Friday, July 03, 2009

Warm weather and Imam bayildi

For the last few days it's been amazingly warm around these parts. My bike rides in the morning have been magical. The animal and insect world all come alive at this time of year and I usually see something interesting most mornings. Yesterday morning there were three big deer dancing across the road through the mist. Usually there is a hare that runs beside me near the happy-hens-farm and my friends the skylarks who sing non stop every day in West Harling, one on either side of the road make me wonder when do they ever eat? This morning there was a snake squashed on the road with its pink ribbon of guts stretching a good meter across the road.
It's been warm enough to eat outside for the last three nights and we lapse into silence as we watch the swallows swooping and screeing as they practice their acrobatics high above us in the warm air. Last night I had some time to cook as bell ringing had been canceled and decided I would lash out time wise and make one of my favourite meals...Imam Bayildi. It's one of those recipes that seems to be more than just the sum of it's parts. It translates as 'The priest fainted or swooned' no wonder.Here's the recipe from the Waitrose sight and a real beauty. Worth all the effort. Great with falafels and Humus b'tahini.

Imam Bayildi

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

2 sprigs fresh mint, chopped
100g natural yogurt
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp harissa paste (optional)
1 tbsp currants, soaked in 3 tbsp boiling water for 30 minutes
1 pinch cumin
½ tsp ground allspice
8 tomatoes, 6 peeled and chopped, 2 sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
6 tbsp olive oil
2 large bulbous aubergines (about 350g each)


  1. Slice off 1cm of the bulbous end of each aubergine and 6–8cm of the stalk end. Cut the middle into 4 fattish slices. Slash the flesh of the aubergine slices in a criss-cross pattern, salt liberally and press into the flesh. Drain on a rack for 30 minutes, turning occasionally. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a pan and add the onions. When they are soft, add the garlic, tomatoes, spices and currants (including the water), and harissa, if using. Let the mixture stew, stirring regularly, for 40 minutes, until thick. Leave to cool.
  3. Rinse the aubergine slices, squeeze out excess water and pat dry. Peel all the end bits (removing the stalk), then quarter the 2 larger pieces length ways. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a heavy pan, add the aubergine slices and tuck in the peeled bits. Colour lightly, then place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or so, turning over once or twice, till soft.
  4. Chop the peeled bits and add to the stew with ¾ of the parsley. Press down the flesh of the slices with a spoon and fill with the tomato mixture until domed. Put in a baking dish, put a slice of tomato on each, spoon over the remaining olive oil and season.
  5. Pour a few tbsp of water into the dish and bake for 30 minutes, until the tomatoes have blistered. Scatter the rest of the parsley over the top and serve with a bowl of yogurt with mint and cayenne pepper stirred in (not authentic, but delicious).


Anonymous said...

I didn't know you made Imam Bayildi. We are great devotees too-Kate makes it beautifully of course. Being more carnivorous than is good for me I usually have it with grilled lamb chops. I have often thought it would go very well with grilled fresh Mackerel too, but have not yet conducted this experiment. Perhaps we ought to do so on a balmy night in Banham Rectory.
With love as ever,
The Rector.

JoeyJoJo said...

Looking forward to you fainting as we all sniff Kate's Imam Bayildi.
Great to see you at the dooooo in Thetford last night.
It was the best bloody sing I've had for ages. You did miss out on a treat though as you couldn't see David Barnard's heavenly face as we met his expectations. xxxxxx

suez said...

I am just printing out the recipe shall report back on completion XXxx MMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmm sounds great

JoeyJoJo said...

Hurry Thomsey, hurry. Photos too please