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Shoulbatou is a pleasantly simple and nutritious dish. Any variety of eggplant may be used, but the better choice is the Sicilian variety which has minimal seeds, is mild in flavour and has a delightfully creamy texture. Shoulbatou is ideal for vegetarians.
The sprinkling of eggplant with salt before cooking is essential; it rids it of excess moisture, making it absorb less oil while frying. If, for health reasons, you wish to omit the deep frying step, you may simply spread the eggplant cubes on a tray, brush them with oil and roast in the oven until golden brown on all sides.
1 medium size eggplant (about 2 cups when diced)
15 mL (1 tbsp) salt
5 ripe soft tomatoes
vegetable oil for deep frying
60 mL (4 tbsp) vegetable oil
3 medium onions, diced
750 mL (3 cups) water
1 156 mL (5 1/2 ounce) can tomato paste
15 mL (1 tbsp) salt
2 mL (1/2 tsp) black pepper
250 mL (1 cup) cracked wheat – coarse
Partially peel eggplant and slice into cubes the size of cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and leave for one hour. Pour boiling water over tomatoes. Leave for 1 minute. Drain, peel, and chop, and set aside.
Dry the eggplant cubes and deep fry in one layer batches until golden brown. Drain well and set aside.
Pour 60 mL (4 tbsp) of the used oil into a heavy casserole and fry the onions until golden. Add tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water, tomato paste, salt and spices. Bring to a boil. Add cracked wheat and fried eggplant cubes, stir, and bring to the boil once more. Cover, lower heat to very low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching.
Remove from heat and stir again. It will thicken as it cools; and should be porridge-like in consistency.
Serve at room temperature, along with crusty bread, and some of the following condiments: scallions, pickles, olives, fresh peppers (sweet or hot).
Makes 5-6 servings.