Traditional Turkish Imam Bayaldi

Traditional Turkish Imam Bayaldi
A Traditional Turkish Dish

Imam Bayaldi is a traditional Turkish dish that consists of eggplants stuffed with a flavourful mixture of onions, garlic, tomatoes, and herbs. The dish is said to have originated in the Ottoman Empire and has since become a staple in Turkish cuisine.

The Making of Imam Bayalti

To make Imam Bayaldi, you first need to prepare the eggplants. Start by cutting off the stem and slicing the eggplants in half lengthwise. Then, sprinkle some salt on the eggplant halves and let them sit for about 30 minutes to remove any excess moisture.

The Stuffing

While the eggplants are resting, prepare the stuffing. Finely chop some onions and garlic and sauté them in olive oil until they are soft and translucent. Add some diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and a generous amount of fresh herbs such

Turkish Imam Bayalti

as parsley and mint. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar for balance.

Once the stuffing is ready, rinse the eggplants under cold water and pat them dry with a paper towel. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out the flesh of the eggplants, leaving a shell about 1/4 inch thick. Be careful not to puncture the skin.

Stuff the Eggplants

Next, stuff the eggplant shells with the prepared mixture and arrange them in a baking dish. Drizzle some olive oil over the eggplants and cover the dish with aluminium foil.

Cooking Time

Bake the eggplants in a preheated oven at 375°F for about 45 minutes or until they are tender and fully cooked. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Imam Bayaldi is traditionally served at room temperature or cold, garnished with fresh herbs and lemon wedges. It can be enjoyed as a vegetarian main course or as a side dish with grilled meats.

Imam Bayaldi is a Beloved Dish of Turkey

In Turkey, Imam Bayaldi is a beloved dish that represents the country’s rich culinary heritage. Its name translates to “the Imam fainted” in Turkish, which reflects the dish’s supposed ability to make even the most stoic of imams swoon with delight. With its complex flavours and satisfying textures, Imam Bayaldi is a true masterpiece of Turkish cuisine.

How to Make Imam Bayalti

6 small aubergine (eggplant), or 2 regular sized (preferably of the long and slender variety, if you can find them)

135 ml olive oil, divided

25 g tomato paste

300 ml boiling water

1/2 tsp sugar

flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to garnish

2 Tbsp mild extra virgin olive oil

2 medium onion, cut into thin half-moons

4 garlic cloves, finely sliced

250 g tomato, (2 medium), peeled and cut into wedges

10 g flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 tsp pul biber (Aleppo pepper), or other chili flakes to taste (optional)

salt and pepper


Peel half the skin off the aubergines, so they resemble a zebra pattern. Salt generously and set aside for half an hour.

Meanwhile, make the stuffing. Heat a thick bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil and fry the onion until softened, but not browned, 8-10 minutes. Stir regularly. Add the garlic and fry for another minute, stirring constantly, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the tomatoes and Aleppo pepper (if using). Keep frying until the tomatoes collapse and the liquid starts to thicken, 5-6 minutes. Stir every once in a while to ensure nothing catches at the bottom. Add the flat-leaf parsley and some salt and pepper. Take off the heat.

Brush the salt off the aubergines. Heat a thick bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil and fry the aubergines until they start to soften, turning regularly. Alternatively, roast in a preheated oven at 200 °C until starting to soften, around 20 minutes.

Make a lengthwise incision in the aubergines, as if opening a baguette, leaving 2 cm (⅘ in) at either end. The incision should not pierce through the bottom of the aubergines.

Add the stuffing into the aubergines and place them, stuffed side up, in a pan for which you have a lid. Add the remaining olive oil (5 Tbsp/75 ml/⅓ cup) to the pan. Mix the tomato paste, sugar and boiling water with a little salt and pepper. Add enough of the liquid to the pan to go about halfway up the side of the aubergines.

Bring to a boil, put on a lid and turn the heat down to low. Leave to simmer until the aubergines are completely soft, around 45 minutes. Add extra liquid if it’s starting to look a little dry. Set aside to cool completely. Scatter a little flat-leaf parsley over before serving.

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