Turkish-Cypriot Cuisine
North Cyprus  

Vegetable dishes
Imam Bayildi (The Imam Fainted)
  "There are many stories about the origin of the name of this dish. Here is one of them... A long time ago a Turkish Imam (Muslim cleric), known for his love of good food, surprised his friends by announcing his engagement to the young daughter of a wealthy olive-oil merchant.  The friends did not know about her ability to cook.  But they presumed part of her dowry would include olive-oil. 

They were right.  For her father gave the groom twelve jars, each one large enough to hold a person, of the precious oil.  After her marriage the bride proved to be an excellent cook and each day prepared a special dish for her epicurean husband.  One of them, eggplant cooked in olive-oil, became his favorite.  And he ordered that his wife prepare it each night for dinner.  This she did for twelve consecutive days. On the thirteenth, however, the dish was missing from the meal.  Queried about its absence, the bride replied, "Dear husband, I do not have any more olive-oil.  You will have to purchase some more for me."  The lmam was so shocked that he fainted.  And since that day, according to the story, his favorite dish has been known as "Imam Bayildi" (the Imam Fainted).
  Serves 4-6 
  • Imam Bayildi (The Imam Fainted)2 medium aubergines (eggplants)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  Sauté the onions in a little oil.  Add the garlic, tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pep per.  Cook until mushy.  Cut the stem ends from each aubergine. 

Make 3 lengthwise slits, almost from end to end.  With and hold each slit apart and spoon the onion mixture into each cavity.  Arrange aubergines in a baking dish.  Sprinkle with sugar, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup oil.  Bake, covered, in preheated moderate oven (350 F.) for 40 minutes, or until tender. 

Serve hot.  or as they do in Turkey, cold with yogurt.  
One modification  
Instead of making three slits in the aubergine, etc., hollow the aubergines out, but leave a firm outer edge .  Take the insides of the aubergines, chop them up, toss them into the pan with the other sautéed ingredients.  Sauté the new mixture. 

Then stuff the aubergines with that mixture.  I f you want to microwave, I found that 15 to 20 minutes on medium works well .  Actually, I microwave for 15 minutes then I baste the eggplants with the liquid at the bottom of  the dish.  I then cook for the remaining 5 minutes at high.  You can tell by looking when the outer edge is done.  We slice it for serving.


  • Vegetarian dishes have been marked with sign
  • Albrecht, M. (1994), Turkish Cypriot and Mediterranean Cookery, Havellia Publishing, London.
  • Salaman, R., (1991), The Cooking of Greece and Turkey, Sainsbury Cookbooks, London.
  • Jemal, H., Cyprus Today, various.

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