This is a dish I tasted last year in Antakya at a restaurant for the first time. I don’t know why my aunt never cooks this dish, i believe it has an Arabic origin than a true Antakya dish. It is a one dish meal, with vegetable, rice and meat all in one. It is slightly flavored with allspice, which blends the tastes very well together. Make sure the spices are used in a subtle way to balance the delicate taste of eggplant.
2.5 Lbs Eggplant, sliced 1/2 inch thick lengthwise
2 lbs beef chuck, irregularly sliced between 1/2 in-1 in cubes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 onion, diced
1 stalk of leek, finely chopped
1 carrot, cut into 3 pieces
1 bay leaf
pinch of oregano
2 1/2 cups medium grain rice (calrose, goya spanish, baldo rice)
1 tsp allspice
2 pieces of cloves
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black pepper
1 tiny pinch cinnamon
Salt the eggplants liberally and let them sweat for 1/2 hour. Wash under cold water and squeeze dry. Lightly fry them or brush them with olive oil and bake them on a baking sheet.
In a dutch oven (takes about 2 1/2 hours) or pressure cooker (40 minutes), salt and brown the meat, set aside. Sautee onions, leeks, carrots until translucent, add tomato paste, and the rest of the spices and salt to taste. add just enough water to cover the meat. Cook until tender. Remove from heat and strain the juices and set aside.
Soak the rice in boiling water and salt for 5 minutes and well rinse under cold water 5 times until all the loose starch is washed away. Drain and set aside.
In a 4 inch deep dutch oven, arrange the eggplants to cover the base and all the sides, with enough height to fold over. Add the meat to on top, and the rice, then 6 cups of stock from the beef (if not enough stock, add boiling water to make it 6 cups total).
Cover and Place in a 425 degree oven for about an hour, check to see if rice has absorbed all the liquid. Remove from heat, let stand for 10 minutes and turn it upside down on a serving dish. Slice just like a cake and serve.