Imam bayildi

Imam bayildi

New Middle Eastern Food
Mark Roper

Purists will have to forgive us for messing around with Turkey’s most famous dish, but we think the goat’s cheese adds an incomparable creamy tang to this luscious dish.


Quantity Ingredient
6 medium eggplants, up to 12 cm long
sea salt
olive oil
100g soft goat’s cheese

Garlic paste

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 garlic cloves, sliced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon sea salt

Spicy tomato sauce

Quantity Ingredient
60ml olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon mild turkish red pepper paste
6 vine-ripened tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped french tarragon
1/2 lemon, zested
1 tablespoon pekmez
100ml water
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Slit the eggplants in half lengthwise from the base to 1 cm below the stalk. Ease each one open — keeping it joined at the stalk — and use the tip of a small sharp knife to score the flesh inside. Sprinkle one side generously with salt and squeeze the eggplant together, then leave to drain in a colander for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C.
  3. Rinse the eggplants thoroughly, then sprinkle them inside and out with oil. Arrange in a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes. Transfer the eggplants to a container with a lid, then seal and leave to steam and cool down.
  4. To prepare the garlic paste, heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes, taking care not to let it colour. Tip into a mortar with the coriander and salt and grind to a thick paste.
  5. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan and sauté the onion until soft and translucent. Stir in the paprika and pepper paste and sauté for another 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, herbs, lemon zest, pekmez and water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for an hour, stirring occasionally. It should reduce to a very thick, sticky sauce. Refrigerate until needed.
  6. When ready to cook the imam bayıldı, preheat the oven to 180°C. Arrange the eggplants in a large baking dish. Carefully lift up the top half of each eggplant and smear a little garlic paste inside, pushing it down into the soft flesh. Smear a heaped spoonful of sauce inside each eggplant as well and dab in a little goat’s cheese. Press the top down again to form a kind of sandwich. Drizzle with oil and bake for 10–12 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese oozing. Allow to cool and serve cold or at room temperature.
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