Cinnamony Smoky Eggplant P’titimRecipe By: Adeena Sussman
Try this Cinnamony Smoky Eggplant P’titim recipe from the cookbook Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors From My Israeli Kitchen.
Word to the wise: If you’re in Israel shopping for pantry staples, don’t ask for “Israeli couscous”: shopkeepers will look at you quizzically and give you regular semolina couscous. To Israelis, these are p’titim, and p’titim only. An after-school snack for generations of Israeli kids the way a box of mac ’n’ cheese is for Americans, these tiny orbs of pasta were invented as a substitute for rice during Israel’s so-called austerity period in the 1950s, when food was scarce and creativity was key. Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, came up with the idea, so older Israelis know the product as “Ben-Gurion’s Rice.” Quick-cooking and absorbent, it soaks up any sauce you throw its way; No one’s going to mistake this dish for rice, but p’titim deserve a place of their own in every kitchen. If you can’t find them in a shop, Italian fregola works well, too.
- 1 1⁄2 cups uncooked p’titim (Israeli couscous)
- 1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups cubed eggplant
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 1⁄4 tsp kosher salt
- 1⁄4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
- 1⁄4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 3 medium tomatoes, chopped, or 1 cup canned diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1⁄4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1⁄4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- In a dry skillet, toast the p’titim for 3 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Transfer the p’titim to a plate.
- Add the olive oil to the skillet, and raise the heat to medium-high. Add the eggplant, onions, 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt and the black pepper, and cook, stirring often, until the onions are golden and the eggplant has shrunk and is browned, 9 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook 1 more minute. Add the tomato paste, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne and another 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and 1 1⁄2 cups water to the pan, then stir in the p’titim, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and cook until the p’titim have absorbed all of the liquid, 8 to 9 minutes.
- Remove the lid and let rest for 2 minutes. Stir in the paprika, the remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and the parsley, and serve immediately.