Inspiration behind this dish
It all started with movie named “Argo”, one of the trending movies in 2013. This movie was based on Iranian hostage crisis , where majority of the film shooting was done in exotic locations of Istanbul, Turkey. This movie inspired us to plan a trip to Turkey which we visited in Summer of 2015.
Turkey is rich in history and the architecture is spectacular. The city is modern yet ancient , the people are warm and friendly. The only way to understand is to visit Istanbul and this is one country that I really hope to revisit. I can write an entire blog on how mesmerizing and beautiful Istanbul is…. but for now lets talk about food…
Contrary to the belief, Istanbul and the whole of turkey is actually vegetarian friendly. They have some of the best vegetarian dishes . When we travelled across Turkey the cuisine has more cosmopolitan influence in cities like Istanbul and it’s inclined towards more authentic local flavors in smaller cities.
When we visited Cappadocia we encountered an amazing looking dish which was made from aubergines /eggplants and they call it “Imam Bayildi”. My husband is not an egg plant lover but he fell in love with it so much that we end up making this dish once in 15 days. This dish uses fresh herbs parsley and mint which leave a super fresh flavor in the mouth. We usually eat this dish with a bowl of rice or bread.
If you like eggplants/aubergines then this dish will tantalize your taste buds if you don’t like eggplant this dish will make you fall in love with eggplant.
In this recipe eggplants are gently poached with olive oil in a sauce pan with a generous mixture of onions, tomatoes and garlic with lots of parsley and few mint.
You can prepare Imam Bayildi ahead of time and the left overs can keep in fridge for 2-3 days.
I am sure you are already loving it!
Let me know how this one turns out for you. Rate the recipe and leave a comment below. Enjoy!
- Sauce Pan
- 1 Eggplant Large
- 1 Onion Finely chopped
- 2 Tomatoes Finely chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic Minced
- 5 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Tsp Cumin powder
- 1 bunch Parsley Can use Cilantro
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 Tsp Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Mint if using dried mint use about 1 - 2 tsp
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1 Tsp Black pepper
- Peel: Peel the aubergines length ways in zebra stripes.
- Cut: Cut the eggplants in half lengthways.
- Rest: Sprinkle salt over the eggplants and leave for about 10-15 minutes to leach out the moisture and bitter juices of eggplants.
- Drain: Drain and pat dry the eggplants with paper towel to get rid of this moisture.
- Cook: Heat about 3 tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Place the eggplants in the oil and fry quickly on both sides until they are softened and have a light brown color, for about 3-5 minutes.
- Cut: In each half of eggplant, cut a couple of deep slits length ways without cutting through to the skin and leaving about 1/2 inch uncut at either end to create a pocket. Refer the video above. Keep it aside.
- Make filling: Stir in the chopped onions, tomatoes and garlic in a bowl, add 1 tablespoons of olive oil, mint, cumin powder, salt and ground black pepper to taste.
- Fill: Scoop spoonful of filling 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, simply cook them in the same pan next to these eggplants.
- Cook: Place the stuffed eggplants side by side in a wide pan.
- Make sauce: Mix the remaining olive oil with ½ cup water, lemon juice and sugar and pour it over the eggplants.
- Cover: Cover the pan with a lid and place over a medium heat. Cook for about 20-25 minutes with lid covered.
- Uncover: Remove the lid and cook the eggplants for about 10-15 minutes. Most of the liquid will evaporate with a little of liquid left in the bottom of the pan.
- Rest: Leave the eggplants to cool and rest in the pan for the flavors to settle.
- Serve: Transfer them to a serving dish and spoon the oil from the pan over the eggplants. Serve at room temperature or cold, with a bowl of rice or bread.
- Make sure to rest cut the eggplants and salt them before cooking. This helps in removing the excess moisture and prevents the dish to become soggy.
- Variations: Cilantro can also be used instead of parsley . Try adding a little bit of Dill with Cilantro.
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