Almost Turkish Recipes

Vegeterian Stuffed Eggplants (İmam Bayıldı)

İmam bayıldı is one of the most popular olive oil dishes of Turkish cuisine. It literally translates as "imam (the priest) fainted." The rumor goes that imam faints, out of stinginess, when he learns the amount of olive oil used to make this dish.

İmam bayıldı is also known as the vegetarian version of another very popular eggplant dish: stuffed eggplants (karnıyarık). In traditional cuisine eggplants are deep fried as a whole, just like in stuffed eggplants, in preparation of imam bayıldı. And the stuffing is kind of stir fried with olive oil. However, my mom skips the deep and stir frying parts and starts with raw vegetables for a lighter and possibly healthier recipe.

2 lb small eggplant
1 lb onion, chopped thinly in half-moon shape
4-5 green chilies, chopped
10 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 lb tomato, diced
1 tsp sugar
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
3/4 cup olive oil

-Peel eggplants in stripes lengthwise. Cut them into four lengthwise leaving the bottom attached. Put them in salty water to prevent darkening.
Chop onions very thinly in half moon shape. Place them in a bowl and knead with a pinch of salt.Add finely chopped green peppers and cubed tomatoes to onion.-Add finely chopped garlic, parsley, salt and sugar to the mixture. Mix them all well.-Take eggplants out from the salty water by squeezing them well.-Place eggplants in a broad and shallow pot. With your hand lift the top two parts, open them up, and fill them with the vegetable mixture. If there's any stuffing left, place it on top.-Pour the olive oil on top along with ½ cup water.-Cover and cook first on high until it boils, then on low until eggplants are cooked, approximately 30-45 minutes depending on the kind of eggplant.
-This is a traditional olive oil dish, which means that it's served when it's cold and that it's always better the next day.


  1. Very interesting the way the eggplant is cut in fourths and then the stuffing put inside. I bet you will be surprised to hear that I voted for eggplant for my favorite veggie! I'm really getting to love it since I grew them in my garden this year. Thanks so much for helping us celebrate the two year anniversary; I always love seeing what you have been cooking!

  2. This looks so good, i love how you cook with eggplant most of the time. You must be a biiiiig fan, just like me. I just posted ratatouille recipe, looks very similar to yours, btw. (at least in the baking tray). It seems like we enjoy similar veggies ;-)

  3. Burcu, your Imam looks delicious. Our family eats this alot in the or cold!

  4. kalyn and zlamushka, yes I loveee eggplant. It's one of the capricious vegetables that if you don't handle it well, its taste would not please you at all. My favorite way of cooking eggplant is always and always deep frying and then covering it with a garlicy tomato or yogurt sauce. hmmmm

    Peter, I've always wondered; what do you call it in Greek?

  5. Anonymous10:13 PM

    3/4 cups? tsp? tbs? olive oil

  6. Eggplant is delicious when cooked in the right dish and cooked properly. I looooovvve it!!!Your eggplant dish looks very flavourful and would make a nice presentation as well!

  7. I remember the first time I heard the name of this dish -- "the priest fainted" -- I thought it meant that he fainted from delight, which is how I felt when I tasted it! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  8. Last week the owner of a great Italian market here talked me into buying a bottle of olive oil, and I almost fainted at the price. Of course, when it comes to good food, I always find a way! The oil would be wonderful in your dish, and as an eggplant lover, I can't wait to try it!

  9. Very nice! And, like others, I love the story of the name.

  10. Anonymous4:26 PM

    wow this dish looks so good!!!!!! Since I'm very new to eggplant cooking I have a question. The vegetables probably also release a lot of their water into the pot when cooking so does adding extra water in the beginning dilute the taste of the dish? I'm always afraid of doing that so if that happens when I cook it, how can I "save" it? - New cook on the block =)

  11. anonymous-you don't have to worry about excessive release of water with this dish. Using 1/2 cup of water is not that much with this much vegetable and eggplant is not one of those vegetables that release a lot of water. So I don't thin you'll need to 'save' anything. But if you're still worried, you can try adding 1/3 cup or 1/4 cup water and cook it on low.