Syrian Spiced Meat with Eggplant and Prunes

The hardest part to this recipe is finding a pot large enough and heavy enough to hold all of the ingredients and cook them slowly over a low flame.Make this dish in advance and then re-heat before serving. If the casserole is nice enough, you can serve it right from the dish it cooked in. However, since most casseroles aren’t around 5 quarts, just transfer some of the layers-as best you can–from the cooking pot into a large serving dish and serve. This dish stays well for a number of days in the refrigerator and it’s flavor continues to get better each day.


  • 2 pounds ground chuck meat
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons corn or canola oil
  • 6 medium o­nions, halved lengthwise and then cut into fourths
  • 4 large red potatoes cut into eighths
  • 12 ounces pitted prunes
  • 1 large eggplant, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1 inch slices
  • 2 6-ounce cans of regular tomato paste (Not flavored)
  • 1/4-cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4-cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ Tablespoon tamarind concentrate (optional)

Preparation Instructions

  1. In a 2-quart bowl, combine the ground meat with the allspice, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Distribute the spices evenly by first mixing with a fork and then with your hands.
  2. Place the oil in the bottom of a 6-quart Dutch oven or metal casserole.
  3. Place half of the o­nion slices in the bottom of the pot and cover with half of the meat making sure that you press the meat evenly and firmly into the o­nions.
  4. Scatter half of the potatoes, prunes and eggplant over the meat.
  5. Repeat with the remaining o­nions, seasoned meat, potatoes, prunes and eggplant.
  6. In a 3-quart bowl combine the tomato paste with the remaining ingredients along with salt and pepper to taste into a smooth sauce. Pour the sauce evenly over the meat and vegetables and gently swirl the pan to allow the sauce to evenly permeate the dish.
  7. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Keeping the meat at a medium simmer, cook the mixture for 2 hours or until the potatoes are tender and dish is thickened. If you want, the mixture can be cooked in a pre-heated oven at 300F- 350F for about the same amount of time. Just make sure that the sauce is simmering so that it will thicken properly in a reasonable amount of time.8. Serve with rice flavored with some pine nuts and sautéed o­nions if you like.
  8. NOTE: Like all stews, this tastes even better the next day.
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