The 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!
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- 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
- 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.