13 July 2009

Aubergine with Vegetable Stuffing - Imambayildi and its Story

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Imambayildi! This is the name of the delicious dish of aubergines stuffed with vegetables in Turkish, and it means "The imam (prayer leader) fainted." There are a few stories of where this dish got this weird name. I've investigated the subject and come up with this story:

Once upon a time there was a great famine during a long war. In a village where the folk mixed tree barks, corn cobs, and nutshells with their flour when grinding, so that they didn't starve, there lived an imam. People would make soup from one onion and flour, and they would use all the food they found in their pantry -if there were any- very economically. However, the pantry of our imam was full of food but he didn't spare any to no one, not even himself. His wife was fed up of eating so little food and she asked the imam, "Husband, why do we starve, when we have so much food?" The imam answers, "Woman, be quiet. Our country is at war. There is a famine, we must be careful, or we will starve later on." His wife says, "Husband, we are already starving although we have so much food. And you have so lost your strength. I've forgotten my womanhood." She couldn't convince her husband the imam to eat the food in the pantry, no matter how hard she tried. She got angry, and one day when her husband was away, called all her neighbours over to distribue all of the food she had in her pantry.

She made a meal for her husband with what was left over: an aubergine, a few tomatoes, peppers, and an onion. She stuffed the aubergine with the vegetables and served her husband the imam. The imam was surprised when he saw this dish, so his wife explained: "Tonight is special, that's why I made you this nourishing and strengthening meal." The imam imagined what the night would bring and didn't get angry. He ate his dinner with appetite and thanked his wife saying "Don't be extravagant again." And then went to the pantry, but what did he see? Nothing! Guess what happened to him when he saw this scene? The imam fainted! (Imambayildi!)

They say that imambayildi is difficult to make, but don't be fooled by the other recipes you find. Most are misleading and not original. Even the name Imambayildi on most recipes is misspelt.
To make and eat a great imambayildi, use the easy and practical directions below, and you will end up with a light and delicious aubergine stuffed with mixed vegetables.


  • 4 aubergines (all slim and around the same size)

  • 2 middle size tomatoes, peeled and chopped

  • 3 green peppers, chopped

  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 middle size onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

  • 5-6 stems of parsley, chopped

  • a pinch of ground black pepper

  • 1/2 a small cup of olive oil

  • juice of 1/2 a small lemon

  • 1 tablespoon of salt (for the water we put the aubergines in)


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (360ºF). Peel the aubergines lengthwise in stripes. Leave the end parts unpeeled so the aubergines stay in tact. Make a slice again lengthwise on each aubergine. And again don't go too much to the ends.

  2. In a bowl full of water add 1 tablespoon of salt, the juice of 1/2 a lemon and the aubergines. Wait for 20 minutes.

  3. Dry the aubergines with kitchen paper. Put 1/2 of your 1/2 a small cup of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergines mildly turning them around so that every side is fried.

  4. Put the fried aubergines on kitchen paper and take out their seedy soft insides. The result should look like the picture to the right.

  5. Put the chopped tomatoes, peppers, onion, and garlic in a pan with the rest of the oilve oil and stir fry for 5 minutes.

  6. Put the aubergines in an oven tray and fill them with your mixture of vegetables and then pour 2 cups of hot water around the aubergines, and cook the aubergines in your preheated oven for 45 minutes.

  7. When cooked, decorate your aubergines with chopped parsley and serve. You can also serve this dish cold.

Sorry, there are no notes for this recipe!

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