Recipes    

Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
Find out more

Cookery Classes

I teach Turkish cooking classes in England,Turkey & USA, hope you can join us!,
Find Out More

A Turkish Classic; Eggplants stuffed with onion, garlic and tomatoes in olive oil; Imam Bayildi

Imam Bayildi; eggplants, aubergines, stuffed with onions, garlic and tomatoes and poached in olive oil; just melt in the mouth

Imam Bayildi; eggplants, aubergines, stuffed with onions, garlic and tomatoes and poached in olive oil; just melt in the mouth

Patlican, eggplants or aubergines are one of the most popular vegetables (actually fruit, as it has seeds in it) in Turkey; we must have over 200 recipes showcasing our beloved patlican, eggplant. I love this classic Turkish dish, Imam Bayildi or “Imam Fainted”, one of the most popular eggplant dishes at home. Legend says  “Imam Fainted” either due to the shock or the pleasure at the quantity of the olive oil used in this dish! No doubt, eggplant loves olive oil and tastes so good in this Imam Bayildi.

Imam Bayildi; this delicious stuffed eggplants in olive oil is lovely vegetarian course, enjoyed at  room temperature or cold

Imam Bayildi; this delicious stuffed eggplants in olive oil is lovely vegetarian course, enjoyed at room temperature or cold

The aubergines are gently poached in this dish with a generous mixture of onions, tomatoes and garlic. This dish is in the category of Vegetables cooked in olive oil, Zeytinyaglis in Turkish cuisine, where the vegetables are poached in olive oil and little water and served either cold or room temperature with a slice of lemon aside. It is delicious and refreshing for hot summer days, just melts in the mouth.

You can prepare Imam Bayildi ahead of time and the left overs can keep in fridge for 2-3 days. I used a little less olive oil here and added dried mint to the filling; the result was a light, utterly delicious and refreshing vegetarian course.

Serves 4

2 large (and slim, if possible) eggplants/aubergines

1 large onion, halved and finely sliced

3 tomatoes, finely chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

60ml/4 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

10ml/2 teaspoon sugar

5ml/1 teaspoon dried mint

Salt and black ground pepper to taste

Light olive oil (or canola oil) to shallow fry the eggplants/aubergines

Extra wedges of lemon to serve

 

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the aubergines lengthways in zebra stripes.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the aubergines lengthways in zebra stripes.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the aubergines length ways in zebra stripes, then cut the eggplants / aubergines in half lengthways. In each half of eggplant, cut a deep split length ways without cutting through to the skin on the opposite side and leaving 1/2″-13 mm- uncut at either end. Sprinkle salt (this will help the moisture come out) over the eggplants and leave for about 10-15 minutes to leach out the moisture and bitter juices of eggplants. After that, thoroughly drain and pat dry the eggplants with paper towel to get rid of this moisture, otherwise they will be soggy.

 Place the sauteed eggplants on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Place the sauteed eggplants on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Heat about 1cm/1/2in light olive oil or canola oil in a deep sided pan. Place the eggplants in the oil and shallow fry quickly on both sides until they are softened and have a light brown color, for about 3-5 minutes. Place paper towel on a tray and transfer these eggplants there; the paper towel will absorb the excess olive oil.

Dried mint brings a refreshing flavor to the filling of the eggplants.

Dried mint brings a refreshing flavor to the filling of the eggplants.

Now let’s prepare the filling. Stir in the sliced onions and garlic in a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, dried mint, salt and ground black pepper to taste. Knead this mixture with your hands for the dried mint and seasoning to blend well (this will also help the onions to soften). Stir in the tomatoes and parsley to the mixture and combine well.

Lift the eggplants to a chopping board and open up the split in the middle to create pockets. Spoon the mixture into these eggplant pockets, packing it in tightly so that all of the filling is used up (if you have any left over filling, I would simply cook them in the same pan next to these eggplant pockets).

Spoon the filling mixture into the eggplant pockets.

Spoon the filling mixture into the eggplant pockets.

Place the stuffed eggplants side by side in a wide, heavy pan. Mix the remaining olive oil with ½ cup water, lemon juice and sugar and pour it over the eggplants.

Cover the pan with a lid and place over a medium heat to get the oil hot and create some steam. Once the cooking liquid is hot, cook the eggplants for about 45-50 minutes. Once cooked, they should be soft and tender, with a little of cooking liquid left in the bottom of the pan.

Leave Imam Bayildi;  stuffed eggplants in olive oil to cool and rest in the pan after cooking.

Leave Imam Bayildi; stuffed eggplants in olive oil to cool and rest in the pan after cooking.

Leave the eggplants to cool and rest in the pan for the flavors to settle, then carefully transfer them to a serving dish and spoon the oil from the pan over the eggplants. Serve at room temperature or cold, with a wedge of lemon aside and extra garnish of parsley over them.

Imam Bayildi; eggplants, aubergines, stuffed with onions, garlic and tomatoes and poached in olive oil; just melt in the mouth

Imam Bayildi; eggplants, aubergines, stuffed with onions, garlic and tomatoes and poached in olive oil; a delicious vegetarian course, just melts in the mouth

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Tips for buying eggplants: Although these days eggplants are available all year around, July, August and September are their prime time.  When buying, choose eggplants with smooth, shiny skin, heavy for their size, and having no blemishes, tan patches, or bruises. Wrinkled, loose skin is an indication of age, and the fruit will be more bitter. Smaller eggplants have fewer seeds, thinner skin, and tend to be sweeter, tenderer and less bitter.

The US is Calling – time to travel!

Sharing a delicious bite with dear Nancy and Turkish food lovers at my previous Turkish cooking class at Central Market Cooking School, Austin - Texas

Sharing a delicious bite with dear Nancy and Turkish food lovers at my previous Turkish cooking class at Central Market Cooking School, Austin – Texas

I will be departing shortly for the US; we as a family all greatly look forward to visiting dear friends in Texas and in Park City, Utah. I am so very much looking forward returning to Central Market Cooking School in Austin to teach my Turkish Cookery class with them on 2nd August; I know so many of you Turkish food lovers in Austin already booked their spots, my heartfelt thanks to you all. I will be in touch with a post from the US and share our foodie and travel experience 🙂

Best wishes for the summer to you all!

Ozlem

, , , , , , , , , ,

18 Responses to A Turkish Classic; Eggplants stuffed with onion, garlic and tomatoes in olive oil; Imam Bayildi

  1. jaz July 22, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    these look wonderful! i just picked my first 2 eggplants yesterday! have a great trip to texas!

    • Ozlem Warren July 22, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

      Thank you Jaz. how wonderful that you grow your own, I bet they taste delicious! Glad you liked the look of the recipe, a favorite for us:)

  2. senior dogs abroad July 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    [Marked as spam by Antispam Bee | Spam reason: Server IP]
    Özlem, What a wonderful recipe to leave for us while you’re in the U.S. For some reason, I’ve never tried to make İmam Bayıldı although I’ve had it in restaurants. But your recipe makes it sound so ‘do-able’ and the photos are so tempting and, most of all, it’s patlıcan season, I will definitely try it next week and I’ll tell you if my husband fainted! (He already did over your Basmati-stuffed peppers and tomatoes.)

    Have a great time in the U.S. Austin is so lucky to have you.

    • Ozlem Warren July 22, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

      Merhaba Jolee, so very kind of you 🙂 Indeed it is patlican season, and I bet you will get lovely slim ones, with hardly any seeds in it; so glad the recipe tempted you to have a go, it really is easy. I like to add a little mint and it gives a refreshing flavor, I do hope you both enjoy it – as always any feedback is much appreciated : ) Thank you so much for your very sweet words, I really am excited to be back to Austin : ) Cok sevgiler, Ozlem

  3. Phil in the Kitchen July 22, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    That’s a great, classic dish. It looks lovely. As for the name, I had always thought that the Imam Fainted because the dish was so very lovely but a few years ago I was talking to someone who told me that his family story was that he fainted when his cook told him how much she’d spent on olive oil for the dish. I think I still believe the first version. Have an excellent trip to the US.

    • Ozlem Warren July 23, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      Many thanks Phil, I am glad you enjoyed it – there is a good amount of olive oil here, though my version has a little less. I tend to believe the fist version of the story too! Thanks for your kind wishes, greatly look forward to the US trip : ) Have a lovely summer, Ozlem

  4. Peri July 24, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    [Marked as spam by Antispam Bee | Spam reason: Server IP]
    So excited to have you in our neck of the woods, Ozlem:) Greatly look forward to it! XxPeri.

    • Ozlem Warren July 25, 2013 at 8:13 am #

      Greatly look forward to seeing you all too Peri!:) xx Ozlem

  5. A Cat From London July 29, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    [Marked as spam by Antispam Bee | Spam reason: Server IP]
    Few minutes ago, I visited Ilke and she cooked taze bakla. Now I came to visit you and you welcomed with a delicious imambayıldı. I think I’m gonna drink a glass of rakı right now in our terrace 🙂 . Ellerine sağlık!

    • Ozlem Warren July 29, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

      Merhaba, cok tesekkurler : ) I wished i could join you with raki, enjoy! Selamlar, Ozlem : )

  6. TasteofBeirut July 30, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    these images are making me hungry! we make this here too; growing eggplants here, in the early summer they are seedless and just delicious! “with a white heart” as they say here. Love this dish! could eat it in a big pita just about daily!

    • Ozlem Warren July 30, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

      Dear Joumana, thank you very much for stopping by; I am with you; with a few slices of pita to mop up the juice, this is my to go meal for hot summers day!

  7. cali October 30, 2015 at 10:50 am #

    Hi Ozlem! If i wish to make this the main course, what are some good dishes to pair with it?

    • Ozlem Warren October 31, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

      Hi Cali, you can make bulgur pilaf with vegetables as a side. Also Cacik, cucumber & yoghurt dip would do well, as well as the refreshing Shepherd’s Salad with cucumbes, tomatoes, onions; you can add tangy sumac or lemon & olive oil dressing – hope you enjoy this vegetarian feast!

      • cali November 5, 2015 at 2:39 am #

        Thanks Ozlem!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 3 Wonderful Things to Do with Aubergines - Dot Com Women - August 9, 2015

    […] third dish I like to prepare at home (as it is simple and filling) is Imam Bayildi, something a Turkish friend cooked for me once. It is basically an oven-baked, stuffed aubergine […]

  2. Blog Tour: Due Diligence, by Anna Zabo… plus interview! | Just Love: Romance Novel Reviews - June 24, 2016

    […] Oh man. But there are so many…. One of my favorites is İmam Bayıldı, which Todd and Fazil eat at the Turkish place Todd takes Fazil to for their first “let’s talk about the past…but not really ‘cause we’re dorks” talk. It means “The Imam fainted,” by the way. It’s a classic meze or appetizer and is vegetarian. It’s not that difficult to make, either. There’s a lovely recipe here. […]

  3. Turkey's colourful food - with colourful names too - Fethiye Times - March 9, 2017

    […] Click here for a recipe courtesy of Özlem’s Turkish Table […]

Leave a Reply