Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Imam Bayildi (Stuffed aubergines in olive oil)

Imam bayildi (down)
Stuffed peppers and courgettes (up)

This is a Turkish speciality called Imam bayildi, meaning ‘the imam fainted’, as it is believed that the quantity of olive oil used in this tender and delicious dish caused him to faint. There are two versions for him fainting, the first one is because of delight and the second one is because he liked it so much that he kept enjoying this dish day after day until he became ill (or may be died). It is up to you to choose your favourite version.

I am going to keep experimenting cooking this dish with as little oil as possible (I am thinking about steaming the aubergines instead of frying them) and I will update you on that.

Ingredients: serves 4-6
1 large onion, finely sliced
3 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
A bunch of fresh parsley and dill, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup olive oil
2-3 long aubergines, partially peeled in zebra-stripes and soaked in salted water for 5 minutes
5 tbsp water
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve


1.      In a bowl, mix the onion, tomatoes, garlic and herbs with the salt and a little of the olive oil
2.      In a frying pan, heat up enough oil to just cover the base. Pat the aubergines dry and pop them into the pan to soften them quickly on all sides.
3.      Place the aubergines on a board and, carefully, slit them open from top to bottom, making sure you create a deep pocket to fill. Pack the onion and tomato filling into the pockets and place the aubergines, side by side, in a deep pan.
4.      Mix together the remaining olive oil and water and pour it over the filled aubergines. Cover with the lid.
5.      Cook the aubergines (on the hob or in the oven) gently for about 1 hour, basting them from time to time, until they are soft and tender and only the olive oil is left in the bottom of the pan. Leave them to cool and serve cold with a little of the oil spooned over them and lemon wedges to squeeze.

Aubergines cooking beside the pappers and the courgettes
just ou of practicality

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