(The Imam Fainted) Eggplants stuffed with vegetables.
There are many stories about the origin of the name of this Turkish dish. Here is one of them. A long time ago there lived a Turkish imam, well known for his appetite and love of good food. One day he surprised his friends by announcing his engagement to the beautiful young daughter of a rich olive oil merchant. At this stage, the imam’s friends were not aware of her abilities as a cook. Part of her dowry was a consignment of the very finest olive oil. The wealthy merchant gave the groom twelve great jars of the prized oil, each one as big as a man.
Following the wedding, the young daughter quickly revealed her talents as a Turkish cook and every day prepared a special dish for her new food-loving husband. Stuffed eggplants in olive oil were his absolute favorite, and so he asked his wife to make it for him every night as the centerpiece of his dinner. Being a good wife, she did as she was told, and made the delicious dish for twelve days in a row. On the thirteenth day, however, when the imam sat down to dinner, his favorite eggplant dish was starkly absent. The imam demanded to know the reason for its disappearance. The bride replied, “My dear husband, I cannot make your favorite dish anymore, for we have no more olive oil. You will have to buy some more.” The lmam was so shocked by the news that he fainted. And so ever since that day, his favorite dish has become known as ‘Imam Bayildi’ (the imam fainted).
Eggplant – 3
Onion – 1
Bell pepper – 1
Tomatoes – 2-3
Garlic – 2-3 cloves
Cilantro – ½ of bunch
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive Oil – as much as it takes
Wash the eggplants and remove the stems. Peel the skin lengthwise in ½ inch strips to give them a nice striped effect. This will help the eggplants absorb the flavors while cooking. Cut a long slit in the middle of each eggplant, being careful not to cut through to the bottom. Fry the eggplants over high heat for about 5 minutes until they are lightly browned all over, but still nice and firm. Then, remove them from the pan and transfer them immediately to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Prepare the stuffing.
In a separate skillet, pour 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the sliced garlic and cook over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and sauté until lightly browned. Add sliced green peppers, sliced tomatoes, chopped parsley, and some lemon juice. Put a lid on it and cook over medium-high heat. When the tomatoes are tender, sprinkle salt and pepper and turn the heat off. Carefully open the slit on each eggplant and fill it with the stuffing. Arrange the stuffed eggplants in a baking pan. Preheat the oven to 275-300F (135-150С) degrees, and bake eggplants for about 30 minutes.
Serve warm with rice or fried potatoes.
Bon Appétit! Enjoy!
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