Imam Bayildi – Turkish Food
Imam Bayildi : A food which worth a try in Turkey or various Turkish restaurants is called Imam Bayildi. It is a tasty meal as a stuffed eggplant.
Most people like eggplants and they can fill it with different ingredients based on their taste and appetite. Garlic, onion, tomato and olive oil are other main ingredients of this Turkish food.
History of Imam Bayildi
Turkish cuisine is well-known around the world because of its variety. Most Turkish meals are made of meat but there are some foods which are made of vegetables and are suitable for those who do not want to eat meat in their diet.
Olive is a popular vegetable in Turkey and most foods have this ingredient in their recipe. Imam Bayildi is a vegetable food which has a lot of fans among travelers who visit different cities in Turkey.
If you want to try something delicious as a vegetable meal, you have to try Imam Bayildi, known as imam fainted, famous in Ottoman cuisine.
Main ingredients of Imam Bayildi are eggplant, onion, garlic, olive oil and tomatoes. Imam Bayildi is also well-known in other countries such as; Iran, Bulgaria, Greece, Armenia, North Macedonia, Albania and Israel with a change in its name or ingredients.
There are two stories about the origin of the name of this food as Imam Bayildi.
The first one tells a story that wife of an imam cooked this food for the first time and when the imam realized the price of ingredients, he fainted.
The other story says that an imam got married a daughter whose father was an olive-oil businessman.
She had 12 jars of exquisite olive oil as her dowry. She made this food every day. On day 13th, when imam arrived, he understood that there is no eggplant dish because there is no olive oil; then imam fainted.
Turkish people are really interested in food and prefer to add a lot of amount of garlic and onion to most foods to add a better taste, no matter if it is a food with meat or vegetable.
Making Imam Bayildi, as a vegetable meal, is not a very difficult process, so it is possible to be made at every home with the least necessary ingredients. Keep reading to see what its ingredients are:
• 4 medium eggplants which are cut in half lengthwise
• 3 large sliced onions
• 4 chopped garlic cloves
• 3 medium peeled and chopped tomatoes
• 3 medium chopped green peppers
• A quarter bunch of chopped parsley
• 2 tablespoons chopped dill
• 2 tablespoons chopped basil
• 5 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon tomato paste
• 1 cup hot water
• Half teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 2 table spoons lemon juice
• A quarter teaspoon black pepper
It can be optional to add lemon juice, dill, basil, and tomato paste. Some prefer to add some pine nuts to design this food.
Therefore, apart from eggplant, tomato, garlic, olive oil and onion, the other ingredients of Imam Bayildi are added or ignored based on your taste.
It can also be the same for the amount of these ingredients, especially about sugar and black pepper.
Recipe of Imam Bayildi
In order to make Imam Bayildi, the following steps should be followed :
• Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a big pan
• Fry onion to be tender enough for 5-8 minutes
• Add garlic and stir it for 1 minute
• Put onion and garlic in a bowl
• Mix tomatoes, tomato paste, green peppers, herbs, salt, sugar, pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil
• Put eggplants in the pan and add salt
• Put onion and tomato mixtures inside the half eggplants
• Pour remaining olive oil, water and lemon juice on the eggplants
• Cover the pan and keep it on low heat for 60 to 90 minutes
• Check the liquid in the pan in order not to be dry
• Keep the pan in the room temperature and serve the food
As Turkish people are keen on eating meat, some Turkish ones prefer to make Imam Bayildi with ground beef and they believe that if meat is added to the typical ingredients of this food a magic will happen.
Therefore, you can add ground beef to your recipe when you want to have a different taste to make a change.
As Imam Bayildi is a Turkish stuffed eggplant, it is better not to peel the eggplants or peel them, preferably with a potato peeler, every other strip to make a better look and help eggplants cook well.
Serving Imam Bayildi
As Imam Bayildi is a kind of economical food, you can make it at home with some typical ingredients which can be found in every house.
You can also order this food in a Turkish restaurant in one of the cities of Turkey to taste the flavor of this meal in its birthplace.
The meal of Imam Bayildi is a traditional olive oil dish which can be served cold or in room temperature and some Turkish people like to eat this food a day after cooking it.
You can also serve this food as your main dish with vegetable salad and warm bread or consider it as an appetizer. Also, you can squeeze a lemon on it when you want to serve it.
There are some helpful tips to cook Imam Bayildi which can be noted but you can choose the most appropriate ones based on your appetite and taste :
• If the amount of onion and garlic will be more than other ingredients, its taste will be more delicious.
• If you want to have a healthier dish and you do not want to fry the eggplants, you can put the olive oil in the middle of each eggplant half and bake it in the oven.
• If the liquid added to pan while cooking the eggplants is not enough, you can add some water to it in order not to have dry eggplants.
• When the eggplants are cooked well, the liquid in the pan are caramelized, so you can pour this juice on the eggplants.
• It is possible to prepare roasted eggplants and the fillings some hours before cooking. Also, this dish can sit for some hours.
• Some people suggest using pomegranate molasses to make a better taste instead of sugar.
• In order to have a better taste, you should remember to remove the flesh of the eggplant to a level about a quarter inch to its skin.
• You can have yogurt, especially Greek one, as side dish with your meal or to design it.
• A healthier and lighter Imam Bayildi can be prepared with some raw or steamed vegetables.