July 14, 2013

Bademjan Shekam-por - Persian Stuffed Eggplant

بادمجان شکم پر -Bademjan shekam-por is an open-faced fried eggplant stuffed with ground beef and vegetables simmered in a rich and tangy tomato-based sauce and topped with slivered almonds. This tasty eggplant dish is from the north-western region of Azerbaijan, Iran. I'd just like to point out that although the following words have a slightly different spelling and pronunciation, they all mean the same thing: بادمجان، بادمجون، بادنجان بادنجون  - bademjan, bademjoon, badenjan and badenjoon. Eggplants have been part of the Persian cuisine for hundreds of years and due to their versatility, great flavor and silky tender flesh, they have brought about many popular and well-known dishes such as khoresh bademjan, borani bademjan, kashk-e bademjan, mirza ghasemi, and torshi bademjan (pickled eggplant), just to name a few. I am always looking for new Persian eggplant recipes and I'm determined to write about every eggplant recipe I find from homes in every corner of Iran. My favorite eggplant dish, however, is still simply pan-fried unpeeled eggplant slices lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. I personally like the taste of the eggplant skin and normally I wouldn't remove it unless I'm serving guests.

According to the article about Persian Food in the Huffington Post recently, "Persian food is criminally underrepresented in America." I agree with this statement and would add that in my opinion it is often misunderstood as well. One of the misconceptions is that Persian food is not vegetarian friendly which in my opinion is not true. Aside from an array of globally known Persian kabab/kebob dishes, most if not all khoresh - stews can be prepared without meat. There are also many terrific vegetable dishes such as a variety of kookoo/kuku, borani and the hearty ash reshteh. Not to mention that there's always a platter of sabzi khordan - fresh herbs, as an accompaniment to lunch and dinner every day along with salad and torshi - pickled vegetables. Plus we eat fruits like there's no tomorrow!

For a healthier version of a traditional bademjan shekam-por you can bake the eggplant in the oven before stuffing them or just prepare the dish the traditional way by frying the eggplants. Also, in the traditional recipe eggplant are peeled fully or partially by leaving in some stripes. The choice is yours whether to bake or fry, remove the eggplant skin or leave it intact. You may stick to a more traditional recipe or tweak it to your dietary needs and preferences. For a vegetarian variation of this dish you may use rice instead of ground beef. Bademjan shekam-por could be served as a main dish with rice or as a side dish/appetizer.

Bademjan Shekam-por - Persian Stuffed Eggplant

Serves 4

4 medium-sized eggplant, peeled in stripes using a vegetable peeler
1/2 pound ground meat (lamb or beef)
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled, cubed (small)
1/2 pound fresh green beans,  trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 medium-sized firm tomatoes, 1 finely diced, 2 sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
A pinch of red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of a lemon
2-3 tablespoons slivered almonds
Olive oil (extra virgin) or vegetable oil


  1. In a large frying pan heat 3-4 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat, fry eggplant until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large skillet, add enough oil to cover the bottom over medium-high heat, sauté the chopped onions until translucent. Add the minced garlic, sauté for a couple of minutes and then add the turmeric powder, stir. 
  3. Add the ground beef and brown until well cooked and tender. Add the potatoes, green beans, and chopped tomatoes respectively and sauté each for a few minutes before adding another. Add cumin, red pepper and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté all the ingredients together. Stir well and add 1/2 cup of water.  Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 40 minutes.
  4. Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, gently cut open lengthwise. Sprinkle a small pinch of salt into the eggplant and with a fork gently loosen up the inside a little bit. Generously spoon the mixture into the open eggplant and top with slivered almonds.
  5. In the meantime, heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pan over medium heat, add the tomato paste to the pan and stir well. After a couple of minutes, arrange the tomato slices in single or overlapping layers. Place the stuffed eggplant over the layered tomatoes, add a cup of hot water and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes on low heat.
To serve place the stuffed eggplant onto a platter with rice or warm bread and yogurt.



  1. I would love to try this! What kind of potatoes do you use? If I wanted to bake the eggplant instead of frying how long would I do so and at what temp?

    1. Gretchen, I used russet potatoes for this dish. You can bake the eggplants at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes, let cool. Then make a cut lengthwise, stuff with the meat and vegetable mixture, cook over a bed of tomatoes in a pan.

  2. G'day! Love eggplant, true!
    Your recipe and photos look so tasty, I might have to put these on my list to do! Thank you!
    Cheers! Joanne
    Now on Fb too http://www.facebook.com/whatsonthelist

  3. Hi!,yumm, lovely eggplant recipe :)

  4. This looks so tasty. I can't wait to try it.

  5. Dear Azita - Thank you for the recipe, which looks delicious!

    Could you please explain how to use rice instead of beef to make the vegetarian version - should I use cooked rice or ground rice?

    I will greatly appreciate your advice, thank you.

    1. Vaishnavi, Thank you! You can use cooked rice.

    2. Thank you Azita. Will definitely try this.

  6. salam Azita khanum I am once again impressed by your dedication to share the diverse beauty of Persian cuisine n culture with the world...
    ...this dish is very similar to a famous Turkish specialty of stuffed baked eggplant that my friend from Istanbul once told me about, which is called Imam Bayildi, literally meaning "the imam passed out"...
    unfortunately in my hometown we are not blessed with eggplants big enough for hollowing and stuffing, only medium slender ones for deep-frying and small round ones for curries, but at a recent trip to the local farmer's market I came across an abundant stock of zucchinis, some of which were really large, and according to the lady selling them, it is a newly-introduced vegetable...her answer made sense after all because that was the first time I saw zucchinis for sale in my hometown...
    anyway, do you think it will be a good idea if, for this recipe, I substitute the eggplant with zucchini?
    hope to hear from you soon...take care! :)

    1. Gaby jan, thank you so much for your kind words. Yes, for this recipe you can substitute the eggplant with zucchini. Stuffed zucchini is equally delicious.

  7. Nice and neat pictures,beautiful colors,Yum post...you look a real Kadbanoo.

  8. What type of red pepper? Also, when you cook the eggplant over the tomato, do you turn it upside down so the beef mixture is on top of the tomato or do you have the bottom of the eggplant on top of the tomatoes?

    1. I use a pinch cayenne pepper. Place the bottom of the eggplant on top of the tomatoes.

  9. Hi,
    I see the eggplants are not peeled in your photos, should i peel them? would they not fall apart?

    1. Hi, you can peel the eggplants completely if you like.

  10. thank you, i love your blog btw, have been following your recipes since 2010.

  11. Azita, I have only just seen this recipe of yours on facebook.... snap! Look what I just blogged too http://www.bizzylizzysgoodthings.com/2/post/2013/09/aubergines-stuffed-with-spiced-mince-and-pine-nuts-a-la-ottolenghi.html

  12. Gorgeous, BTW, and are you going to join my tribe? xo

  13. "Aside from an array of globally known Persian kabab/kebob dishes, most if not all khoresh - stews can be prepared without meat", totally agree!
    I made the same argument while ago in a discussion about how vegetarian friendly the Persian cuisine is.

    Your stuffed Badmjan looks scrumptious. I am going to try it...
    There is a similar dish in Lebanese cuisine called "sheikh el mehchi".
    I am going to try this stuffed Eggplant

    1. Thank you for visiting my blog. Please let me know how it turns out!