How to Make Imam Bayildi

This delicious Turkish dish has many local variations as well as connected stories. Also known as Imam Bayouldi, the name means variably - the Imam (an Islamic Priest or Scholar) wept or the Imam fainted.

Some legends say the Imam fainted at the deliciousness of the dish, the cost of the dish (for it uses the best olive oil), or that the oil was used from a dowry present to his new wife and that when the oil ran out and the dish could no longer be cooked, the Imam fainted.

This dish is one of the classics, perfect for your next dinner! This recipe is to serve 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a vegetarian dinner.


  • 4 x ripe Eggplant / Aubergine, preferably long Japanese style Eggplant.
  • 1 cup of good olive oil
  • Salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 4 Garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large onion (or 2 medium) cut in half moon thin slices.
  • 2 large tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup of chopped parsley

Variations may include:

  • 1 tsp cinnamon, black pepper to taste and / or 1 generous teaspoon Ras El Hanout,
  • 2 x chopped paprika peppers (deseeded), or cut in half and deseeded.
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar


  1. Image titled Make Imam Bayildi Step 1
    Peel your eggplant and trim the ends. Some recipes often leave portions of the skin on, so peel roughly. To make them attractive, peel long strips leaving a 0.5 cm 1/5 inch gap between each peel. Sprinkle with salt and put aside.
  2. Image titled Make Imam Bayildi Step 2
    Heat a flame proof casserole or oven safe pan with 2 tablespoons of the oil and gently fry the eggplant until golden and tender. Alternatively you can brush with oil and bake at 175C / 345F until just tender, or deep fry. Put aside once cooked.
  3. Image titled Make Imam Bayildi Step 3
    Heat another the pan with a good splash of the olive oil and fry the onion gently under cooked through. Ideally the onions should brown only slightly if at all. Add spices (if desired) and garlic, cook for another few minutes until the spices smell fragrant. Add tomatoes, chopped paprika peppers and season with salt to taste. Simmer gently for 2-3 minutes, then add lemon juice, parsley and sugar (if desired).
  4. Image titled Make Imam Bayildi Step 4
    Create a pocket in each eggplant using two forks, a spoon or your finger. You will need to split the eggplants from top to tail to make a boat like shape, but aim to avoid breaking all the way through.
  5. Image titled Make Imam Bayildi Step 5
    Spoon the onion filling into the eggplant pockets and sprinkle the tops with remaining pan juices and oil. Bake 20-25 minutes in the 175C / 345 oven until the vegetables just start to break down.
  6. Image titled Make Imam Bayildi Step 6
    Serve hot, or at room temperature.
  7. Image titled Make Imam Bayildi Final


  • The oil boosts the flavour, you can make it with less oil, but its not always as rich in taste.

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Categories: Middle Eastern Cuisine | Vegetarian