İmam bayıldı is one of the most popular olive oil dishes of Turkish cuisine. It literally translates as “imam (the priest) fainted.” The rumor goes that imam faints, out of stinginess, when he learns the amount of olive oil used to make this dish.
İmam bayıldı is also known as the vegetarian version of another very popular eggplant dish: stuffed eggplants (karnıyarık). In traditional cuisine eggplants are deep fried as a whole, just like in stuffed eggplants, in preparation of imam bayıldı. And the stuffing is kind of stir fried with olive oil. However, my mom skips the deep and stir frying parts and starts with raw vegetables for a lighter and possibly healthier recipe.
2 lb small eggplant
1 lb onion, chopped thinly in half-moon shape
4-5 green chilies, chopped
10 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 lb tomato, diced
1 tsp sugar
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
3/4 cup olive oil
-Peel eggplants in stripes lengthwise. Cut them into four lengthwise leaving the bottom attached. Put them in salty water to prevent darkening.
-Chop onions very thinly in half moon shape. Place them in a bowl and knead with a pinch of salt.Add finely chopped green peppers and cubed tomatoes to onion.-Add finely chopped garlic, parsley, salt and sugar to the mixture. Mix them all well.-Take eggplants out from the salty water by squeezing them well.-Place eggplants in a broad and shallow pot. With your hand lift the top two parts, open them up, and fill them with the vegetable mixture. If there’s any stuffing left, place it on top.-Pour the olive oil on top along with ½ cup water.-Cover and cook first on high until it boils, then on low until eggplants are cooked, approximately 30-45 minutes depending on the kind of eggplant.
-This is a traditional olive oil dish, which means that it’s served when it’s cold and that it’s always better the next day.