Imam Baildi is a traditional Greek supper dish consisting of stuffed and baked eggplants.
History of the Imam Baildi
The exact origin of the Imam Baildi recipe is unknown. But a few gourmands state that the dish could be a local Greek or Turkish adaptation of the French Ratatouille dish. Imam Baildi recipes form an essential component of the Ladera group of dishes in Greece. Peasants in Greece could only afford the cheapest of vegetables and they used a lot of oil, tomatoes and cheese to make the vegetables and meat suffice for the entire family and these dishes were included into a separate Ladera group. This dish too uses a lot of olive oil traditionally. According to another legend, a local Imam or Muslim priest was served the dish and he fainted at the sight of so much oil in the dish. Thus the name of the dish became the Imam Baildi or the Imam fainted because of the oil content or the taste of the dish! But even though this dish has a predominantly Greek origin, it is also seen in local Turkish cooking with the same ingredients and cooking method. In Turkish cooking, the dish is also served as an accompaniment to the main meal and is called as "karni yarik". This is almost the same recipe found in Turkey and is referred to as the ‘belly open’ dish.
Ingredients Used and Overview of Imam Baildi Recipes
Traditionally, Imam Baildi recipes suggest use of deep fried eggplant shells that are fried in lathi or olive oil. These are then stuffed with a mixture of sautéed onions, tomatoes, garlic, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper. The sautéed filling is the filled into the aubergines and then roasted for fifteen to twenty minutes in an open oven. The stuffing can be changed to suit personal tastes like adding rice, toasted pine nuts, all spice, dill, thyme, red currants, and chopped parsley into the filling. The Turkish variation of Imam Baildi recipes use blanched whole eggplants that are slit, stuffed and then baked.
Serving and Eating the Imam Baildi
The Imam Baildi recipe has been modified considerably for modern cooking. Most cooks prefer to reduce the oil that is used in the cooking process. Olive oil is brushed over the eggplants and they are baked with the same filling and sprinkled over with feta cheese and more olive oil. The dish can be served as a main dish or as an accompaniment during lunch or supper. In Turkey, the dish is served with yoghurt and bread and eaten hot or cold. But both cuisines recommend eating the dish on the next day to let the flavors coalesce.
Nutritional Value of the Imam Baildi
The exact nutritional value of the dish will depend on the ingredients that are used in it but an average sized serving has about 220 calories.