Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Imam Bayildi

I lived in Turkey for most of the time I was in high school (waaaay back in the early 70's), and there was so much to love about that country including the food. I haven't eaten eggplant for a couple of decades because for a while it was doing nasty things to me even with one bite, but I was getting so much from my CSA (plus my reactions to other foods had changed so much) that I decided to try fixing something.

I remembered one eggplant dish that I particularly loved, that would also address our over-abundance of tomatoes, and thanks to Binnur's Turkish Cookbook recipe blog, I finally found it and was reminded of its name: Imam Bayildi, or "The Imam Fainted."

I used his recipe as inspiration but made some changes, some intended some not.

First I sliced open two small round eggplants , cut strips of peel from the outside including one carefully planned to help the halves lay flat, and then salted them all and let them sit for about a half-hour.

I sauteed up ann onion in a bunch of good olive oil, then added a bunch of chopped tomato and crushed garlic plus a big spoonful of sugar, and set it to simmer. When it was reduced, I took it out of the pan (my Granny's deep cast iron "chicken pan") and added more chopped tomato since I wanted some chunkiness. I washed out the pan, added more olive oil, then sauteed the eggplant on all sides (rinsed and squeezed it out first, of course). I then took the eggplant sections and did my best to create an opening in them -- part by cutting them open, part by scooping out seeds, part by just mushing around the insides. I set them back into the pan (which still had the olive oil) and then spooned the tomato mixture into them. I then added some water (about 1/4") to the pan on top of the oil, turned the heat to low, covered the pan, and just let it cook for around an hour.

Oh. My. God. It was SOOOOOOO good. You're supposed to serve it cold or at room temp, but I couldn't resist taking a few bites while they were still hot, but it really was even better once it had cooled down. And my stomach didn't complain about the eggplant either so I guess my system is ok with them again!

I very highly recommend it for anyone faced with excess eggplant and tomatoes!

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