Eggplant Stuffed with Meat

Sheikh el Mahshi Batinjaan

        20 small cylindrical eggplant
        1 1/2 cups minced lamb or beef
        1/4 cup pine nuts
        3/4 cup minced onions
        1 1/4 tsp. salt
        1/2 tsp. pepper
        1 1/2 cups fresh tomato juice, or diluted tomato paste
        1 cup water
        1 cup (or more) samneh, (or other shortening)
Clean eggplant and trim stems to about half an inch. Do no remove hulls. Partially peel, leaving lengthwise strips of alternating peel and flesh. Fry eggplant until soft in hot samneh. Drain into shallow baking pan or pyrex baking dish. Fry chopped onions in samneh until yellow. Add meat, pine nuts, salt and pepper and fry until meat is well done. Slit each eggplant lengthwise to form a pocket. Gently press several spoonfuls of stuffing into the slits. Cover with tomato juice, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Simmer on top of stove 15 minutes and then bake 15 minutes in hot oven to brown the tops. Serve hot in the baking dish. Good with Lebanese rice.

(From Food from the Arab World Marie Karam Khayat and Margaret Clark Keatinge, Khayat's, Beirut 1959)