Sweet and sour meat eggplant

Sweet and sour meat eggplant (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Total Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes

Sevings: 8 or more

Note: Adapted from "The Book of Jewish Food" by Claudia Roden. See the accompanying recipe for tamarind liquid. Or you can use canned "fresh tamarind concentrate" (use the same amount as of tamarind liquid). The C.T.F. brand is available at K.H. Supermarket in Long Beach, Ai Hoa market in downtown Los Angeles ( Chinatown) and Saigon Market in Lawndale.

2 1/2 pounds lamb or beef, cut into 1-inch cubes

Salt

2 large eggplants, about 2 pounds each, cut into 1/2 -inch slices

2 pounds onions, sliced

3 tablespoons oil

Pepper

2 1/2 pounds large tomatoes, peeled and sliced in 1/2 -inch slices

6 tablespoons tamarind liquid

1 tablespoon sugar

1. Simmer the meat in water to cover with 2 teaspoons salt for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until tender. Strain the meat, saving the meat and 1 cup of the stock separately. You may discard the rest of the stock.

2. While the meat is simmering, sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and set aside for 1 hour to draw out their juices. Cook the onions in a large frying pan in the oil over low heat until soft and very brown and caramelized.

3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the eggplant and dry in a tea towel. Fry the slices briefly in very hot oil, turning over once, until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels. Alternatively, you can brush the slices with oil and cook them under the broiler.

4. In a large baking dish, layer the ingredients. Begin with a layer of eggplant, and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Next, layer half of the meat and onions, seasoning with one-eighth teaspoon salt and a small pinch of pepper. Cover with a layer of half of the tomato slices, seasoning with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Repeat with a second seasoned layer each of eggplant, meat and onions, and tomatoes.

5. Heat 1 cup of the meat stock in a small pan and stir in the tamarind liquid and sugar. When the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is blended, pour it evenly over the layers.

6. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until hot. Serve with rice.

Each serving: 442 calories; 30 grams protein; 30 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams fiber; 22 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 83 mg. cholesterol; 817 mg. sodium.