This is a dish we first ate on a visit to Istanbul, & has the most wonderful name. Imam’s are Muslim clerics, & the one this was first served to apparently swooned with delight at its delightful taste & aroma!
Whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to say the dish made me faint with delight, it does taste awesome, &was one I played around at making following my return from Turkey. it goes great either as a side dish to a main meal, or as the meal itself. As it’s served at room temperature, it’s also easy to make in advance or for a packed lunch.
Serves 4 as a side dish or light lunch
2 large aubergines
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tin tomatoes
Small bunch parsley
6 tbsp Olive oil
1 tsp cumin (seeds or ground)
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
Preheat the oven to 190 °C / 170 °C fan / gas mark 5, & place a large frying pan over a medium heat. Heat the olive oil, then add the onion & garlic. Cook for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened but not caramelised. Meanwhile, finely chop the parsley stalks, & when the onion is cooked, add these, the dry spices, salt & a grind of pepper then cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, stir & simmer for around 10 minutes.
While this is simmering, prepare the aubergine. Firstly, cut them in half lengthways, then proceed to scoop out the flesh to make a ‘boat’. I find the easiest way to do this is to make slices in a criss-cross fashion in the flesh of the aubergine, then take a spoon & scoop out the pieces of aubergine. Add the chopped & scooped out aubergine flesh to the sauce along with the pomegranate molasses & around 75ml water, stir & cook for another 10 minutes. Take off the heat, chop the remaining parsley leaves & add to the sauce (reserving a few as garnish).
Take an ovenproof dish large enough to hold all 4 aubergine halves, & put 1/3 of the sauce in the bottom along with 250ml of water and stir. Place the 4 aubergine ‘boats’ in the dish, & fill with the remaining sauce. Place in the oven uncovered for 30 minutes, then loosely cover with some tinfoil (to stop the top of the aubergine burning) then bake for a further 30 minutes. Take out of the oven & allow to cool, garnishing with the remaining parsley just before serving.