Island Dish – Lamb and Eggplant Stew

by Christopher Compton –

The days are getting shorter and it’s finally the time of year where you can enjoy warm soups and stews. This recipe is inspired by my old chef Castro Boateng and a dish he would make. A warm pot of stew cooking slowly, and filling your house with a tantalizing scent, is one of life’s great pleasures. The combination of ginger, tomatoes and peanut butter may sound a little strange, but it’s a classic West African flavour combination, and creates a rich and pleasantly spiced dish. It’s best served with rice and a salad. One of the ingredients, called Shito, is a Ghanian smoked shrimp and chili paste. It can be hard to find and is totally optional, but it adds a touch more spice and some subtle smokiness to the dish. You can find it at African or some Caribbean markets or order online. Enjoy the colder weather with a rich and satisfying dish like this!

1 small onion
6 cloves of garlic
½ cup chopped ginger
796ml can of roasted tomatoes

1 large onion 2 Japanese eggplant
1 kg lamb shoulder 4 cloves garlic

2 cardamom pods 1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves 1 cup peanut butter
½ cup chicken stock 1 habanero pepper
1 tbsp shito (optional)

Preheat oven to 300°F. Get a large oven safe pot such as a Dutch oven and begin to slowly preheat on your stove top.

Blend a small roughly chopped onion, garlic, ginger and roasted tomatoes until they are thoroughly combined. This will be the base for the stew.

Cut the onion into large chunks. Chop the eggplant into large pieces, sprinkle with salt and place in a bowl. Let this sit for about an hour; this will draw out moisture and make sure that after cooking the eggplant it will stay firm. Cut the lamb shoulder into approx. one-inch squares and season with salt and pepper. Crush the garlic with the side of your knife.

When your pan is hot and ingredients are ready, begin by adding some oil to the pan and start browning your lamb. You will want to do this in batches and when it has developed a deep brown colour set it aside, then repeat until all lamb has been seared. Add the onions to the pan and allow to sweat. Once the onions have taken some colour add the crushed garlic and spices.

Add the peanut butter and shito if using. Allow it to melt, stirring constantly to prevent burning, and cook for a minute. Add the tomato mixture; this will help deglaze the pan. Add the stock, stir and allow to come to a simmer. Add the lamb and stir so it is covered with the sauce. This is when you will add the habanero. I prefer to just leave the pepper whole so you barely get any of its heat, but you can slice the pepper up and the stew will be hotter. If you leave it whole you can pull the pepper out when the stew is at your favoured spice level.

Place the pot in the preheated oven and allow to cook, uncovered, for an hour. Putting the pot in the oven instead of allowing it to sit on the stove top will help create a gentle cooking environment and allow the sauce to gently reduce without scorching on the bottom. After an hour is up, place the eggplant in the pot and mix. Cook for another hour and a half. Check the stew for seasoning, the lamb should be tender and the eggplant should still have some bite to it. Enjoy!

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