My Mom had 3 daughters, a year apart from each other, and I am the youngest. As far back as I remember in my childhood, especially when my Mom announced that she was going to make eggplant dolmeh, we knew it was a fun, all girls family affair. We would sit all around the dining table and loved watching my mother hollowing the eggplants, tomatoes and bell peppers (sometimes apples, quince in fruit varieties; wrapping grape leaves, cabbage leaves). Soon, we were part of it and four of us were hollowing the vegetables, or wrapping. We compared our creations while innovating our own individual styles and developing our know-hows. Making dolmehs left special, nostalgic memories in our hearts. Dolmeh is a time-consuming dish, but is labor well worth the result and enjoyment to the palate!
Eggplant & Tomato Dolmeh • دلمه بادمجان و گوجه فرنگی
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
INGREDIENTS & DIRECTIONS
In the order of preparation
1. To prepare the egggplants
• 2 large eggplants
◊ Cut off all around the hanging green leaf-like part of the cap. To remove the cap from the eggplant (to use as lid/cap) use a small knife, insert at an angle and circulate the knife to cut a small cone out. Set aside. Hollow by using the point of a knife, melon-baller or serrated grapefruit spoon and carefully remove the pulp, leaving a shell no thinner than 2 cm thick on the sides and 3 cm on the bottom (discard pulp). To peel the eggplant, first, peel a straight/flat slice from the bottom, so eggplant will stand, then peel the rest of the eggplant (add some designs if desired). To de-gorge the eggplants, sprinkle shells (and the lids) with plenty of salt inside and out. Place in a colander, open side down and let it sweat/drain for 30 minutes.
2. To prepare the tomatoes
• 2 ~ 4 large (Roma) tomatoes
◊ Remove stems from tomatoes and cut out the top/lid same way as eggplants. Set aside. Scoop out pulp and reserve.
3. To prepare the greens
• 50 g/ 2 cups parsley, finely chopped
• 25 g/ ½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
• 4 stems green onions, finely chopped
• 1 Tbsp dried tarragon flakes
• 1 Tbsp dried mint flakes
• 1 tsp dried dill
◊ Prepare herbs and place in a big bowl (don’t add salt yet).
4. To prepare the yellow split peas
• ¼ cup yellow split peas (must be slow cook grade )
• 2 cups water
• ½ tsp salt
◊ Combine and bring to a boil on high (scoop out the foam). Lower heat to medium and boil for 25 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
5. To prepare the rice
• ½ cup basmati rice, washed and drained
• ¾ cup water
• ¼ tsp salt
◊ Combine and bring to a boil on high. Lower heat to medium and boil for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
6. To prepare the meat
• 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 large onion minced
• 454 g/ 1 lb ground beef, lamb or turkey (see  for vegetarian/vegan option)
• 1 clove garlic, crushed and mince
• ½ tsp turmeric
• ¼ tsp cumin
• ¾ tsp salt
• ¼ tsp ground black pepper
• 1 Tbsp tomato paste stirred in • ¾ cup hot water
◊ Use medium-size pot, add oil and chopped onion. Sauté at medium heat until edges begin to brown. Add meat and sauté thoroughly until it begins to brown. Add garlic, turmeric, cumin, salt, pepper, disolved tomato paste. Stir, put the lid on and simmer until thick sauce is formed. Set aside to cool.
7. Combining the prepared stuffing
◊ In the big bowl with the herbs, add cooked yellow split peas, cooked rice and cooked meat and mix well.
8. For the sauce to cook the dolmehs in…
• 3 small Roma tomatoes, de-seeded and sliced
• 1 Tbsp caramelized onion (= 1 small onion, caramelized)
• ½ tsp tomato paste dissolved in ¾ cup hot broth (chicken preferred)
• 4 Tbsp verjuice
• salt & ground black pepper to taste (make adjustment if the broth has salt)
◊ In a deep oven-safe dish, layer the sliced tomatoes, including de-seeded pulp and liquid from the tomatoes to be stuffed. Sprinkle caramelized onion, tomato-paste-broth, verjuice, salt, pepper.
9. For the assembly and baking
• 4 Tbsp vegetable oil
◊ Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 190°C / 375°F.
◊ Rinse eggplants and wrap in paper towel to dry. Fill with stuffing and as adding each tablespoon for fillings, gently push down tightly. Leave the top 3 cm to the rim empty. In a fry-pan, add oil and brown eggplants on all sides (add more oil if needed). Brown the inner part of lids too. Place them in the baking dish. Fill the top 3 cm with stuffing, push down tightly and place the lid/cap. Place them in the prepared oven-safe dish.
◊ Fill tomatoes tightly with stuffing. Place their tops. Set aside, as tomatoes do not need to cook as long and will be added later.
◊ Cover the dish containing eggplants with foil tightly. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour.
◊ Remove the dish from the oven. Uncover and using a spoon, scoop liquid and pour over eggplants several times. Add the stuffed tomatoes and bake for 10 minutes more. Serve warm.
Option:  For vegetarian/vegan, skip the meat (but add caramelized onion and garlic), replace meat with additional rice, yellow-split-peas -or- 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts -and- also, 1/3 cup raisins, dried currants or cranberries.
~ Noushe jan! • نوش جان ~
Thank you Mariantonietta for your generosity and the time you spent in translating and posting my story/recipe in your “Mi Racconti Una Ricetta / Tell Me A Recipe“!
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