Persian stew. If you stumbled upon this post in search of the meat version of this stew, you’re in luck, because I posted the meat version of this Vegetarian Gheymeh Bademjan Khoresht back in December of 2014. Wow, how time flies!
To make the sauce, heat olive oil in a medium-sized pan over medium high-heat. Then add the chopped onions and fry for about 20 minutes or until onions are slightly golden. Mix in the chopped garlic, tomato paste, turmeric, salt and pepper and cook the mixture for about 5 minutes or until the tomato paste is fried and the oil color changes to a deep yellowish orange. By letting tomato paste brown in the pan, and sautéing it with spices and other aromatic ingredients like onions and garlic, you can boost the flavor of your sauce in a huge way.
Next, add yellow split peas, limoo amani , saffron and hot water to the onion mixture and bring it to a gentle boil. Lower the heat to medium low, cover and cook the stew for about 20 minutes or until the split peas are almost tender.
Prior to adding the Persian limes limoo amani, place them on the counter over a towel. Hold them with one hand so they don’t roll off the counter and use your other hand to pierce them with a fork. This is done so that the stew’s cooking liquid flows through the holes in the limes infusing the stew with their scented tang and subtle complexity.
While the split peas are cooking, start preparing your eggplants. First cut the top stems off. Then using a sharp knife remove the leafy part overlapping the flesh by making a shallow cut around the head of each eggplant. And, finally peel the skin with a vegetable peeler. Keeping the head prevents the eggplant from disintegrating while cooking and it also makes a nicer presentation.
Fry the eggplants until golden brown.
As the split peas start cooking, the sauce begins to thickens. Split peas may require less or more water to cook depending on how old they are. The older split peas need more water to rehydrate, so make sure to adjust the amount of liquid in your stew. Add more water if it seems to be too thick. You can always cook off the extra liquid by taking the lid off.
Gently press the Persian limes against the side of the pan with the back of a spoon to release their scented and tart juices into the stew. This is done to expedite the process, because it takes time for the dry limes to rehydrate and soften and for their juices to flow through the sauce.
When the split peas are ready, gently arrange the eggplants over them. Cover the pan and cook the stew over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until the eggplants are tender. Don’t stir the stew to keep the eggplants intact.
ALWAYS taste and adjust the seasoning. Just an extra amount of added seasoning toward the end could make a big difference in how your food tastes.
This dish is even better if made a day in advance or if left to sit awhile after cooking to allow the flavors to blend.
Vegetarian Gheymeh Bademjan Khoresht
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 hour 5 min
Ready in: 1 hour and 20 min
Yields: 4 Servings
1 large onion peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons regular olive oil plus ½ cup for frying eggplants
3 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped (optional)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon black ground pepper
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
pinch of saffron (optional)
3 large or 5 small limoo amani pierced with fork
¾ cup yellow split peas, picked over, rinsed and drained
3¼ cups hot water
4 Japanese eggplants or 1 large globe eggplant
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a medium pan. Add chopped onions and fry over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes or until onions are slightly golden. Stir occasionally to prevent onions from burning.
Mix in chopped garlic, tomato paste, turmeric, salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the tomato paste is fried and the oil color is yellowish orange.
While the stew is cooking, heat ½ cup oil in a large frying pan and brown the eggplants.
When split peas are ready, gently arrange the eggplants on top. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until the eggplants are tender. Do not stir the stew to keep the eggplants intact.
Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve over basmati rice.