Imam Bayildi (Stuffed Eggplant)

The name of this much loved Turkish dish translates as ‘the Imam fainted’, and is said to represent his reaction on tasting the superb stuffed aubergines. Serves 6. This dish can be made in advance and is ideal for a buffet table.

3 aubergines (eggplants)

4 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 small red (bell) pepper, seeded and diced

1 small green (bell) pepper, seeded and diced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

5-6 tomatoes, skinned and chopped

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

about 1 c. boiling water

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

salt and ground black pepper

chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Cut the aubergines in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh, reserving the shells.  Set aside.  Heat 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil and fry the onion and peppers fro 5-6 min., until both are slightly softened but not too tender.  Add the garlic and continue to cook for a further 2 min., then stir in the tomatoes, chopped parsley and aubergine flesh.  Season and then stir well and fry over a medium heat for 2-3 min.  Heat the remaining oil in a separate pan and fry the aubergine shells, two at a time, on both sides.  Stuff the shells with the sautéed vegetables.  Arrange the aubergines closely together in an ovenproof dish and pour enough boiling water around the aubergines to come halfway up their sides.  Cover with foil (do NOT skip this step) and bake in the oven for 45-60 min., until the aubergines are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.  Place a half aubergine on each plate and sprinkle with a little lemon juice.

Recipe from Food and Cooking of Africa and the Middle East, by Josephine Bacon and Jenni Fleetwood

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