Wednesday, 23 February 2011

I is for... Imam bayildi

Richard and I are both big fans of aubergines, so we were excited to be able to include this Turkish aubergine dish for "I" night. According to Larousse, the name of this dish means "the imam fainted" and, according to legend, when this dish was prepared for a certain imam (priest), he was "so moved by the fragrant odour of the dish that he fainted from sheer gastronomical joy!". I am not a fan of sultanas, currants or raisins in savoury dishes, but they are a traditional addition to imam bayildi if you wish to include them.

Imam bayildi

Preheat the oven to 160C (140C Fan)

Serves 4

2 large aubergines
1 large onion, finely sliced into half moons
4 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
A generous bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
A little fresh thyme
The juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
2 tbsp Water

Cut the aubergines lengthways and scoop out the central flesh - ensuring that there is still enough flesh for the aubergine halves to hold their shape. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the aubergines and place them in a casserole or other heatproof dish. Finely chop the removed flesh and pop it in a large bowl with the onion, garlic, tomato, herbs, sugar, salt, pepper and a splash of oil. Mix it altogether so everything is coated in the oil.  Stuff the hollowed aubergines with the mixture generously.  Mix a couple of tablespoon's of olive oil with the water and pour it around and over the aubergines. Cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and foil and bake for 1-1 and a half hours, basting the aubergines with the liquid every now and then. Leave to cool to room temperature before serving with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice and serve alongside the piping hot ibex involtinis.

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