Imam Bayildi

Don’t let this Turkish stuffed eggplant’s prep time scare you – less than 20 minutes is hands on, and since it tastes best at room temperature, you can make it a day in advance. This recipe uses quite a bit less oil than traditional imam bayildi,* but it’s just as delicious.
Yield 4 servings
Time 2½ hours
  • cookie sheet
  • knife
  • colander
  • large non-stick frying pan with lid
  • wooden spoon
  • medium bowl
  • baster or spoon
  • 2 medium or 4 small eggplants
  • ½ c olive oil, divided
  • 1½ c onions, very thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ pounds tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ c parsley, minced
  • 2 T fresh dill, minced
  • 2 T fresh basil, minced
  • 1½ t salt
  • 2½ t sugar, divided
  • ¼ c water
  • 2 T lemon juice
Directions Preheat oven to 450. Use 2 T oil to grease the cookie sheet.

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, then make a deep slit down each half as if cutting into wedges, but stop short of cutting through the skin. Place the halves on the cookie sheet cut side down and bake until they start to shrivel, about 20 minutes. Place in colander, cut side down, and leave to drain for half an hour.

Meanwhile, heat 2 T oil over medium heat, add onion, and sauté, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and stir in tomatoes, herbs, salt, 1 t sugar, and 1 T oil.

Arrange eggplants, cut side up, in the hot frying pan. Gently pull the sides of each half to open the slits, then fill/top with the tomato mixture.

Combine remaining oil and sugar with water and lemon juice and drizzle over the tomato filling.

Cover and cook over low heat, occasionally basting with the liquid in the pan, for 1½ hours, until the eggplant halves are soft and flattened. (If the liquid runs out, add a bit of water.)

Let cool to room temperature, then transfer imam bayildi to plates and drizzle with any remaining liquid.


Mediterranean Harvest

* The name of this Turkish dish means "the imam fainted," but whether his lightheadedness was from the exquisite taste or the outrageous amount of olive oil needed to make it is a matter of some debate.

Recipe adapted from Martha Rose Shulman’s Mediterranean Harvest (read my review).

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Turkish stuffed eggplant