Turkish Stuffed Eggplant

 

Eggplant is a favorite vegetable among Arab World and the Southern Mediterranean countries. However, it is in Turkey that it is one of the most celebrated dishes called “Imam Bayildi” meaning the fainting priest. This name comes from a legend that goes a little like this:

Once upon a time there was an imam (Turkish priest) who loved good food. He got engaged to the daughter of a rich olive oil merchant. As part of her dowry, the olive oil merchant gave the imam 12 jars of the finest olive oil. After the wedding, the young bride used a jar of olive oil every night to make stuffed eggplant for her husband as she knew it was his favorite dish. On the thirteenth day, there was no stuffed eggplant for dinner. When the husband asked his young bride why, she replied “My dear husband, I cannot make your favourite dish anymore, for we have no more olive oil. You will have to buy some more.” The imam was so shocked at the news that there was no more olive oil and the cost to buy more olive oil that he fainted.

Here is the recipe for this wonderful Turkish dish:

Ingredients:

2 long Asian eggplants (6 -8 inches long)
4 onions, chopped
1 tomato, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp tomato paste
½ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic chopped finely
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tsp Turkish Enchantment
Freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven at 400º. Cut the eggplants lengthwise, keeping the stems. Scoop out seeds keeping ½ inch of flesh around the skin. Heat half the olive oil on medium to high heat. The oil should be hot and starting to smoke before frying the eggplant otherwise the eggplant will absorb too much oil. Fry the eggplant flesh down first about 3-5 minutes then turn over and cook skin side down another 3-5 minutes. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to absorb the fat.
Add the onion to pan and remaining olive oil and fry 5-10 minutes while stirring occasionally. Then add the garlic and fry 5 minutes, then add the Turkish Enchantment and fry 1 min. Finally add the tomato paste and the parsley. Mix thoroughly. Transfer eggplants to baking dish and fill the cavities with the onion mixture. Cover the stuffed eggplants with thin slices of tomatoes. Bake for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes are fully cooked.