Imam Bayildi made even easier! and a Turkish delight of a dish.
The name translates to ‘the Imam fainted’. Yes, apparently he fainted after tasting this delicious olive oil ladened aubergine dish.
While the story (read stories) behind the dish maybe a bit of an exaggeration (tell me a ‘foodie’ who hasn’t exaggerated?!) it’s definitely a dish I enjoy eating and savour.
The traditional Turkish / Ottoman dish is whole aubergines stuffed with a mixture of onions, peppers and tomatoes that have been cooked in plenty of olive oil. The stuffed aubergines then get baked or simmered in more olive oil for a short amount of time to cook through and for all the flavours to meld together.
Why the ‘deconstruction’? this recipe which I’ve adapted, called for the aubergines to be cut and well this is definitely the easier, “fuss free” (some would argue messy and I’d agree) option.
Sometimes a dish doesn’t have to be a labour of love to be comforting, especially on hot summer days like these, I’m talking in Algeria – England has not been having many hot days, so I’m told. Actually this is the last recipe I photographed in England around April and it definitely can be enjoyed both hot or room temperature.
- 1 large plus 1 small aubergine, washed and trimmed
- 1 large tomato peeled and finely chopped (approximately ¼ of a 400g tin chopped tomatoes)
- 1 bell pepper (red or green work best), roughly chopped
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 pinch of ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch of ground cumin
- 1 pinch of ground coriander (or fresh coriander stem, chopped)
- Olive oil, as needed
- Pinch of sugar or drizzle of honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Chilli powder or fresh chilli finely chopped, for sprinkling *optional
- fresh coriander leaves, chopped for garnish
- Roast the small aubergine and pepper in a hot oven until soft and charred. Collect ALL the inside of the aubergine, crush and cool. Peel the pepper, remove the seeds and chop.
- Peel (or don’t) 1 large aubergine lengthwise. Cut into slices 2cm to 3cm depending on the length of your eggplant. Let the aubergine rounds soak in a container of very salty water for about 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water and wipe gently.
- Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes (if fresh), chop onion and garlic.
- In a skillet or frying pan fry the aubergine slices in olive oil until the flesh has browned while keeping a little firm. Remove and let cool.
- Preheat oven to 120 °
- Fry the chopped onion in olive oil. Then add the peppers, tomatoes, spices, lemon juice, sugar/honey and the crushed flesh plump eggplant. Season to taste. Simmer a few minutes.
- Arrange your eggplant slices in a baking dish and pour over the chunky sauce and dare I say a little more olive oil?! Sprinkle top with Chilli powder if using. Bake for about 30 minutes uncovered – check on it from time to time. Once the sauce has reduced to your liking using oven gloves carefully remove dish from oven and leave to cool slightly and then decorate the top with chopped coriander.
eaten at room temperature it’s also very good.
P.s. I hope you’ll forgive the insensitive timing of this post, I’ve been slowly (insert Algerian internet pun) writing this up over the last week or so.