[Sca-cooks] Interesting little food-related experience: badenjum

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Sun Aug 26 21:29:18 PDT 2007

Hullo, the list!

I thought I'd share this little experience of mine, although I guess  
it's sort of a culinary shaggy-dog story with no real point or  
conclusion other than, well, what happened.

My sister has lived in Israel for about 30 years and converted to  
Judaism around the time she moved there, married a pretty  
conservative Orthodox rabbi, and has been living that life since  
then, has a bunch of kids, now mostly grown, is happy, and this is  
all good.

Well, she and her youngest daughter have been visiting, staying at my  
mother's place, and we're finding it just a little difficult to find  
things like restaurants they're completely comfortable eating in,  
because for maximum comfort level, there is not only concern over  
whether things and establishments are kept Kosher, but also Glatt  
Kosher, and also Glatt Kosher as certified by a fairly narrow  
spectrum, or maybe I'd better say specific, "family" of rabbinical  
councils or organizations. This is in no way a condemnation of  
anybody else's idea of what is Kosher; it's just that she and her  
daughter could order absolutely anything off the menu without having  
to think too much about it, because someone they trust has already  
done the research and the worrying.

Okay. A bit of a challenge, but not an unwelcome one. Well, we found  
a place that was not only Kosher as approved by the specific group of  
rabbis in question, but also was not your typical Glatt Kosher  
restaurant; this place was a meat (fleischig? as opposed to dairy)  
restaurant that did Persian food. It was very nice, a little pricey,  
presumably what with all the various inspections and the inability to  
buy their raw ingredients from just anyone with the lowest price, but  
a good host takes things like this in stride, I believe. It was cool,  
though, the things that appeared on the table before we had ordered  
anything, various pickles, chopped salad-ey condiment-ey items, all  
vaguely similar to a lot of Middle Eastern food of my previous  
experience, but not quite. And the sumac on the table in a third  
shaker next to the salt and pepper was fun...

So there I am, ordering food, and in among all the kebab-like items  
that everyone else wanted, were a couple of stew-like items, and I  
figured I'd do one of those, contrary fellow that I am. I ordered  
something called badenjum, in part because I thought it might be some  
modern descendant of one of the eggplant dishes mentioned in al- 
Baghdadi, maybe something like badinjan muhassa or some such. Yes,  
it's true, folks. In spite of all I've said on this list in the past  
approximately ten years, I ordered eggplant voluntarily.

It was good, basically appearing to be fried whole baby eggplants  
braised with browned lamb chunks and tomatoes, in a tomato-ey sauce.  
As I say, the eggplants were small, had very few seeds, and between  
being fried and finished in a tangy sauce, had little or no trace of  
either the bitterness or mucilage so common in badly-prepared  
eggplant dishes.

Upon returning home, I did a little checking to refresh my memory on  
badinjan muhassa, and I found that although what I ate was mostly  
unrelated (badinjan and badenjum both being simply terms meaning  
"eggplant", apparently), badinjan muhassa is still eaten today in a  
fairly recognizable form. The period dish, as far as I can tell from  
looking at one or two recipes -- there may be others that are  
different -- seems to be a dish of boiled eggplant, peeled and  
chopped, mixed with pounded nuts and a tangy sauce made with vinegar  
and pomegranite juice, plus various other seasonings, depending on  
the recipe. This has sometimes been put up in jars as a pickle,  
apparently. There seems to be a modern version that involves little  
fried blobs or patties of pounded walnuts, which you stir into the  
chopped, boiled eggplant, and apparently the vinegar-steeped  
pomegranite pulp/juice has become straight vinegar in the modern  
version. Not sure if it's ever sealed in jars and kept for any period  
of time. I'd suspect not, given the fried component, but one never  

So, as I said, there's no really big point to this, except to  
demonstrate that sometimes the desire for both learning and a good  
meal can take us around some pretty interesting corners.


More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list