Growing up, tepsi was one of those standard dishes that we had at least once or twice or month. My mom would cook it either on the stove in a large and deep pan, or in the oven. She always added extra tomato sauce because she knew that my brother and I loved pouring the extra maraqa over our rice. What is tepsi? Tepsi is a dish with chopped meat, layers of vegetables and tomato sauce, served with Basmati rice. It’s sometimes called tepsi baytinjan, which simply means eggplant tepsi.
My least favorite part of this dish is the eggplant. I don’t dislike eggplant, but I don’t love it either. In all honesty, it’s the spongy texture that throws me off. It tastes best fried (or oven baked!). It’s funny that I make that comment, because I am usually opposed to almost all fried foods. For this batch of tepsi, I wish that I had cooked the eggplant slices, at least a little, before adding them with the rest of the vegetables. Maybe if I had let it cook longer, the eggplant wouldn’t have been as spongy. But I got impatient, and decided to eat. I’m sure we all have those days.
Note (01.20.13): I was talking to my mom about this tepsi recipe, and she told me that she used to bake the eggplant slices before adding them to the tepsi. It helps with the spongy texture of the eggplant. In Iraq, they used to fry the eggplant, and some of the other ingredients before baking them.
1 pound meat (chuck roast), sliced
1 tsp salt (for the meat)
1 tsp baharat* (for the meat)
2 tsp baharat (for the sauce)
1/2 tsp black pepper (for the meat)
1/2 tsp garlic (for the meat)
1 green pepper
2 onions, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1 eggplant, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1/2 cup chopped curly parsley (or half a bunch)
1 clove garlic
1 can tomato sauce
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups white rice
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the sliced meat in a pot, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and baharat. Let the meat cook on high until all of the water that the meat naturally produces has cooked away. Add one cup of water and let the meat cook on medium heat until the water is gone. Repeat one time. (If you add the water all at once, the meat boils in the water and has a more rubbery texture). Add the sliced onions to the meat and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions have wilted. Remove the meat and onions, and place them in a baking pan.
Add about a tablespoon of oil to the pot. Add the chopped tomatoes, and chopped garlic. Cook the tomatoes on medium heat until they have nicely seared. Pour half of the tomato sauce into the pot. Consistently stir the sauce while allowing it to cook and slightly brown. Pour the rest of the sauce. Squeeze the lemon into the sauce, add the baharat, parsley, and add salt and pepper to taste.
Place the sliced vegetables on top of the meat in layers: eggplant, zucchini, green peppers, and tomatoes on top. Pour the sauce over all the meat and vegetables. Cover the pan, and let the tepsi cook for about an hour, or until all the vegetables are cooked. To get a nice roasted top layer, remove the covering when the tepsi is almost cooked, and let it sit in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Serve with Basmati rice, and enjoy!