Ratatouille, Byaldi, Imam Bayıldı

Imam Bayıldı

On Friday the Pixar movie Ratatouille starts in the USA (watch the trailer, and a preview – unfortunately, we in Germany have to wait till October for the movie!) and you already know that, as a foodie, you have to go see this animation film about a talented rat who wants to become a chef in a Paris kitchen. The “final dish, the one on which the entire plot hangs … is the movie’s namesake, and needs to be so special it will impress the restaurant critic”, this french dish called byaldi, a version of ratatouille, has actually its origin in a turkish dish: Imam bayıldı, “the imam fainted”.

As I am sure you will come out of that movie wanting to recreate the dish, I would like to suggest you make the original, which is very easy to prepare with scrumptious and mouth-watering results. It is really easy, its secrets are slow cooking (active cooking time is not that long though), a lot of good extra virgin olive oil and some sugar. Such “zeytinyaǧlı” (literally: “with olive oil”) dishes can be cooked with any vegetables (classics are green beans with tomatoes and artichoke bottoms with fava beans) and are traditionally eaten either at the end of a succession of meze or right after the main dish. As they are always eaten cold, or at least at room temperature, they would also make for a perfect summer main dish if you like. Although I am a carnivore, note that this dish, like all the other “zeytinyaǧlı”, is vegan. And remember: They always taste best on the second day!

Drink a crisp dry white wine without oak with this dish. We drank a Chablis 2004, which is a Chardonnay from France, with yeasty aromas.

Oh, why the imam fainted? He came home and saw the dish his wife had prepared and as he realized how much of the precious olive oil went in it, he fainted!

Imam Bayıldı
classic Turkish recipe, as learned in my mom’s kitchen
serves 6

prep: 20 mins
cook: ca. 1 1/2 hours unattended, 15 mins active

eggplants, 6 long thin ones (ca. 1 kg)
tomatoes, 6 (ca. 600g)
green peppers, 3 small ones (ca. 200g – you can use bell peppers or long thin but not hot ones, as well)
onions, 6 (ca. 450g)
garlic, 3-9 cloves (to taste, the more the better!)
flat leaf parsley, a small bunch
olive oil, 1/2 – 1 cup (extra virgin)
sugar, 1 tbsp, heaped
salt

(Click on the small pictures below to read detailed explanations of each step)

Trim the “heads” of the eggplants. Do not cut them completely off. Peel the eggplants in stripes. Put the eggplants in salted water. Blanch and peel the tomatoes, cut into cubes. Dice the green peppers. Peel and cut into half the onions, slice thinly. Peel and slice thinly the garlic cloves as well. Mince the parsley very fine.

Take the eggplants from the salted bath, squeeze them lightly and pat dry. Cover the bottom of a heavy pan with olive oil. Start with half a cup, you could get away with it, but more could be necessary. When the oil is hot, brown the whole eggplants from all sides till they have softened a bit, but not thoroughly cooked, ca. 8 mins. Do this in batches, do not overcrowd your pan. Lay the fried eggplants in a single layer in a wide pan or pot with a lid.

In the remaining olive oil in the pan, start roasting the onions. Turn the heat down to medium, you want to slowly brown the onions. Sprinkle the sugar on the onions and let them caramelize and get soft. Add the garlic, roast for a couple minutes, then add the green peppers and tomatoes, sprinkle salt over it. Let cook over low heat, with the lid closed, until the vegetables have gone soft and juicy, around 20 mins. Add the minced parsley at the very end.

Slit open a pocket in each eggplant. Spoon the cooked vegetable mix into and over the eggplants, there will be more than enough filling, cover the eggplants and the space between them. If the filling is not juicy, you may want to add half a cup of warm water into the pan. Cover and let slowly cook for at least an hour over very low heat, till the eggplants are really soft and cooked through. Alternatively, you may put the pan with the filled eggplants in a warm (but not very hot) oven for an hour.

Imam Bayıldı Ingredients Trim the Eggplant Peel the Eggplants in Stripes Salt Bath Blanch the Tomatoes Fry the Eggplants Lay out the Eggplants Roast the Onions Add the Peppers and Tomatoes Make Pockets Fill the Mixture Final Product

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20 Responses

  1. Great post! Very interesting. I had no idea that Biyaldi was the orignial ratatouille.

  2. Ah, at last! Ever since I had my first fainted Imam it was one of my alltime favourites. Last week I had the dish in Essen in a quite trendy Turkish restaurant. And altough I found a couple of recipes for it I am glad to have waited for the Hande homecooking version. Thanks! Will keep you posted about the result!

  3. Ms. Glaze,
    as I said over in your blog, I will wait till the movie comes out, but then you will have to take my challenge! ;-)
    kaltmamsell,
    didn’t know you were a fan, you should have just asked, I would have given you the recipe even earlier. Are you looking for any other Turkish recipes? I grant you 3 wishes. And please, please give me feedback when you have cooked the imam!

  4. I saw Ratatouille today and it is as delicious as imam bayildi. There were many children in the theatre and I was surprised how it captured their complete attention, so quiet were they. When the lights came up at the end, I was further surprised at how many adults, not accompanied by children, there were as well. Amazing, a movie that adults and kids can enjoy equally, perhaps for different reasons. The movie inspired me to look for a recipe link I can send to a friend who had never heard of the dish until this movie and so I came to find your blog. Merveilleux!

  5. Island Auntie,
    I have not heard a single negative critic about ratatouille and don’t know how I am supposed to wait 3 more months till I can see it. You are right, it is so seldom that adults and children can be so captivated by one movie. I hope you like my recipe and do try it out yourself. Would love to hear how it worked out for you and your friend as well!

  6. I love imam bayildi! My mom used to make it when I was very young and I do miss it now. All of the garlicky oily taste. I actually should ask my mom next time I’m up to see her that she should make some. Yum!

  7. I love imama bayildi. As a young kid I remember my mom making it and as I got a little older I used to appreciate it more and more. Especially the spicy, garlicky flavor. Yum. Can’t wait to have it again soon!

  8. [...] turkish version of ratatouille is called Imam Bayildi, according to the Food [...]

  9. San Francisco Photos,
    why wait for your mom to make it? I know that mom’s version is always better, but with my recipe you could maybe try your hand on it? And your pictures make me want to visit SF, where I have unfortunately never been.

  10. I am looking for the recipe that is in the movie Ratatouille….can you help me find it? Thanks

  11. Cindi,
    one of the links in the first paragraph goes directly to the recipe by Thomas Keller, who consulted the movie makers. That is the recipe behind the movie version. The same recipe also appears in the NY Times (log-in required), and some bloggers have already made their version of it, like off the broiler and smitten kitchen. Choose any one you like or google further!

  12. My Turkish friend made me imam bayildi once, and I really loved it. Quite an intense and warm dish, even if served cold :)
    PS Here in Estonia we have to wait until August 10 – and I thought we were the last in Europe to see it!

  13. I cooked it yesterday; this is a brilliant recipe.

  14. Unbelieveble! On my way back from istanbul this one of the things I wanted to find a recipe for! I didn’t even had the time to do a google search, I just happened to find it here!! ;-)) (must try this asap! :-)

  15. Pille, Der ____weiler, Sigrid,
    thanks for your nice words. This recipe turns out really nice (a couple of triers have already mailed and confirmed!), so if you are looking for an easy start to turkish food, here you have it.

  16. [...] anche subito il mio mea culpa: ho preso la ricetta dal blog di Hande, istanbulese doc, e (spero non me ne vorrà!) l’ho leggermente adattata in [...]

  17. [...] dire il vero quella di Keller non è mica cosi vicina all’originale turco (che trovate anche qui). Keller, che ha a dir poco un debole per i sapore del mediterraneo, ribatezza byaldi una cosa che [...]

  18. [...] Imam bayildi (boy does this look good!) [...]

  19. lovely recipe, Hande. thanks for sharing it on twitter. i am an aubergine nut. and an even bigger nut for a recipe which comes from one’s mummy. x shayma

  20. thank you for sharing this recipe.i love turkish food.will try this asap! :)

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