The Imam Fainted with Meat (Etli İmam Bayıldı)

The name of this dish is very interesting. I really do not know the story behind its name, however ‘İmam’ means a ‘Muslim religious leader’ and ‘Bayıldı’ means ‘Fainted’. Some people say because the İmam ate this dish and it was so delicious that he fainted and some say he fainted when he saw the prices of olive oil used in this dish and etc. Wherever the name came from, this dish will really give an intense pleasure to your taste buds. In most parts of Turkey, this dish is made without meat and served cold due to it being cooked in olive oil. Where I grew up, this dish is made with meat and served hot. Even though I prefer to cook vegetables without meat in general, I choose to make this dish with meat.

8 medium eggplants (the smaller kind)
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion (chopped)
4 ripe tomatoes (peeled and diced)
7 cloves garlic (3 chopped & 4 sliced)
½ cup olive oil
1 long green pepper or bell pepper (sliced)
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the eggplants, cut the stems and peel them in stripes (about 1 inch stripes). They will have one purple stripe and one yellowish (the peeled part) stripe. Slit the eggplant lengthwise in 4 pieces without detaching the top portion. The eggplant should have four long pieces that are attached at the stem. Fry the eggplants partially in the olive oil. You should only fry them a few minutes just so that they are a little soft; they will be cooked again. Remove from heat and let cool.

Use the same olive oil used for frying to sautee the chopped garlic and onions. If the olive oil is all used up add a couple table spoons more to the pan. Add the ground beef once the onions are transparent. Cook until the beef is no longer pink. Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper adjusted to your taste. Remove from heat. Take each eggplant, gently open it and stuff with the meat mixture. Arrange in a large pot. Do the same process until all the eggplants are used up. If you have extra mixture left, spread that on top of the arranged eggplants in the pot. Place the sliced peppers on top and pour the one cup water. Add some more salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Then simmer for 20 minutes on low heat. Serve warm.

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