Iman Bayidi, Swooning Imam, or stuffed aubergines to be plain, is a delicious Turkish favourite. It is a melt-in-the-mouth, rich and tangy dish with deep, developed flavours. I’m a fool for a well-cooked aubergine and so this is definitely up there among my favourite dishes
Whenever this recipe is shared, it’s almost compulsory to a tell the wonderful but often disputed legend behind its name. I’ll pick my favourite:
The Swooning Imam, it is said, is so called because when the Imam’s new wife presented the dish to him he was so overcome by the amount of olive oil she used that he fell to the floor in shock (although it is often argued as to whether he had matters of money or health in mind).
If you’re less flappable than the Iman (personally I think he sounds like a bit of a wimp) I recommend you try this dish – if you share his concerns feel free to reduce the olive oil content. The flavours will still carry well if the quantity is reduced by a third or so.
This recipe was adapted by Sally Butcher’s wonderful book Veggiestan: A Vegetable Lover’s Tour of the Middle East.
6 garlic cloves
2 red onions
1 tspn paprika
1 tspn brown sugar
1 tspn lemon juice
1 tspn Cinnamon
salt and black pepper
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
yoghurt to serve
Heat the oven to 180-200c. Half the aubergines length-ways, rub with salt and oil and roast for 25 minutes.
Finely slice and fry the onions in a tablespoon of oil and when soft add the spices. Stir to ensure they don’t burn.
Remove the aubergines from the oven and scoop out the middle, being careful not be scoop too much and break the skin of the aubergine. Set aside the roasted innards and lay the skins in the baking dish.
Chop up the tomato (keeping just the flesh if preferable) and inside of the aubergines and add to the onion and spices. Squeeze in half the lemon and sprinkle in the sugar.
Pile all the ingredients of your pan into the aubergine skins and put the dish in the oven. Roast for 30-45 minutes (the longer the better with this dish in my opinion)
Sprinkle the chopped parsley and mint on top and serve with yoghurt. (Bread, cous cous and rice all make great accompaniments)
There are hundreds of different recipes for Imam Bayidi so do let me know if you discover any positive additions or subtractions to this dish – Jodie