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Imam Bayildi ©

July 5, 2012

This is another wonderful summer recipe and has a lovely story attached……..







4-6 Persons



Preparation time :3/4 hour


Cooking Time:  1 hour at least




8  aubergines ( the long kind )

6 onions cut into segments

4-8 cloves of garlic, halved, or sliced

4 peeled ripe tomatoes

2 tsp tomato puree

1 pale green pepper ( Not Hot )

Bunch of parsley

1 tsp Oregano

4 all Spice Berries

Olive oil for frying

Salt Pepper



1.Wash vegetables, cut stalks off aubergines and score, 1 cm deep cuts, long ways down the aubergines, 4 times equally.

2. Cover the base of a wide based sauce pan, with olive oil and fry the aubergines, until they are brown and soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to drain. 15-20 minutes.

3. Remove the skin from the top of the tomato and grate into a bowl using the large holes of the grater.

4. Peel and cut onions into segments and fry in the same oil that the  aubergine were fried in. Fry gently until transparent, 5-10 mins.

5. Add grated tomato, tomato puree, allspice, oregano, pale green fresh pepper finely sliced seeds removed and season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.

6. Stew, until most of the liquid is absorbed.  10-15 mins over a medium to high heat. Taste for seasoning, it is important that there is enough salt, to make the final result really flavoursome. Taste before filling aubergines. Add more salt if required.

7. Arrange aubergines in oven proof dish. Prize open the aubergines at one of the cuts, you have previously made, sprinkle with a little salt, add whole garlic cloves. Fill with a table spoon of your tomato and onion filling. Any remaining, pour over the top.

8. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, pushing it down into the aubergines and place in the oven for 1 hour, at least, 200.C, until the dish is ‘thoroughly cooked’ and a little charred on top. If it gets over chard, cover with a little tin foil for the rest of the cooking time.

9. Serve hot or cold, probably nicest, just warm.

N.B. Aubergines need to be well cooked, unlike other vegetables and the flavour is best brought out by frying them in oil before filling them.



One of the most celebrated of all Turkish recipes. A light, succulent and truly scrumptious dish – part of Turkey’s wide array of ‘zeytin yağlı’ (with olive oil) recipes. It is perfect for a snack, as part of a table of mezes (small plates or starters), or as an accompaniment to a full dinner.

Not only does it taste yummy, but it has a rich story to savour. Imam Bayildi literally means “The imam fainted”. It is said that an imam (Muslim priest) swooned with pleasure on tasting the dish. This is the story you’ll hear repeated right across Turkey. There is however, a rather less charitable account that has the imam fainting at the great cost of the olive oil used to make it. Here’s how the story goes:

“A long time ago there lived a Turkish imam, well known for his appetite and love of good food. One day he surprised his friends by announcing his engagement to the beautiful young daughter of a rich olive oil merchant. At this stage, the imam’s friends were not aware of her abilities as a cook. Part of her dowry was a consignment of the very finest olive oil. The wealthy merchant gave the groom twelve great jars of the prized oil, each one as big as a man.


Following the wedding, the young daughter quickly revealed her talents as a Turkish cook and every day prepared a special dish for her new food-loving husband. Stuffed aubergine in olive oil was his absolute favorite, and so he asked his wife to make it for him every night as the centrepiece of his dinner. Being a good wife, she did as she was told, and made the delicious dish for twelve days in a row. On the thirteenth day, however, when the imam sat down to dinner, his favourite aubergine dish was starkly absent. The imam demanded to know the reason for its disappearance. The bride replied, “My dear husband, I cannot make your favourite dish anymore, for we have no more olive oil. You will have to buy some more.” The lmam was so shocked by the news that he fainted. And so ever since that day, his favorite dish has become known as ‘Imam Bayildi’,(the imam fainted).”


Gather your summer vegetables from the vegetable garden, or go to one of those wonderful summer markets.

Top and tail aubergines and score long ways, four even cuts down each aubergine.

Fry aubergines until soft and well browned. This is best done in a deep saucepan, as the oil spits and cover with lid each time after turning the aubergines on all sides. Arrange in oven-proof dish and insert whole cloves of garlic. Don’t worry the end result is not too strong!

Peel and cut onions into wedges.

Peel skin off top of tomato and using the large holes on the grater, grate the pulp into a bowl.

Fry onions until transparent, 5-10 minutes and add grated tomato and spices. Season well. Cook until the liquid is reduced and fairly thick.

Fill aubergines, choosing one slice to push your onion and tomato filling into. Spread the rest in between the aubergines.

Sprinkle with chopped Mediterranean parsley and push down into mixture, so that it does not become too charred.

Bake in hot oven, 200.C for about an hour. This dish needs to be well cooked, so don’t be in a hurry…..

It is even tastier when eaten the next day…..

Final result…..delicious!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nick permalink
    July 5, 2012 7:25 pm

    My Greek ancestors will approve…!


  2. June 19, 2017 3:48 pm

    Reblogged this on What's Cooking In Jane's Kitchen and commented:

    One of my favourites! Over bake it rather than under bake it 😉


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