Imam Bayildi Recipe - Give Recipe (2024)

Published: · Modified: by

Jump to Recipe·Print Recipe

Imam Bayildi is a classic Turkish dish. Roasted or fried eggplants are stuffed with a plant-based filling containing onions, tomatoes, a few herbs and basic spices. This is an incredibly easy yet tasty vegan recipe to make. You can even freeze it for future use!

Imam Bayildi Recipe - Give Recipe (1)

For a meatier version of the recipe, try our karniyarik recipe. It is almost the same as this imambayildi recipe but contains ground beef. If you are looking for some other delicious vegan dishes with vegetables, you can try our delicious cauliflower casserole called firinda karnabahar or our bamya recipe.

Jump to:
  • What is Imam Bayildi?
  • The Story Behind
  • Difference Between Karniyarik and Imam Bayıldi
  • Why We Like This Recipe
  • About The Ingredients
  • How to Make
  • Serving Suggestions
  • Tips
  • FAQs
  • More Eggplant Recipes
  • More Recipes Your Might Like

What is Imam Bayildi?

It is one of the famous traditional Turkish recipes that is popular in Greek cuisine too. Its roots go back to Ottoman Empire times when Greek and Turk people used to live on the same land. These two cuisines have a lot in common because of their background.

Both use eggplant very often and they have their own imam bayildi recipes. Basically, roasted or fried eggplants are stuffed with a cooked tomato mixture made with tomatoes, onions, garlic cloves and green peppers. Then they are baked in the oven with a tomato sauce for perfection. While Greeks add feta cheese as the topping, we don't use any cheese on it in Turkey.

The Story Behind

As for the name of the dish, “imam” refers to a Turkish religious leader in Islam who works in mosques. “Bayildi” means fainted and is used in the Turkish language to describe how much you love something. Together, imam bayıldı basically means the imam fainted.

There are different stories about a Turkish imam and his wife. One of them says that the wife of an imam makes these tasty stuffed aubergines for her husband. And the imam faints in satisfaction as he loves the meal so much. Also, as a word "faint" in Turkish is used to describe how much you like something.

Another version of the story emphasizes how much olive oil is used. The imam's wife made this special dish with a very generous amount of oil, which used to be an expensive ingredient. So the imam fainted when he saw that much olive oil in the meal and thought about the cost of it.

Still another version is about the dowry of the imam's wife. Her father gave them 12 bottles of good quality olive oil as a part of her dowry. She made a super delicious eggplant dish for the imam. Seeing that her husband loved it so much, she made the same dish everyday for 12 days and the imam was happy about it.

On the thirteenth day though when the meal is different, his wife had to explain that there ran out of olive oil. This made the imam realize the dowry, which was like a treasure for them, was all gone. He was shocked and fainted with sadness.

Regardless of the origin of these imam bayaldi stories, the common thing in all the versions: This is such a delicious aubergine recipe that will knock your socks off!

Difference Between Karniyarik and Imam Bayıldi

What is the difference between Turkish stuffed eggplants called karniyarik and imambayıldı recipe? They are both very popular stuffed eggplant recipes in Turkish cuisine. Karniyarik is made with a filling consisting of ground beef, onions, peppers, tomato paste, and spices. The recipe for imam bayıldı is made without ground beef and also contains some additional herbs and served at room temperature.

Also, imam bayildi is one of those vegetarian Turkish foods that we serve cold or at room temperature and with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil. These dishes are called zeytinyaglilar in Turkish cuisine, meaning dishes made with olive oil. They contain a little sugar to balance the flavors and make the taste of olive oil stand out more.

It is mostly paired with other vegetarian cold dishes like haydari, braised green beans with tomatoes, stuffed artichoke bottoms, fresh fava beans and served on the same plate at restaurants. The perfect summer mezze platter!

If you want to try a light and delicious eggplant dish, try our imam bayildi recipe!

Why We Like This Recipe

  • This is an easy eggplant recipe to make. Despite taking a while to make, it technically only has three steps; roast the eggplant, make the filling, stuff, and roast them again.
  • We serve them in individual portions. If you struggle with portion size, then this vegetarian eggplant dish named imam bayildi recipe is perfect for you. You can serve one to two stuffed eggplants per person depending on the size. This will also help you figure out how much to make for your guests.
  • It looks fancy. Perfect for dinner parties!
  • This is a healthy stuffed aubergine recipe. Unlike the traditional recipe which calls for frying eggplants, we use the roasting method. It cuts out a ton of unnecessary oil.
  • It is freezer friendly. You can make it ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Imam Bayildi Recipe - Give Recipe (2)

About The Ingredients

Eggplants: Globe eggplants, also known as Italian eggplants, work the best for this recipe. Small eggplants are better to use them whole. You can cut the larger ones in half.

Filling: It consists of a medium or large onion, green peppers, chopped tomatoes, garlic cloves, salt and pepper, and some fresh parsley and mint.

Sauce: It calls for tomato paste and water. It is obviously the best when you have homemade tomato paste made from summer tomatoes. But if you are in a hurry, you can use store-bought tomato paste or puree.

Olive oil: Use the finest olive oil you can find. Be generous about it when you are making a delicious imam bayıldı recipe. As in most Turkish eggplant recipes, we use a good amount of olive oil to give the dish a nice and rich flavor. We even love to drizzle some oil over each right before serving to increase the deliciousness of the dish. YUM!

How to Make

It does take a while to make imam bayıldı, but is definitely worth the effort! If you love vegan Turkish recipes in general, this will become a favourite aubergine dish of your family.

Imam Bayildi Recipe - Give Recipe (3)

First, prepare the eggplants. Preheat your oven and line a baking pan with non-stick baking paper. Peel the eggplants in zebra stripes without removing the stem. You can use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife for this. Allow them to soak in salted water for 15 minutes and then gently squeeze out excess water and pat them dry with a paper towel. Prick some holes on the eggplants using a fork.

Imam Bayildi Recipe - Give Recipe (4)

Brush each eggplant with some olive oil, and bake them in the oven for roughly 30 minutes or until they are tender.

Imam Bayildi Recipe - Give Recipe (5)

Second, prepare the filling. Heat the olive oil and sauté the onions until they are translucent. Add the chopped green peppers and cook them for about 2-3 minutes. Then, add in your tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and black pepper.

Cook these ingredients together for roughly 5 minutes. Remove the filling from the heat and add your freshly chopped mint and parsley.

Imam Bayildi Recipe - Give Recipe (7)

Third, stuff the eggplants. Cut lengthwise slits on the roasted eggplants without slicing all the way through. Using a teaspoon, gently push the edges in the deep slits to make a boat shape for the filling to lay in. Divide the filling between all of the eggplants. Place them in a baking dish, in a single layer.

Next, make the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the water and tomato paste and pour the sauce over the eggplants. Place them in the oven again and continue baking them for 30-40 minutes.

Imam Bayildi Recipe - Give Recipe (8)

Remove from the oven and serve at room temperature or chilled.

Serving Suggestions

Traditionally, we love serving imam bayildi with some homemade yogurt or cacik (a cucumber yogurt dip), and some delicious side dishes like rice orzo pilaf or bulgur pilaf.

If you like you can create your own menu and simply pair it with whatever you like as a side dish. Buckwheat groats might be a great gluten-free option or wheat berries for a nutty grain option.

You can, however, also serve this dish as part of a mezze platter. These platters can include a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables served with a variety of traditional Turkish dips and sauces.

It also includes some finger foods like cig kofte, lentil balls aka mercimek koftesi, stuffed grape leaves dolma, or some Turkish sigara borek. These are only a few of our many mezze platter recipes you can find.

Imam Bayildi Recipe - Give Recipe (9)

Tips

  • Choose the best eggplants like globe eggplants and the best tomatoes you can find (like plum tomatoes). It is easier to give them a boat shape.
  • You have to soak the eggplants in salted water. Not only does it help soften them and extract extra moisture, but they help remove the bitterness that eggplants have.
  • The same goes for poking holes in your eggplant before roasting it. These holes will help your eggplant cook better and more evenly. Skipping this step can cause some parts to be overcooked while others aren’t cooked enough.
  • Do not be shy when using olive oil. This is a type of olive oil dish and especially when roasting them, it is important to use a generous amount. Before serving this dish, add even more olive oil!
  • You can add a little lemon juice in the filling if you want.
  • You can fry your eggplants in a frying pan instead of roasting them.
  • If there are any leftovers, you can easily wrap and freeze them for up to 3 months.

FAQs

Is imam bayildi and karniyarik the same?

Although they seem to be very similar, these two dishes are not the same. Karniyarik contains ground meat while imam bayildi is a vegetarian dish. Imam bayildi also contains sugar and additional herbs which karniyarik doesn’t.

Can I cook it in a pan over the stove?

You can definitely prepare these in a pan. You would follow the exact same method, but instead of roasting the eggplants, you fry them (or steam them) in a pan on the stovetop.
Also, instead of baking the stuffed eggplants, place them in a pan and cook them covered on the stovetop over medium low heat.

Can I freeze it?

This recipe does freeze well. You can stuff the eggplants and either freeze them before the second roasting or after.
Either way, wrap each tightly in plastic wrap, then foil. You can also place them in a freezer-safe container for extra protection.

Can I substitute tomato puree for tomato paste?

You can definitely substitute these two ingredients. Tomato paste has a slightly more intense and bitter tomato-like flavor, however, the added sugar in this recipe will counteract that.

More Eggplant Recipes

  • Stuffed Dried Eggplant Recipe
  • Eggplant Kebabs
  • No Tahini Babaganoush
  • Roasted Eggplant Salad

More Recipes Your Might Like

  • Phyllo Dough Recipe
  • Zeytinyagli Enginar (Turkish Artichoke Recipe)
  • Turkish Rice Recipe
  • Turkish Stuffed Eggplant Karniyarik

As always: If you make this recipe, let us know what you think by rating it and leaving a comment below. And post a pic on Instagram too—tag @give_recipe so we can see!

Sign up for the FREE GiveRecipe Newsletter to get the new recipes into your inbox! And stay in touch with us on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram for all the latest updates.

Print

Turkish Imam Bayildi Recipe

Imam Bayildi Recipe - Give Recipe (14)

Print Recipe

5 Stars4 Stars3 Stars2 Stars1 Star

5 from 1 review

Baked eggplants are stuffed with a cooked mixture of onion, tomato, pepper, garlic and herbs. Then they are baked for the second time.

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Lunch
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: Turkish
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale

Roasting Eggplants:

  • 4 medium eggplants
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil

Filling:

  • 4 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped or sliced
  • ¼ cup sweet green peppers, chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Sauce:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

Instructions

For the eggplants:

  1. Preheat the oven at 350F/180C. Line a baking pan with baking paper.
  2. Peel the eggplants in stripes. Don’t cut the stems out.
  3. Let them sit in salted water for 15 minutes. Gently squeeze and pat dry with a paper towel.
  4. Prick each eggplant a few times with a fork and place them on a grilling rack or in a baking pan.
  5. Brush each eggplant with a generous amount of olive oil.
  6. Bake in the oven until tender, for 30 minutes.

Filling:

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan and cook the chopped onion in it until translucent.
  2. Add in chopped green peppers and cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add in chopped tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and black pepper and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and add in chopped mint and parsley. Give it a good stir.

Stuffing eggplants:

  1. Cut a slit lengthwise on each eggplant but don’t go all the way through.
  2. Use a teaspoon and give each eggplant a boat shape by making enough space to stuff them.
  3. Stuff the eggplants with the filling and place them in a baking pan.

Make The Sauce and Bake:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together water and tomato paste. Pour this over the eggplants.
  2. Bake for 40 minutes.
  3. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Notes

  • Definitely choose the best eggplants like globe eggplants and the best tomatoes you can find, even if it comes at a slightly higher price tag.
  • You have to soak the eggplants in salted water. Not only does it help soften them and extract extra moisture, but they help remove the bitterness that eggplants have.
  • The same goes for poking holes in your eggplant before roasting it. These holes will help your eggplant cook better and more evenly. Skipping this step can cause some parts to be overcooked while others aren’t cooked enough.
  • Do not be shy when using olive oil. This is a type of olive oil dish and especially when roasting them, it is important to use a generous amount. Before serving this dish, add even more olive oil!
  • You can fry your eggplants instead of roasting them.
  • If there are any leftovers, you can easily wrap and freeze them for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 408
  • Sugar: 23 g
  • Sodium: 602.3 mg
  • Fat: 29.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 39.4 g
  • Protein: 6.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

« Wheat Berry Salad

Zucchini Tomato Casserole (Vegan) »

Reader Interactions

Comments

    Leave a Reply

  1. Rosemary (Gul Merriam) says

    I simply adore Turkish food. Do you have a cookbook with all these marvelous recipes?

    Reply

    • Zerrin & Yusuf says

      Hi Rosemary,

      Thank you so much! Having a cookbook has been in our to-do list. Hope we can make it soon 🙂

      Reply

  2. Rashmi Mehta says

    Hi your recipe sounds delicious. I have a question. Can I prep the imam bayildi a day earlier keep it in the refrigerator and bake it the next day when I’m having friends over?

    Reply

    • Zerrin & Yusuf says

      Hi Rashmi,
      Thank you! Yes, you can prepare it ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator. And you can bake when you are ready to serve.
      Cheers!

      Reply

      • Rashmi says

        Thanks so much. Looking forward to making it Sounds so yum!,😋

  3. Sally says

    Added some cooked chickpeas in the filling and they turned out amazing!

    Reply

  4. Acky says

    Hi Zerrin, I heard of you from Joan and her Culinary Tour around the world which I join! I'm italian and I loved my virtual tour in your country, so near to mine and so un-known to me...I've been in Turkey just once but I discovered that there are so many fashinating places to visit... for our Turkish Tour I chose Turkish Baklava Rolls! If you'd like to visit my blog I'd appreciate your opinion on my rolls! ...are they a little bit Turkish??? your blog is very cute! hope to 'meet' you again!

    Reply

    • Zerrin says

      Thank you for stopping by my country in your culinary tour. I saw your baklava on your blog. They look perfect!

      Reply

  5. brii says

    ciao Zerrin, I'm here from Joan's culinary tour.
    lovely dish, and lovely blog!!
    I'm happy Joan was inspired by you, so I found you too.

    baciusss
    brii

    Reply

  6. Joan Nova says

    I don't know if you've heard of my virtual Culinary Tour Around the World but this week the 'stop' is Turkey and I plan to make imambaildi using your recipe (with attribution to you and a link, of course). It's my first time on your blog which is very nice -- and see by the people who commented, we have mutual friends.

    Reply

    • Zerrin says

      I'm so honored! It will be great to see my recipe on a different blog. Thank you!

      Reply

  7. Clover Eighty Eight says

    Did anyone tell you? In American English (or here in California) we call the larger pear shaped eggplants "eggplant" or "globe eggplant" and the longer, narrow kinds "Japanese eggplant."
    http://www.foodsubs.com/Eggplants.html

    Thanks for such a great site and great recipe.

    Reply

« Older Comments

Imam Bayildi Recipe - Give Recipe (2024)

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Tish Haag

Last Updated:

Views: 6374

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (67 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Tish Haag

Birthday: 1999-11-18

Address: 30256 Tara Expressway, Kutchburgh, VT 92892-0078

Phone: +4215847628708

Job: Internal Consulting Engineer

Hobby: Roller skating, Roller skating, Kayaking, Flying, Graffiti, Ghost hunting, scrapbook

Introduction: My name is Tish Haag, I am a excited, delightful, curious, beautiful, agreeable, enchanting, fancy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.