Imam Bayildi

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Imam Bayildi served with couscous

Continuing with vegetarian cooking, I decided to make the Turkish dish Imam Bayildi for dinner. Imam Bayildi contains my favorite veggies – oven roasted tomatoes and eggplant as well as caramelized onions. Yum!

The name Imam Bayildi literally translates into “the imam fainted”. There are a couple of stories behind the name:

1) A Turkish imam swooned with pleasure at the flavor when presented with this dish by his wife and he fainted upon hearing the cost of the ingredients or the amount of oil used to cook the dish.

2) An imam married the daughter of an olive oil merchant and her dowry consisted of twelve jars of the finest olive oil, with which she prepared each evening in an eggplant dish with tomatoes and onions. On the thirteenth day, there was no eggplant dish at the table. When informed that there was no more olive oil, the imam fainted.

From Great British Chefs:

Imam BayildiServes 4

Ingredients:

Tomato and aubergine layers

4 large vine tomatoes; 2 aubergines; Salt; Freshly ground black pepper

Onion base

6 small onions, finely sliced; 4 garlic cloves, crushed; 15 coriander seed, crushed; 10g of oregano leaves; 200ml of olive oil 

Directions:
1. Begin with the onion base. Add the sliced onions to a heavy-bottomed pan with the crushed garlic and coriander seeds, the fresh oregano and olive oil.
2. Place over a medium heat and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring regularly to ensure the mixture is soft, fragrant and evenly cooked. Divide between 4 small copper pans or ovenproof dishes, ensuring each is half full.
3. Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5.
4. For the top layer, cut the aubergines in half lengthways and slice each into thin semi-circles. Repeat with the large vine tomatoes to create similar sized semi-circle slices.
5. Arrange the slices on top of the onion mixture, alternating the tomato and aubergine until the pans (or dishes) are full – the vegetables will shrink slightly as they cook so should be packed in as tightly as possible.
6. Season the tops with salt and pepper, place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and just turning golden-brown on top.

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7. Carefully drain any excess oil from the pans and serve hot. Alternatively, allow to cool completely then reheat in the oven for 10–15 minutes to serve.

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