Aubergine Stew | Yatimcheh | یتیمچه

Yields: 4 Servings Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 15 Mins Cook Time: 1 Hr 15 Mins Total Time: 1 Hr 30 Mins

Aubergine stew – یتیمچه – yatimcheh – is a delicious vegan Iranian one-pot wonder. My Iranian friend once told me that aubergines are to Iran as potatoes are to Britain. In Iran, you can buy aubergines by the bucket load – literally. This dish is a perfect example of how aubergines can add umami to a meal.

Origins of Persian Aubergine Stew

The Farsi name یتیمچه (or yatimcheh) translates to ‘Little Orphan’. This is because long ago meat was considered a luxury but this dish contained only vegetables. However, despite the title, the simple but inviting flavours have enticed people to return to this dish again and again.

Ingredients swaps

Considering nutrition, I try to include a portion of protein in every meal. To keep this recipe authentic, I haven’t added anything but would suggest adding a can of beans or some walnuts as well as serving with a wholemeal loaf of bread.

This recipe uses simple spices but you can easily try new variations with the ingredients you have in your kitchen. My partner’s favourite twist is to sprinkle in a few strands of saffron, giving the stew an aromatic taste.

You can use a slow-cooker instead of a pot. Follow the instructions but adjust the timing to finish when the vegetables are soft.

Cooking tips

Unlike much of Iranian cuisine, this recipe doesn’t require you to slave over a stove all day in order to achieve those beautifully blended flavour harmonies. In fact, I encourage you to be lazy and not stir the pot! This will help the vegetables from breaking up, which happens easily because they are stewed until very soft. So chop up some vegetables and put your feet up while you wait for the stew to work its magic…

So my yatimcheh tips are:

  • Be lazy! Don’t stir the pot
  • For a more intense flavour, cook for longer on a low heat  – use a slow cooker if you have one
  • Make extra portions for lunch the next day – the flavours will be even better after time
  • Play with different spices or add a high-protein ingredient (beans/nuts) for your own variation


0/15 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
  • To serve


0/5 Instructions
  • Dice the onions, mince the chilli, finely slice the garlic, and slice the vegetables into 1cm thick pieces.
  • Using a deep pan on low heat, toss the onion and chilli in hot oil. Do not wait for the onion to soften.
  • Add the rest of the vegetables.
  • Pour the can of tomatoes on top then scatter the garlic, turmeric, pepper and salt. Add boiling water to cover the vegetables, cover with a lid, and leave for 1.5 hours. (Intermittently check your pan isn’t overflowing or needing a top up of water.)
  • Serve with lemon wedges and bread. (Tastes even better the next day.)


Did you make this recipe? Tag @vegan_middle_east on Instagram or comment below.

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