Recipe - Food from Turkey - Imam Bayildi
Although perhaps best known worldwide for its 'kebabs', Turkey has a wide ranging cuisine with many influences.
This recipe is ideal for vegetarians and vegans but meat eaters would also struggle not to appreciate this delicious dish. The name of it, Imam Bayildi literally means 'the imam fainted (with pleasure)' which should give a good indication as to how tasty it is. The other great thing is also its simplicity and ease to cook and can be eaten either hot or cold.
You will also find this recipe eaten in Greece although sometimes with a more generic name of 'stuffed aubergine'
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (approx 6 tablespoons or to taste)
1 Large Onion cut into thin slices
6 Cloves of Garlic
2 Large Tomatoes (or use tinned)
1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley
2 Tablespoons Chopped Dill
1 teaspoon sugar
Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
1) Cut the stem off and halve each aubergine/eggplant.Make a deep slit lengthwise in the middle of each slice being careful not to break the skin.
2) Salt the aubergine and lay them onto paper towels for about 30min to drain the bitter juices from the eggplant then dry with paper towels. Note - Depending on your Aubergine, you may not need to do this stage. Many supermarket aubergines do not have this bitterness so if you want to save time you could try skipping this step though there is a small risk it could backfire!
3) Fry the aubergines in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil skin side down until golden brown (approx 5 mins) then remove and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle the top of the aubergines with salt
4) Using the same pan, fry the onions and garlic in about 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil until soft. Add the tomatoes, parsley and sugar them remove from the heat after about 30 seconds. Add to a bowl along with the fresh dill and 1 tablespoon of Olive oil and mix well.
5) Put the aubergines in a deep ovenproof dish, slit side up and opening up the slit, fill with the filling and spread over the aubergines too.
6) Sprinkle with the lemon juice and pour the water into the dish around the aubergines then cover and cook for around 3/4 hour. Keep an eye on the water and if it dries up just add a little more.
This is usually served either at room temperature or cold in Turkey and often served with thick plain (such as Greek or Turkish if you can get it to be completely authentic) yoghurt and bread, though you could use rice if you wished.