Stuffed Eggplant - İmam Bayıldı


This is one of the queens of the Turkish cuisine.  When it is good, it is really good. The Turkish name “imam bayildi” means “imam loved it”.  Unfortunately, the name is frequently translated incorrectly as “imam fainted”.  In Turkish, the word “bayıldı” has double meaning and indeed it can mean both - fainted and loved it!  Well, perhaps Turks tend to faint when they fall in love - we need to ask the experts.  This recipe looks complicated but it really is not.  If you are not afraid of frying, go for it and be sure to sit down in a comfy chair when you eat your masterpiece just in case you faint.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 small eggplants
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 10 garlic
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Canola or similar oil for frying
  • Salt
  • Yogurt 

DIRECTIONS:

Thinly slice the onions, divide the garlic cloves into smaller pieces.

Sautee the onions in olive oil, add the garlic slices, continue sauteeing for another minute or two.

Add the tomato cubes, continue sauteeing for 3-4 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Slice each eggplant into two boats.  Carve out a wedge in the middle of each piece.  Also peel a ½ inch wide skin in the back.

Sprinkle salt on the eggplants and go read a book or listen to music for an hour.  When you return, you should see the brownish water on the slices.  Your eggplants will taste better as a result of this.

Wash the eggplant boats under running water.  Be sure to dry them well, a paper towel will do the job nicely.  Lightly fry the eggplant boats in canola oil.  We will not be fully cooking the eggplants, we are just letting them soak a little bit of oil.  They look whole lot nicer this way - and taste better! Some follow this recipe without frying the eggplants, please do not do this!

This is how the eggplant boats look after frying.  Place the boats on a baking tray, preheat the oven to 350F.

Stuff the boats with the tomato/oil/garlic filling.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature with plain yogurt and a slice of freshly baked bread.

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