İmam bayıldı is a Turkish dish made from eggplant cooked with olive oil and filled with onions, garlic, and tomatoes and served at room temperature. It translates as the “imam swooned,” suggesting that the dish was so delicious that the imam, or prayer leader of the mosque, fainted at the sight and taste of it. (It is a saying in Turkish that suggests a person would faint if they really like the taste of a dish 🙂
Imam bayıldı can be served as a luncheon entrée with a green salad and warm bread, or as part of a mezze spread. If making ahead of time and refrigerating, bring it to room temperature, or warm it very slightly in the oven before serving, as the oil tends to congeal on standing.
- 6 slender, firm aubergines, about 7 inches long (about 2 pounds)
- 4 medium ripe tomatoes
- 2/3 cup good-quality mild virgin olive oil
- 3 medium white onions, halved and sliced medium-thin
- 12 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 2 heaping teaspoons sugar
- 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts, for garnish
- Lemon wedges
3. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large, shallow ovenproof casserole or Dutch oven. Sauté the onions over medium-low heat, stirring, until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomatoes, both grated and diced, and arrange the aubergines among the onions so that they touch the bottom of the casserole. Pour in the rest of the olive oil. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, turning the aubergines once.
4. Mix the water with the sugar, pour over the aubergines, add salt to taste and transfer the casserole, covered, to the oven. Bake for 35 minutes, turning the aubergines every 10 minutes or so. At the end of cooking, all the water should be absorbed and the cooking liquid (oil and tomato juices) should be glossy and caramelized.
5. Cool the eggplant to a slightly warm or room temperature. Before serving, make a long lengthwise slit in each aubergine and push about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the onion-garlic mixture into the slits, draining it on a fork as you stuff. With a spatula, carefully transfer the aubergines to a serving platter, spoon the sauce around them, and sprinkle with parsley and pine nuts. Squeeze some of the lemon juice on top, to taste. Serve garnished with additional lemon wedges.
Afiyet Olsun 🙂