Imam bayıldı

Imam bayıldı

By
From
Turquoise
Serves
6
Photographer
Lisa Cohen and William Meppem

Purists will have to forgive me for messing around with Turkey’s most famous dish. I love using tiny eggplants, which are the perfect size to serve as an accompaniment to roast or grilled lamb dishes. You could also serve them at room temperature as part of a mezze selection. And as for the goat’s cheese – well, I think it adds an incomparable creamy tang to this luscious dish.

Pekmez, or grape molasses, is available from Turkish food stores. You’ll find the red pepper paste used here in Middle Eastern food stores.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
6 small eggplants
sea salt
olive oil
100g soft goat’s cheese

Garlic paste

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 garlic cloves, sliced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon sea salt

Spicy tomato sauce

Quantity Ingredient
60ml olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon mild turkish red pepper paste
6 vine-ripened tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon french tarragon, finely chopped
1/2 lemon, zested
1 tablepoon pekmez
100ml water
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Slit the eggplants in half lengthwise from the base to 1 cm below the stalk. Ease each one open – keeping it joined at the stalk – and use the tip of a small sharp knife to score the flesh inside. Sprinkle one side generously with salt and squeeze the eggplant together, then leave to drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Rinse the eggplants thoroughly, then sprinkle them inside and out with oil. Arrange in a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes. Transfer the eggplants to a container with a lid, then seal and leave to steam and cool down.
  3. To prepare the garlic paste, heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes, taking care not to let it colour. Tip into a mortar with the coriander and salt and grind to a thick paste.
  4. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan and sauté the onion until soft and translucent. Stir in the paprika and pepper paste and sauté for another 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, herbs, lemon zest, pekmez and water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for an hour, stirring occasionally. It should reduce to a very thick, sticky sauce. Refrigerate until needed.
  5. When ready to cook the imam bayıldı, preheat the oven to 180ºC. Arrange the eggplants in a large baking dish. Carefully lift up the top half of each eggplant and smear a little garlic paste inside, pushing it down into the soft flesh. Smear a heaped spoonful of sauce inside each eggplant as well and dab in a little goat’s cheese. Press the top down again to form a kind of sandwich. Drizzle with oil and bake for 10–12 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese oozing. Allow to cool and serve cold or at room temperature.
Tags:
Turquoise
Malouf
Greg
Lucy
Turkish
Turkey
Mediterranean
European
Middle Eastern
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