Imam Bayildi means ‘the imam fainted’ and is a traditional Turkish meal, but is also served throughout the middle east. Chef Sally Butcher has a similar version, which she calls ‘Swooning Imam’, which can be found her brilliant book Veggiestan: A Vegetable Lover’s Tour of the Middle East.
My version is a sort of mixed version of a few different recipes – making it a touch easier than some. Most recipes use fresh tomatoes, but I’ve cheated here and have used tinned. I’ve also made it into more of a ‘meal’ by using bulgur wheat.
Traditionally, it is meant to be served at room temperature, but I think it is nice hot from the oven. I’ve also topped it with a sprinkling of vegetarian Parmesan which is obviously not original recipes, so feel free to leave out if you fancy.
Ingredients (serves 2)
2 medium white onions
1 can of chopped tinned tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1tsp brown sugar
Handful chopped parsley
Bulgar wheat (100g)
Vegetarian stock cube
Vegetarian Parmesan (optional)
Firstly, cut the aubergines in half, lengthways. Score the flesh into cubes (like you would a slice of melon) and cut out the flesh (but don’t throw away), making sure the skin stays intact. Place in a roasting tray, cover in oil, place a bit of tin foil over the tray and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
Slice the onions thinly and put in a frying pan with lots of olive oil. Fry until translucent before adding the garlic, the flesh of the aubergines, salt, pepper and chopped rosemary. Cook for about 5 minutes before adding the tinned tomatoes and sugar. Keep cooking until the tomatoes have reduced.
While this is blipping away, boil the kettle, and in a separate pan, cook the bulgur wheat in some boiling water and the stock cube. You will need roughly 4 parts water to 1 part bulgur wheat – but read the instructions on the packet. The bulgur wheat and tomatoes should be ready at about the same time. When they are, stir in some chopped parsley into both.
Take the aubergines out of the oven, and out of the dish they have been roasting in. In that same dish, spread the bulgur wheat in the bottom (make sure the wheat is very moist). On top of the wheat, place the aubergine skins, and fill with the tomato filling – don’t worry if some of the filling spills out onto the bulgur wheat. Top with a grating of vegetarian Parmesan and pop back in the oven for about 20 minutes.