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    Imam Bayildi

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    Imam Bayildi

    This version of the Turkish classic shows off the magical aubergine-onion-tomato combination to good effect. A dab of harissa is an easy, though non-authentic, way to add extra bite.

    • Vegetarian
    • Preparation time: 25 minutes, plus salting
    • Cooking time: 115 minutes
    • Total time: 2 hours 50 minutes 60 minutes 60 minutes 50 minutes

    Serves: 4


    • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
    • 2 sprigs fresh mint, chopped
    • 100g natural yogurt
    • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
    • 1 tsp harissa paste (optional)
    • 1 tbsp currants, soaked in 3 tbsp boiling water for 30 minutes
    • 1 pinch cumin
    • ½ tsp ground allspice
    • 8 tomatoes, 6 peeled and chopped, 2 sliced
    • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
    • 4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
    • 6 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 large bulbous aubergines (about 350g each)


    1. Slice off 1cm of the bulbous end of each aubergine and 6–8cm of the stalk end. Cut the middle into 4 fattish slices. Slash the flesh of the aubergine slices in a criss-cross pattern, salt liberally and press into the flesh. Drain on a rack for 30 minutes, turning occasionally. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4.
    2. Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a pan and add the onions. When they are soft, add the garlic, tomatoes, spices and currants (including the water), and harissa, if using. Let the mixture stew, stirring regularly, for 40 minutes, until thick. Leave to cool.
    3. Rinse the aubergine slices, squeeze out excess water and pat dry. Peel all the end bits (removing the stalk), then quarter the 2 larger pieces lengthways. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a heavy pan, add the aubergine slices and tuck in the peeled bits. Colour lightly, then place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or so, turning over once or twice, till soft.
    4. Chop the peeled bits and add to the stew with ¾ of the parsley. Press down the flesh of the slices with a spoon and fill with the tomato mixture until domed. Put in a baking dish, put a slice of tomato on each, spoon over the remaining olive oil and season.
    5. Pour a few tbsp of water into the dish and bake for 30 minutes, until the tomatoes have blistered. Scatter the rest of the parsley over the top and serve with a bowl of yogurt with mint and cayenne pepper stirred in (not authentic, but delicious).

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