Muslim American Leadership Alliance
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Muslim American Leadership Alliance
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MALA (Muslim American Leadership Alliance) is an arts and culture organization committed to amplifying and celebrating the voices and perspectives of American Muslims through the art of oral history and digital storytelling. MALA works to build vibrant and dynamic communities and inclusive spaces for cultural exchange and community dialogue. This family recipe is provided by Zainab Khan, MALA's Co-founder and Executive Director.

I love this dish because its ingredients are so universal, and it can take on so many different flavors.  When I was a child growing up outside of Chicago, my father used to make Khoresh Bademjan for us.  Today, I make the same dish for my son and although my recipe is slightly different, it still feels like I'm carrying on a tradition.  In many ways, I love this dish for its practicality: it's inexpensive to make, it has a very flexible flavor profile, and it's really nutritious as well.  My two-year-old even loves it!  Khoresh Bademjan will forever be special food for me, both for its personal value and for its cross-cultural value as well.

Khoresh, (sometimes spelled khoresht) or stew, is a mainstay of Persian cuisine. While khoresh bademjan, or eggplant stew, often includes meat, it's a recipe well suited to vegetarian adaptations. This vegan version makes a delicious main dish served over plain steamed rice or crusty tahdig (crispy persian rice). For a less traditional take, serve it over quinoa or couscous. If you're not concerned about keeping things vegan, a dollop of yogurt herb sauce is a tasty topper to this meal.

For the Khoresh Bademjan:

  • 1 1/2 pounds eggplant (stemmed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces)

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 large yellow onion (trimmed, peeled, and finely sliced)

  • 3 large cloves garlic (peeled, smashed, and finely chopped)

  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (sea or kosher, plus extra for salting the eggplant)

  • 1 (28-ounce can) tomatoes (whole and peeled; drained) or 5 large fresh tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup water

  • Optional: 1 pinch saffron


  1. Place the eggplant in a large colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with a generous pinch or two of sea or kosher salt and set aside.

  2. In a Dutch oven or large chef's pan set over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onions and saute until they are soft and translucent, and beginning to brown in spots, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and salt, and sauté until the onions are coated and the spices are aromatic, about 1 minute more.

  3. Add the eggplant to the pan (if it has released a lot of liquid, pat it dry with paper towels or a clean tea towel first). Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté, turning to coat the eggplant in the onion and spice mixture, until the eggplant turns tender and shrinks in volume, about 8 to 10 minutes.

  4. Stir in the tomatoes, using the spoon to break them apart into large chunks. Add the water, and saffron, if using. Stir well. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook covered for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot over rice, quinoa or couscous.

ABOUT Taste from Home

Taste From Home is brought to you by the Chicago Cultural Alliance. Our mission is to connect, promote, and support centers of cultural heritage for a more inclusive Chicago. 

Taste from Home is collection of recipes and stories inspired by the food that defines who we are and where we come from. As we are all home exploring new recipes and cuisines, we encourage you to share a recipe and story with us that connects you to your family and cultural heritage. 

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Ahmed Omar

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