Sunday, September 23, 2007

Imam Bayildi

A classic Arab dish, which is thought to hail originally from Turkey, but which many states claim as their own: like houmous, you can get a punch-up over the various claims to the origin of this dish. The story, told in a million different versions, is that it caused an Imam to faint because it was so good.
This can be served as part of a mezze, as a side dish to a grill or as a starter in its own right, in which case it's nice with rounds of toasty bread brushed with olive oil, salt and garlic.


  • 4 medium aubergines
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 green peppers, sliced thinly
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp powdered allspice
  • 1 bunch parsley, well chopped
  • 12 tbsp cooking oil
  • 450ml water
Cut a slit down the side of each aubergine, salt the insides and put them to one side. In a large saucepan, fry off the onion, peppers and garlic over a medium heat to soften and ten add the sliced tomatoes, tomato puree, the salt, paprika and allspice. Cook for five minutes more, stir in the chopped parsley and then set the pan aside.

Rinse the whole aubergines and then dry them. Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan, add the aubergines and fry them gently until they begin to soften, but not collapse. Remove from the pan, and place them in a baking dish, slits uppermost. Open up the cuts in the aubergines, and spoon the vegetable mixture in equal proportions into each aubergine. Clean out the pan containing the vegetable mixture with the water, and pour over the aubergines. Bake in a 375F/190C/Gas 5 oven for 1 hour. Remove, and cool. Serve chilled.

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