Beef and Eggplant Stew with Red Lentils

Several months ago, one of my friends prepared a traditional Persian recipe which was a stew with eggplant and beef with sweet spices and a thick tomato sauce. I've been wanting to make my own version for a long time, and now that eggplant are looking so beautiful at the market I thought it would be perfect (forget the fact that it's nearly 90 degrees outside...a true foodie seeks good food no matter what the temperature outside!). After looking up a lot of recipes online, I sort of forged my own recipe. The non-traditional but very me touch to this recipe is the addition of red lentils, which not only add protein but also make the sauce really thick. I couldn't resist adding two of my favorite spices, cumin and coriander, and also a spice that I don't normally use, allspice. Allspice was one ingredient that seemed common in the multiple recipes I looked up. Contrary to what the name may sound like allspice is not a mixture of all spices, rather, it's is own spice derived from a berry that grows in warm climates such as Central America. I love how it makes this recipe such a unique take on beef stew.

Beef and Eggplant Stew with Red Lentils
Printable Recipe

1 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 lbs lean beef stew meat (I found some at my grocery store specially labeled "lean" apart from the
      regular stew meat)
1 onion, cut into large dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small eggplant, peeled and diced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 14.5-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp honey
1 15-oz cans beef broth
1/3 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked through
salt and pepper, to taste

cooked rice (optional)

1. Season the meat with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add half the oil. Cook the meat in batches in the hot oil; set aside the cooked meat.
3. Add the rest of the oil and then add the onions, garlic, and eggplant. Saute the vegetables until they are tender (add water if they start to stick), then add the cumin, coriander, allspice, cinnamon, tomato paste crushed tomatoes, honey, and broth. Then, return the meat to the pan. If the liquid does not cover the meat, add enough water to cover. Season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for 1 hour.
4. After the 1 hour, add the lentils (add water if it looks like the stew has thickened too much) and cook for 20 minutes longer with the lid half covering the pan. Cook until the lentils are tender and the sauce is thickened. Serve the stew with cooked rice.

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