Monday, October 29, 2007

Cookbook: Imam Baildi (Baked Eggplant with Tomatoes and Onion)

Imam BaildiWhen Maria was 13, her brother left their village to study for his university test in Athens and live with their Uncle Aristotle. Maria went along to cook and clean for her brother and uncle.

Before this journey, Maria had helped her mother in the kitchen, but had never cooked a meal on her own and wasn't sure where to start. A neighbor lady took Maria under her wing and taught Maria the recipe for Imam Baildi (often known simply as Imam), a dish popular in every country where the Ottoman Turks once ruled.

The name of the dish means "the priest fainted," and supposedly refers to the imam's reaction either to the incredible rich flavors of the dish, or to the high cost of the olive oil used to prepare it. When finished, Imam's layers of flavor mingle on your palate: slightly charred eggplant, rich sweet onions, parsley, and roasted tomatoes.

EggplantMaria's recipe for Imam Baildi is in Tastes Like Home: Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska.

To prepare this dish, a deep, narrow, V-shaped wedge is cut lengthwise out of small eggplants (in Alaska, Maria uses Japanese eggplants), and the wedge is stuffed with a mixture of onions, garlic, and parsley, which is baked with crushed tomatoes and drizzled olive oil.

Leftover Imam Baildi can be turned into a lovely eggplant spread (Melitzanosalata). The recipe for Melitzanosalata using leftover Imam is here.


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

jmxcThis is reminiscent of a dish I had when in Greece...Briam. It was delicious and satisfying as I am sure the Iman is.

Laurie Constantino said...

Greece has so many good vegetable dishes, doesn't it? I love Briam, and there is also a recipe for it in Tastes Like Home, which calls for cutting up and roasting a selection of vegetables. I agree with you that Briam is delicious and satisfying. Now that I'm thinking about Briam, I think I need to make some soon! Thanks, Valli!!

Anonymous said...

here i am in florida wishing am cooking briam and missing greece...

one book i love which made me cry in which the ottoman culture prevails on the plot is birds without wings...its not food related but somehow it made me think of iman baildi.

how can i get hold of thisbok tastes like home?

Laurie Constantino said...

Sha, thank you for reminding me about Birds Without Wings, I have been putting off buying it for awhile, but you've inspired me to just go out and do it today! I need a good book right now.

As for buying Tastes Like Home, on the right hand side of the first page of this blog, there is a box called "Tastes Like Home on the web." There you can look at the book's index and some sample pages. There is also a link called "Order Tastes Like Home." If you click that link, you will see how to order the book online and pay for it with Paypal, or you can print out a form and mail in your order. Thanks for asking!