Marags (stews) are essential on any Iraqi dining table.Their presence is as comforting as it is fulfilling, and the combination of a saucey nutritive stew is easy on the digestion, without risking being boring, like soup.
Aubergine, or eggplant stew (مرقة الباذانجان) is one of my favorites made as vegan. However, when feeding family, one must incorporate meat into the stew.
You can easily omit the meat to make it vegan/vegetarian, or substitute it with chicken to make it more cholesterol-friendly.
Also to reduce fat, you can skip frying the aubergines and just pop them in the stew raw where they will poach. Needless to say, it is more flavorsome if fried.
750 g meat on bone (ex: lamb shanks)
1 bay leaf
1 can tomato, pureed
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp chili
1 tsp salt
Cut the aubergines into thick strips or cubes, salt excessively, and set aside for 30 to 45 minutes.
Rinse the salt off the aubergines and pat dry.
Fry until golden brown, drain on paper towel from excess oil; set aside.
Heat the ghee or oil in a large pot.
Sear the meat on both sides until well browned.
Add the bay leaves and the chopped or sliced onion, and enough boiled water to cover the meat by an inch.
Cover and let simmer, skim if necessary, over medium low heat for an hour, adding some boiled water if too thick or drying out.
Add the canned tomato, paprika, pepper, oregano, and chili.
Boil covered over medium heat for another hour.
Add the teaspoon of salt, and the fried aubergines, gently swirling to incorporate.
Avoid mixing with a spoon because the aubergines are delicate and you do not want to turn them to mush.
Serve with rice.