Imam Bayildi (Stuffed Eggplant)

November 10, 2014

Imam Bayildi (Stuffed Eggplant)


I love me a good tale and the one behind this Turkish recipe is truly fantastic.
Here’s how the story goes:
A long time ago there lived a Turkish imam, well known for his appetite and love of good food. One day he surprised his friends by announcing his engagement to the beautiful young daughter of a rich olive oil merchant. At this stage, the imam’s friends were not aware of her abilities as a cook. Part of her dowry was a consignment of the very finest olive oil. The wealthy merchant gave the groom twelve great jars of the prized oil, each one as big as a man.
Following the wedding, the young daughter quickly revealed her talents as a Turkish cook and every day prepared a special dish for her new food-loving husband. Stuffed aubergine in olive oil was his absolute favorite, and so he asked his wife to make it for him every night as the centrepiece of his dinner. Being a good wife, she did as she was told, and made the delicious dish for twelve days in a row. On the thirteenth day, however, when the imam sat down to dinner, his favourite aubergine dish was starkly absent. The imam demanded to know the reason for its disappearance. The bride replied, “My dear husband, I cannot make your favourite dish anymore, for we have no more olive oil. You will have to buy some more.” The lmam was so shocked by the news that he fainted. And so ever since that day, his favorite dish has become known as ‘Imam Bayildi’,(the priest fainted).


Imam Bayildi (Stuffed Eggplant)



Imam Bayildi is one of the most celebrated Turkish recipes, and a very special one.
A delicious baked eggplant dish that is redolent of sautéed peppers, tomato, parsley, onion, garlic, and olive oil.
It packs a walloping good taste and it’s light on calories.

Imam Bayildi (Stuffed Eggplant)



Served cold, it works very well as a starter (or ‘meze’); it can be a meal in itself or can be paired with a salad or some protein.
What really matters is that this vegetarian dish is not pushed to the side lines.
You can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it up to 2 - 3 days, bring it to room temperature, or warm it very slightly in the oven before serving.
If you like eggplants, tomato, onion and garlic, then this is definitely for you.
You may not faint like the imam, but you’ll surely love it.

Imam Bayildi (Stuffed Eggplant)

Imam Bayildi (Stuffed Eggplant)                                                                                       Print this recipe!

Ingredients
Serves 6

6 slender eggplants (such as Japanese eggplants), about 7 inches long (about 2 lbs / 900 gr)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium red onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon, raw coconut palm sugar*
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Fine grain salt
Ground black pepper

*or brown sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C) and place a rack in the middle.
Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and brush with olive oil.
Using a vegetable peeler, remove wide strips of the eggplants' skin.
Cut the eggplants open lengthwise, but don't slice completely through them. Sprinkle a big pinch of salt inside each eggplant, then set them all in a colander and let rest for about 30 minutes.
Place on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the outer skin begins to shrivel. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet and add the onions.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes, then add the bell pepper and garlic. Continue to cook until the vegetables are tender and have collapsed, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the chopped tomato, sugar, cumin, tomato paste and parsley.
Cook for further 5 minutes, until fragrant. Set aside.
Reduce oven temperature 350°F (180°C).
Arrange the eggplants in the baking dish so that each one is butterflied open. Season with salt and fill with the onion and tomato mixture.
Drizzle with remaining olive oil, add two tablespoons of water to the baking dish and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes.
By the end of cooking the eggplants should be practically flat and the liquid in the pan slightly caramelized.
Serve warm or at room temperature, with a spoonful of the pan juices drizzled over the eggplant.

Nutrition facts

One serving yields 116 calories, 12 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of protein.

32 comments:

  1. I am always looking fr new eggplant recipes - its one of my favorite vegetables. Pinning this one.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lovely pics and big kicks of flavor. My dad is a big eggplant lover so looks like on my next visit home I'll cook this up for him!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Incredible recipe and pics, Mike. Nice work!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mike, having enjoyed two days in a row your skinny eggplant parmigiana, I am more than ready for this one.

    plus, any dish that gives you a chance to use "redolent" is not to be disregarded. ever... Redolent. I am gonna have to use this in the near future... such a sexy word!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Redolent' is my word of the week...who am I kidding? It's my word of the month (if not year!)

      Delete
  5. Mate, I'm commenting from your city and I'm damn jealous.....even though I've been here before, I fall more and more in love! As for the recipe- epic looking- but that's standard. This reminds me of a similar style eggplant dip my mum makes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is quite the City but dude Australia is so awesome, I honestly don't know what you're jealous of...

      Delete
  6. Mike - thanks for sharing the tale behind this Imam Bayildi - I love stories, so, loved reading that - it's insane that that bride went through a bottle of olive oil a day! YIKES!

    BTW - loving these exotic vegetarian dishes you've been sharing - thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed both the story and the recipe Shashi!

      Delete
  7. Hi Mike, oohh, what a great story, makes this dish even more special. Also your pics are really nice. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  8. As my world is immersed into Turkey (my hubby is a native Turk), eggplants and olive oil are kings of our cuisine. This dish, along with karniyarik, are amongst our favorites. Thank you for sharing Turkish cuisine; it is truly underestimated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love karniyarik, it's such an awesome. And I agree with you Turkish cuisine is totally underrated, it's up to 'us' to fix this!

      Delete
  9. This looks incredible! I'm going to a middle eastern-inspired dinner in a few weeks and I've been researching Turkish recipes, so this is going on my list. I will also be making dessert so if you have any suggestions, let me know!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know much about Turkish desserts but I remember eating some pretty good ones while I was in Istanbul. Some research is definitely necessary!

      Delete
  10. I always love the back stories on traditional dishes, and this one's no exception! I'm at a loss to say about this dish - the photos - everything looks amazing! :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've only had eggplant two ways, fried and Parmesan. I'd love to try this recipe. Your pictures are gorgeous, Mike!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I toured Turkey for 3 weeks a year ago and besides the incredible array of food dishes it is one festive and amazing country. A definite "go to" if you have never been, especially all the restored ruins down at Ephesus. As for this dish, I have been getting into eggplant more and this looks fantastic! Love your line "A delicious baked eggplant dish that is redolent of sautéed peppers, tomato, parsley, onion, garlic, and olive oil." Great writing and pics, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've just been to Istanbul, and it's such an amazing city.
      But I want to go back to visit Cappadocia and the Mediterranean coast , I've heard such great things about those places. Have you been there?

      Delete
  13. I love Imam Bayildi and have made it several times. It was served to us in Iran as a cold appetizer. I actually prefer it stuffed hot. Yours looks delicious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's such a good dish, isn't it? I could make it over and over again!

      Delete
  14. My grandmother was born in Instambul and came to Greece at the Greek - Turkey exchange so we have many turkish dishes in our cousine as well. Imam is one of them and my grandma loved it! There are 40 days of fast before Easter and Christmas and she used to cook it often during these days. Thank you for the lighter version of the dish and of reminding me of my grandma! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping by and tell us about your lovely grandma. I hope I gave her justice with my recipe!

      Delete
  15. What a great post, Mike! I can't say that I've ever come across imam before, but I think it definitely needs to make an appearance in my kitchen. Those flavors sound amazing! That's how the Wolfpack rolls. #WolfpackEats

    ReplyDelete
  16. Itsn't normal dish, it's work of art!
    Awesome.
    Eliza :))

    ReplyDelete
  17. This sounds so filling and comforting! I have shared this on Pinterest.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Delicious recipe!

    ReplyDelete