Aubergines Middle Eastern Style

This entry is filed under Vegetarian Recipes.

stuffed aubergine

Sweet fragrant and exotic

We ate mostly vegetarian last week, not because we’re on some major health kick, (although I do feel better for it) but because I bought a ton of vegetables fearing they’d disappear from the shops during last weeks flight crisis.

On the menu was the sage and parmesan gnocchi which if you haven’t made it yet, you don’t know what you’re missing! It is spectacularly easy and tastes delicious. Don’t let the gnocchi word put you off, it is not remotely fiddly – just stir a few ingredients together on the stove then bake in the oven. The taste and texture are amazing either hot or cold.

Anyway I digress, we had two aubergine to eat, but I didn’t fancy ratatouille or vegetarian moussaka. I was wondering what to do with them when I remembered a dish I used to cook for guests when we were sailing around the Med.

It’s called Imam Bayaldi, named after the holy man who apparently swooned when he ate it. A middle eastern dish of oven baked aubergines, filled with fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions and parsley. But it’s the cinnamon and allspice that lift this dish and make it special, giving it a delicate sweet flavour and a touch of the exotic. 

Like most Middle Eastern cuisine, this dish is delicately spiced but not hot. The subtle addition of herbs and spices in just the right quantities and combinations makes for some seriously delicious tastes. The Gulf States love using cloves, cumin, chillies and coriander, whilst the Egyptians go for sesame, cumin, tamarind and thyme. The Syrians on the otherhand love coriander cinnamon, caraway and allspice. So it’s possible Imam Bayaldi originates from there.

Whatever the case, the Greeks, Turks, Kurds and Armenians all fight over this dish claiming the origin as their own. I think of it as Turkish which is where I first discovered it and now that I’ve eaten it again, I’ll definitely make sure I don’t leave it so long next time.

Serves: 2
Preparation & Cooking Time: 60 minutes
Effort Level: Easy
Shelf Life: 3 days in the fridge

2 aubergine
250g fresh tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
25g parsley
1 tbsp pine nuts (optional)
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
1 tsp sugar
olive oil
salt and pepper

chopping board and sharp knife
medium saucepan
frying pan

Here’s What You Do:
Put the kettle on to boil. Preheat the oven to 180/350/Gas 4

Prick the aubergine lightly with a fork. Place in a saucepan, cover with boiling water and cook for 5 minutes on a high heat. (Tip: You may need to wedge a smaller saucepan lid inside the pan to keep the aubergines submerged).

Meanwhile, carefully remove the core from each tomato and chop the parsley and put aside.

Next lift the aubergines out the pan (keep the pan of boiling water on the stove) and cool the aubergines in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.

Now tip the tomatoes into the aubergine water, bring back to the boil then turn off the heat, keeping them in the hot water.

Move the aubergines to the chopping board, refill the bowl with cold water, then drop the tomatoes in and leave to cool. Their skins will slip off easily.

Slice the aubergines in half lengthways and carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving ½ cm round the edges, (don’t worry if the aubergines lose shape and become flat, they will be fine once filled). Set aside the flesh, then drizzle olive oil over the shells and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray and slide onto the middle oven shelf for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the onion, pepper and garlic into dice. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in the frying pan, add the chopped vegetables and fry gently over a low heat for 5 minutes.

Chop the aubergine flesh into rough dice and add to the frying pan. Now skin the tomatoes, roughly chop the flesh and add them to the pan with 1 tsp sugar, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp allspice, ¼ tsp cayenne. If the mixture is a little dry, add a tablespoon of water and half the parsley continue to cook over a low heat for 10 minutes.

Now stir the pine nuts into the pan if using and check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed.

Take out the aubergine shells from the oven and spoon the vegetable mixture into each one, then return to the oven for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the remaining parsley over the aubergine and serve hot or cold with couscous.

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8 Responses to “Aubergines Middle Eastern Style”

  1. Bruce says:

    Hey good lookin… I like what you’re cookin ….!!!

  2. linda says:

    Definitely going to try this one!! Always looking for recipes with aubergines…..

  3. Carolyn says:

    Well Uma, you have done it again – what a fab sounding tasty dish – and guess whats lurking in the bottom of my fridge – yes, a hugh, shiny aubergine – just waiting to meet its destiny – I have been pondering over what to do with for a few days! Thanks.

  4. Trish says:

    Wow this looks yummy! The combination of flavors are awesome. This one is definitely a keeper. You can bet I’ll be preparing it real soon.

  5. Heather Stops says:

    Oooh! Love the look of this. I never know what to do with aubergines so will give it a try. Thanks Uma!!!!

  6. Jenie says:

    Will definately try this – I DO need the health kick after a week of Cornish pasties, cream teas and too much wine 🙁

  7. Bruce says:

    Sounds like you’ve had an interesting time. Cooking on yachts – very hard work. My bro used to do it, but hey the pay was great!

  8. Tina says:

    I don’t eat anythign like enough vegie stuff but this sounds delish

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