Syrian Classics: Mnazaleh be Aswad

I have no idea what the word Mnazaleh means. There is two dishes called Mnazaleh this one and a little known (and far less tasty) cousin Mnazaleh be Ahmar. Aswad means black as the dish is made of black aubergine while Ahmar means red and the dish is made of tomatoes.


Leaving the name aside, the dish is oven baked aubergine with mince lamb and pine nuts. It is one of my absolute favourite dishes. It is a must on my menu for big family dinners as it serves a good number of people and you can prepare it in advance and stick in the oven at the last minute.


This dish is classically cooked with deep fried baby aubergine. I made some changes to this dish. I use normal large aubergines as they are widely available in UK supermarkets but I don't deep fry them before cooking as this large variety absorbs oil like a sponge and then all comes out when baked in the oven and it ruins your dish. Secondly I like the look of large aubergines. I peel them in stripes and my wife loves that. She thinks it looks very Syrian. She have this firm belief that we Syrians love everything in stripes from Damascus old houses to our clothes and even food. I will have to admit I can see some truth in that. What do my fellow Syrians think?


Here is the recipe:

Minced lamb 500g
Pine nuts 50g
Two large aubergines
Two large Beef Tomatoes
Tinned chopped tomatoes 400g
Ghee clarified butter 1 table spoon
Greek style yogurt 300g
Two garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Hot water

Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Peel and prepare the aubergine as above. You need 1.5 cm thick slices. Slice the beef tomatoes whole to very thin slices. In a heavy roasting dish empty the tomato tin. Arrange the aubergine slices. Sprinkle with some salt and brush with olive oil. Add hot water to cover the aubergines half way. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Add hot water if necessary to prevent burning the edges.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter and add the meat. Season with salt and black pepper and cook on a fairly high temperature. The meat mix need to be well seasoned as this is the strongest flavour in the dish. Keep cooking till all the water has evaporated and the meat start to fry in the butter. Add the pine nuts and fry for five minutes.

Take the baking dish out of the oven and spoon the meat mixture on the aubergines and a slice of tomato. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and add hot water as necessary. Bake for another 30-40 minutes.

Crush the garlic and add to the Greek style yogurt and some salt to make a nice side sauce. If the yogurt and garlic mix is too strong for you use less or no garlic at all or even serve without yogurt.

Serve the Mnazaleh with Vermicelli Rice and a spoon of garlic yoghurt.

24 comments:

أُمنيّة said...

فكري لازم تترك الجراحة و تفتحلك شي مطعم بلندن اربحلك
ازا بدك مين يشاركك انا موجودة

Kano said...

one day Omniah I will do it.

Simply Heaven Food said...

Hi :)
So glade to find your blog this is awesome, I love Mnazaleh, one of my favorite Syrian dishes, this recipe makes my mouth water. Fantastic Job on it!!!!

Kano said...

Hi there
Thank you for passing by. and thanks for the complements.
How do you cook your Mnazaleh? Anything different? I always like to hear new ideas.
I love your blog by the way.

simply heaven food said...

This looks delicious, on mine I do add a little of parsley!! That is all.
Thanks.
Afaf

joumana Accad said...

My cousin in Beirut makes it with a bechamel sauce on top, with some grated cheese. Delicious.

robert said...

I'm not a Syrian but the stripes on the aubergine makes it look pretty. First time i've seen your blog but you have managed to tell me a lot about Syria through your cooking. And I've enjoyed your review of Yalla Yalla too.

Kano said...

@Robert
Welcome to my blog. I am so glad you are enjoying it and you learnt a bit about Syria. This is what is this blog about. I didn't want it to be a recipe blog or another restaurant review site. I wanted it to offer an interesting read as well as some nice recipes to try.
Syria is a wonderful place despite the bad publicity it gets. You need to go there once to fill in love with the place for ever.

Anonymous said...

I cooked it for Thanksgiving and it was everyone's favorite dish. I did fry the eggplants in olive oil. Please continue posting more eggplant recipes to keep my Syrian husband full and happy.

Kano said...

@anonymous

Welcome to my blog and sorry for the late reply. I was on holiday and just came back last night.

I am so glad you tried the recipe and you liked it and everybody had a good meal.

Regards to you and your Syrian husband. I will do my best with more Aubergine recipes.

salam said...

Dr. Chef,
I am a Jordanain of Syrian descent! Your dishes are more or less what I grew up with and your recipes are a lot similar to the ones I make. You are doing a great job documenting our delicious arabic cooking,ya3teek el 3afieh! Whenever you are in the region you should try and visit Amman and its restaurants; lots of gastronomical experiences here too!

Kano said...

@salam

Welcome to my blog and thank you for the nice words. I am so glad you like it.

I noticed you started a blog yourself back in 2008 but you didn't post any recipes. I think you should start writing. Our great cuisine is really under publicised.

I have been to Jordan on numerous occasions as a child but never more than few hours drive from Syria to Saudi Arabia and vice versa. I should come to visit and see Jordan in a different light.

Dubai Bride said...

I'm going to try this tonight!

Kano, can you post some more Ramadan recipes please?

Kano said...

@Dubai Bride

how did it go?

I will post some Ramadan recipes but I am very busy these days so it will not be as many as last year.

Dubai Bride said...

Hi Kano!

It came out well, thanks for asking :) I think I overcooked it slightly as my oven is rubbish and it was taking ages to cook and then it became overcooked. Maybe I should cook the aubergine first...

Do you have any stuffed aubergine recipes?

The rice came out absolutely perfect and I usually mess rice up and make it too sticky. This was simply perfect and hubby was very impressed!

Kano said...

@Dubai Bride

Next time you can try the traditional way of frying the aubergine first in vegetable oil then add the meat and cook in the oven.

Although I love stuffed vegetables i don't cook them for some reason. I only eat them cooked by my mum when I am home in Syria. If I do cook them I will post a recipe.

Anonymous said...

Hello Kano, I have had this dish with yellow split pea in it, is it Syrian or maybe lebanses.?

Sasha said...

What an absolute delight to stumble upon your blog. I lived in Syria for a couple of years and *adore* Syrian cuisine. This dish has to be one of my absolute favourites. I hope to cook my way through this and your other recipes and systematically expose my husband to this deliciousness! Thank you!

Kano said...

@anonymous
I don't know the version you are talking about. May be Lebanese?

@sasha
Welcome to my blog. I am really glad you like the blog and the recipes.

Anonymous said...

Come to Melbourne Australia we need Syrian restaurants here!!!

Kano said...

@Anonymous

It is a long long way to go!

Randa said...

love your blog, I am from Aleppo and i live in New Jersey US, i am trying to make an online cookbook for my daughters to "hopefully" use but i don't need to do that anymore, i just need to give them this site... thank you...

Kano said...

@Randa

Thank you very much for the kind words. I am delighted you like the blog.

Please please please, go ahead with your online cookbook. Make a blog of it and share. Our wonderful cuisine could do with more exposure.

Selma said...

I tried this recipe for the first time today and found it remarkably easy. I was concerned my three kids wouldn't like the eggplant but they all gave me the thumbs up to make this dish again. I'm of Syrian descent and Arabic cuisine is my favorite though often time consuming in the kitchen. Your blog has given me several easy but tasty recipes that fit into my busy schedule. Thank you.

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