The tasty trip to Asia Minor continues also this week!
Elenas shares with you one more delicious dish that Greeks refugees brought after the Catastrophe of Smyrna in 1922.
“Imam”, refers to the traditional Greek eggplants stuffed with a delicious tomato sauce. This dish also falls into the category of “Ladera”, meaning Greek dishes cooked with olive oil, along with the Gemista and many other delicious Greek dishes.
There is an interesting myth behind this traditional Greek dish.The full name of it is “imam bayildi” suggesting its origins from the turkish language which literally means “the imam has passed out”! There are three versions of the myth: the imam fainted from the shock when he found out the extremely large amount of olive oil needed for that dish to be cooked considering also the relevant cost. The second myth narrates that the imam passed out because that dish was unbelievably delicious. The third tells us the story of a glutton imam who ate this dish so fast and quickly that he passed out!
No matter what is the myth behind that recipe, one thing is sure: the taste of this dish lies in its simplicity and will amaze you!
This dish can also be found with minced beef.
Preparation time: 50 min (approximately)
Cook time: 45 min (approximately)
Portions : 4-6 portions
For the eggplants:
For the filling/ tomato sauce:
- 4-5 tablespoons of Greek extra virgin olive oil
- 3 large onions, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- salt and pepper
- 400gr of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 1 tablespoon of parsley (or ½ bunch of fresh parsley)
- 200gr feta cheese
- a pinch of parsley
This traditional Greek dish takes only 5 steps to make it and these are:
- Prepare the eggplants: cut the eggplants in two pieces and carve them crosswise (the flesh). Season them and place them in a colander for about half an hour.
- Preheat the oven at 180 C.
- Meanwhile prepare the tomato sauce: on a pan on medium heat, add the olive oil and the onions and sauté until softened. Stir in the garlic and sauté for 1-2 more minutes. Add the sugar, salt and pepper. Sauté over low heat for 15-20 minutes until the onions are nicely caramelized. Add the tomato paste, the chopped tomatoes and the rest of the herbs. Mix and simmer for 5 minutes.
- After half an hour, wash the eggplants with plenty of water and drain them on some kitchen paper. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place the eggplants with the skin facing up in a baking tray, lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with the thyme and bake them for 40 minutes, until softened.
Tip: This choice is ideal if you wish to go on the healthy way but the traditional recipe includes frying the eggplants on a pan.
Assemble the imam: Layer the eggplants at the bottom of a baking pan (with the skin down) and press down on the flesh by using a spoon so you can make enough room to add the filling. Spoon the filling on the top of each piece of eggplant and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Tip: Sprinkle with the feta cheese and bake until golden, if you prefer. The original recipe does not include cheese.
Serve this delicious Greek dish with the feta cheese on top or a side and some extra parsley. Alternatively, prepare a tasty yogurt sauce using a traditional Greek yogurt and your favorite Greek herb!
Kali oreksi / Enjoy your meal !