Imam Baildi (Ιμάμ-Μπαϊλντί )

Spread the love

img_5729-1Imam Baildi are stuffed eggplants. This is a vegetarian dish and it falls into the category of Greek cooking called “ladera” or lathera. Ladera dishes were born out of necessity, peasant families stretching-out food to feed families with what was fresh and what was seasonal.

Ladera comes from the Greek word for oil, lathi and when in Greece, an array of these vegetarian dishes can be found at a “Magereio” where there’s an open kitchen with a display of day’s specials.img_6947

Imam Baildi will be one of those specials you find at a Magereio. It has become a Greek specialty but it’s origins are definitely Turkish. Imam is the Turkish word for Priest and the story behind Imam Baildi is that the Priest fainted at the sight of the quantity of oil used in the dish.img_5709-2

Many Greek dishes have been toned down with respect to the amount of oil used in cooking. Here, I’ve  trimmed the amount of oil used and Ive bypassed the usual frying of the eggplant shells but I’ve maintained all the flavour and integrity of the dish.

Greek cuisine is loaded with delicious “ladera” dishes that can act as side dishes or main courses. Imam Baildi is as good of a dish to start out with.

Imam Baildi (Ιμάμ-Μπαϊλντί )

img_5733

(serves 4-6)

6 medium-sized eggplants

1/4 cup olive oil

4-5 medium onions, sliced

1 green bell pepper, seeded & sliced

1 can (375ml) of good plum tomatoes, hand crushed

2 tsp. of dried Greek oregano

1 tsp. of fresh thyme

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

10 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

5-6 whole allspice berries (bouquet garni)

salt and pepper to taste

thin slices of fresh tomatoes and onions

extra-virgin olive oil for finishing

Pre-heated 400 F ovenimg_5736

  1. Remove the stems of the eggplants and half lengthwise. Score  the inside using your knife (without cutting through the skins) to make a criss-cross pattern.
  2. Drizzle the eggplant halves with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt. Place facedown in a parchment-lined baking sheet in a preheated 400F oven (middle rack) for 30 minutes or until just soft to the touch. Reserve.
  3. In the meantime, in a large skillet, add your olive oil over medium high heat and then add your onions, peppers, tomatoes and bouquet garni of allspice then reduce to medium and cover. Simmer for 20-25  minutes or until most of the liquid has cooked down. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Remove the bouquet garni of allspice and add the slices of  garlic and chopped parsley.
  5. Place your inverted eggplant shells upright into a shallow baking vessel side-by-side and use the underside of a ladle to press down into each eggplant to make a cradle. Spoon the filling into the eggplant.
  6. Cover each eggplant with tomato slices and sliced onions, drizzle your eggplants with some olive oil and bake in your pre-heated oven for 45-60 minutes or until most of the water has cooked off and your topping is a nice golden-brown.
  7. Drizzle each serving with some extra-virgin olive oil and serve with some good crusty bread and a side of Feta cheese.

 

© 2009 – 2018,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

54 Comments for “Imam Baildi (Ιμάμ-Μπαϊλντί )”

says:

Lovely dish! Thanks for modifing the recipe to make it a little more healthy. I think I have all the ingredients to make this at home. All except the allspice berries.

says:

What a fantastic version Peter. And again, simplicity rules here. Just give me a loaf of bread to accompany this and I’d be happy…

says:

Looks very good… I seem to always use too much oil when roasting vegetables… I’m going to cut down and see how it works.

says:

Love the back story of the dish, especially the priest fainting from the quantity of oil. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a magereio when I was in Greece, but I’ll definitely keep it in mind ‘if and when…’

says:

I love eggplants! love the meatless version. I will have to make this soon. just yesterday i was seeing something in a cookbook, but with lot of cheese. this sounds wayyyy better.

says:

I had this in Greece when I was on vacation and I have been meaning to try making it. It was a dish that looked so simple with respect to the ingredients and yet tasted so good! The flavours really come out after roasting in the oven for so long.

says:

This was usually made on a friday by my mom because Fridays we ate healthier and non meat dishes. I used to really crave this dish. It’s fab! I like your recipe here … looking forward to trying it.

says:

I can’t wait until eggplant are in season at the farmers’ market. This will be a fantastic way to use them! I am always on the lookout for great recipes using them. Cheers!

says:

I love Imam Bayaldi! I made very so often now and then, and my family never got tired of it. Yours look so delectable.

says:

It is a delicious meal, but when you add the feta, wine and bread it becomes something pretty special. I love when you include veggie dishes Peter, they are so appetising.

says:

I like eggplants cooked in any way!!
Mousakas, papoutsakia, imam, even just fried with a red sauce!!
Your dish looks so tasty Peter!!

says:

Simple is definitely best here. The vegetables all speak for themselves and don’t need a lot of hullabaloo to bring out all those great flavors.

says:

Nice Peter! I was recently thinking about vegetable stuffed eggplant, then I took a carnivorous turn and added ground lamb. Both ways are great. I might write about it soon.
LL
P.S. I KNOW you don’t like tofu, feel free to substitute feta or anything else! Actually I appreciate alternative ideas. Thanks for your comments, as always.

says:

I find it interesting how many “fine” dishes are from peasants just trying to put food on the table. Things like polenta, risotto, and even crepes. These people knew how to eat well with what they had and now we pay a fortune for these dishes in restaurants- if they only knew I think they would chuckle! Great post Peter!

says:

these could definitely pass as a main course, and a scrumpious one at that! lovely dish, peter, both to look at and to eat, i’m sure.

says:

I love all of those onions and peppers and tomatoes in there.

Fun story about the priest. I doubt you’ll ever see me complain about too much oil.

says:

I just got back from TO today and I had the most amazing meal at the Danforth, lamb seasoned to perfection and grilled like it should be!
I’m always amazed at the great produce stores you have there! It’s the freshest and cheapest I have found in the entire city!

says:

Oh gosh Peter..long time no see! Fancy seeing some eggplants here. I’ve fallen in love with grilling eggplants. I found it much better than deep frying them (for obvious reasons) or boiling them (hellow mr mushy)

I should, however, venture outside my indonesian/chinese ways of dealing with eggplants and perhaps try those delicious looking babies ^_^

says:

Peter, my mother never fries the eggplants and I actually found out that the original recipe requires them to be fried very recently. I never found her imam to lack in flavour so I am sure yours will be yummy too!

says:

What would it be of the world without those ladera dishes?.

This stuffed eggpplants could not arrive to my life in better timing. Just on my 6th day of my south beach diet (phase1) and with no more ideas on how to cook vegetables.!

Gracias Peter, you’ve save my life :)

says:

[…] Imam Baildi Has anyone every tried Imam Baildi? I tried this stuff for the first time when I was in Greece in 09. This stuff was amazing. It has no meat in it, but it is great! It is stuffed egg plants. They are stuffed with nothing more than tomato, onion, garlic, and parsley, and seasoned. For something so simple, this dish is incredible. Here's a link to site I found on it……. Imam Baildi ( […]

Peter

says:

Looks tasty! But I do not understand some of the comments. How is using less olive oil more healthy? Isn’t olive oil good for you?

george

says:

The name is turkish but the dish is greek. Indeed the ladera are very typically greek cuisine, which came to be associated with anything turkish during the long years of the ottoman era.
and, don’t go short on the oil! a little extra oil always makes it better!
A greek name for this dish is occasionally used, called papoutsakia (little shoes) ,
also
cheers!

says:

George, thank you for your comment and welcome! Imam Baildi is Ottoman in origins and lest we forget the eggplant came from the Orient. As for Papoutsakia…an entirely different dish with meat in the filling and topped with Bechamel.

Evangelos

says:

To Peter and George: it is hard to find the real origins of several dishes, however this dish is not Otoman (Turkish) not Greek but in a certain extent is Byzantine (a multiculturale empire). Though after several centuries of Otoman occupation many dishes got a Turkish name.

To george: Papoutsakia and Imam aren’t the same dishes and without offence to our host, his receipe is something in between the two dishes.