Imam Bayildi

Istanbul can be addictive, and I am addicted to its infinite dining options and regional foodstuffs. Delicious, fresh, vibrant, bold, hip, yet subtle.

Beneath the shadow of Istanbul’s Galata Bridge, one of the lively areas with a hustle all around, I could see many local taverns serving fresh fish and salads. Exploring the local taste at the local taverns is the best way to see and know a place. The ritual of fried fresh fish or fish sandwich with pickles by the Galata Bridge should be on the itinerary of every visitor to Istanbul.

I could visit and revisit all the neighborhoods of Istanbul, exploring the regional cuisine and food that reflects its diverse culture, a little bit of Greek, Albanian, Asian and so on. It has been home to many nations ethnicities, and cultures, which are reflected in the cities cuisine.

Walking through the hilly terrain of Istanbul I realized that eating play such an important role for the people here. Grabbing the sesame crusted simit, a Turkish bagel with a cup of Turkish tea, maybe sipping a glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, just a cup of thick sweet aromatic Turkish coffee or an oval-shaped Turkish pide, a pizza kind flatbread, or a donner sandwich for that quick bite for your lunch. On a whole people are eating and drinking round the clock.

What had amazed me the most that you would never ever feel the need of visiting a western food chain at any point of time of your visit.

Vegetables are equally consumed as meat and seafood by the Turkish people and hence, you will find the use of fresh vegetable in or alongside a dish. today I am sharing a simple vegetarian recipe made with aubergines, one of the most commonly used vegetables in Turkish cuisine.

The best part of Turkish food is that many of its dishes could be consumed hot or cold.

IMAM BAYILDI, a traditional Turkish recipe with a mix of stewed aubergine, vegetables, and olive oil.

Traditionally whole aubergine is used by giving a slit in the middle, grilling them separately and stuffing the tomato pepper sauce in it. Thus, grilling in the oven takes a little time.

I gave a little twist to this recipe, hence reducing the cooking time.

What I did is, cut the aubergine into half then sliced into 3cm thickness. Further more cutting in the middle lengthwise giving D shaped aubergine slices.

Serves 6

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 50 min

Total time 65 mins

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 meduim long aubergines
  • 2 medium red onions sliced
  • 4 large pods of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 long green peppers, roughly chopped
  • 3 tomatoes chopped
  • 3 generous tbsp finely chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Half canned tomato puree
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, a little extra for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chili flakes for garnish( optional)

DIRECTION

  1. Cut the aubergine into half lenghtwise, then slice them into 3cm thickness. Again cut the slices into half giving D kind of aubergine slices.
  2. Now soak the aubergine for 15 minutes in a bowl of water mixed with salt to get rid of the bitterness.
  3. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200 degree. Now, roughly chop the onions, garlic and peppers.
  4. Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a pan or a skillet. Grill the aubergine slices with a sprinkle of salt for a minute on each side by flipping it. Once they are ready and each side turns golden brown transfer into a baking dish arranging the aubergine slices from one side of the dish.
  5. In the same pan heat some more oil over medium heat and add the chopped onions, garlic and peppers. Saute for 2 -3 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes, canned tomato puree, chopped parsley, sugar, cumin, paprika and finally season with salt and pepper, then let it cook for 7-10 minutes with the lid on.
  6. Now spoon this mixture onto the aubergine arranged in the baking dish. Pour some water and drizzle some olive oil over and around them. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
  7. Garnish with some chopped parsley.

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