This is my mama's version of Shekh Mahshi. It can also be made with ground beef instead of minced beef, or made with zucchini. Thank you so much to my friends for visiting me and giving me a reason to cook such great food! Everyone loved this dish, I hope you do too :)
4 medium sized skinny (Italian) eggplants
1 lb. beef (sirloin or any preference steak)
1 medium sized onion chopped
1 garlic clove minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 lemon juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt and additional salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baharat (middle eastern allspice)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups water
Optional: 1 teaspoon pomegranate syrup/molasses
Wash eggplant and cut off stems and ends. Peel stripes on the eggplant and cut them into 3 to 4 inch sections. Take out the centers/pulp of the eggplants with a paring knife or other device and set it aside. Be sure to try and keep the shell/exterior of the eggplants intact and not break them. Salt the eggplant both on the inside and outside. Place in a bowl filled with cold salted water and soak for 30 minutes. Chop the pulp/inside of the eggplant, salt it, and set aside.
Mince the steak into small cubes and brown it in a skillet. Once brown, add the onion and garlic and cook over a medium heat until the onion begins to soften or about 4 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoon baharat. Mix well.
Rinse the chopped pulp/inside of the eggplant in a colander and squeeze out and discard the excess water from the pulp. Add the chopped pulp to the beef mixture and mix. (Optional: Add 1 teaspoon pomegranate syrup and mix well.)
Reduce heat to low and cover the skillet, cook for additional 10 minutes or until beef is tender. Remove from heat when cooked.
Rinse, drain, and dry the eggplant shells with a paper towel. Lightly brush the inside and outside of the eggplant shell with olive oil. Stuff the eggplant with the meat mixture and line in a baking dish. Line up the eggplant end to end to ensure the meat stuffing stays inside the eggplant during baking. If you have any extra leftover beef set it aside in the skillet.
Return the skillet you cooked the meat in to a medium heat (with the leftover meat if you had any). Add 1 1/2 cup water, 3 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 lemon juiced. Mix well until tomato paste is dissolved. Remove from heat and pour over stuffed eggplant.
Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake at 475 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Serve with rice.