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Asian Minor Classic: Aubergines “Imam”; Recipe with step-by-step picts

A classic summer Greek with a Turkish name: Stuffed aubergines “Imam bayildi”. is one of Greeks’ favorite dishes in summer. It consist of whole aubergines stuffed with onion, garlic, tomatoes and parsley, simmering olive oil.

It is vegan and super easy to make.

It is a recipe from my grandma even though I have modified it a bit to make it lighter.

 

With or Without Skin? That is here the question!

 

It can be prepared in the oven or in a saucepan and it is served at room temperature or warm.

 

It is super easy to make: you only need to chop the onion, garlic tomatoes and parsley, mix them with salt and pepper and cut a hole in the middle of the aubergine.

Who is Imam?

The dish is actually not Greek but a dish of the Ottoman cuisine brought to Greece by Asia Minor Greeks who were forced to leave Turkey in 1922.

The name Imam Baylidi – the imam fainted – is linked to several tales, with the most popular one being that the imam’s wife made this delicious meal, the imam ate much too much [probably also hot!] and fainted. One of the most humorous ones is that he fainted upon hearing the cost of the ingredients or the amount of oil used to cook the dish.

Some Additional information

Whatever the name’s origin, fact is that in Greece we always add parsley, while in Turkey they mostly don’t.

Furthermore, I use some of the tomatoes in the stuffing and the rest for the needed tomato ‘sauce’.

Some cut the aubergines into halves and do the stuffing on top. I use the very traditional method of Smyrna: cut a deep hole lengthwise.

My grandma of Asia Minor origin often used to prepare the dish in the evening a day before, claiming it would taste better the next day.

And it really does! just try it! You can also eat it 3-4 days later if you keep it in the fridge and take it out 15-20 minutes before consuming.

Aubergines Imam Bayildi: Recipe with step-by-step pictures

Ingredients:

1 kg aubergines (4 pieces)

4 onion medium size

750 gr tomatoes

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

Salt and black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 cup (200 ml olive oil

Preparation

1) Wash the aubergines and remove the skin from one side of the aubergine and cut generous hole lengthwise, as shown in the picture below. You can add the remove aubergine flesh to the stuffing. – I usually do like like my grandma did, spread it over the tomatoes in the sauce.

2) Chop the onion, the garlic, the parsley and the tomatoes.

Mix them in a bowl with salt and pepper to your taste and half teaspoon of sugar, especially if you use fresh one and not canned tomatoes.

3) Take the veggies mixture and stuff it in the aubergine hole and press to get as much as possible inside.

4) Place the stuffed aubergines in a kitchen pan, pour the olive oil over them and the tomatoes.

5) Simmer for half an hour or until the aubergines are tender.

6) For the oven version follow the same steps and procedures as above and cook for 90 minutes at 180 Celsius or 350 F.

Tip: If you don’t like the aubergine skin as I do, remove it when the dish is cooked. It’s gone with two easy and quick handles.

Every Greek who respects her-/himself will always eat Aubergine Imam with a large piece of feta cheese and slices of bread to dip in the delicious sauce.

Enjoy!

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One comment

  1. Thank you, KTG! Now I know whats been missing in my Imams, SUGAR! That made a whole world of difference. Now my Imams taste as they should 🙂 So good!!