Little Pies with Eggplant

These pasteles are believed to have originated among the Spanish-speaking Jewish community that migrated to Ottoman lands after the collapse of the Moorish Empire. Today they are particular favorites in Istanbul and Izmir.

for the filling
1  large eggplant
 sea salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1  medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground {cumin}
 freshly ground {black pepper}
2  medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
for the pastry
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons warm water
1  egg yolk
 sesame seeds
Dice the eggplant, sprinkle generously with salt, place in a colander with a plate on top to weigh the eggplant down and let drain for 30 minutes.

Heat the oil for the filling and fry the onion for 10 minutes, until golden. Rinse the eggplant well and pat dry with a cloth, then add the eggplant to the pan, together with the sugar, cumin, and a generous grind of pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring regularly to prevent the eggplant from sticking, for 15 minutes or so, until tender. Now add the tomatoes and continue to cook over a low heat for another 15 minutes, again stirring from time to time. Turn the heat up for the last minute of cooking and drain off any excess oil the eggplant releases. Mash the mixture up with a fork and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, turn your attention to the pastry dough, which happily is very simple to make and does not need any resting. Sift the flour with the salt and then, with a wooden spoon, stir in the oil. Slowly add the warm water, stirring all the time, until the pastry starts to stick together -- you might need a little more or a little less, depending upon the flour. Give the dough a quick knead for 30 seconds or so until you have a smooth ball, and there you have it.

Heat the oven to 400°. Divide the pastry in half and roll one half out on a floured work surface. With a cookie cutter (in fact, I use a cup), cut out 6 circles, each approximately 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Place a teaspoon of the filling in the middle of each and fold over to form a half-moon shape. Crimp the edges together with your fingers and place on a greased baking tray. Repeat the process with the remaining dough so you end up with 12 little pies.

Brush the surface of the pastries with the egg yolk and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Place in the heated oven and bake for 30 minutes, until lightly golden. The pastries are at their best served warm from the oven.

Ease of Preparation: Moderate

Preparation Time: 30 min
let eggplant drain 30 min

Cook Time: 70 min

Servings: Makes 12 little pies

Recipe By: Sarah Woodward

From:  The Ottoman Kitchen
Used with permission of Interlink Publishing