A subtle mix of herbs and spices elevates Imam Bayildi, a perfect vegetarian entree, to great heights. Try it for a Meatless Monday… and watch it take a place in your regular rotation of special dishes. Or, better yet, travel to the magical Rozendal Farm as part of a trip to South Africa.
Rozendal Farm, in the heart of South Africa’s Cape Winelands, is the magical setting where farmer Nathalie Amman creates biodynamic vinegars. Her organic process, her savvy flavors, and her storybook farm transport us to foodie heaven.
IMAM BAYILDI – TURKISH STUFFED AUBERGINES RECIPE
Recipe by Jess Shepherd and Luke Grant, Good to Gather Restaurant, Rozendal Farm, South Africa
½ cup best-quality olive oil (a mild extra virgin if you can)
1 heaped tsp tomato paste
300 ml boiling water
½ tsp sugar
Fresh herbs (parsley, dill, mint) to garnish
For the stuffing
2 tbspn best-quality olive oil (a mild extra virgin if you can)
2 medium onions, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
250g tomatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
10g flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
salt and pepper
Peel half the skin off the eggplants so they resemble a zebra pattern. Roast in a preheated oven at 200 C until starting to soften, around 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the stuffing. Heat a thick-bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil and fry the onion until softened but not browned, 8-10 minutes. Stir regularly. Add the garlic and fry for another minute, constantly stirring, not burning the garlic. Add the tomatoes and chilli pepper (if using). Keep frying until the tomatoes collapse, and the liquid starts to thicken, 5-6 minutes. Add the flat-leaf parsley and some salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.
Make a lengthwise incision down the middle of the eggplants, leaving 2 cm at either end. Do not cut all the way through the base of the eggplant.
Add the stuffing into the eggplants and place them, stuffed side up, in a pan for which you have a lid. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan. Mix the tomato paste, sugar and boiling water with a bit of salt and pepper. Add the liquid to the pan with the eggplants.
Bring to a boil, put on a lid and turn the heat down to low. Leave to simmer until the eggplants are entirely soft, around 45 minutes. Add extra liquid if things start to look too dry.
Set aside to cool completely, then scatter over the picked herbs before serving.
STORY BY LORI COHEN / PHOTOGRAPHY BY WARREN HEATH – BUREAUX / PRODUCTION BY SVEN ALBERDING