This Turkish dish has many versions but I tried to stick to the original one, which is my favorite. Every Albanian knows and loves Imam Bayildi. I used to have different versions of this stuffed eggplant casserole in my home. My mom used to make this with ground meat or sometimes with eggs on top. Only recently she makes this dish vegan but instead of pomegranate molasses, she adds a tablespoon of shredded coconut and it is a delicious version as well. My favorite is the original traditional Turkish one. It is vegan and flavorful.
Imam Bayildi originally is a vegan dish. It is made with eggplants, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and lots of olive oil. I am not a big fan of oil but trust me this casserole needs to have the proper amount of oil. Using olive oil, makes it tastier and a great combination if you eat this with toasted warm bread. The rich flavor from garlic and eggplants are perfectly mixed in the olive oil.
My way of making Imam Bayildi may be slightly different from some recipes that require eggplants to be fried before stuffing them. Instead I place the eggplants on top of the onion and tomato mix so it steams and becomes soft while giving the mixture extra flavor. It is healthier and easier.
What do you need to make stuffed eggplant casserole?
To make this delicious dish you need 9 simple ingredients :
Onions– are the key ingredient of the juicy mix that is stuffed on the eggplant.
Tomatoes-they have to be fresh, not coming from a jar. Fresh and ripe tomatoes cooking slowly in the onion mix are delicious.
Garlic– is the base of every great taste in every cuisine. Cooking garlic slowly with onions and tomatoes, gives this dish a sweet garlicky taste.
Eggplants– release their flavor when cooked on top of the onion and tomato mixture and they are ready to be the perfect bed for the tasteful mix.
Parsley– gives the casserole extra flavor.
Olive Oil– is the most important ingredient in Imam Bayildi.
Pomegranate molasses/ Date syrup/ Maple syrup/ Coconut blossom- I used Date syrup but I have also tried it with Coconut Blossom and is the same delicious result. They are both sweet and when combined with lemon juice, I was surprised to notice the umami flavor in the end.
Lemon juice– gives the casserole freshness and a tasty kick.
Salt and pepper– you can adjust according to your taste.
How to make stuffed eggplant casserole?
First heat up some of the olive oil and add the sliced onions. Then after the onions have become soft, after about 5 minutes, add diced tomatoes, minced garlic, salt, pepper and a handful of parsley. Give it a good stir then place the eggplants on top of the mixture so it boils/steams slowly in the juices of the onion and tomato mixture. Cover the pot with a lid and let it cook slowly over medium heat for about 10-12 minutes. After 12 minutes carefully remove the eggplants from the pot and scoop some of the soft flesh from them. Do not scoop all the flesh. Leave some so they can be more firm after baking.
Add the scooped flesh in the onion and tomato mixture and remove the pot from heat. Preheat the oven to 200 º C / 450 º F.
Carefully take each of the eggplant and with the help of a spoon, fill them with the onion and tomato mixture. Place them on a baking tray and pour the rest of the onion and tomato mixture on the tray.
Place the tray in the oven for about 30-35 minutes and there you have it my friends. The most delicious garlicky dish!
If you try this recipe let us know on the comments below or follow us on our social media. We would love to hear your thoughts and tips about making this traditional dish.
If you want to try more traditional vegan dishes here are some good ideas:
This traditional Turkish dish is easy to make and takes only 9 simple ingredients. It is rich in flavors and it is best combined with a slice of toasted bread. Imam Bayildi is also vegan. This stuffed eggplant casserole is delicious and everyone in your family will love it, vegan or not.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30-35 minutes
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 4 ripe medium tomatoes, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 medium eggplants, cut in half lengthwise
- handful of fresh parsley. chopped
- 1/3 cup olive oil+ 2 tbsp for serving
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp date syrup
- salt and pepper
- 4 tbsp of water
- Heat 1/3 cup of olive oil in a pot over medium to low heat. When the oil is heated, add the onions and give them a stir once in a while until they are soft. It takes about 5 minutes.
- Then add the garlic and let it cook with the onions only for 1 minute before adding the diced tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper.
- On top of the onion and tomato mixture, place carefully the eggplants and let them steam with the mixture for about 12 minutes. Be sure to cover the pot with a lid and to have the pot over medium to low heat so the mixture doesn’t stick.
- When the eggplants are soft, carefully remove the eggplants from the pot and scoop some of the soft flesh from them. Do not scoop all the flesh. Leave some so they can be more firm after baking.
- Add the scooped flesh in the onion and tomato mixture and remove the pot from heat.
- Preheat the oven to 200 º C / 450 º F.
- Meanwhile, fill each eggplant with the onion and tomato mixture, using a spoon. Place them on a baking tray and if you have onion and tomato mixture leftover, pour it on the tray.
- In a small bowl combine lemon juice, 2 tbsp of water and date syrup and pour it over the eggplants and the mixture placed on the tray. Place the tray in the oven and bake it for 30-35 minutes but be sure to check it every 10 minutes and add 1-2 tbsp of water every time
- Enjoy it warm and when serving add the remaining olive oil.
- I used fresh tomatoes and I haven’t tried it with tinned or tomatoes from a jar. If you try it let us know but I think it will not be the same result as using fresh tomatoes.
- I used date syrup to sweeten the dish but you can use any sweetener you like. Originally is used pomegranate molasses but I couldn’t find some. If you find it please let us know how it will turn out.