In the world today it’s doubtful any more than one song exists where the subject and title is Eggplant. A quick Google search reveals that yes there is indeed more than one song with Eggplant in the title like ‘The Eggplant That Ate Chicago’. The band Train also has a song called Eggplant and there are a band-names like ‘My Eggplant Died Yesterday’ and ‘Kenny Young and the Eggplants’. The search also indicates resoundingly by far and above the most well-known Eggplant song of all is ‘Eggplant’ by Michael Franks from the album Art Of Tea.
I heard this song in remix form recently after not hearing it for years, then quite annoyingly remained in my head for a few days afterwards. Anyone familiar with the lyrics would know the chorus suggesting his girlfriend cooks it up ‘about nine-teen different ways and he sometimes has it raw with Mayonnaise’? More Googling reveals indeed this is a way some people consume it, raw with mayonnaise on a sandwich. (Perhaps they got the idea from the song?) Eggplant, whether it be roasted, fried or Baba Ganoushed is a vegetable unsurpassed with its sweet, cooked flavours and melt-in-your-mouth texture. Raw is just not an option.
I recently performed in Yamba with the Bushwackers, where we were fortunate enough to experience the cooking of Sevtap Yüce. Turkish born, she now owns her own restaurant in Yamba where the menu is a creative mix and modern slant on traditional Turkish recipes. Being so impressed with the food I buy her cookbook full of treasures ‘Turkish Flavours’ and there she was in the open kitchen to sign it for me too with a smile to match as big as her flavoursome, generous cooking.
I consult Sevtaps’ cookbook for Eggplant dishes and discover Imam Bayildi – which translates to ‘The Priest Fainted’. Some say he fainted because the dish tasted so good and others because of the amount of expensive olive oil used. I’ve never fainted because a dish tasted so good, quite the opposite. And with no shortage of Olive Oil thanks to Adina Vineyard decide to attempt this dish.
There appears to be more than one way of approach with many variables of ingredients right down to the initial preparation of the Eggplant. Being a bit trepidatious as to peeling Eggplant correctly I consult YouTube to find out how to, someone must know. And there I find ‘The Imam’ with his recipe and how-to. It’s in Turkish with no sub-titles, but make a note of it all just the same, hoping that I haven’t added salt instead of sugar. There is a green vegetable added, and I can’t recognise it so go with Septavs addition of green capsicum at this point.
Here is the Imam at work himself and the secondary inspiration for this recipe combined with Sevtaps, and a few of my own additions.
Imam Bayildi – Stuffed Roasted Eggplants
1 Large Eggplant (or 3 smaller aubergines) trimmed, peeled, scored, halved and salted in a colander
1 Cup Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, sliced thinly
1 Brown Onion, chopped
1 Green Capsicum, diced
2 Ripe Tomatoes, scored, blanched, peeled and chopped
1/2 Litre Water
Bunch of Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 Clove Garlic, minced
2 Large Green Chillis split lengthways, de-seeded and de-membraned
1) Pre-heat Oven to 170 Degrees C. Fry onions in half the oil over medium heat for a few minutes
2) Add Capsicum and Tomato. Sprinkle liberally with Salt, let sizzle a bit then add water
3) Let boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for twenty minutes
4) Push slivers of garlic inside scored eggplant
5) Fry eggplant in rest of oil till golden on all sides, remove and drain on paper towels till cool then place in a roasting tin
6) Add parsley, minced garlic and lemon juice to tomato mixture, turn off heat
7) Drain veg mix through a colander, reserving liquid.
8) Dig a well in each cooled eggplant, making sure the skin below is left intact and evenly scoop in veg mixture
9) Top with half a large green chilli (pictured) secured with a toothpick and a sprinkle of slithered almonds
10) Pour reserved liquid around (not over) eggplants, cover and bake 40 minutes.
1 Clove Garlic
1 Cup Greek Yoghurt
Ground Garlic and Sea Salt in a Mortar and Pestle to paste consistency
Fold into the Greek Yoghurt
I served this on top of prepared red quinoa, Garlic yoghurt (also by Sevtap) a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and a squeeze of lemon juice. It tasted so good I nearly fainted 🙂