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- 4 small eggplants
- 1 medium onion sliced (250 g)
- 3 cubanelle peppers diced
- 2 medium tomatoes diced (300 g)
- 8 garlic cloves chopped
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- ½ cup water
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Chopped parsley for serving optional
- Heat half of the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook them on medium heat for about 4 minutes, then add the peppers and garlic cloves to the pan, and continue to saute.
- After the peppers are slightly soft, add the tomatoes to the pan. Sprinkle salt and sugar into the pan. Cook by pressing and stirring them with a spatula for about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Peel the eggplants to form thick lines. Keep the stems, don't cut them. Then massage the eggplants with salt. Set aside for 10 minutes. Rested eggplants released their juices because of salt. Remove excess water with a paper towel.
- Heat the frying oil in a large pan. Fry the eggplant until they are soft and slightly golden brown for about 6 minutes. Transfer the fried eggplant to the shallow pot. Make a vertical cut in the center of the eggplants and widen the inside as much as possible to prepare a bed for the tomato and onion mixture. Make sure you don't cut too deep; the bottom should not be damaged.
- Put the stuffing generously into the eggplants. Mix the tomato puree, water, salt, and pepper, then pour it into the pot. Drizzle the remaining olive oil on top of the eggplants.
- Simmer the eggplant on low heat for about 20-25 minutes.
- Serve slightly warm or cold. You can sprinkle chopped parsley on top before serving.
Tips, Notes & Substitutes:
There are a few things to keep in mind when talking about Turkish eggplant imambayildi:
- Be sure to use a short and thick eggplant for this dish – this will make the stuffing much easier.
- After peeling the eggplants, rub them with salt and leave them with olive oil to take off the bitterness and not turn brown. Dry the drops of water on your sweaty eggplants thoroughly before frying them.
- Ensure to fry the eggplants in hot oil; if you put them in the pan before they are heated, they will absorb a lot of oil.
- Stuffing is very important; a traditional imambayildi has tomatoes, lots of onions, and garlic. However, feel free to get creative with the stuffing; just make sure to keep the stuffing moist, so the eggplant doesn’t dry out.
- Be sure to put some sugar in the stuffing; this will make your meal more balanced.
- The cooking process is crucial. You’ll want to cook the eggplant slowly over low heat so the filling has time to absorb all its flavors.
- If you want to prepare the imambayildi recipe in a healthier way, After peeling the eggplants, brush them with olive oil and bake them. Then fill it with the stuffing and continue cooking in the oven.
- If you want to bake it in the oven, you can cook it in a preheated oven at 200°C/395°F for about 15-20 minutes. Cover it with aluminum foil beforehand, and remove it when halfway through baking.
- You should definitely serve it cold or at room temperature. You can drizzle olive oil on the imambayildi, and don’t forget to garnish it with chopped parsley.