Yeah. That did not happen to me last night.
One of my guests did not show up, and still I don’t think everyone had enough to eat. The shock, the horror, the sheer panic. I wanted to hide in the bathroom until they had all gone home- hungry. Instead, I baked emergency cookies and thought brave thoughts of helping people stick to their resolutions. That did little to help things, though (obviously, I burned most of the cookies- “hiya Murphy”) and I cringe when I think of everyone politely leaving each other the last few bits of eggplant.
How did it happen? I made Nigella Lawson’s Lebanese Moussaka, which I thought she said serves eight. Turns out she doesn’t tell you how many it serves (not in my Dutch translation anyway), but several transcriptions of the recipe on the internet say it serves four. ARGH. I served seven people a dish meant for four. No wonder they were politely taking mini-servings: they were getting about half they were meant to. I’d also roasted quite a bit of chicken, and had bread and (not enough…!) salad, but I fear some empty stomach grumbling went on later that night.
The last straw I cling to is that there was quite a sufficient amount of food but that people just couldn’t get enough. It is indeed tasty, this thing Nigella has you do with eggplant and chickpeas. You soften onions and garlic, you add pomegranate molasses and tomatoes, stir in cinnamon and all-spice. It makes for a bewitching taste of the Middle East, or what I think that might be. Still, whether it is good enough to keep people coming back for more even when full? The jury’s still out. Why don’t you give it a try? I promise you won’t be sorry.
As long as you don’t try to feed more than four people.
Serves 4 (not 7)
appr. 500gr eggplant
1 to 2 onions, peeled and sliced thinly
10-12 small cloves of garlic, peeled and cut into strips
150 g chickpeas, cooked
1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
500g canned tomatoes
1 1/2 teasons salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
200 ml water
Generous handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
Wash the eggplant, slice off the stems and cube the rest of the flesh- the sides of the cubes should roughly measure a centimeter. Heat some olive oil in a pan and brown the eggplant in batches until nicely golden in color. Keep the prepared eggplant in a separate dish.
Sweat the onion and garlic in some olive oil, until soft and translucent. Add the chickpeas, stir, then add the pomegranate molasses. Return the eggplant to the pan. Quarter the tomatoes and remove seeds. Add tomatoes to the pan and stir in salt, cinnamon, allspice and pepper. Add the water and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover pan and simmer for 45 minutes, or until eggplant is very tender.
Can be served warm or cold., sprinkled with the cilantro (Nigella suggests replacing the cilantro with mint or parsley, if you like).