EGGPLANT IMAM BAYILDI OR IMAM FAINTED

For 4 portions

 

2 medium sized eggplants

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

2 large onions, peeled and sliced

2 garlic cloves, smashed, peels removed

1 tsp Pul Biber pepper or ½ Cayenne pepper

1 cup pelati tomatoes or 5 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

salt and pepper

1 large handful of parsley or cilantro

1 tsp nigella seeds

There are two theories as to where the name of this exquisite eggplant Turkish dish is derived from. One says, that imam fainted when he tasted this delicious dish prepared by his wife and the other one is that he fainted at the amount of olive oil used in the dish. Haha, anyhow, no matter where the name of the dish is derived from, this most widely known Turkish dish is a delightful combination of eggplants, onions, garlic and tomatoes with quite a big amount of oilve oil. I tried the dish s omany years ago. We had an acquaintance, Georgian, and it was Nana who presented us with a jar of imam bayildi. I fell in love with it right away. Especially with the meaty, taste of the eggplants. You could look it up in the store, some canned ones are quite good, but I strongly suggest making it by yourself. How about seeing if you would feel like the imam?

 

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, and then cut crosswise into ½ inch slices. Salt the eggplants slightly and put in a colander to drain, just to remove the possible bitterness. Cut the onions into thin slices and fry them in 2 tablespoons of olive oil together with the garlic, salt and pepper. Chop the tomatoes. Place the drained, rinsed and dried eggplants in the baking dish. Season with salt, pepper and hot pepper. Place the fried onions over the eggpalnts, and cover with the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and cover with a generous glug of olive oil. Place in the oven heated to 350F (180C) and bake for 45 minutes until everything starts to fall apart. Remove eggplant from the oven and cool to room temperature. Place the  eggplant on a platter and drizzle with more olive oil, then sprinkle with nigella and cilantro. Serve immediately with bread to sop up the aromatic olive oil.

 

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