Sunday, October 9, 2011
Vegan MoFo - I is for Imam Bayildi
I went searching through my cookbooks for inspiration for the letter I and stumbled across a recipe I had been meaning to try - a Turkish stuffed eggplant recipe called Imam Bayildi. This recipe appealed to me due to the name which translates to "The Priest Fainted" even more so than the ingredients. There are two stories behind the name; the first is that the priest fainted with pleasure when he tasted this delicious dish and the second is that he keeled over when he saw how much precious olive oil his wife had used to make it.
There were recipes in two of my cookbooks, World Vegetarian Classics by Celia Brooks Brown and The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander. I chose to follow the latter as it is a treasured cookbook but one I have neglected in recent times. It was still useful to cross reference both recipes as Celia Brooks Brown's recipe stated a much longer cooking time of one and a half hours as opposed to 30 - 45 minutes. I ended up cooking the eggplant for close to an hour and a half which resulted in a smooth silky texture.
This meal turned out surprisingly flavoursome considering it only contained onion, garlic, tomato, eggplant, olive, lemon juice and parsley. The recipe was scaled down to feed two as I wasn't sure how great the meal would be or if I would want any leftovers. I was kicking myself that I hadn't made more as this was the most delicious eggplant I have eaten in a while and it's made me realise that the way to succeed with eggplant is to use heaps of oil and a long time in the oven!
Click here to see my A - Z of Vegan MoFo posts.
Imam Bayildi (Adapted from The Cook's Companion)
1 medium eggplant
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 bay leaf
pinch of cinnamon
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon
Slice the eggplant down the centre then scoop out the flesh leaving a small rim in the eggplant shells. Chop the eggplant flesh, salt and set aside. Salt the eggplant shells and set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse and dry.
Preheat oven to 180C. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan, then cook the shallots on a low flame until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, then stir through the tomato, bay leaf, cinnamon and parsley and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and remove the bay leaf.
Rinse the eggplant flesh and dry with paper towel. Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in the saucepan and fry the eggplant for about 5 minutes until soft and golden. Mix the contents of the bowl through the eggplant.
Spoon the filling into the eggplant shells and place onto an oiled baking tray. Cover with a mixture of juice from half a lemon and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes spooning the liquid over the top of the eggplants a couple of times during baking.