Imam Bayildi (Imam Fainted), Baked & Stuffed Aubergine

Imam Bayildi (Imam Fainted), Baked & Stuffed Aubergine

Imam Bayildi (Imam Fainted), Baked & Stuffed Aubergine


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.