One Humndred and One Mezze: 30. Batersh

30 years ago Syria's Assad regime committed one of the worst massacres in the twentieth century. 20000 people of the city of Hama lost their lives at the hands of the regime army. They didn't spare anyone, man, woman or child. Men and boys dragged out of their houses, lined against the walls and killed by fire squads. 

30 years on, the Assad junior regime is committing the same massacres. This time all over the country and in slow motion. 7000 of my country men and women lost their lives over the last 11 months with no end in sight. 

Sorry for the depressing words but this is how I felt for the last 11 months and this is how my beautiful Syria is being killed every single day.

This post is dedicated to Hama, the bravest of all Syrian cities.

Batersh is a speciality of the city of Hama. It is, in a way, Mutabal topped with Syrian Bolognese sauce. 

I know what you think, very odd combination. It might sound odd but in fact it is very moreish and very satisfying.

In Hama, Batersh is mostly served as a supper main dish which is my favourite way to eat it. However, I also like to serve it as a warm Mezze dish.

Here is my take on Batersh:

Two aubergines
Tahini 2-3 tbs
Yoghurt 2-3 tbs
Garlic 1 clove, crushed

For the topping:
Minced lamb 200g
Ghee clarified butter 2 tbs
One large tomato pureed in a food processor.
Tomato paste 1-2 tbs
Pine nuts 30g
Parsley 1 tbs chopped
Salt and pepper

Start by placing the aubergine whole and skin on directly on open flame and cook it till it is charred on the outside and soft on the inside. Turn around every few minutes so it is charred all over. This method gives the dish its characteristic smokiness. No other way of cooking can give you that exact flavour. Grilling under a hot grill in the oven is not bad. You can also put your aubergine directly on electric or halogen hub. The cooking process should take 15-20 minutes.

After you cook the aubergine, cover with cling film for 20-30 minutes. Remove the charred skin. It should come off easily. Mash the aubergine with a fork. Mix the rest of the ingredients and add to the aubergines. Season with salt to taste. 

To make the topping start by frying the pine nuts in the Ghee butter to a nice golden brown. Be careful as pine nuts burn very quickly. Remove from the butter with a slotted spoon and keep aside for later.

In the same Ghee fry the minced meat until it start to brown. Add the processed tomato and the tomato puree. Use more or less puree to your taste. I don't like my sauce too sour. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for twenty minutes until the meat is tender and the sauce thick and concentrated.

Spread the Mutabal in a plate. Spoon over the meat sauce and sprinkle the pine nuts and chopped parsley.

Serve with Arabic flat bread.