Imambayildi |

This beautiful vegetable with purple dress is one of my favorite, and of all Turkish people, so we have many different dishes made from it in our cuisine. I always think that eggplant (patlican in Turkish) is like a woman ready for a party with her showy clothes, looking so charming. In Turkish we even use eggplant to define the color purple, we call that color ‘eggplant purple’. We generally see these beauties during summer and fall at bazaar. They have mainly two kinds in Turkey. One of them is short in height and plump, like a pear in shape, but fatter than it, which we call “bostan patlicanı” (garden eggplant) in Turkish. And the other, which I used for this dish, is in average size, like a zucchini and we call it “kemer patlican”. I don’t know if these two kinds have special names in English. If you know, I’d be so glad to hear.

It’s always good to know what eggplant dish you will cook before buying as it depends on the dish to buy either pear shaped or zucchini shaped eggplant. For example, if you’re planning to stuff them, pear shaped eggplants are perfect. It is easier to carve and stuff these as they have a shorter body. However, if you want to make eggplant kebab,then you must prefer zucchini shaped eggplants. The body of these are better to be cut in circles. You know the size of these circles must be almost the same with meatballs. As you see in pictures here, we also buy zucchini shaped eggplants to make imambayildi. Why? Because traditionally this dish must be in a boat shape.

As for the name of this traditional Turkish dish, I didn’t translate it into English as it may sound nonsense. The pure translation is this: The Imam Fainted. Funny, isn’t it? I love not only the dish itself, but also its name. There are several versions of the story of this name. But I want to share the most common and the shortest one. Here it goes!

Once upon a time, there was an imam in a country. He picked some eggplants from his garden on a hot and muggy summer day and took them home. He asked her wife to cook a tasty dish with these eggplants. His wife wanted to make a different dish and she first fried the eggplants, cooked tomatoes, peppers etc in another pot and combined them in a boat shape, then cooked it in oven. However, she put too much oil to the dish. The imam couldn’t refuse to eat it, but fainted at the end of his meal with the effect of hot weather and too much oil. His wife screamed “the imam fainted!” (imam bayildi). Since then, this dish has been called imambayildi (two words combined).

In another version, it is said that the imam fainted even before eating, when he saw the amount of the oil in the dish as oil was so expensive those times.

I don’t love frying something in a pan as I have to clean all the kitchen afterwards, I prefer doing this process in oven. How? It’s in the recipe.

If you get curious enough about imambayildi, let me stop telling stories and give its recipe:

Ingredients (servings :4)
–    4 medium sized eggplants (zucchini shaped)
–    1 medium onion, diced
–    2 green peppers, chopped
–    3 medium sized tomatoes, peeled and diced
–    3 cloves garlic, minced
–    2 tbsp minced fresh mint
–    2 tbsp minced parsley
–    Olive oil
–    Salt to taste
–    2 sugar cubes
–    ¼ cup water
Wash the eggplants. Peel them lengthwise, leaving strips. Cut the green parts around the stems, but leave the stems.

Wait the eggplants for about 15min. in a bowl of salted water to remove their bitterness. Then squeeze them gently and dry with paper towel. To let the heat enter their inside, pierce them on their several parts with a fork.


Preheat the oven to 200C.
Oil a small oven tray and lay the eggplants in it. Then pour 1 ½ tbsp olive oil on each. Put it in oven and cook until they get tender enough (about 30 minutes). You can check it with a small knife.

Meanwhile, we can prepare the filling. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a pot and saute the onion. Add peppers and saute. Add tomatoes and garlic, cook it about 5 minutes. Put 2 sugar cubes and enough salt in it. Add fresh mint and parsley, stir a few times and take it from fire.

Take the eggplants out from oven. Cut their stomachs so gently, not too deep. Grab a dessert spoon and give it a boat shape by moving their sides gently aside.


Now put the filling mixture evenly into their opened stomach. Drizzle little olive oil on each eggplant. And pour ¼ cup water in the tray. Cook it in oven at 180C for 40 minutes.

Imambayildi |

This is a kind of traditional Turkish olive oil dishes that may be served warm or cold either as a main dish or as a side dish. Personally, I love to eat it dipping some bread into its ‘stomach’ and a cup of yogurt goes very well with it.

Imambayildi |


  1. says

    I’ve heard of this dish, but I’ve never had it. I’ll have to make it soon though, because it looks incredible! I love the story of how it got its name! :)

  2. says

    What a lovely eggplant! It sure looks delicious. I love eggplant. I just cooked eggplant for dinner today…Chinese way.

  3. says

    This looks excellent, Zerrin! I love eggplant, this filling looks delicious. Great idea to bake instead of fry. Thanks so much for sending me the message – I hope the problem clears up for you soon.

  4. says

    Gera- I can always even pour some yogurt on any dish with eggplant. I love their flavor together.

    Tien and Cajun- Thanks for your comments.

    Faith- I’m so surprised you’ve heard this dish. The name is just so funny! I can’t help smiling whenever I say it.

    Jenn- I’m sure you’ll love it when you try.

    MaryMoh- Thanks for your comment. I’d love to learn that chinese way of cooking eggplant.

    Taymer- Thank you for stopping by. Actually, it’s said that we have over 60 different dishes of eggplant in Turkish cuisine, so you may be right:)

    Reeni- Baking is always much easier and of course cleaner. And for the eggplants, there was no difference in their taste when fried and baked. So why not bake? Btw, the problem is solved naturally, no idea how. The internet and computer technology is sometimes beyond my understanding.

  5. Leesie says

    I love my eggplant and as we say here in the States – you’ve hit a(nother) home run – with this lovely, traditional recipe.

    The pictures made me drool ;o)

    Thanks, thanks, thanks!!!!

  6. Soma says

    I recently read this “Imam Fainted” recipe:-) the story kind of stuck to my head along with the wonderful flavors. This sounds so awesome. We love eggplants, & i want to give this a try.. my oven i broke right now.. will have to find out other ways to make it in a skillet on stove top.

  7. Erkin says

    Zerrin, imambayıldı looks so tasty. If you put some minced meat into the filling mixture, I think it will make a perfect maincourse for a table honoured by Turkish Rakı.

    Anyhow, it’s a perfect dish to be savoured. Thank you.

  8. Amy says

    Hi Zerrin – thanks for stopping by and your kind words. I already believe things are looking up for us. Just having made a decision to sell the house is a huge relief!

    I’m a new found lover of eggplant. After many awful eggplant parmesan dishes, I sort of swore off this purple vegetable. But was recently introduced to it again, and it was delicious. All in how it’s prepared, right? This dish looks wonderful.

  9. says

    Leesie- Thank you for these lovely words. Eggplant has always an appealing taste in different versions.

    Natasha- I used to ask mom to cook this dish just because I loved this funny name :)

    Erkin- With minced meat in its filling, the pleasure would be doubled! And we already have that version in our cuisine, called ‘karniyarik’, you know. Hope to share it soon. And I agree, eggplant makes a great main dish or appetizer in any version with Turkish raki.

    Selba- and an easy way!

    Parita- When stuffed after being roasted, it becomes more tasty.

    Soma- If your oven is broken, you may fry the eggplants in a pan and then cook it in a large pot at low heat. This is as tasty as the oven cooked version.

    Elra and Lisa- Thank you both for your valuable comments.

  10. says

    Zerrin-This is a very nice food blog! I love Turkish food. I had the opportunity to have Armenian friends from Iran (a cuisine similar to Turkey) I loved to be invited to their home to eat a meal. The food was so good. This recipe for stuffing the eggplant reminds me of the many vegetables that they often used to stuff (dolmas) with lamb and the many seasonings. Every meal was served with a thick yogurt. Delicious!

    I also enjoyed the story behind your dish about the fainting Imam :-)

  11. says

    When we were dating, my husband had eggplant growing in his backyard garden. He fixed eggplant for me every time I went over there until I thought I was going to vomit if I saw another one! I’ve gotten over my abhorrence of eggplant, but it is still not my favorite veggie, I think because I’m at a loss of how to prepare them. It is so good to see such a nice recipe featuring them!

  12. says


    I just love your blog…..That is a beautiful dish. Thank you for sharing your culture with us!

  13. says

    je découvre votre blog et j’en suis ravie , beaucoup de plats me plaisent et tout particulierement les légumes .
    je vais faire cette recette trés trés vite
    allez hop ! dans mes favoris !

  14. says

    I love the story behind the recipe:) Imambayildi is one of my favorite Turkish dishes. Yours looks very good. Happy Ramazan to you!

  15. says

    j’ai donc fait ce plat hier soir , un délice !
    merci pour cette belle recette .

  16. OysterCulture says

    I love this dish – when I was a little girl I loved to copy recipes and I copied this one just because of the name, but the translation I had was “The Priest has Fainted” I thought if it was that good, I could not help but like it, boy was that a good choice.

  17. Clover Eighty Eight says

    Did anyone tell you? In American English (or here in California) we call the larger pear shaped eggplants “eggplant” or “globe eggplant” and the longer, narrow kinds “Japanese eggplant.”

    Thanks for such a great site and great recipe.

  18. Joan Nova says

    I don’t know if you’ve heard of my virtual Culinary Tour Around the World but this week the ‘stop’ is Turkey and I plan to make imambaildi using your recipe (with attribution to you and a link, of course). It’s my first time on your blog which is very nice — and see by the people who commented, we have mutual friends.

  19. says

    ciao Zerrin, I’m here from Joan’s culinary tour.
    lovely dish, and lovely blog!!
    I’m happy Joan was inspired by you, so I found you too.


  20. says

    Hi Zerrin, I heard of you from Joan and her Culinary Tour around the world which I join! I’m italian and I loved my virtual tour in your country, so near to mine and so un-known to me…I’ve been in Turkey just once but I discovered that there are so many fashinating places to visit… for our Turkish Tour I chose Turkish Baklava Rolls! If you’d like to visit my blog I’d appreciate your opinion on my rolls! …are they a little bit Turkish??? your blog is very cute! hope to ‘meet’ you again!

    • says

      Thank you for stopping by my country in your culinary tour. I saw your baklava on your blog. They look perfect!


  1. […] Karnıyarık can be translated as split belly. Another funny name of a Turkish dish. Do you remember imam fainted (imambayıldı)? I don’t know if there is a story behind this one, but the name still sounds as […]

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