Persian Lamb Eggplant Potato Casserole

by R.B. Quinn

We find home cooking inspiration on every aisle of the Iraqi markets that populate Nashville’s Nolensville Road international corridor. In addition to the seemingly endless array of unfamiliar ingredients to experiment with, the merchants, bakers, butchers, and shawarma stand guys are invariably kind, generous, and friendly. They always seem glad to see us. I wonder if they feel as welcome in other parts of town.

The ground, seasoned lamb for quick kabobs is a regular purchase and grills beautifully on metal skewers. But, when a cold, rainy night calls for indoor cooking, a pound of this meat is the key to a Persian-style casserole. Delicious and elegant (or homey, as the occasion requires), this dish is an easily layered combination of:

  • cooked ground meat
  • roasted eggplant, any shape you like
  • boiled sliced potatoes
  • onion and garlic sautéed in oil, with a can of diced tomatoes mixed in
  • a little shredded cheese, like Parmesan, scattered on top.

Cover the dish, slide it into a hot oven, and you’re there. That’s the whole game.

The approach in this recipe leaves plenty of space for you to adjust whatever you need in order for this dish to suit your parameters of the moment. If you’re off potatoes, make a couple of cups of brown basmati or jasmine rice in your electric rice cooker to serve with.

A note about the meat: big range of options here — from skip it entirely to use any ground meat you like — beef, lamb, beef/lamb blend, chicken, or turkey. When we don’t have the already-seasoned lamb from Iraqi markets, we season the meat with whatever shawarma seasoning packet falls out of the spice cabinet first, like this one:

Related Posts