600 - 700 g eggplants, peeled and cut into 5mm thick slices
2 tbsp salt flakes
1 kg eye round lamb or lamb backstrap, trimmed of fat and cut into 2cm cubes
¼ cup (50g) baharat
2 pieces cassia bark or 1 cinnamon quill
3 bay leaves
1 cup (250ml) vegetable oil
60 g butter
2 ½ cups (500g) basmati rice
½ cup (80g) pine nuts
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
natural yoghurt, to serve
- Place the eggplant slices in a bowl and cover with cold water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Leave to soak for 30 minutes, then remove and lay flat on a clean tea towel to dry on both sides. This will take about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, place the lamb in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Add the seven-spice mix, lemon, cassia bark or cinnamon, bay leaves and remaining salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for about 2 hours or until lamb in tender.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a deep frying pan. Add the eggplant in batches and cook on both sides until brown. Remove and drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Continue stacking the cooked eggplant on the plate, with additional paper towel between each layer to soak up any excess oil.
- Melt 40g of the butter in a medium saucepan, reserving the stock, and arrange in the base of a large flameproof casserole dish. Spoon over half the rice, top with the cooked eggplant and finally the remaining rice. Strain the lamb stock, and pour evenly over the rice - add enough stock to just cover the rice.
- Cover with a lid and cook over low heat for 40 minutes or until the rice is fluffed up and cooked through.
- While the rice is cooking, melt the remaining butter in a small frying pan, add the pine nuts and cook over medium heat until the pine nuts are golden brown, stirring regularly so they don't catch and burn. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
- Once the rice is cooked, take a large plate that fits securely around the perimeter of the casserole dish the mukloubi has been cooking in. Set the plate over the casserole, upside-down, then carefully invert the mukloubi onto the plate. Lift off the casserole dish.
- Scatter the pine nuts over the mukloubi and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Serve with plenty of natural yoghurt.