amy chaplin

celebrating the art of eating well

Saffron eggplant stew for a crowd

POSTED ON October 5, 2016



Heading quickly into the fall with cooler days upon us, I was feeling the need to cook with the late summer vegetables that are slowly disappearing, making room for winter squash at the market. Right now, there’s an abundance of over ripe tomatoes, eggplants and peppers all begging to be roasted or cooked in some way. Since I was looking for ideas for a main course to serve a crowd—guests had volunteered to bring things like tzatziki, humus and marinated artichoke hearts—I knew something tasty with tomato and eggplant was probably going to be it. Instead of my usual eggplant curry (recipe in my book and a version here), I wanted to use saffron, which also goes really well with the last of the summer produce, as well as with the dips and marinated things that were to be arriving.  A Persian stew recipe I found online caught my attention — it had rose water stirred in before serving. The idea inspired this coconut yogurt and rose petal accompaniment; served along with black rice and a quick herbed cucumber salad, it turned out to be an exotic flavor explosion.

When cooking for a crowd these kinds of thick stews are perfect,  they’re not too juicy to serve on a plate and go really well with platters of olives, humus, flat breads, etc. They also go incredibly far when paired with rice and all the other dishes–plus they can be made ahead and simmered for hours.

There are only a few weeks left here in New York to enjoy these vegetables that hold the warm summer sun in their flesh. Enjoy them while you can!

Amy x






Eggplant saffron stew for a crowd

This stew makes 4 ½ to 5 quarts which is 18 to 20 cups. It’s a big pot but since it’s thick it doesn’t go as far as a soup. I served 14 people with lots of accompaniments and had leftovers for another 6 people as a full meal. So my educated guess is it serves 15 people comfortably.

Here I used 5 large Asian eggplant and 2 medium Italian ones.


6 large peppers, about 3 ¼ pounds (1.5 kilograms)

Extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil

4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) eggplant, roll cut

4 onions, cut into ½ inch wedges

6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

Sea salt

9 large (6 ¼ lb: 2.8 kilograms) tomatoes, I used Beefsteak

2 teaspoons saffron threads

4 cups cooked chickpeas

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 cups cilantro leaves, optional


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper, add peppers and drizzle with a little oil; toss to coat and roast for 30 minutes. Turn peppers over and roast for another 30 minutes or until browning in places. Remove from oven, place in a bowl, cover with a plate and set aside.

Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper and divide eggplant between them. Drizzle each tray with about 1 ½ tablespoons oil and a large pinch of salt. Toss to combine and roast for 25 minutes or until browning, turn each piece over and roast another 20 minutes until soft inside and evenly browned.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut an “X” at the end of each tomato (either end works) and place half of them in the boiling water. Wait about one minute, or until skin starts lifting off then remove with a slotted spoon. Repeat with remaining tomatoes and set aside to cool.

Warm a tablespoon of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and add onions. Sauté for 5 minutes, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes until softened and golden. Add garlic and a large pinch of salt and continue cooking for 10 minutes more.

Peel and chop tomatoes and add to onion garlic mixture and bring up to a simmer. Combine saffron threads in 3 tablespoons of water (I used the liquid from cooking the chickpeas) and add to tomatoes. Simmer mixture uncovered for 30 minutes or until reduced by about a fifth. (My tomatoes were quite watery and so I simmered them for over an hour to get my desired thickness). Add chickpeas, cumin and salt to taste.

Peel and seed peppers then cut in into 2 inch squares and stir into stew along with roasted eggplant. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to allow flavors to marry. Stir in cilantro leaves, if using and serve warm with rice and a dollop of coconut yogurt (or whole milk yogurt).


Forbidden black rice with kaffir lime leaves

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I always soak rice overnight but I forgot! I didn’t mind as black rice has a tendency to be very soft, which I love but I know not everyone does. I might reduce water by about ½  cup if I had soaked it overnight.

3 cups forbidden black rice

8 kaffir lime leaves, I used dried but fresh would be ideal

5 cups filtered water

Sea salt

Wash and drain rice. Place in a pot and add lime leaves, water and salt and bring to a boil. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 50 minutes or until all water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and leave covered until ready to serve.


Coconut yogurt with rose water and petals

If you can’t find an unsweetened coconut yogurt with no additives—which is pretty much impossible unless you have access to Anita’s Coconut Yogurt or make your own. Otherwise use a Greek style full fat yogurt.

2 cups full fat unsweetened coconut yogurt

1 to 2 tablespoons rose water

Extra virgin olive oil to garnish

Flakey sea salt or rose salt if you have it

Fresh or dried rose petals

Pink peppercorns, optional

Spread yogurt into a shallow bowl or plate. Drizzle with rose water and olive oil then sprinkle with salt and rose petals. If using pink peppercorns crush them between your fingers before scattering them over the top.


Quick cucumber salad

I used regular pickling cucumbers here and left their skin on and seeds in; however, Persian cucumbers would of course be ideal. The great thing about this is it tastes good for hours and lasts a couple of days (just leave out herbs if you make it ahead).

4 medium-large cucumbers, thinly shaved with a mandolin

Sea salt

Raw apple cider vinegar to taste

½ cup fresh mint leaves

⅓ cup chopped dill

Lime juice to finish

Add cucumbers, large pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of vinegar to a medium bowl and toss to combine. Taste for salt and vinegar then stir in dill and mint. Drizzle with a squeeze of lime and serve.


POSTED IN Gluten free, Mains

never miss a recipe!


  • Beautiful recipe, Amy 🙂 Saffron adds nice final touch to the dish 🙂

  • Dana Lamm says:

    Amy, this sounds amazing but my spouse will not partake of eggplant. Substitute?
    Thanks so much!

  • jan says:

    Amy, Amy,Amy AMY- not everyone lives in the United States. Only the USA and Myranmar use the Imperial system!
    Please be more International and friendly by including Celcius and grams/kilograms in your recipes….so the rest of us in the world do not feel like you are ignoring us!

    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Hi Jan,

      It’s hard to believe that you feel ignored 🙂 It takes so much time and energy to plan, shop, measure, cook, shoot, write, edit and post a recipe–even longer when you do 4– and then there’s the clean up! Its pretty easy to do a google search to find out the weights in whatever form you prefer. I can understand complaining if you had to pay for these recipes but it’s all free. Without advertising, blogs are expensive and time consuming to keep up. Luckily I really enjoy doing it and love the community that has been created around my blog and others that I read. I’m also inspired by the lovely feedback I get from sharing these recipes. Its always disappointing receiving messages like yours. In the time it took writing this exchange we could have googled the grams!

      Wishing you well,


  • I’ve made your eggplant curry from the cookbook and can attest to how good it is and see why it’s your go-to for entertaining. But I love this Persian-influenced stew too. It’s like a Persian style ratatouille. Great idea to accompany with the cooling cucumber salad. I’ll have to remember this pairing. Thanks Amy!

  • Oh i am SO gonna make this having just discovered the amazing curry in the book with this seasons aubergines (made it twice and mad for it!)
    Fun times dividing everything through by 15 😉
    For the cucumber salad is it 4 medium-large pickling/Persian dukes then? xx

    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Hi Hannah-Phoebe,

      So happy you’re loving the curry! Sorry about the amount, I would say just half it and enjoy it for a couple of days…or freeze it.
      Its not a ridiculous amount it just goes far when needed!
      Yes, 4 medium large cukes. It also something that you can easily make with any amount just adjust seasoning to taste.
      Let me know how you enjoy it!

      Amy x

  • alwayshungry says:

    Hi Amy!!
    The recipe looks delicious!
    I’m intrigued as to how this stew would tast withe the saffron and rose flavored yogurt!
    Since you’re taking aboutfeed a crowd I just wanted to tell you I made your bean bourguignon for 30 corset makers last weekend and now they are all begging for the recipe! Your the best! Thank you soooo much for the work that you share here!

  • Chau says:

    What a beautiful spread, Amy! Your guests are lucky to have you as their host 🙂 I look forward to trying your chickpea stew variety like this now that we’re approaching Autumn (we’re slowly getting there in CA).

    I’ve managed to make your green vegetable tart with the buckwheat crust earlier this month, and it turned out so deliciously! I ate nearly half of the tart that same day – it’s incredibly light and yet satisfying; my favorite balance. I will be sure to make it for a crowd next time 🙂 Thank you for sharing your recipes, as always!

  • rosalia says:

    Thank you Amy, I made it last night, wonderful 🙂
    I have been following you for the past 3 years, I have your book also.
    Thanks again,

  • Cecilia says:

    Thank you Amy, for yet another set of beautiful and inspiring dishes!
    It’s always a pleasure to receive your posts.
    warm greetings from Amsterdam,

  • Sylvia says:

    Oh my word! This stew is so delicious. I made it for myself and my boyfriend tonight and we loved it. We threw a handful of pomegranate seeds on the yogurt in lieu of rose petals, which worked beautifully. Thank you for another delicious recipe! I cook from your cookbook or website at least once a week!


    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Hi Sylvia,

      Thank you for the lovely note! I’m so happy to hear that the stew was loved! Great idea for the pomegranate and I’m honored to be a part of your kitchen routine.
      Amy x

  • Eileen Douglas says:

    What does it mean when you say to “roll cut” the eggplant?

    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Hi Eileen,

      Sorry I missed your question. I’m sure you have probably googled it by now but it is also called an oblique cut. I expaine a bit in my book but google will “show” you pretty clearly.

      Amy x

  • Terumi says:

    Hi Amy!

    I’ve been eyeing this recipe for a while and wondered if it would work to make in my pressure cooker ? I’m still learning how to use it and so am curious how to go about it 🙂


    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Hi Terumi,

      Pressure cookers are great for hardy vegetable stews, this one is quite delicate and doesn’t need the pressure 🙂
      I love using mine for beans as they come out so soft and flavorful. There is a section in my book about pressure cooking beans.

      Enjoy it!


  • Vero says:

    Hey Amy, thank you so much for the inspiration! Just made the stew for todays new years eve party and I’m totally psyched to share this meal with my friends. In the beginning I thought I wouldn’t prepare this meal twice because of the effort of roasting the vegetables individually etc, but the result is really delicious so that I totally will do this again!


Leave a Reply