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NOTE: Starting a day ahead, wash the dried chick peas in a sieve under cold running water, then place them in a large bowl or pan and add enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Soak at room temperature for at least 12 hours. Drain the peas and place them in a heavy 2 to 3 quart saucepan. Add enough fresh water to the chick peas to cover them completely and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer partially covered for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours until the peas are tender but still intact. Replenish with more boiling water from time to time if necessary. Drain the peas in a sieve or colander. (Canned chick peas require no cooking and need only to be drained and rinsed thoroughly under cold running water.) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F). In a heavy 12 inch skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil over high heat almost to the smoking point. Drop in the eggplant cubes and, stirring frequently, cook for about 5 minutes, or until they are lightly browned on all sides. With a slotted spoon, transfer them to a 9 by 14 by 2 1/2 inch baking/serving dish and spread them out evenly. Add the onions to the oil remaining in the skillet and, stirring frequently, cook over moderate heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are soft and delicately browned. watch carefully for any signs of burning and regulate the heat accordingly. Spread the onions and all of their cooking oil on top of the eggplant and pour over them an additional 1/2 cup of olive oil. Sprinkle the onions with 1 teaspoon of the salt and a few grindings of pepper. Scatter the chick peas on top, and cover them with the tomatoes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and a few grindings of pepper and pour in the water. Bring the musakkaa to a boil on top of the stove, then bake in the lower third of the oven for 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender. Cool the musakkaa to room temperature and serve directly form the baking dish, accompanied by Arab bread. 75 of 116 Time Life Series: Middle Eastern Cooking, "circa 69" MMed by: firstname.lastname@example.org
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