2 medium eggplants cut in half, lengthwise (count an eggplant per person, or two if they are small)
2 medium tomatoes (or two per person, depending on how many you are cooking this for) tops cut off, and partially scooped out inside.
4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 medium onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1.5 pounds ground lamb
3 teaspoons tomato paste
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar (for just tomatoes, you can cut this in half. The eggplant gets a bit bitter without this though, we've tried it)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3/4 cups water
salt and pepper
1 handful each fresh cilantro and fresh mint, chopped and mixed together
Cooked white or brown rice
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place the eggplants, skin side down, in a roasting pan along with the tomatoes. Or, you can place each tomato in it's own round ramekin baking dish for easier serving later, if you have these.
Drizzle vegetables with a little olive oil, season well with salt and pepper, and roast about 15 minutes in the oven while you prepare the lamb mixture.
In a skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and sauté the onion and garlic lightly for about 5 minutes with half the sugar and spice mixture, over medium heat.
Add the ground lamb, seasoning the meat well with salt and pepper, and stir, cooking, until it's no longer pink.
Add the tomato paste and cook another couple of minutes, then turn heat off and let cool a moment while you remove the vegetables from the oven.
Mix remaining sugar and spice mixture with water and lemon juice, and pour this into the bottom of the roasting pan (pouring just a little in each tomato ramekin, if you are using these).
Spoon a generous portion of lamb on top of each eggplant and into each tomato, and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake tomatoes for 30 minutes longer, eggplants for an hour and half, until completely soft and sauce has thickened.
As they cook, check the eggplant twice to ensure that there is still some liquid in the bottom of the roasting pan, and use this as a baste. Add a little more water to the dish for moisture, if needed. Be vigilant with this step; I waited too long to check the liquid my first try, and the spiced burned onto the bottom of the pan, which gave the whole dish a bit of a bitter taste.
Garnish generously with chopped cilantro and mint, and serve with side of rice.
While the tomatoes taste amazing when hot out of the oven, or warm, the eggplant is best left to cool slightly, and eaten either warm or room temperature.