Legend has it that this dish was so delicious that the imam on tasting it, fainted, and so it was named "imam bayildi" meaning the "imam fainted". It's a classic Turkish preparation where the eggplants are peeled to look like they are wearing striped pyjamas, are stuffed and slowly simmered in a tomato-rich stew.
- 4 tomatoes
- 4 onions, finely chopped
- 1 green or red bullhorn pepper (or ½ capsicum), finely chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 4 small eggplants
- 150 ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Score a shallow cross in the base of the tomatoes, place in a bowl, cover with boiling water, leave for 30 seconds, then plunge in cold water. Drain and peel the skin away from the cross. Cut the tomatoes in half, scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon, and finely chop the flesh.
Place the tomato in a saucepan large enough to fit the 4 whole eggplants. Add the onion, pepper, garlic, half of the parsley, sugar and salt.
Peel three wide strips from each eggplant, starting about 2 cm below the top and finishing 2 cm above the base. The eggplants should now look like they’re wearing striped pyjamas. Place them on top of the tomato mixture and push down into the mix.
Add the oil and enough water to just cover the eggplants, cover with a round of baking paper and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes to soften the eggplants.
Remove the eggplants from the pan and slit lengthways on the middle stripe, starting 2 cm from the tip and finishing 2 cm from the base.
With the slit facing upwards, use the back of a spoon to push the slit open to form the eggplant into a canoe shape.
Place the eggplant boats in a large flameproof roasting tray. Spoon the tomato mixture into each eggplant cavity, then spoon the remaining mixture over the top.
Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Sprinkle over the remaining parsley to serve.
Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel.
Somer Sivrioglu is the head chef at Anason and Efendy. This recipe is from The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.
This recipe has been edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the series.