Imam Bayildi
Appetizers Breakfast Dinner Lunch Mediterranean Mid-East/Mediterranean Vegetables

Imam Biyaldi (Swooning Imam)

What is Imam Bayildi

Imam bayildi is a Turkish dish with eggplants, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and parsley. In most imam bayildi recipes, the eggplants are stuffed with the remaining ingredients and then simmered with lots of olive oil. You definitely would find a few recipes that did a few adjustments for health reasons, while keeping the taste this dish is known for. 


History of (the name) Imam Bayildi

Stories relating to this dish vary. Imam Bayildi literally means “swooning imam.” Below are a few of the stories about the origin of the dish, or let us say the origin of the name of the dish:

  • The Imam fainted with pleasure when served this dish by his wife;
  • The Imam fainted when he was told by his wife of the cost of ingredients especially the amount of olive oil in the dish; (hint: take it from here – the secret why this dish is so delicious)
  • The Imam married a lady whose dowry was 12 bottles of olive oil, but which she all used up by the 12th day of cooking the dish daily causing the Imam to faint.

There are more accounts and most of them are humorous.


Ingredients of Imam Bayildi

This recipe needs between 5-7 ingredients including olive oil:


Eggplants are the main ingredient for Imam bayildi. You can use any type of eggplant in this dish, even the bitter type, and there are ways to rid of the bitterness, as follows:

  • Cut and salt them and leave for about 30 minutes, then wash with water and drain or pat dry with paper towels.
  • Soak them in water, drain, or pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Soak in salted water, wash and drain or pat dry with paper towels.

Draining and drying the eggplants with paper towels helps in making sure they do not take in a lot of cooking oil when frying, apart from discoloration from oxidation. You will find additional information on eggplants below; under “How to Cook Imam Bayildi.” 

Eggplants sizes and variety


Sizes of eggplants


Garlic provides aroma and a distinct touch of its taste to the dish. However, this ingredient is optional. If you, or any member of your family, or friends do not fancy garlic, Imam bayildi can still be enjoyed without it.


Sliced onions, apart from their taste, make the dish look really good, especially with the alternating effect of colors with tomatoes. Slice the onions a bit roughly as they tend to limp when in the casserole.

Sliced white onions


This gives the dish a little sauce as the tomatoes drain themselves onto the eggplants. It also complements the onions in creating a to-die-for oomph. Having said that, you would want to get medium-ripe tomatoes. 

Fresh Parsley

I add parsley in the middle of cooking imam bayildi, then sprinkle with them again onto the cooked dish. Parsley is also optional, if you are in quite a hurry, or if you feel the need to be a bit economical, or if those greens are not handy at the moment.

Olive oil

Olive oil is the reason the imam fainted? Who would not, though? If you opt for extra-virgin olive oil for this dish, expect some swooning from your guests because of this delicious dish.

We do not count the salt, black pepper, a pinch of sugar as ingredients, right? Alright, do you agree with my math above as to why I said 5-7 ingredients?  


How to Cook Imam Bayildi

This is an easy recipe. What takes time is the prepping. When all the ingredients are ready, you can use your creativity in placing them onto the baking dish before putting them in the oven. Set the timer, you rest; when you hear the nagging sound of the oven, turn it off, take the dish out and leave it till you are ready to eat. No other attention is necessary. So, I should have titled that How to Prepare Ingredients for Imam Bayildi, right? Right! So, here they are:


Simply said, choose good, fresh eggplants whose skin is devoid of rough or tender spots. but what about different types of eggplants? I am not going to go into further details, but if you are interested, here is an informative post from Allrecipes about varieties of eggplants. What I would share is my humble experience, probably opinion, with a few types, i.e., long slim eggplants are mostly sweet, and as much as I have a leaning to recommend using this for imam bayildi, the round robust ones (which are sometimes bitter) can be treated further to rid of the bitter taste. 


Depending on the type of eggplant you are using, you may want to skin them in alternates lines or simply keep the skin on. Cut the eggplants crosswise into your desired length (I prefer about 3 inches). Cut into half, lengthwise, and make a slit in each. Leave in salted water for about half an hour, then drain and pat dry with paper towels. 

Eggplants kind of take the longest to prepare. The rest of the ingredients should be easy.


How to serve Imam Bayildi

  • It is eaten hot or cold, as an appetizer or a main dish.
  • As an appetizer.
  • With salad. Green salad with vinaigrette is the best choice!  
  • As a main dish with pita bread or rice. 
  • As a side dish with fish or chicken and your choice of staple carb.


Storing/Keeping leftovers

Same baking dish, cover with cling film and keep refrigerated. This is one favorite dish of mine, so I cooked more of it and did not mind the leftovers because I want them again. 


Cooking tips:

  • Extra virgin olive oil or any finest olive oil would be the best choice for this recipe. It gives the eggplants the extra touch in texture and taste. 
  • Choose good tomatoes. Over-ripe tomatoes will make your imam bayildi watery. If your tomatoes are overripe, deseed them. 
  • White or yellow onion are good choices over red onion which tends to add an extra spice to the dish. You would want to achieve and highlight the competing sweet and sour tastes of imam bayildi.
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Imam Biyaldi - Feastful Fork

Imam Biyaldi (Swooning Imam)

  • Author: Magida
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Swooning Imam, a delicious Turkish dish


  • 4 medium-sized eggplants
  • 5 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 medium-sized onion (sliced)
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes (sliced)
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp olive
  • vegetable oil for frying eggplants


  1. Cut eggplants crosswise into 3” pieces and cut again sideways.  Make a slit in the middle and put them in salted water for 30 minutes.  Drain and dry with paper towels.
  2. Brush with oil and fry till half-done.  Arrange them in a baking pan slit up.
  3. Using the same frying pan, sauté garlic, onions and tomatoes for about a minute or less.
  4. Sprinkle the mixture with lemon juice, salt, pepper, sugar and  chopped parsley.  Stir once.
  5. Spoon the vegetable mixture into eggplants, inserting some in the slits.
  6. Bake for half an hour at 350˚F. Leave to cool in room temperature.


Serve as appetizer and eaten with Arabic/pita bread.

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