#1 – 48 Recipe Challenge – Recipe 5: Imam Bayildi (Stuffed Aubergine)

Imam Bayildi; a recipe with a story, which is what I think attracted me to this particular one out of the many hundreds of aubergine recipes I’ve seen.  It literally translates as ‘the imam fainted’.  It’s a great name but doesn’t tell you a lot about the actual dish, which is a Turkish recipe for roasted aubergine stuffed with tomato, onion and garlic and baked in lemon juice, sugar and LOTS of olive oil.  This is a recipe I’ve had in my folder for ages, one of those I said I’d cook ‘one day’.

First, the story.  Why is it called ‘the Imam fainted’?  Well, it’s said that “a long time ago a Turkish Imam (Muslim cleric), known for his love of good food, surprised his friends by announcing his engagement to the young daughter of a wealthy olive-oil merchant.  The friends did not know about her ability to cook.  But they presumed part of her dowry would include olive-oil.

They were right.  For her father gave the groom twelve jars, each one large enough to hold a person, of the precious oil.  After her marriage the bride proved to be an excellent cook and each day prepared a special dish for her epicurean husband.  One of them, eggplant cooked in olive-oil, became his favorite.  And he ordered that his wife prepare it each night for dinner.  This she did for twelve consecutive days. On the thirteenth, however, the dish was missing from the meal.  Queried about its absence, the bride replied, “Dear husband, I do not have any more olive-oil.  You will have to purchase some more for me.”  The lmam was so shocked that he fainted.  And since that day, according to the story, his favorite dish has been known as “Imam Bayildi” (the Imam Fainted).”

I got the story, and the recipe, from this website with some great recipes for Turkish Cypriot cuisine:  http://www.cypnet.co.uk/ncyprus/culture/cuisine/veg/imam.html

The dish was simple to prepare – a case of chopping onions, garlic and fresh tomatoes, then stuffing the aubergine with it – but took a long time to cook.  The hardest bit was stuffing the aubergines since I’d gone for the slit method rather than the hollowed out method.  Trying to get the stuffing in with a spoon was not working at all so I ended up letting the stuffing cool slightly then pushing it in by hand.  While it was roasting, the smell was amazing, very appetising.  And the taste didn’t disappoint either.  I ate it with sour cream which was a perfect accompaniment, even for the hot dish.  It can be eaten both hot and cold, personally I preferred it hot.  Just a few simple ingredients but the combination was amazing.

Imam Bayildi

Imam Bayildi

 

I was expecting this to be filling enough to be a meal in itself, but it wasn’t really.  It would work excellently as a starter, as part of a mezze selection or as a vegetable accompaniment to a Turkish style meat dish.

Simply to prepare and tasty, scores are:

Healthiness – 8/10 (one serving contains 4 of your five a day!  Shame about the olive oil…)

Ease of preparation – 8/10 (little skill required to put it together, quite a lot of skill required to present it so it looks reasonable!)

Flavour/taste – 10/10  (I really enjoyed this)

 

As an aside, I’m learning through this blog that it’s actually quite difficult to photograph food in a way that shows it at its best…

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