Chick Pea Cups

2 large eggplants
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 shallots
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon baharat*
2 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 eggs
salt and pepper
1 1/4 pound chickpeas, canned

Peel the eggplant, or leave unpeeled. Slice the eggplants lengthwise, to a thickness of 3 mm/ 1/4 inch. Brush the eggplant slices with the vegetable oil. Place the eggplant slices on a baking sheet and broil both sides until they are golden brown in color or fry in oil and then drain on a paper towel. Peel and finely dice the shallots. Peel and crush the garlic.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic, chopped shallots and baharat on medium-high heat for approximately 3 minutes, until they give off a good aroma. Allow to cool. Mix in the chickpeas. Line the molds with the slices of eggplant.

Preheat the oven to 170 C/ 340 F. Combine the cream cheese, cream and eggs and beat well. Pour the chickpea mixture into the molds then cover with the cream cheese mixture. Fold the eggplant over, to cover the filling. Bake in a bain-marie for 50 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Unmold using a small knife to gently loosen the rims. Invert the ramekins over the serving plate. Serve hot.

* Baharat means "spice" in Arabic, derived from the word bahar, which means pepper, so it is a mixed spice with black pepper. It is an all-purpose spice mix used in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine and found in many prepared savory dishes

Serves 4.

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