Recipe: VEGAN Persian Gheimeh Bademjoon (Split Pea Eggplant Stew)

I have made it my life's goal to "veganize" all my favorite traditional Persian recipes.  We started a cookbook years ago, and just never finished it.  Maybe someday...

Now, this recipe sounds crazy impossible.  It's best to think about it not in steps, but in, say, a timeline.  Persian food is an art, not a science, so if you're used to linear recipes, this may freak you out.  But it's WELL worth it.  Just because it's a bit tricky to make, I'm allowing for leftovers (serves 10).  Be sure to read the ENTIRE recipe BEFORE you get started.  It's just about non-stop cooking for two hours, so we only make Persian food about once a week.  My mother in law has it down to a science where she's making several dishes at once!  Just take a deep breath -- after all, saffron is a proven anti-depressant!

 Ingredients you will need:

  • 1.5 cups yellow split peas
  • 4 cups long grain brown or white basmati rice (this is important -- you can use other kinds, but it's just not the same)
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 6-7 dried limes (found at Persian food stores; if you can't find them, use 1/8 cup lime juice)
  • 3-4 Japanese eggplant (optional: this recipe works just as well without the eggplant)
  • 1 tsp Persian saffron (Spanish saffron has an entirely different flavor)
  • 1 glass jar, 1 glass tea cup  (don't worry, you don't have to eat them)
  • Deep fryer (healthier option: bake the fries until crispy)
  • 2 medium white onions
  • Grapeseed oil (you'll need quite a bit, so I've left off amounts)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
  • 3 oz tomato paste (half of a can)
  • 1 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 container veggie broth (or 3 veggie bouillons)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • salt to taste (we used 3 tsp)
  • Unsweetened soy yogurt (optional)
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I soaked the rice in the butter, water, and oil just to save time.

TWO HOURS BEFORE COOKING:

  1. Soak split peas in water for two hours
  2. Prepare rice in rice cooker but don't turn it on (it needs to soak, too):
    • 4 cups rice
    • 5 cups water
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/4 cup oil
    • 2-3 tbsp salt
  3. Soak dried limes in water for two hours
  4. Prepare eggplant (optional):
    IMG_0658

    Soaking the dried lemons.

    • Wash, peel and cut eggplants in half, place on baking sheet
    • Coat both sides with oil and sprinkle with salt
    • Bake in 375* oven until brown, flipping once (about 15 mins each side)
  5. Prepare potatoes:
    • Wash and peel
    • Slice most with mandolin on julienne setting, set about 3/4 of a potato aside
    • Slice remaining potato into large slices, about 1/4" thick -- this will cover the bottom of the rice cooker and form "tahdeeg" (means: "bottom of the pan")
    • Soak in water for 2 hours -- this prevents the potatoes from becoming orange

1.5 - 2  HOURS BEFORE DINNER:

  1. Chop onions very finely -- cut each in fourths, then slice them into radii -- if you get this wrong, don't worry, just know the thinner the better.
    IMG_0663

    Slicing the onions finely adds to a smoother texture.

  2. Sauté onions in grapeseed oil (enough to cover the pan) until they're brown and even a little burnt. This will take a while, so in the meantime...
    IMG_0680

    See how the onions get crispy and a tad burnt?

  3. Prepare saffron --  Crush in mortar and pestle and place in glass jar
    • Add 1/2 cup boiling water and stir
    • Set aside on a warmer (if possible)
  4. Boil 3 cups of water.
  5. Once the onions are ready, add the tomato paste and sauté until the onions are covered. Reduce heat.
  6. Add 1 tsp turmeric, tomato sauce, boiling water, 1 tsp. black pepper, and veggie broth. This is now your stew.
  7. Drain split peas, and add to stew.
  8. Start rice in the rice cooker -- on highest setting.
  9. Bring stew to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes.
  10. Drain julienned potatoes, deep fry them and set aside on a paper towel to drain the oil. (I know, YUCK, but I wanted it to be authentic)
  11. To the stew: add salt to taste, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and HALF of the saffron liquid.
  12. When rice is halfway ready (the water is all evaporated), prepare the tahdeeg:
    • Remove rice and place in a bowl
    • Add oil to the bottom of the rice cooker
    • Layer drained, sliced potatoes
    • Replace rice
    • Pour remaining saffron (1/4 cup) into a glass tea cup and nestle it in the rice
    • Replace lid and allow to finish cooking
  13. Cover stew with the eggplant, cook for 20 more minutes.
  14. To the stew: add drained dried lemons (or lemon juice), cook for 10 more minutes (or until split peas are tender). NOTE: You don't actually eat the dried lemons, they just flavor the dish. Some people love to eat them, but they're SUPER sour.
  15. Place rice in a serving dish, drizzle the saffron over the rice, top with tahdeeg.
  16. Pour stew into a serving dish, sprinkle fries over the stew.
  17. Serve stew over saffron-drizzled rice and unsweetened soy yogurt.  Serve the tahdeeg on the side (it's like crispy fried potatoes).

*Short on time? Leave out eggplant, buy prepackaged fries (the thinner the better), prepare the rice the day before.*

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Nestling the saffron in the rice cooker enhances the aroma of the rice.

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I used an old baby food jar for preparing my saffron.

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This veggie stock has no MSG and is unsalted.

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Traditionally, the potatoes are deep fried. You can bake yours if you like.

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Serving suggestion.

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Preparing the "tahdeeg."

 

One Response to Recipe: VEGAN Persian Gheimeh Bademjoon (Split Pea Eggplant Stew)

  1. FruityGirl says:

    Sounds fantastic!!!!! 🙂

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