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Imam BaylidiThe dish is an appetizer of fried eggplants in oil, filled with a fried mixture of onion, pepper, and tomatoes baked and served cold. 

“Imam Baylidi” means the fainted Imam, and the story goes that the Imam fainted from the pleasure of consuming this dish while others claim that the frugal Imam fainted when he knew how much olive oil his wife used in preparing the dish as it was expensive at the time.

Ingredients:  4 to 5 servings

700 g thin eggplants, about 8

½ cup olive oil

2 onions thinly sliced lengthwise, makes 1½ cups

1 small green bell pepper, chopped to small dice, makes about ½ cup

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon sweet pepper

¼ to ½ teaspoon hot red chili pepper

500 g ripe but firm tomatoes, chopped to small dice

1 teaspoon sugar or more

¼ cup chopped parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Few parsley leaves for decoration


1. Leave short stalks on the eggplants and remove the hull. 

2. Peel off 1 cm strips of skin lengthwise at intervals to give striped effect, sprinkle with salt and set aside 30 minutes. Wipe eggplants with kitchen towels, and slit one side of each lengthwise.

3. Fry the eggplants in ¼ cup olive oil over medium heat till lightly colored and but slightly firm, and remove to a strainer.

4. Meanwhile prepare the filling: 

Fry onion and green pepper over medium to low heat in the rest of the olive oil till tender but not colored, add garlic and fry seconds more, add tomato paste, sweet pepper, red chili, salt, and black pepper and fry few seconds more, add tomatoes, sugar, raise heat, and cook about 5 minutes.

5. Remove filling from heat, add parsley, taste and adjust seasoning.

6. Remove about 6 tablespoons of the filling and place them on the base of a baking dish.

7. Open the eggplants with your hand to make an opening to hold the filling and place them in one layer in a baking dish, spoon filling into eggplant, and cover with aluminum foil.

8. Bake dish in a preheated 190 C° (375F°) oven 15 minutes, remove foil and bake about 15 minutes more or till little sauce is left adding few tablespoons hot water if base is dry.

9. Remove from oven and serve cold or at room temperature garnished with parsley leaves as an appetizer or as a light meal with bread. (The dish may be prepared 3 days ahead, refrigerate till needed).

N.B.:  For good results buy first quality ingredients, and prepare it when eggplants are in season.

The dish may be prepared in a pan over a gas stove.

(I like to eat it warm with rice on the side as a main vegetarian dish).

Round eggplants may be used but cut each in half before frying.

To reduce calories: 

Boil eggplants in salted water in place of frying in oil.  Use little oil to fry onion and rest of water, adding little water to onion-pepper mixture in step 4 till they are tender and continue frying rest of ingredients.  Omit sugar.


© 2005 Cooking Courses Marlene Matar