Until I tried the Vegetable Stuffed Eggplant at Istanbul Kebab House (see our restaurant review here), I didn’t know that a vegetarian dish could be so incredible tasting, so filling, and so hearty. İmam Bayıldı is, according to Istanbul Kebab House, a fire roasted eggplant stuffed with roasted red pepper, onion, tomato, garlic, parsley, topped with homemade tomato sauce, served with rice pilav and yogurt cucumber sauce. We tried to make it at home and while it’s still not QUITE as good as the restaurant’s, it’s still pretty dang good.
As a side note, “İmam Bayıldı” literally translates to “the imam fainted”. The story behind this name is that when the imam learned how much olive oil is used in this dish, he fainted – so make sure to use plenty of olive oil!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Ready In: 1 hour 15 minutes
- 4 medium eggplants
- 2 onions
- 2 jarred roasted red peppers
- 6 cloves garlic
- 4 medium tomatoes
- 1 bunch parsley
- Olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp orzo or vermicelli
- 1 cup white rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 cucumber
- 1 bunch dill
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- Baking sheet
- Large pan
- Medium sauce pan
- Small bowl for plating (optional)
- Preheat oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, score them in a crosshatch pattern, not slicing through the skin and place them on the baking sheet cut-side down. Bake for 20 minutes until outer skins become wrinkly.
- Get a large pan with some olive oil heating over medium heat while slicing the onions and roasted red peppers, dicing the tomatoes, and mincing the garlic and parsley. Toss the onions in the pans and cook until beginning to soften and turn translucent, then add the tomatoes, red peppers, and garlic. Cook until tomatoes begin to fall apart and flavors have melded. Add parsley toward the end.
- Remove the eggplants from the oven, but keep the oven on. Flip the eggplants cut-side up on the baking sheet, and using a spoon, make an indent or well in the middles. Spoon in the onion tomato filling, dividing equally among the eggplants. They may overflow, this is ok. Top each with a little drizzle of olive oil.
- Place the eggplants back in the oven for at least 30 minutes, until juices are flowing and the veggies get a nice color on them.
- Meanwhile, make the rice pilav by melting the butter in a sauce pan. Add the orzo or vermicelli and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and nutty smelly. Add the rice and water and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is cooked through. Let stand and fluff with a fork.
- To make the yogurt cucumber sauce, peel and finely dice the cucumber. Some people also scoop out the seeds to reduce the wateriness – if you’re planning on storing this dip and not consuming immediately, this is a good idea. Combine cucumber with the plain Greek yogurt and dill. Add salt to taste.
- To plate: Mound some rice in a small bowl, packing down slightly so it sticks together. Invert over the serving dish to create a half-sphere of rice. Cut each of the eggplants into 4 sections cross-wise and plate next to the rice. Scoop a little dollop of cucumber dip to complete the plate. Enjoy immediately, or store for a few days in the fridge – it all reheats just fine!