Perfectly seasoned beef, rolled in roasted eggplant, drizzled with a savory and spicy tomato sauce, and topped with crunchy pine nuts and aromatic mint leaves, make this Jordanian recipe for Royal Kebabs a true crowd pleaser!
- 3 large eggplants, sliced lengthwise in 1/4 inch thick slices
- Olive oil for brushing
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 1/8 of a green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed
- 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 1 medium green bell pepper, finely diced
- 2 green hot chilies (such as jalapeño or serrano, optional), 1 1/2 finely diced for the sauce, the remaining 1/2 thinly sliced for sprinkling on top
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 7 medium tomatoes, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Toasted pine nuts
- Fresh mint leaves
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil on both sides, then lay them in a single layer on one or two parchment paper lined baking trays. Bake, flipping once during cooking, until they are golden, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool to the touch.
- Reduce the oven to 350°F.
- Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the onion with the bell pepper until smooth. Add the bread crumbs, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper, and pulse briefly to combine. Transfer to a large bowl, and combine with the ground beef, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Mix well.
- Shape the beef mixture into logs (these are kebabs) about 4 inches long, and 1 inch thick. Try to end up with the same amount of kebabs, as baked eggplant slices.
- Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, and cook until the soft and translucent. Stir in the green bell pepper, the diced chilies, and tomato paste. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes to bring out the flavors.
- Stir in the diced tomatoes, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, and remove from the heat.
Putting it together – this is the fun part, and great for kids!
- Pour half the sauce in the bottom of an 8×8, or similarly sized, baking dish.
- Lay an eggplant slice out on a work surface, place a kebab at one end, and roll. Repeat with all the eggplant slices.
- Arrange the rolled up kebabs in a single layer in the prepared dish, and pour the other half of the sauce over top. Sprinkle the sliced chilies on top, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 155°F.
- Sprinkle some pine nuts and mint leaves on top for garnish.
- You can enjoy this royal dish with white basmati rice, or use your hand (contrary to royal etiquette!), and pick it up with folded pieces of pita bread, like my father prefers.
Outside of the U.S., the word Kebab or Kabob refers to more than just chunks of meat roasted on a stick. In this case, ground beef is rolled into logs, wrapped in succulent eggplant, and baked with a zesty sauce.
This recipe is perfect for a weekend gathering. It can be put together ahead of time and baked right before serving, or baked ahead of time and reheated just before serving.
Serve the kebabs on their own, or alongside rice and a green salad. They make a satisfying entree or can be enjoyed as an appetizer.
While not traditional, and perhaps a bit cross-cultural, I think the royal kebabs would be delicious served with a drizzle of zhoug (a fiery Yemenite condiment) or alongside a plate of shakshuka (a savory combination of eggs and tomatoes enjoyed throughout the Middle East, but especially in Israel).
- Category: Entree
- Cuisine: Jordan