Whether you love aubergines or look at them suspiciously, this one dish will change the way you look at them for ever. In essence, it is aubergines simmered in olive oil and a lavish tomato sauce sweetened with hints of baked garlic and parsley. It collects all the summer goodness and it is perfectly paired with feta cheese. It will certainly make you crave for more.
Head straight to the recipe.
There is a story for this dish tangled in the spices of the Ottoman empire, lost through time somewhere between reality and myth. In Turkish Imam bayildi means the Imam fainted. So as the story goes, the Imam had ordered his cook for a new dish. Mind you, some versions mention the wife. So, the chef/wife hesitantly came up with this aubergine dish that sent the Imam to the seventh heaven. It was so delicious and his joy was so big, he fainted.
This dish came to Greece through Asia Minor, amongst many others that we love so much, see youvarlakia in red sauce and soutzoukakia. There is something else though that goes under that name, that will make you jump. If you are a fan of all things Greek, you have certainly come acroos this band. Let me present: Imam bayildi, a very tasty band.
The band is not new. The creativity of Lysandros and Orestis Falireas conjured a project that has been going since 2005, remixing Greek tunes of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s and creating very unique folk/electronica sounds that makes Greeks go wild. It is all about Bouzouki meeting mambo and even hip-hop. Very refreshing sounds that will make you swing: check out their facebook page, the band is touring!
And of course here is the recipe.
- 10 medium sized aubergines
- 6 onions
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 6 large ripe tomatoes
- 300 ml olive oil
- 1tsp sugar
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley
- 1 lemon for its juice
- salt and pepper to taste
Now there is more to the dish than a story and music, a couple of tips that will come in handy.
Always bake aubergine on high heat (200 oC) and try getting them when in season, they are at their best during summer.
There is no way this dish will not be swimming in olive oil, if cooked any other way it’s simply sacrilege.
What to do:
Rinse the aubergines, cut in half and pass the knife along the middle to make a shallow opening.
Peel the tomatoes, cut in half and remove most seeds and then roughly chop.
Chop the onion in fine slices and smash the garlic cloves
Mix in a bowl the tomatoes, olive oil, finely chopped parsley, garlic cloves, salt, sugar and pepper.
Preheat the oven at 200 oC.
Mix in a bowl the olive oil, lemon juice and a cup of water.
Place the aubergines with a generous spoonful of tomato mix and a handful of onions on top. Pour the remaining tomato mix on top along with the olive oil and lemon.
Cover with foil and bake at 200 oC on a fan oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Keep an eye on it, just in case it runs out of liquid add a bit of warm water.
with love from Athens,