Imam Bayıldı – Roasted Stuffed Eggplant

The Shiksa’s Passover Potluck is a unique annual online event. I’ve invited my friends, both Jewish and non-Jewish, to share recipes that are kosher for Passover. My goals are simple– to foster mutual understanding between different cultures, to introduce you to my foodie friends, and to share yummy recipes and cooking ideas for Passover! To learn more about the Passover holiday, click here. To learn about what makes a recipe kosher for Passover, click here. To check out the other Passover Potluck recipes, click here.

I’m super excited to introduce you to my blogging friend Ilke from Ilke’s Kitchen. When I stumbled upon Ilke’s site, I was hooked immediately. Her story reads like a grand adventure– a Turkish girl cooking it up in the American South. Her Turkish dishes are mouthwatering, and I love her insight into the background of her country’s regional cuisine. She also shares cooking stories from her family back home, which gives her recipes a personal touch. I think you’ll love Ilke’s blog… and Ilke… as much as I do! Today, she shares a traditional Turkish dish for the Passover Potluck– Imam Bayıldı– and the fun story behind it. I think this would make a yummy and healthy vegan side dish for the Seder. I haven’t had a chance to try it myself yet, but based on ingredients alone I know my family would flip for this one. Enjoy!  ~ Tori

Hi Everyone… I am Ilke, from Ilke’s Kitchen. I am very happy that lovely Tori asked if I would like to contribute a recipe to her Passover Potluck. I could not miss the chance to be a part of it and meet y’all.

I am from Istanbul, Turkey. About 11 years ago, I moved to the U.S. for grad school with only a few years of adventure in mind. Well, eleven years later, here I am, still in South Carolina, an environmental engineer by week, a food blogger by weekend, a mommy to a stubborn Golden, and married to a great Southern guy who adores his shrimps & grits.

My blog focuses on Turkish cuisine. There were several reasons that I got into this world. I wanted to have a good excuse to have my grandmother sit down and write all recipes she has had in her head since the beginning of time. Also, I wanted to have something to show to the people who ask “So what is really Turkish food?” Third reason was my husband. He realized that the only way he was getting an expensive DSLR camera was if I actually bought into it. So he convinced me that my cooking was good enough to blog about, which meant I would use his camera, too.

Let’s talk about the dish! If you like eggplants, lots of onion and garlic, then Imam Bayıldı is definitely for you.  This vegetarian dish is one of the staple recipes in my home. We serve it cold, like many Turkish side dishes that feature olive oil in cooking. However, Imam Bayıldı should not be pushed to the side lines, it can be a complete dinner with crusty bread and green salad (skip the bread for Passover!). For the Seder meal, it would make a great side dish or could even serve as a vegan main course.

This dish is named Imam Bayıldı, which means “Imam Fainted.” So why did the Imam faint – if the dish was so good, right? After some research, I found two stories to explain where the funny name is coming from. One is that he found the taste so overwhelmingly good, he just fainted right on the spot after a bite. I can’t blame him. The other story says that he was so frugal and when he learned the amount of onion and garlic that went into the dish, he was so worried about his money spent and fainted. To tell you the truth, I cannot blame him for that either after I peeled 12 cloves of garlic.

I have seen my grandma make this dish without frying the eggplants as well. She cuts them in thick, round slices, layers them with the rest of the ingredients, and bakes them in little olive oil and tomato sauce together. You can do it that way, especially if you cannot find the long eggplants (Chinese or Japanese style) and are stuck with the fat, dark ones from the grocery store.

But I like the real deal. I like the brown marks on the edges of the peel. Splattering oil always tells me that the taste will be worth the effort. Even if you use the round thick slices, give them a fry on each side before you layer the rest on top.

So why do you think that the Imam fainted? I would love to hear your take on it!

Imam Bayıldı

Ingredients

  • 4 long, purple eggplants (Chinese or Japanese style)
  • 9 tbsp olive oil, divided (or more, if needed)
  • 12 large, whole cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 large onion sliced into very thin, half-moon style slices (almost 2 cups)
  • 2 sweet cubanella peppers, very thinly sliced
  • 1 large tomato, finely diced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 large tomato, grated
Servings: 4
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • Peel the eggplants in stripes, salt the exterior of the eggplant generously, and set aside for 45 min. Don't chop the tops off. You can cut the extra leafy part around the stem with kitchen scissors, but you do not have to.
  • Pour 1/3 cup of olive oil in a deep saute pan. Add onions, whole cloves of garlic, and cubanella peppers. Saute them until onion is transparent. Stir frequently to prevent browning of onions and garlic. This is one of the key steps to Imam Bayıldı.
  • After onions are cooked, add finely diced tomatoes, chopped parsley, salt, pepper and sugar into the saute pan. Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn the heat off, cover and let it cool.
  • Wash the eggplants, dry. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a pan, fry the eggplants on each side until they are golden brown (1-2 min). Add more olive oil if needed to fry the rest. Set the eggplants in a baking dish to cool.
  • Slit an opening in the middle of the eggplant half way through. Don't cut all the way through the eggplant. Make the opening little bigger with your fingers. You want it to look like a canoe.
  • Equally divide the filling among four eggplants. Stuff them well.
  • Pour the grated tomato into the baking pan, cover the pan with aluminum foil. Make several slits on the foil to let the steam escape.
  • Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until the eggplants are cooked thoroughly.

Comments (23)Post a Comment

  1. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    in my OLD Joy of Cooking..the Imam fainted because..”The imam was so fetched by the eggplant dish his fiancee prepared that he asked that her dowry be the oil in which to cook it. Great Ali Baba jars of oil were stored in their new home. The first night, the eggplant was delicious, also the second, but on the third night his favorite dish was not waiting for him. “Alas,” said the wife, “the first two nights have exhausted the oil, and the imam fainted” (If the newly wedded housewife had taken the precaution to keep the oil well heated, it would have lasted a great deal longer!)..I have made Imam Baaldi since…1978 (oh my!)

  2. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Tori, I love Ilke and her blog and I am so happy that you featured one of her wonderful dishes on your blog:)
    I have never made Imam Bayildi, even though our Serbia cuisine is heavily influenced by Turkish dishes, from many years of Otoman occupation of the Balkans. But It has been on my “to-make” list forever! Maybe it’s the time to roast some eggplants:)
    I am enjoying your Passover guest posts – great group of bloggers:)
    And congrats on IACP nomination!

  3. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Eggplant is easily my favorite vegetable and I LOVE Turkish and Middle Eastern foods. This looks amazingly good and I think I would likely faint as well. :)

  4. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    This looks wonderful – I will definitely be making it this pesach, and beyond! To me, a good pesach recipe is one that you are happy to make at any time of the year, and this really looks like one of those recipes.

  5. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Hi Tori, this looks fantastic, I too love eggplant!
    About the Cubanella peppers…I don’t think I know what these are…can another type be substituted? I can’t eat any bell peppers but can do other types. Maybe an Anaheim? Thanks for all your great Pesach ideas! I have 2 dinners to go to so will try at least 2 different dishes you have shared!

  6. This is stunningly beautiful and I adore the story behind it. I think no matter why he fainted you cannot dispute the taste must have had something to do with it. I mean look at this work of art. So happy to meet another food blogger through the potluck.

  7. IT IS BY FAR ONE OF MY FAVORITE RECIPES – AND LOVED BY
    EVERYONE. I ALWAYS ROAST MY EGGPLANTS BEFORE STUFFING THEM. THANKS FOR SHARING….

  8. Love your blog!! I am wondering if you think it would be OK to chop the garlic rather than using whole cloves? I feel whole garlic is too strong for my personal taste, but if it would really ruin the integrity of the dish, I would use them. Let me know if you have a chance!!

  9. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Both my husband and I are vegetarian so I’m always looking for interested Pesach options. I made my version of these tonight and they were yum! I put mini bocconcini slices in the middle of the eggplants/ We don’t eat capsicum/pepper so I substituted with swiss brown mushrooms. Also added some slivered almonds and sliced green olives to the tomato sauce. We ate these on a bed of quinoa.

  10. I’m Greek and the way I’ve always heard the story behind the name is that the imam fainted because he absolutely adored the dish and ate too much… I don’t blame him, it’s delish!

  11. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Dear Shiksa, which i think that you don’t look like a shiksa, i’m a jewish russian born living in Melbourne, Australia and married to a catholic but my wonderful husband calls me a shiksa, which is funny as he’s very adapt to all yidish expressions and loves when i cook from your recipes but my own borsht is what he loves the best. thank you for your recipes. Bless you. Love Eva

  12. I am pretty sure the Imam fainted because a recipe named after him is kosher for Passover! . . . but he got over it.

  13. Once there was a marvelous restaurant in New York, the Balkan Armenian. They were famous for their treatments of lamb but I wanted to go for their Imam Bayildi. It is a beautiful way to serve veggies and I know no one who does not love this dish. It is a true winner!

  14. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    This delicious vegetarian dish is very popular in Bulgaria as well. My grandmother used to explain its name like this: An Imam dropped unannounced at some friends’ house and they prepared in a haste a dish with the produce they had by hand. The Imam liked it and ate so much that eventually he felt sick to his stomach. The Bulgarian expression “someone is bayaldisal of something” is the equivalent of “someone is sick and tired of something”

  15. I also found the story in the Joy of Cooking- but back in 1969 (!) as a newlywed. My late husband loved it and I prepared it quite often.

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