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Patrijani (Stuffed Fried Eggplant)

2 lb (abt 8 small) italian-type eggplant
2 1/2 t salt
2 sm (3/4 cup) onions,chopped
3/4 c walnuts,shelled
3 cloves garlic,sliced
3 t coriander,Ground
1/4 t to 1/2 ts hot red chili flakes,to,taste
3 T red-wine vinegar
1/4 c corn oil
VARIATION ======================
2 lb (abt 8 small) italian-type eggplant
6 c water
1 t salt
8 sprigs chinese celery (see note) or
8 sprigs flat-leaf italian parsley
1 recipe for walnut stuffing-as in basic recipe

1. Cut each eggplant lengthwise almost into halves so that they can be opened like a book, w/two halves still connected. Sprinkle insides lightly w/2 ts salt, put them in large pan & cover. Let stand for 1 hr. Rinse w/cold water. Close each eggplant & them gently to remove accumulated liquid. Open them again & dry on a kitchen towel.
2. Toss onions w/remaining 1/2 ts salt & let stand for 1/2 hr. Put them in a kitchen towel & firmly squeeze out liquid.
3. Prepare a stuffing. Put walnuts, onions, garlic, coriander, & red chili flakes in a processor & process to a smooth paste. Add vinegar & process for a few seconds more to mix well. Set aside.
4. Heat oil in a skillet, place eggplants cut side down in it and fry over moderate heat, covered, for 5 mins. Turn them over & fry for another 2 mins to brown skin side. Remove & cool. Do not separate eggplant halves.
5. Spread 1 tb stuffing over cut surface of half of the eggplant. Close, & tie together w/white thread if you wish. Return eggplants to skillet & fry them over low heat on both sides for 5 mins. Cool & remove thread, if used. Refrigerate. Serve cold as an appetizer or a side dish. Makes 8.

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