"Imam Bayildi" means "The Imam Fainted." The legend has it that when the Imam tasted this dish, it was so good that he fainted. I love that bit of lore, even if it isn't true. But I hope it is.
If you've been following this blog, you'll know that I don't like eggplant. I made an Eggplant Parmesan that was tolerable, mainly because it was smothered in cheese and tomato sauce--and really, what isn't good when it's covered with cheese? But then there's this dish, which is covered in neither sauce nor cheese. It's eggplant, vegetables, a few spices, and more eggplant. Scary. But, Greg loves eggplant, and this dish is synonymous with Turkish cuisine. So, Imam Bayildi it was.
When I was making this dish, I thought of my friend Emily. She's a vegetarian and loves when I post new veggie recipes. I think this is one that she will love if she hasn't made it before already. SO! Emily, this one's for you.
Imam Bayildi (from Recipezaar.com)
-4 medium aubergines (eggplants)
-3 tablespoons olive oil
-1 onions, finely chopped
-2 garlic, cloves crushed
-1 green peppers (capsicum)
-1 red peppers (capsicum)
- Parsley, good handful chopped
-3 large tomatoes, blanched, skinned and coarsely chopped (**NOTE: I would drop these in the boiling water for just a minute before you do the eggplants.**)
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-Black pepper, to taste
-Salt, to taste
-1/2-1 teaspoons sugar
-Juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon
1. Heat oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5.
2. Slice each aubergine in half lengthwise.
3. Scoop out the flesh from the aubergines and chop.
4. Blanch the aubergine shells in boiling water for 2 minutes then drain upside down.
5. Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a pan and saute the onion until soft and golden.
6. Add crushed garlic and fry for 2 minutes.
7. Add parsley, chopped aubergine, tomatoes, green and red pepper, cinnamon, salt and black pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.
8. Add lemon juice and sugar to taste.
9. Arrange the aubergine boats in a baking dish and fill each one with the filling.
10. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.
11. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.
-Makes 4-8 servings, depending on how hungry you are and/or how large the eggplants are.
Verdict: I really enjoyed the filling. I consider that progress, given that the filling is at least 60% eggplant flesh. Hooray! The filling was refreshing and slightly spicy (for some reason that's not readily apparent). I think that it would be great on toasted french bread (like bruschetta), pita chips, or perhaps over rice or on a potato (with feta...mmm). But the eggplant shells were just horrid. I actually boiled the shells for 1 minute longer than I was supposed to, but the skin was SO tough and rubbery. I have no idea what that's all about. Greg managed to eat it, but again, he actually likes eggplant. Anyway, just a warning! I may have done it wrong, but it might just be the recipe.