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Melitzanes Imam recipe

Melitzanes Imam recipe

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This is a great Greek/Turkish aubergine dish flavoured with cinnamon. Delicious on its own or with rice or couscous.

36 people made this

IngredientsServes: 2

  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

MethodPrep:30min ›Cook:45min ›Ready in:1hr15min

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
  2. Slice the aubergine in half lengthways, and hollow out the halves leaving about a 1cm shell. Set the flesh from the insides aside for later use. Place the shells on a baking tray, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake for about 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until soft.
  3. While aubergine is baking, chop the leftover aubergine into small pieces. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook and stir for a few minutes. Add the chopped aubergine; cook and stir until tender. Mix in the tomatoes and tomato puree until well blended. Simmer over low heat until the halves in the oven are ready.
  4. Remove the baked aubergine shells from the oven, and spoon in the tomato and eggplant mixture. Sprinkle a little cinnamon over the top of each one, and return them to the oven. Bake for another 30 minutes or so.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(32)

Reviews in English (23)

I got this recipe from a local Greek restaurant. Try it and I will try yours :-) Aug 2011

by melissa

awesome!! i used fresh garlic, scallions, 1 eggplant, 2 juicy ripe tomatoes, prilla briton leaves (my boyfriend and my favorite find of the year - beautiful purple and green basil-like leaves used in korean recipies that act like sushi wraps) and two green peppers from our garden and the farm he works at all picked in the last 30 hours. i sprinkled sea salt while cooking and cinamon when served with jasmine rice. its was one of the most satisfying surprises in a long time. thanks for the recipie.-23 Jul 2007

by munkell

My husband and I LOVE this recipe and have it several times a month with couscous and grilled courgettes. It is a simple dish to prepare, looks very pretty (as someone else said) and is absolutely delicious. I have stuck with the original recipe but always make much more then we need as its wonderful the next day for lunch. Thank you for this great dish!-09 May 2006

Melitzanes Imam

This is a great Greek/Turkish aubergine (eggplant) dish flavored with cinnamon. Delicious on its own or with rice or couscous.

Original recipe makes 2 servings


1 eggplant
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise, and hollow out the halves leaving about a 1 centimeter shell. Set the flesh from the insides aside for later use. Place the shells on a baking tray, and drizzle with a little olive oil.
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until soft.
  4. While those are baking, chop the leftover eggplant into small pieces. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic cook and stir for a few minutes. Add the chopped eggplant cook and stir until tender. Mix in the tomatoes and tomato paste until well blended. Simmer over low heat until the halves in the oven are ready.
  5. Remove the baked eggplant shells from the oven, and spoon in the tomato and eggplant mixture. Sprinkle a little cinnamon over the top of each one, and return them to the oven. Bake for another 30 minutes or so.


Calories: 314 kcal
Carbohydrates: 28.7 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Fat: 20.8 g
Fiber: 11.4 g
Protein: 5.3 g
Sodium: 391 mg

Imam Bayildi

Imam bayildi is a Turkish dish of eggplants cooked in olive oil, and stuffed with tomatoes, onions, peppers and herbs & spices. This classic vegan mezze is also popular throughout Western Asia, the Balkan Peninsula and the Middle East.

What is the origin of imam bayildi?

Originating from the Ottoman Empire, imam bayildi is a traditional Turkish staple. As with many other traditional recipes, it isn’t always entirely clear when it originated but it is thought to have been around the 17th century.

How did imam bayildi get its name?

The name, imam bayildi, means the “imam fainted”. There are a variety of Turkish folk tales depicting how the dish got its name. The most popular being that a Turkish imam married the daughter of a wealthy olive oil merchant. On their wedding day, her father gifted them with 12 jars of olive oil.

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For twelve nights the imam found his favorite meal on the table but on the thirteenth night there was no eggplant dish. Shocked and exasperated, the imam demanded an explanation. His loving wife told him that she could not make any more of his treasured food as there was no more olive oil. Upon hearing this, the imam fainted.

Another story describes how an imam was served such wonderful, flavorful food, that while he was reveling at the sheer glory of the fine cuisine, he fainted.

In yet another explanation, the imam faints when he discovers exactly how much olive oil is used.

There are one or two more tales telling how a husband fainted at the cost of the ingredients, and other variations surrounding the expense of the meal. Some believe this is the most plausible reason as to why the imam fainted, given the living expenses at the time of the meal’s origin.

Imam bayildi in other parts of the world

Although this recipe is native to Turkey, imam bayildi can be found in a vast array of countries across the world, particularly in the former Ottoman Empire.

Throughout Greece, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Israel imam bayildi is more commonly known as imám baïlntí (ιμάμ μπαϊλντί). That said, some areas within these regions still refer to it as its lesser-known title, melitzánes imam (μελιτζάνες ιμάμ), which means imam’s aubergines. Across the Arab world, imam bayildi is called me’iimam biaylidi (μεإمام بايلدي).

Over the course of time, many have developed this eggplant mezze to suit their own preferred taste. Whilst maintaining the original recipe, various ingredients have been added, such as ground beef, cinnamon, and feta cheese.

Along with the variation in ingredients that have been added to create this mouthwatering culinary delight, the structure has also been adapted in some recipes to lean toward a lasagne-style imam bayildi. For example, moussaka. The pasta sheets are replaced with slices of eggplant, and the sauce becomes the layers in between.

How to make imam bayildi

Some people advocate baking the eggplant first, and then frying, whilst others prefer to bake the eggplant in the oven completely. The traditional way is to poach in olive oil.

It is important to remember to add a sugar to the filling as this will balance out the acidity from the tomatoes.

Some variations of the recipe use herbs such as thyme, oregano and parsley, whereas others don’t. The same goes for spices. This dish can be made with paprika and cumin, or little to no spice at all.

For the best possible dining experience, imam bayildi is best served at room temperature the day after it has been cooked. It is usually accompanied by rice and yoghurt or as part of a mezze.

Eggplants in Turkish Cuisine

The eggplant, also known as aubergine in France and the United Kingdom, melanzane in Italy, brinjal in India, and patlican in Turkey, is grown all over the world. It is a plant species from the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Other nightshades include tomatoes, bell peppers, chillies, tomatillos, physalis, potatoes, goji berries and huckleberries.

The absorbent, sponge-like flesh of the eggplant makes it the ideal vegetable to soak up all the flavors of the other ingredients in a dish.

Turkish cuisine throughout the whole country varies dependent upon the area. Bursa, Istanbul, Izmir and the remaining Asia Minor regions’ diet derives from the era of the Ottoman court cuisine. Rice is a preferred side dish, as opposed to bulgur. The food isn’t as heavily spiced as in other areas of the country, and due to the wider availability of vegetables, stews and stewed vegetables, such as this imam bayildi recipe, are popular feasts.

Alongside imam bayildi, there are a number of other eggplant-based recipes prominent across Turkey such as baba ghanoush, or kyopolou, which is a creamy dip (sometimes referred to as a salad), made from charred eggplant, bell peppers and tomatoes cooked with garlic and olive oil. Turkish eggplant with yogurt (patlicanly yogurtlama) is another popular dish in Turkey, and it is the perfect appetizer for a Turkish banquet.

The eggplant is a staple across Turkey due to its availability, and how easy it is to grow. It has been said that Turkish people have over 100 different recipes for this versatile vegetable.

Although people classify eggplants as a vegetable across the globe, their botanical definition classes them as a berry.

This recipe is validated by our Turkish culinary expert, Chef Dilara Erbay, of Abracadabra Magic Deli in New York.

Greek chicken dishes

When it comes to Greek chicken recipes, the Grecian chicken and Greek grilled chicken pitas are my go-to entries.

The former features chicken tenderloins cooked in a skillet with olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, Greek seasoning, capers, and mushrooms. If you want a hearty and complete meal, then serve the dish along with orzo.

Meanwhile, the Greek grilled chicken pitas have skinless chicken breasts, fresh oregano, lemon zest, lettuce, tzatziki, and pita rounds. The possibilities of the recipe are just endless.

Feel free to add ingredients and greens to suit your taste buds.


For the Greeks, the Great Lent has already begun. This is a  time period of about 40  days before the Greek Holy Easter. During this time most Greeks fast and avoid eating meat and dairy products. 


10 aubergines / eggplants)

6 onions cut in rings

6-8 cloves garlic sliced

1 tea cup olive oil

1 tbs sugar

some finely cut parsley

6 ripe tomatoes finely chopped and peeled

salt and pepper

1. Peel the aubergines in stripes, cut one edge but do NOT remove the stem and put them in salted cold water for about 30 minutes so that they open up like . small boats.. Then squeeze the aubergines with your hands.

2. In a bowl mix the onions, tomatoes, garlic, parsely, sugar, salt and pepper.

3. Fill in the aubergines with this mixture and pour the rest over them. Add the olive oil plus a cup of water. 

6. Put them one next to another in a baking pan and bake in pre-heated oven for about 1 hour at 170*C (= 325 Fahrenheit ).

Melitzanes me tyria (Greek Eggplants with Cheese)

Melitzanes me tyria (Greek Eggplants with Cheese) is a deconstructed imam bayildi recipe I made, which however, is much lighter and healthier by roasting the eggplants and even tastier by adding peppermint and Greek cheeses, graviera and feta, which also add to the flavour. If you do not have any peppermint, you can replace it with mint.

In Greece we have a local variety of eggplants (aubergines) called Tsakonikes, named after the region they are produced (Tsakonia) Kynouria, a region in Arcadia, Peloponnese.

These eggplants are long, thin, seedless and very sweet, so you don&rsquot have to salt them to draw out bitterness. It is a product of protected designation of origin (PDO) which it acquired in 1996 with many other agricultural products from the European Union.

However, if the type of eggpants you use are bitter, follow the steps below:

How to Remove Bitterness from Eggplants:

  • Cut off the stems then cut the eggplants into slices.
  • Sprinkle liberally with salt and leave for 20 minutes. Thos will remove much of the bitterness and draw out some moisture and they will not absorb a lot of oil during the frying process.
  • Wash to remove salt and drain before cooking.

They can be cooked with or without the peel. If you peel the aubergine, cook immediately as when exposed to air peeled eggplants brown quickly.

Eggplants are like sponge, so they absorb juices and flavours you add to them. Eggplants love onions, garlic, herbs and tomato sauce.

As I said in a previous recipe, if you don&rsquot like raw garlic you can skip it and use only roasted garlic.

I also made Lentils with Bulgur using roasted garlic. You can seethe recipe here.

Melitzanes Imam Bayildi

Print This


  • 6 medium-sized aubergines
  • 2 medium-sized onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 500g ripe red tomatoes
  • 100-125ml olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A squeeze of lemon juice (if needed)
  • Small bunch of flat leaf parsley (approx. 10g), roughly chopped
  • 40g feta


  1. To prepare the aubergines, place them lengthwise on a board. Cut the stalks off. Using a peeler or sharp paring knife, peel a 1-2cm strip of skin from the stalk end to the base of the aubergine. Leave a 1-2cm strip of skin, and then peel another strip. Carry on until you have gone all the way around the aubergine and you have a striped effect of skin and flesh showing.
  2. Cut a slit lengthwise in each aubergine. Salt the peeled parts of the aubergine well to ‘degorge’ them* and place them on a tray. Degorging draws out all the bitter juices. Set the aubergines aside for 30-40 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, peel and cut the onions in half through their roots. Cut into half rings. Peel the garlic cloves and slice them thinly. Wash the tomatoes well and dice them roughly. Make sure to catch the juice of the tomatoes.
  4. Heat a deep frying pan with 3tbsp. olive oil on a medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add the sliced onions and fry until they are soft and starting to turn a light golden. Add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes until it is starting to soften and also turn slightly golden. Add the tomato paste and stir through for a few seconds.
  5. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pan. Add about 1/2 cup of water, the red wine vinegar and sugar and a pinch of cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Bring up to the boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Add more water as needed. Cook until the tomatoes begin to break down and the sauce becomes jammy and thickens.
  6. Stir through the roughly chopped parsley and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste, and if needed add a little more sugar or a squeeze of lemon juice.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan).
  8. Rinse the aubergines well, and pat dry.
  9. Heat a heavy based frying pan with 1tbsp. olive oil. Add a few aubergines and fry until the skin starts to turn golden and the aubergines are softening. They need to be almost cooked through, as this helps them to break down and really soften when they cook in the oven. You will need to turn them quite often and add more olive oil as they cook. Don’t add too much oil though, as aubergines soak it up very quickly.
  10. When the aubergines are done, remove them from the pan with tongs, and drain on some paper towel. Place in a stainless steel metal baking dish, with the slit facing up. They need to be quite snug in the dish. I find a metal dish gives a better result as it conducts more heat and caramelises the sauce more, but if you don’t have a suitably sized one, ceramic or pyrex will work fine.
  11. Using a spoon, open the cut slits of the aubergines a little. Work carefully as you don’t want to break the aubergines. Spoon stuffing into each aubergine. You can fill them quite full, piling the stuffing up a little. Spoon any leftover stuffing in between the aubergines.
  12. Sprinkle feta on top of the stuffing in each aubergine. If you would like to make the dish vegan, just simply leave off the feta. Add a little water in between the aubergines and drizzle 1-2 tbsp. olive oil over the whole dish.
  13. Cover the baking dish with foil, tenting it a little at the top, so it doesn’t touch the aubergines.
  14. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour.
  15. Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 1-2 hours, until the aubergines are meltingly soft, the sauce is caramelised and the feta is golden and nutty. If the sauce is getting too dry but the aubergines are not done, you can add a little more water to the tray. You may also need to turn the oven down to 160°C (140°C fan).
  16. Once cooked, remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool down.
  17. Serve warm with a little extra feta and some crusty village bread on the side.



*Before cooking the aubergines, you must ‘degorge’ or salt them. This is to draw out any bitter juices. Cut your aubergines as required for the dish you are making. Sprinkle the cut areas of the aubergines generously with salt, then leave on a tray or in a colander in the sink to drain for about 30-40 minutes. They will release a brownish liquid. Discard this and wash the aubergines well. Dry them well with paper towel, then cook as desired. Today, aubergines are not as bitter as they used to be, but I would still advise preparing them in this way, just to be on the safe side.


First of all, make a Bechamel cream. I skipped the butter and used olive oil instead, for a more light and refined cream. It’s easier to use too, as it will help with avoiding the cream getting crumbly.

Just mix the olive oil with a bit of flour (creating a roux) like you would do with a classic Bechamel, and then pour in the milk that’s in room temperature (again helps to avoid crumbles in the cream) and cook until cream thickens. It won’t get too thick on the stovetop as it is going to get baked as well.

Then after you seasoned the cream with ground nutmeg, salt, and pepper, whisk in the grated cheese while it’s still hot. And set aside to cool before you whisk in the eggs.

Proceed on making the spiced tomato sauce which requires only 30 minutes of simmering, and deep-fry all the vegetables until they get a deep golden color.

Once everything is ready, start building the layers inside a 9 x 13-inch pan or baking dish. Starting with a layer of potatoes, then a layer of zucchinis, a layer of eggplants and a few slices of tomato on top along with the tomato sauce, and cover everything well by spreading the creamy Bechamel all over on top.

To get that cheesy goodness on the top of the Moussaka, first bake the cream for a while until it starts to get golden on top, and then sprinkle the cheese on top!

Other Vegetarian Greek Dishes You May Like:


Want to serve your family and friends a Greek dinner? Serve this Vegetarian Moussaka along with these Crusty Feta Bread Rolls, Homemade Pita Bread, or this Fried Feta Cheese Saganaki.

Stuffed Aubergines (Papoutsakia)

Stuffed aubergines (papoutsakea).
&lsquoMelitzanes papoutsakia&rsquo (Greek stuffed eggplant) is a Greek dish which receives its name from the resemblance of its shape with little shoes. The taste and the ingredients used for this recipe are very similar to the popular Greek dish moussaka. Serve with a nice Greek salad and some crusty bread..
-2 big aubergines.
-450g minced meat of your choice.
-2 onions.
-1 can chopped tomatoes.
-Salt & pepper.
-50g all-purpose flour.
-50g butter.
-400ml milk.
-Olive oil.
-Preheat oven grill to 200°C..
-Cut aubergine in half lengthwise and place skin down on a baking tray..
-Brush with generous amounts of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake on the upper shelf for 30 minutes or until the tops are slightly brown..
-Meanwhile start with the minced meat..
-Add a good glug of olive oil in a frying pan over low to medium heat..
-Chop the onions and add them to the pan. Sauté for 5 minutes stirring occasionally and add the minced meat..
-Cook until it starts to brown, season with salt and pepper cook for another 2 minutes. Lower the heat, add the tomatoes and simmer for 25 minutes or till the sauce thickens..
-Remove the aubergines from the oven without turning it off. With the back of a spoon press the flesh to make a dent large enough to enclose the filling. Be careful not to tear the base..
-Spoon the minced meat equally in the aubergine cavities and set aside..
-For the white sauce, melt the butter on low heat in a saucepan. As soon as it starts to bubble (not brown) add the flour and stir with a whisker until there are no lumps and starts to whiten. Add the milk stirring constantly with a whisk, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in salt and pepper..
-Spoon over the filled aubergines and bake 15-20 minutes or until golden.

Video taken from the channel: Leda Fotopoulou

314 calories (314 kcal) are in 1 serving - it is the same (calorie-wise) to 6.16 tbsp vegetable oil-butter spread, 3.11 tbsp butter-margarine blend, and 2.62 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil.

How many carbs are in 1 serving?

This recipe has less carbs than around 69 percent of all foods in our entire database. On the other hand, this recipe has a extreme amt of carbs compared to foods in its food group. In this case, almost 92% of other foods in this food group have a lower carbs ratio. For most individuals, 28.7 g is 9.57% of your daily recommended limit of carbs. Having an average amt of carbs containing 36.56 g for every 400 calories, it has the same amt as ice creams, cucumbers and tamales.

How much cholesterol are in 1 serving?

This recipe has the same degree of cholesterol as foods like cocoa, squash and tabouli at 0 milligrams per 100 calories, which is a small amount. Compared to foods in the same food group, this recipe has a minute amt of cholesterol. Here, only 0 percent of other foods in this food group have a lower cholesterol percentage. Similarly, only 0% of all foods in our entire system have a lower cholesterol percentage. 0 milligrams is 0% of your daily recommended consumption for a healthy person.

How much fiber are in 1 serving?

For a healthy person, 11.4 g is 45.6% of your DRV (Daily Recommended Value) of fiber. This recipe has the same degree of fiber as foods like chili, sprouted breads and sun-dried tomatoes with a fiber/calorie ratio of 3.63%, which is a high amount. This recipe has a tremendous amt of fiber compared to foods in its food group. Here, within its own food group, this recipe has less fiber than around 5% of other foods. In the same way, around 9% of all foods among all food groups have a greater fiber percentage.

How much protein are in 1 serving?

Having a considerable amount of protein with a protein/calorie ratio of 6.75%, it contains the same amount as sundaes, water chestnuts and cream. Compared to foods in the same food group, this recipe has a massive quantity of protein. In this case, about 95% of other foods in this food group have a lower protein ratio. On the other hand, this recipe has less protein than almost 71 percent of all foods in our system. 5.3 g is 10.6% of your daily recommended intake of protein for a healthy person.

How much saturated fat are in 1 serving?

Compared to foods in the same food group, this recipe has a insubstantial amount of saturated fat. Here, almost 90% of foods in this food group have a greater saturated fat ratio. Similarly, this recipe has less saturated fat than around 50% of all foods in our entire database. Having a reasonable degree of saturated fat with 0.92 g per 100 calories, it has the same degree as asparagus, sodas and whole grains.

How much sodium are in 1 serving?

24.38% of your daily limit of sodium will be achieved by a serving of this recipe. Having a moderate amount of sodium with 1117.83 mg per 600 calories, it is around the same amt as lentils, lemonade and sushi. This recipe has a inordinate amt of sodium compared to foods in its food group. Here, nearly 5 percent of foods in this food group have a greater sodium/calories percentage. Likewise, about 57 percent of all foods in our system have a lower ratio of sodium to calories.

How much sugars are in 1 serving?

About 39% of all foods in our system have a greater sugar/calories ratio. In the same way, compared to foods in the same food group, this recipe has a excessive amt of sugar. Here, approximately 89% of other foods in this food group have a lower ratio of sugar to calories. This recipe has the same amt of sugar as foods like french dressing, puddings and brownies with a sugar/calorie ratio of 17.58%, which is a stiff amount. 34.5% of your DRV (Daily Recommended Value) of sugar will be fulfilled by a serving of this recipe.