Saturday, July 5, 2008

Eggplant in Olive Oil (Imam Bayildi at Funda`s House)

Imam bayildi (the imam fainted), is the name of one of the most famous Turkish olive oil foods. It is an eggplant slashed down the middle and stuffed with onions, garlic, and tomatoes and then simmered in olive oil to cover. There are several apocryphal stories about the origins of the dish. The imam (Muslim prayer leader) fainted or swooned when he tasted how good it was; that the imam fainted when he saw how much expensive olive oil was used; that the imam was delighted when a shopkeeper's wife was required to quickly prepare a dish for the imam's unexpected visit:)
I took some photos of the copper kabab plate, antique jacket from the last war of Ottaman Empire, hand drawing of whirling dervishes and majolica (piece of earthenware decorated with opaque colored glazes and motifs that are characteristic of Turkish art). See the pictures at the slideshow. Now here is the recipe:
5-6 small eggplant
1 cup vegetable oil for frying
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions -cut lengthwise and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves-chopped
3 meduim ripe tomatoes-1 peeled and sliced for top, 2 grated
1 green pepper
1/2 bunch of finely chopped fresh parsely leaves
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup water
1 ts black pepper

Peel off strips of the eggplant skin at 1 cm intervals to make a stripped effect. Cut off the stem portion, then cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Make a deep lengthwise slit along the flesh side of the eggplant, making sure you don't puncture the skin.
In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over high heat and once it's smoking, fry the eggplant, flesh side down, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from the skillet to drain on some paper towels.
In another pan cook the onion and garlic with olive oil until soft and yellow. Add grated tomatoes, parsley, salt and black pepper. Cook for 5 more minutes.
Arrange the eggplant halves in a large skillet or casserole with the slit side up. Gently open the slit so that they can accommodate as much of the stuffing as possible. (Look at the pictures or slide show). Stuff each one so that the stuffing fills the slits and is spread to cover all the flesh. Garnish with sliced tomato and green pepper.
In a small bowl mix the water and tomato paste. Pour it to the skillet with filled eggplants. Cover the top and cook for 30 minutes between low and medium heat.
Serve it in rooom temperature.

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