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Aubergines Stuffed with Lamb

4 Aubergines
Sunflower oil for frying
1 Tomato; thickly sliced
4 15 cm long; spindly, mild green chillies or 1 small green pepper, seeded and cut into wide strips

1 lg Onion; chopped
25 g Butter
450 g Tender lamb cut into 2cm cubes
1/2 ts Ground chilli
Salt and pepper
1 lg Tomato; weighing around 225g skinned, seeded and diced
2 tb Tomato puree
1 ts Sugar

Slice the stems off the aubergines. Take 4 strips of peel off each one from top to tail, so that it is striped with purple skin and white flesh. Place in a basin, sprinkle over 1 generous tablespoon of salt, cover with water and leave for an hour to soak, turning occasionally.

Drain the aubergines and dry. Heat a 2.5cm depth of sunflower oil in a frying pan large enough to take all the aubergines (or, if necessary, cook in 2 batches). Fry the aubergines, turning until browned on all sides and tender (this should take about 15-20 minutes). Drain on kitchen paper. Place in an oiled ovenproof dish and cut a deep slit in each one along its length, without cutting through the ends. Gently ease open to form a pocket for the filling.

Make the filling while the aubergines are soaking. Fry the onion in the butter until tender without browning. Add the lamb, chilli and some pepper and fry, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Add the diced tomato, tomato puree and sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes. Pour in 150ml water, season with salt and simmer, covered, for about 1 hour, until the meat is very tender.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas6. Fill the aubergines with the meat and pour over any juice that remains in the pan. Place a slice of tomato and a green chilli (or wide strip of green pepper) on top of each one. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Serve or hot warm.

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