Vegan Imam Bayildi or stuffed aubergines is a mouth-watering vegan dish combining fresh aubergines with juicy tomatoes, caramelised onion garnished with fresh parsley. It can be served hot or cold and is best eaten the next day! It tastes so much better the day after you have prepared it. Why is that? For sure because of the caramelised onions!
Vegan Imam Bayildi originates from Minor Asia during the Ottoman Empire and it has many influences from Asia. The name Imam Bayildi refers to an Imam, ie Muslim priest, who fainted upon tasting this delicious dish.
While many have claimed origin of this flavourful dish, the only sure thing is that it is super tasty! This flavourful vegan Imam Bayildi dish is very easy to make and utilises the simplest of ingredients. All you need is aubergines, tomatoes, onions, garlic ,and parsley.
Secrets for the perfect Vegan Imam Bayildi
The biggest secret to Vegan Imam Bayildi is to source the freshest of ingredients. I cannot stress enough the importance of fresh produce. So make sure you invest in fresh aubergines, preferably from a local producer.
In Greece Vegan Imam Bayildi is made of the famous Tsakonikes aubergines or eggplants. These are purple aubergines with white stripes originating from the Greek city of Leonidio. Tsakonikes aubergines have tender, firm flesh with small seeds and a sweet flavour when cooked. They are perfect for cooking, baking, stewing, steaming, frying, grilling and roasting. In other words, these are the perfect aubergine of all recipes.
If you cannot get hold of this eggplant variety, you can still use any Italian on Japanese varieties, as it closely resembles those two. When picking eggplants, choose ones with shiny, taut skin, vibrant colours, healthy stems and ones that feel heavy for their weight. Fresh aubergines should be firm but not rock hard.
Fresh juicy tomatoes will add an extra depth to the flavour of this dish, but you can always use good quality canned tomatoes if you have run out of fresh.
How to prepare Vegan Imam Bayildi
Preparing Vegan Imam Bayildi is very easy. Firstly, start by preparing the aubergines; you can either leave the skin, peel it altogether or peel it into strips.
Score the aubergines into three areas with one area untouched and cook them until soft.
To prepare the Vegan Imam Bayildi filling, heat up oil in a pan and sauté the onions for a 4-5 minutes. Continue by adding the garlic and cooking until translucent. Season with sweet paprika and stir for a minute. Add tomato paste and cook for a further minute or so. Carry on by adding the tomato and cook for a further 4-5 minutes. Lastly add water, pepper and parsley and cook for a further 10 minutes.
You can finish off your Vegan Imam Bayildi in an oven dish or in a pot. Widen the scored areas of the aubergines and stuff them with the filling. Place them in an oven dish with some water and bake them for 30 minutes at 180C or 350F. Alternatively, place them in a pot with some water and cook in medium heat for 30 minutes.
What can I pair this vegan Imam Bayild dish with?
Pair the stuffed eggplants with bread, Feta cheese or a big spoon full of your favourite yogurt dip!
Vegan Imam Bayildi
- 4 aubergines (Tsakonikes)
- 4 large onions
- 2 large tomatoes
- 150gr sunflower oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 ½ cup water
- To prepare your Vegan Imam Bayildi, start by washing the aubergines (eggplants) and tomatoes under running water. Cut the ends of the aubergine and peel them. You can either leave the aubergine skin on, peel the entire skin or peel it into stripes. Score the aubergines into three areas leaving one side untouched.
- Heat up oil in a pan and add the scored aubergines. Cook them on all sides for approximately 15 minutes until soft. Be careful with the oil as the hot oil might spit. Rest the semi-cooked eggplants on kitchen paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
- Continue by slicing the onion and garlic finely and dicing the tomatoes.
- In the same pan, sauté the onions for 4-5 minutes and continue with the garlic. Sautee until translucent. Season with sweet paprika and stir for one minute. Add tomato paste and cook for a further minute or so.
- Carry on by adding the tomato and cook for a further 4-5 minutes. Lastly add water, pepper and parsley and cook for 10 minutes.
- Grab your Vegan Imam Bayildi aubergines, widen the scored areas and fill them with the juicy filling with a spoon.
- Place the Vegan Imam Bayildi stuffed aubergines in an oven dish, fill up the dish half way up with water and bake for 30 minutes at 180C or 350F. You can either make this stuffed aubergine (Vegan Imam Bayildi) in the oven in an oven/ casserole dish) or in the pot
In a pot:
- Place the Vegan Imam Bayildi stuffed aubergines in a pot, fill up with a little bit of water, again almost hallway of the aubergines and cook for 30 minutes on medium heat.