Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Imam Bayildi (meat version)

This is a family recipe from Fabiana who currently divides her time between Romania and Italy.

The origin of this dish is Turkish, its very old - presumably more then 300 years ago. The name derives from a legend about an Imam (Turkish title) who fainted (bayildi means faint, pass out in Ottoman) when he tasted this dish.

The original dish apparently did use the meat but then it was left out and nowadays people in Turkey prepare it mainly without meat, where as I do - I love it with meat and tastes great.

(serves 6)

aubergines (one or two per person)
300-500 gr mince (e.g. 50-50 pork and beef or lamb and beef)
3-4 onions
6-7 ripe tomatoes tomatoes or a 500 g tin of chopped tomatoes
Mediterranean herbs (e.g. oregano, basil, thyme etc.)
whole garlic cloves, peeled (two per aubergine)
fresh basil, 2-3 leaves per aubergine
olive oil
1 glass of red wine
1 hot red chilli (optional)

1. You start by peeling one line of skin all around the aubergines, then split the aubergine lengthways and hollow out some of the flesh to make room for the filling. Chop up the scooped out flesh and sauté with the onion.

2. To make the filling finely chop the onion really and sauté together with the chopped aubergine in a pan with olive oil. When they're golden, add the mince. Fry together until all the meat is browned stirring occasionally to prevent the meat from sticking together. When the moisture has evaporated from the meat and onions add some red wine and then regularly add a little water and cook for 2 hours (keep adding water regularly). After two hours or so, add the chopped tomatoes and herbs of your choice and cook for another two hours. This procedure is pretty similar to the Bolognese Sauce (ragu Bolognese). Optionally add the chilli at this stage as well.

2. Sauté the aubergines all around in a pan with oil until they are a little colored. Then set aside on kitchen paper to drain. Place into a roasting tray.

3. When you are happy with the sauce let it cool a little. Take a spoon and start filling the aubergines with the meat sauce. Pour the remaining sauce around the aubergines. Then add 1-2 garlic cloves per each eggplant and 1-2 basil leaves per each eggplant. Put in the oven and bake for 40 minutes at 190-200°C/gas mark 5-6.

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