It is high time for an eggplant (aubergine) recipe, the king of vegetables at home. Eggplant lovers at home claim we have over 200 eggplant, patlican recipes, as we love this special vegetable so much. My name in our home is actually “Patlican” too – or Patli as short-. When my husband heard the name for the first time, he liked the sound of it so much that he decided to call me Patlican! No complaints.
We have a whole section in Turkish cuisine called “Vegetables cooked in Olive Oil”, Zeytinyaglilar, where we cook vegetables in olive oil and serve them either cold or at room temperature. Once cooked, it is important for the dish to cool down in its pan and rest, allowing all the flavors to blend. Usually served with a wedge of lemon, this style of cooking is very healthy, tasty and refreshing.
Here is also my YouTube video on how to make Mercimekli Mualla:
This traditional recipe, Patlicanli Mercimekli Mualla, is from Antakya, Southern part of Turkey, where my roots are from. The amazing flavors of green lentils, olive oil, eggplant and dried mint blend so well and take me back to Antakya immediately. This is a traditional recipe and I am especially happy to be able to pass it on to food lovers and the next generation, and delighted to include at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes From My Homeland; Signed copies now 25 % off at this link, for a limited time and delivered worldwide, including the US, if you’d like to grab yours. It is a joy to trace these recipes over many phone calls to my mother, passionately exchange opinions on it and finally have a chance to share with you. I hope you enjoy this wonderful dish and pass it on.
Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 40 minutes
180 gr / 1 cup green lentils
2 large or 3 medium eggplants (aubergine)
2 medium onions, thinly sliced – about 1 cup –
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 red bell pepper, cut in half and thinly sliced
400 gr / 14 oz (a can of) chopped tomatoes in juice
50 ml/ about 2 fl oz/ 1/4 cup olive oil and
45 ml / 3 tablespoons of olive oil to saute eggplants
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon dried mint (spearmint)
240 ml/ 8 lf oz / 1 cup water
Crusty bread to serve
Put lentils in a pan of boiling water, stir and cover. Simmer in low heat for 15 minutes. Drain its water and set aside.
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplants in zebra stripes. Cut the eggplant in half lengthways and then cut each half into medium thick slices. Spread them on a wide tray, sprinkle salt over and leave aside for 15 minutes. With using paper towel, squeeze excess water out of eggplants.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and very lightly sauté the eggplant slices for a minute or two. This will help eggplants to soften up and start bringing out their lovely sweet flesh.
In a large bowl, combine the partially cooked lentils, onion, garlic, bell peppers, chopped tomatoes, salt, mint, olive oil and the sugar, mix well. Season with ground black pepper, check the seasoning and add more salt if needed.
In a wide heavy pan, place a layer of the eggplant slices. Spread the half of the vegetable mixture over the eggplants evenly. Place the remaining of the eggplant slices over the top and spread the remaining vegetable mixture over. Add the water, cover and cook in medium to low heat for about 40 minutes.
Once cooked, cover and cool the dish in the pan. Serve at room temperature with some crusty bread.
Tips and facts on Eggplant (Aubergine):
1) This wonderful vegetable (actually fruit, as it has seeds) has about 90 % water, which makes it low in fat and calories. You need to get rid of the sour juice of the eggplant before cooking. You can do that by salting the eggplant slices, and squeezing the sour juice out using a paper towel.
2) You can’t eat eggplants raw but once cooked, the flesh becomes meaty and sweet; which makes a great vegetarian option.
3) We Turks love eggplants; we grill it, broil it, bake in the oven, smoke it and even make lovely jams out of it! As nation’s favorite vegetable, it is believed we have over 200 recipes featuring the beloved eggplant, patlican.
4) When shopping for eggplants, look for bright dark purple color and a healthy green stem. It should feel heavy for its size. Try to get a small to medium size eggplants as they tend to have less seeds.
This sounds so good….waiting to try it out.
I just had this Ozlem and it was beautiful. If your grandma was anything like mine ( and I suspect that’s the case) she would have started preparing this in the morning on a normal day and it would be done and cooled down by lunchtime when everyone came back from work/school. So many memories, thank you for sharing this recipe!
Very kind of you, Irini, many thanks for your lovely comment. Indeed that’s the case; my mother/ grandma/ and now myself would prep this delicious dish ahead of time for the flavors to settle in and enjoy with family when all gather at home, such special memories indeed. Cok selamlar, Ozlem
I finished making this about an hour ago and I just had a taste of the cooled down mixture. So very satisfying and savory. Can’t wait to have this for supper this evening. I have never cooked a main dish with mint before so I was a little hesitant to use it but I’m glad I did. Tonight we will dine on a genuine and traditional Turkish meal. I will serve it as you suggested with a wedge of lemon and crusty bread.
Dear Lois, many thanks for your kind comment, so delighted to hear it. Dried mint pairs well with aubergine and lentils, afiyet olsun and many thanks again.
this is my favorite recipe. İ am a vegetarian and İ love this dish because it is delicious, pretty easy to make. and satisfying. İt is also great because İ can make it for my Turkish husband and he loves it even though he is not a vegetarian.,
Thanks so much for your website.
Dear Stephanie, thank you so much for your kind note, delighted to hear you and your husband enjoy Mercimekli Mualla, a favorite with us too : ) Afiyet olsun!
Could we bake it instead of cooking? (I don’t have a big enough pan to put them all in).
And if so, what temperature Ne how long would it be best?
Otherwise I will have to cook 2 portions in 2 smaller pans… Would that be ok too?
is it possible to bake this dish instead of cooking on the stovetop?
If so, what temperature and duration would work best?
Merhaba Cigdem, thank you for your notes, apologies for my late reply as I was traveling. You can bake the dish in the oven; I would bake at 180 C / 350, covered for 30 mins and uncovered for another 10-15 minutes so it gets little brown at top. Or you can cook in 2 pans as you say over stove top. I hope this helps and you enjoy it, afiyet olsun, Ozlem
So glad to discover this website! I am a patlican ADDICT! It is my favorite thing about living here, eggplant is always available. And I can eat it in any form.
We were discussing going vegetarian in Turkey. It is always a shame to me to see how meat based most Turkish restaurants are, but with your help I can discover all the wonderful tasty uses of our local vegetables. Do you do any cooking courses in Istanbul?
Merhaba and hello, many thanks for your kind note, so glad you’ve made it here, Patlican is our favorite ingredient and so many versions here, hope you enjoy it. So many reasons to enjoy vegetarian diet at home as we have so many seasonal produce in abundance, enjoy! I live in England and travel back home with my culinary tours and I teach during the tours, if you fancy joining us, here’s the link for more info. I occasionally have the chance to teach in Istanbul too, I post these classes at my blog. I hope this helps, hope to see you at my classes one day, best wishes, Ozlem https://ozlemsturkishtable.com/culinary-cultural-tours/
This looks wonderful.
Is it necessary to salt the eggplant to get out the sour water? I’m on a low sodium diet.
Merhaba Rosalyn, glad you liked the recipe, one of my favorites too. Salt helps for the moisture to come out of the eggplants; you could avoid the salt, if you can slice the eggplants at least a few hours – or as my mother does, a day ahead of time – for the moisture to evaporate naturally. Also, smaller eggplants have less seeds and naturally less sour, if you can get the smaller variety. Hope this helps and you enjoy the recipe, Ozlem
Thank you so much.
Another phantastic vegetarian recepy. Aubergine is one of my favorite vegetables and in combination with the lentils and the peppers the taste is even better.
Thanks a lot.
Merhaba Gustav, many thanks for your kind note; aubergine really pairs with lentils, onions and peppers here so beautifully. But it really is the dried mint that is the star of the show and transforms the taste, refreshing, delicious meal and so healthy. Afiyet Olsun! Ozlem
It’s been couple of years since I posted anything – even though I keep on cooking your food.
But tonight I had to write. This meal was amazing! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Both me and my husband loved it!
Merhaba dear Jana, thank you so much for your kind note – we absolutely love this dish and such a pleasure to share with you all, so glad you enjoyed it – Afiyet Olsun! One of the special dishes at my upcoming book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, that I am so happy to include. My best wishes, Ozlem x
I am making this dish tonight for my Turkish husband. He is from Gazipaşa and he really loves aubergine dishes. I can’t wait to eat! Çok teşekkür ederim!
Many thanks for giving this delicious dish a go – I hope you and your husband enjoyed it – we love patlican in Turkish cuisine!
Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem
I’m making this dish for the second time this month! It’s so delicious! Instead of layering, I just mixed it all together. I wonder if it makes a difference? Thanks for your wonderful recipes!
You are most welcome, glad you are enjoying this delicious recipe; layering is more of a traditional way of doing, taste wise shouldn’t differ, afiyet olsun, Ozlem
I just put this together on my stove top and it smells wonderful, but I think our US onions must be bigger than yours – I have so much more of onions than anything else! Maybe a weight or volume measurement might be helpful for some of us? Thank you, love your recipes!
Merhaba dear Lee,
Many thanks for your kind note – you are right, US onions tend to be larger; 2 sliced onions that this recipe calls should be about 1 cup in volume. I hope it helps; I must say I love aboundance of sauteed onions here as its sweetness when sauteed is amazing combined with the eggplants. Hope you enjoy this dish, afiyet olsun, Ozlem