Preparation: 40 minutes. Cooking: 1 hour.
İmam bayıldı translates as "the Priest fainted". The name derives from Ottoman times when this dish was created and was said to be so delicious that the Imam it was served to fainted with pleasure. I obviously didn't make it absolutely perfectly as nobody fainted; the best response I got was "this aubergine thing is really nice".
- 6 medium sized long aubergines (not the large ones we get in UK supermarkets. I got mine from a market stall)
- Olive oil
- 3 medium sized onions, finely chopped
- 4 medium tomatoes, skinned and chopped
- 10 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 1 lemon
- Large pinch of sugar & large pinch of salt
- A handful of parsley, chopped
- Peel alternate stripes along the length of each aubergine, to just before the stalk.
- Using a sharp knife make a slit the length of each aubergine, starting half an inch from the stalk and ending half an inch from the end - don't cut all the way through but go as close as you feel confident with.
- Place the aubergines in a bowl of salted water, with a plate on top to keep them submerged, for about 30 minutes. This helps extract some of the bitterness from the aubergines.
- While the aubergines are soaking you can make a start on the sauce. Sauté the onions in olive oil until they are translucent. Then turn off the heat and add garlic, sugar, salt, chopped tomatoes and half of the parsley to the pan - stir to combine and transfer to a bowl.
- Pat the aubergines dry and put them in a preheated sauté pan that has a decent glug of olive oil in it. The idea is to gently sauté the aubergines so that they soften to the point that they can be opened along the slit you cut earlier. It may be necessary to add more oil as you go, as aubergines tend to absorb it quickly.
- Once the aubergines are softened, put them in an oven dish. Pull open the slits and stuff tomato filling inside. Pour any excess over the top and then sprinkle with salt, a small amount of sugar and drizzle with olive oil.
- Place in a 160C oven for 40 to 50 minutes, checking to see whether the aubergines have cooked through and completely softened.
- Sprinkle over the remainder of the parsley and derve alongside other Turkish dishes, such as kofte, cacik, kisir and with plenty of crusty bread to soak up the sauce.