Imam Bayildi (Stuffed Eggplant)

Imam Bayildi latterly means The Imam Fainted – a wonderfully descriptive and playful name for a recipe. Of course, no one really knows if the fabled Imam from the Ottoman Empire really fainted after tasting this dish. In fact, there is no real indication an Imam was involved in the initial tasting. Nonetheless, the name still tells us this dish originated from the Turkish region of the ex-Ottoman Empire, it was tasty – extremely tasty judging from the description of someone fainting after tasting it, and just the playful nature giving a dish this kind of name.

Today, this stuffed eggplant dish is available throughout Turkey, with many, many variations on what was the original in post-Columbus era Turkey – we know that because eggplant and tomatoes were not introduced to Europe and Asia until at least the late 15th century.

My version includes a small amount of roasted sweet pepper, along with the more traditional filling ingredients of onions and tomatoes. I do most of the cooking in the oven which helps keep the amount of oil to a minimum without sacrificing too much in the succulent nature of a dish that caused an Imam to faint.

Yield: makes about 4-6 servings.

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