Greek Essentials: Eggplants… Imam Bayildi style

Although this is a Greek classic, as the name suggests it’s origin is Turkish. Imam Bayildi means “the Imam fainted”. Traditionally the eggplants are stuffed with the tomatoes and onions but I have chosen not to stuff them. With that said, this dish remains true to the original flavour profile and could still make an Imam faint. 
What you need:
  • 2-3 smallish eggplants cut into 1″dice
  • 10-15 shallots or small onions, peeled
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed up
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil (for onions)
  • 1/4 cup of wine vinegar or juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 can of peeled plum tomatoes 
  • 1/2 small can of tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (for eggplant)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (for eggplant)
  • Pinch of ground oregano
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
How it’s done:
  • Add olive oil and canola oil into a large saute pan and heat
  • Dice and fry the eggplant until golden brown (eggplant is like a sponge, add more oil if needed)
  • Remove eggplant and set aside
  • Add the 2 tbsp of olive oil  
  • Add the shallots to the heated oil and gently brown 
  • Reduce heat and add the brown sugar
  • Caramelize the onions for a few minutes
  • Deglaze the pan with the vinegar (or lemon)
  • Add the oregano, tomatoes (with the liquid) and the tomato paste, adding water if necessary 
  • Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the flavours meld
  • Transfer the tomato onion mixture to an oven pan and add the eggplant
  • Braise in a 180C (350F) oven for about 20 min.
  • Remove from the heat and let stand five minutes 
  • Serve with crumbled feta and season to taste with salt and pepper

Enjoy…If you have prepared it correctly you might faint, so beware!

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