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turkish eggplant imam bayildiCan I entice you with a recipe that apparently induces fainting? Sounds rather alarming, doesn’t it?

The famous Turkish mezze dish, Imam Bayildi, translates as “the Imam fainted.”  From pleasure or shock, we know not. But really, who doesn’t want a bit of that?

turkish eggplant imam bayildiAs with much of ancient-ish history the origins of the name are a bit murky, but in this case can be pinned down to three scenarios – all involving olive oil. The one I fancy most implies that a Turkish holy man fainted when he heard the cost of preparing this, his favourite dish. It seems his new bride came with a generous dowry of 12 man-sized jars of golden olive oil. As a good wife she prepared many dishes to please her new husband. One day, she prepared a slow-cooked, olive oil-drowned, stuffed aubergine dish that he loved so much that he ordered that she prepare it every day. On the thirteenth day she offered something else for his meal and, when he queried this change in menu, she meekly told him that she had run out of oil. A whole dowry’s worth of oil. Astonishing. And thus, with this news, he fainted. Other versions are scarcely more credible: she made this dish, with all of its rich olive oil, and he fainted with pleasure. {Obviously he didn’t get out much.}

So. Much. Olive oil.

turkish eggplant imam bayildiThere are lighter versions of this kicking around the Internet, although most still have more fat than I feel comfortable using. Some recipes are quite elaborate and time consuming, others simpler and more mid-week meal territory. I think mine is definitely the latter – one pan and 35 or so minutes are all you need. But where I differ is in the method and presentation – no stuffing is involved. And I’ve added some different but complementing ingredients too. Actually it is more of a Turkish ratatouille, I guess. But that doesn’t sound as cool as The Imam Fainted.

This CAN be the stuffed little mezze that is was originally – easily – but I made it to be an easy, unfussy main dish, served over freshly shredded and raw courgette noodles {zoodles}, with perhaps a folded wedge of warmed Turkish flatbread. Rachel and Andrew absolutely loved it, scoffing down the leftovers before I had a look in. Apparently it tasted even better the next day.

Aubergines and tomatoes are still very much in season here in the UK, but as these are year-round crops Imam Bayildi can be made when winter carbs and root vegetables are getting a bit too much. We try and keep it seasonal here at food to glow, but I will be making this when snow is on the ground and my olive oil is chilled to a cylindrical block in my cupboard. Not long now then!

turkish eggplant imam bayildi

Griddle Pan Turkish Eggplant {Imam Bayildi} with Mint Zoodles

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Unashamedly inauthentic but utterly delicious, this healthier Imam Bayildi eschews the oil bath of most similar recipes, and offers a touch of Syria with the herbs too. You don’t have to use the griddle pan with this but it makes it a pretty much one-pan dish if you do. You could also bake the aubergines (pierce first!) at 180C for an hour and scoop out the cooked flesh, but I really like it done on the griddle. Quicker too. 

And don’t worry if you don’t have a spiraliser or mandoline for the courgette noodles, just thinly slice the courgettes (the idea is for them to kind of cook in the residual heat of the aubergine) or have as is with some rice or bread.

4 tbsp olive oil

2 lg aubergines/eggplants, sliced ½ inch thick

1 lg mild onion, chopped or thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, skinned

400g chopped cherry tomatoes OR 2 large tomatoes, cored and chopped (I popped mine in a food processor and pulsed)

1/4 – ½ tsp dried chilli, crushed or freshly ground

1 tsp cumin seeds, dry toasted until fragrant the crushed (or use ½ tsp ground cumin)

1 tsp fennel seeds, dry toasted and crushed

2 tsp sundried tomato paste or 2 tsp tomato paste with a pinch of sugar

Juice of ½ lemon (more to taste)

Cupped handful each of parsley and mint, chopped

Pine nuts, to garnish (optional)

Zoodles {Zucchini Noodles}

2 courgettes/zucchini

1 tsp dried mint

1 tsp lemon juice

a little good olive oil

1. Heat a griddle pan. Brush the aubergine slices with some of the oil (probably about 2 tbsp in total) and cook on the griddle in batches, until soft and darkly griddle-marked. Set aside to cool a bit, then cut into bite-sized pieces with knife or scissors. This took me about 10 minutes for the two aubergines.

2. Mix the remaining oil with the onions and garlic and add to the griddle pan or sauté pan. Cook until the onions are translucent, stirring frequently. Add in the remaining ingredients except the lemon juice and 1 tbsp of each of the herbs (and zoodle stuff). Stir and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the rest of the herbs, lemon juice and the griddled, chopped aubergine pieces. Let this sit on a low heat while you make the zoodles.turkish eggplant imam bayildi

3. Use a spiraliser, mandoline or julienne peeler to make zoodles (zucchini noodles). Pop the zoodles into a bowl and use your hands to mix in the mint, oil and lemon.

4. Give everyone a nest of minty zoodles and top with the Griddled Imam Bayildi. This is even better the next day so make more than you think you’ll eat. This serves 4 as written.

DSC_0604Incidentally I was recently sent a gadget that I didn’t even know I needed, a chilli grinder. It is quite a sleek and useful little thing that – seeing as we are quite the chilli-heads – we use often. I used it for this dish. All you do is add your choice of hot dried chillies, give a gentle twist and  out comes a fine dusting of heat. Much better than biting into larger chunks of dried chilli. I really like it and have already added more hot chillies to top it up. Rachel really took to it so I’m pretty surprised that it didn’t accidentally get stowed away in her luggage for University. For this and other unusual and practical goodies check out the selection over at Qwerkityturkish eggplant imam bayildi

Over to my fellow food bloggers for some more aubergine and Turkish “delights”:

Turkish Zucchini Fritters  – Tinned Tomatoes

Roasted Summer Vegetables – Franglais Kitchen

Mediterranean Vegetable Moussaka – A Glug Of Oil (how appropriate)

Roasted Vegetable Lasagne – Hungry Happy Healthy

Aubergine Stew with Olives and Capers – Amuse Your Bouche

Vegetarian Moussaka with Ricotta Topping – Smarter Fitter

Creamy Aubergine Curry with Sag Aloo – Hungry Happy Healthy

Simple Ratatouille – Fab Food 4 All

Garlicky and Very Easy Roasted Aubergine Dip – Cook Sister

and also I found this, 10 Best Turkish Vegetable Dish Recipes With Olive Oil

Here are some related ones from me:

Broccoli, Cheese and Sweet Potato Gozleme (a Turkish pastry)

Caponata (Sicilian Vegetable Stew – loads of aubergine here)

Middle Eastern Baked Vegetable Fries

Spinach and Feta Cheese Pie

And lastly, I am entering this in Recipe of the Week, organised by Emily of A Mummy Too recipe-of-the-week

Note: I was given a product to review. I was not paid to mention the product, and opinions are wholly my own.

58 thoughts on “Griddle Pan Turkish Eggplant {Imam Bayildi} with Mint ‘Zoodles’

  1. How divine! This is my favourite type of food abs grain free too 🙂 I have never heard of a chilli grinder, what a grata idea.

  2. Great. I might try this weekend..

  3. Deena Kakaya says:

    You’ve done it again haven’t you, taken a favourite that makes me a little light in the head with desire (I kind of get the fainting thing) and taken if to new heights. Loving the simplicity and perfect balance of the ‘zoodles’ (I think that’s a coinage that’ll stick) and phew…I can eat it without the Jamie O style of glugs and sloshes of oil. Pretty. Very clever. Xx

    1. Glugs and sloshes have their place – but not as everyday fare. At least I think so. Thanks Deena. 🙂 Btw, I picked up the zoodle term elsewhere. I wish had thought of it though/

  4. bethjreed says:

    I’m making zoodles tonight too!! Plus did you see I nominated you for The One Lovely Blog award!? 🙂

    1. Hi there! No, sorry I didn’t see it. I’ll check my spam filter (sorry, it is very idiosyncratic). Thank you! Enjoy your zoodles. 🙂

      1. bethjreed says:

        Hey! I thought it would notify you since I linked your site, here it is:

  5. katisimone says:

    I really love this one!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  6. Of course, you know I’ll love this! I do love the olive oil drowned version too, I just can’t bring myself to make it or eat it too often so this is a great ‘non fainting Imam’!!

    1. A slightly swooning imam then!

      1. Yes, just at the point of dreamy…..!

  7. (PS sorry but is it only me that thinks the chilli grinder looks a bit phallic?!)

    1. It’s a big ol’ upside down chilli! Behave! But yes, now you mention it 😉

      1. I can only imagine how it looks (or feels!!) when you’ve got a hold of it!!!

      2. OMG woman! It is very smooth and tactile so is quite pleasant to use. Actually it works really well and I do use it a lot or I wouldn’t have mentioned it. I’m just glad I used a thumbnail image or you really might have fainted!

      3. Hee hee hee 🙂 🙂 I think I might need one…..;)

  8. rovinglights says:

    This has all of the Mediterranean ingredients that I love! The Med diet is also supposed to be one of the healthiest around despite all the red wine and olive oil, so it can’t hurt to indulge once in a while!

  9. Lori says:


  10. lizzygoodthings says:

    Another stunning dish, Kellie. Absolutely divine!

  11. Those aubergines look just divine – I always ruin the pattern by turning them too soon 😛

  12. Looks Amazing

  13. Looks so appetising and I love the sound of your mint zoodles, so fresh!

    You are for kitchen gadgets what India Knight is for make-up – you both cost me a fortune cos I always end up buying your recommendations! (and always love them…btw, did I tell you I bought a steam cleaner…..)

    1. You know you can borrow my spiraliser – try before you buy! I hope Ive never given you a bum steer!

  14. rachwilber says:

    This incorporates two of my obsessions of late: eggplant and zucchini noodles! Definitely putting this on the rotation. Thanks!

  15. Bree says:

    Reblogged this on rawembrace and commented:
    I love plant based recipes. Being Gluten Free I have had to turn more to veggies and I feel great. These ingredients all sound great and I can’t wait to try it.

    1. Hi Bree. Let me know how you liked it. Okay?

  16. gorgeozo says:

    Stunning photos, blog post and recipe, thank you 🙂

  17. This looks like the most delicious dish, ever!! Love the flavors and love how you’ve put the whole dish together.

    1. Cheers, Katie :-))

  18. Lesley says:

    Wow Kellie – another absolute cracker! The aubergine are purchased and I’m on it! Treated myself to a spiralizer last month – I love it

    1. Thanks Lesley! And fab that you have a spiraliser too. What kind do you have? Does it do different ‘shapes’?

  19. Yumm, this is in the try list!!

  20. narf77 says:

    I am dreaming of when eggplants come out of my garden and not out of the supermarket (at $6 each) and I can afford to indulge my eggplant lust to the max. This looks amazing and uber healthy and something that my future summer self is going to want to be eating as it can be cooked on the bbq outdoors and keep the house cool. Cheers for the delicious share 🙂

    1. I wish I could grow my own, Fran. Mine come form the market as I would need a greenhouse to grow them. We do grow them in the Uk but not enough to sell.Mostly ours come form Spain and Italy. Or Holland….(all greenhouse/polytunnels). I would love tp think you will make this on your bbq. 🙂

      1. narf77 says:

        I am in the process of thinking out and planning making a rocket stove with a cob pizza oven on the side for summer cooking. Steve was digging me holes to plant out citrus trees yesterday and we hit clay…the stuff that you could make pots (or cob) out of and that got me excited about making a rocket/pizza stove/oven. Time to get planning. I have a large pile of (overgrown) bricks at my daughters house as well as a big old cast iron firebox a friend was throwing out and now I just have to couple them with my thoughts and all of this mud and see what I can do. I have eggplant seeds this year and am just about to plant them 🙂

  21. Such a lovely story, but oy, so much oil! I much prefer your lightened up version, and another good reminder to dust off my spiralizer while the summer squash is still abundant.

  22. Sally says:

    One of my favourite dishes – and I love your riff on it. Can’t resist a useful gadget and the chilli grinder looks intriguing.

  23. recipesfromapantry says:

    Kellie I always leave your blog wanting both the recipes and the gadgets – I now am going to go look up chilli grinders.

  24. Isn’t zoodles the most wonderful word? And I love the curvy stripes on your aubergine.

  25. So pretty – love the zoodles. I want to like aubergine but I just am not the biggest fan. I will eat it when served it but need to find some recipes with lots of spice to take away the bitter note. Your one looks so full of lovely flavours. Its a keeper!

    1. Well, it is pretty auberginey! I have made this with half aubergine and half courgette so I know all courgette would be fine. The herbs and spices are what make it special for me. Thanks for stopping by, Nazima. Love your apple meringue tartlets!

  26. This looks incredible! Love aubergine. I really need to get myself a spiraliser – been wanting to make veggie noodles like this for ages!

    1. Gosh, Becca, you would make some amazing creations with a spiraliser. I truly use mine everyday. I wish I was a Benriner ambassador!

  27. Cooksister says:

    The Imam fainted – oh I *love* that 🙂 In fact I love all the ingredients here – such a colourful dish. I seriously have to try and make zoodles! Thanks for linking to my aubergine dip 🙂

    1. You are most welcome. Ours are quite similar, aren’t they? But yours didn’t have to be tweaked to prevent fainting!

  28. Camilla says:

    Absolutely love this dish as would my family. My husband is bored of my ratatouiile now which my daughter loves so I think this would make a lovely change:-) Thanks for linking to my Ratatouille:-)

  29. A pleasure, Camilla. I love ratatouille and I know I would love your version. It is so versatile too. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  30. Elizabeth says:

    What a beautiful recipe (as all yours are!). I’m intrigued by these zoodles – I must get the appropriate gadget to make them!

    1. Hi Elizabeth. I use a Benriner that I got from I love it so much! Not the cheapest one but it is small, sturdy and has a few different noodle size options. I don’t really buy gadgets anymore but I’m glad I got this 🙂

  31. winwinfood says:

    Looking positively delicious! I’m not a big fan of mint in savory foods but after reading this, I will have to give it one more try.

  32. Yay! Kellie. I am new to the blogging world and I have been searching for a blog like yours! Great inspiration and gorgeous photos. Can’t wait to see more! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Shelby (what a pretty name!). Best wishes for your blog – if you are in wordpress, it is a great community. PS I have a ramshackle ‘homemade’ index that you are very welcome to explore. Let me know if anything takes your fancy. 🙂

  33. karen278k says:

    Here’s another Zoodles fan, as well as Imam Bayildi too – I used to make a HUGE batch of Imam Bayildi when I owned and ran a restaurant in Cyprus and it was one of the most popular meals on the menu.

  34. This looks absolutely delicious, and the colours in your photos are amazing! #recipeoftheweek

  35. Fiver Feeds says:

    I bet it tastes even better than we can imagine based on these pictures! I like how easy to make it seems, will try to make one of my own, hopefully this week.

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