Turkish Stuffed Eggplant (Imam Bayildi)

This dish is called Imam Bayildi in Turkish and Swooning Imam in English. How can anybody not like a story about an Iman during the Ottoman Empire fainting over a vegetable dish? The story goes that a man returning home from the mosque entered his home to the magnificent aroma of the lunch his wife had prepared for him. On tasting it for the first time, he fainted straight away. Some say he swooned from delight, others believe the dish was so elegant he thought that it must have cost way beyond their means. Either way, this delicious dish is well worth swooning over.

Imam Bayildi – Vegetable Stuffed Eggplant

This olive oil drenched dish is a combination of cooked vegetables stuffed in soft eggplant "boats." It's not difficult to make and incredibly delicious. It is sure to impress diners, especially vegetarians. If possible, use the long, thin Japanese eggplants or small Italian ones.
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Course: Brunch, Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Turkey
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • Large skillet with cover
  • Large bowl
  • Baking dish
  • Colander

Ingredients

  • 6 Japanese eggplant, 6" long (or small Italian)
  • ¾ cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium Onions, thinly sliced with grain into crescents
  • 1 large Red bell pepper, stem, seeded, and cut into 2-inch by ¼-inch strips
  • 1 medium Leek, white part only, diced, rinsed, and dried
  • 12 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • 15 oz Can diced tomato, drained (or 2 fresh, peeled and chopped)
  • cups Parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3 small Italian green pepper, stemmed and seeded, then cut in half lengthways
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Dried oregano (or 2 tbsp fresh, chopped)
  • 1 tbsp Aleppo pepper
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup Light olive oil or vegetable oil

Instructions

Prepare Eggplant

  • Peel skin lengthwise, alternating so that half the skin is peeled and half not. Leaving stem intact, alternate skin-no skin to create a striped effect. Without cutting all the way through, make a deep vertical slit from just about end to end. Place eggplants in large bowl, sprinkle generously with salt, and cover them with cold water. Let soak for around 20 minutes.
    Rinse soaked eggplants under cold water and drain. Squeeze out excess water with paper towels to dry.
    Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add eggplants face down and fry until they're lightly browned on both sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a baking dish and arrange them side-by-side, cut-side up. Fry green pepper slices for 2 minutes in remaining oil. Remove and set aside. Pour out oil from pan.

Prepare Filling

  • Heat ½ cup extra virgin olive oil in the same large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion, red bell pepper, garlic, parsley, tomato, oregano, Aleppo pepper, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Add ¼ cup cold water and stir well. Lower heat to low, cover the skillet, and simmer for about 12 minutes. Stir occasionally. When done, the onions should be softened but not browned. Leave off heat without cover to cool.

Cook Dish

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Lightly sprinkle insides of eggplant with salt. Stuff each one with the onion mixture and then lay a green pepper on top of each eggplant.
  • Pout ½ cup water around the eggplants and drizzle the remaining ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil over the tops. Cover the baking dish with parchment paper and bake for 40 minutes.
  • Let dish cool to room temperature then serve.

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