We greatly enjoy this delicious southern Turkish style Baked Aubergine Kebab with Meatballs – Firinda Patlican Kebabi, especially popular in Gaziantep region in Turkey. We adore aubergine / eggplant/patlican in Turkey; one can safely say, it is our national vegetable, with over 200 recipes featuring aubergine in Turkish cuisine. Its meaty, melt in the mouth texture and naturally sweet flesh is simply fantastic here, cooked with meatballs, tomatoes and peppers. Please use long and slim variety of the purple aubergines, eggplants for this kebab.
I love the ease of this all in one bake dish. Please make sure to sprinkle salt over the aubergine slices and squeeze out their excess moisture with a paper towel. Then simply coat olive oil and seasoning over the aubergine slices. There is no need to sauté or fry the aubergine slices and the meatballs before baking. They bake all together very well, infusing their flavour to one another. You can prep this dish ahead of time and freeze leftovers successfully.
The meatballs in this recipe is based on my Turkish baked meatballs with vegetables, Firinda Sebzeli Kofte recipe, from my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, another version of this delicious all in one bake. Please note that this Baked aubergine kebab with meatballs is not included at Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book.
You can serve this dish with plain pilaf rice and cooling Cacik dip of cucumber and yoghurt aside.
- For the kofte (meatballs):
- 450g/1lb minced/ground lamb, beef or mixture
- 1 medium onion, grated
- 60g/2oz stale bread, soaked in water and squeezed dry
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 small bunch finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 5ml/1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 5ml/1 teaspoon Turkish pul biber or red pepper flakes
- 5ml/1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Small bowl of water for kneading kofte and getting your hands wet
- And the rest:
- 2 medium and long (or 3, if smaller) aubergines / eggplants
- 1 green bell pepper, deseeded and sliced in chunky wedges
- 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 45ml / 3tbsp olive oil (to coat the aubergine slices)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- For the sauce:
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
- 30ml/2tbsp double concentrated tomato paste
- 30ml/2tbsp olive oil
- 200ml/7fl oz warm water
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F
- First prepare your meatball mixture. Discard the crusts of the bread, soak in the water and squeeze dry. Then crumble them into a large bowl. Add all the kofte, meatballs ingredients except the ground/minced meat and knead well. This will soften the onions and enable the spices to blend in the mixture evenly. Add the minced/ground meat and knead well again until the mixture resembles a soft dough. Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
- Slice the aubergines/eggplants into about 1.5cm / 0.6in circles and spread over a large tray. Sprinkle some salt over them and leave for about 10 minutes. Gently squeeze out their excess moisture with paper towel. Place them back on a clean large tray.
- Drizzle 45ml / 3tbsp olive oil over the aubergine/eggplant slices. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using your hands, gently rub the olive oil and seasoning over the aubergine/eggplant slices.
- Now, shape your meatballs. Have a bowl of cold water near you. With damp hands, take a piece the size of a large walnut and roll into a round meatball, as large as your aubergine/eggplant slices, and slightly flatten. Place them on large dish or a tray side by side.
- Have a round baking dish with 25cm/10in diameter near you (a 25cmx25cm square baking dish would work well too). Place a slice of aubergine upright and place a meatball alongside. Repeating this, place all the aubergine slices and meatballs side by side, quite tightly, so they can stay upright.
- Gently tuck in the coarsely sliced bell peppers around the aubergine slices and meatballs. Place the tomato slices around the middle part of your round baking dish, in between aubergine and meatball layers, or if you are using a square baking dish, in between layers.
- For the sauce; combine the finely chopped garlic, 200ml/7fl oz warm water, 2tbsp tomato paste and 2tbsp olive oil in a bowl. Season with salt and ground black pepper and combine well.
- Pour the sauce over the prepared aubergine, meatballs and vegetables. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes.
- Then take the cover off, gently spoon the sauce in the baking dish over the aubergine and meatballs and bake further 20 – 25 minutes, until the meatballs and vegetables cooked and slightly charred.
- Drizzle the sauce from the baking the dish over the aubergine and meatballs again. Serve with plain pilaf rice and cooling Cacik dip of cucumber and yoghurt aside.