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Stuffed Eggplant with Onion, Tomato and Fresh Herbs

Stuffed Eggplant with Onion, Tomato and Fresh Herbs

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I ran across this dish on a month-long visit to Istanbul. Eggplant was in season at the time and we were able to sample quite a few dishes that were new to me. I love traveling to places that aren’t afraid of variety, spice and flavor – Istanbul is one such place.

This dish is served room temperature or cold as a light meal or a starter. The name of the dish in Turkish, Imam Bayildi, translates literally to “the Imam fainted,” presumably due to happiness. That gives you an idea of how wonderful it is.

The other version of the story is that the Imam fainted after he learned that his new wife used up all of the expensive olive oil they received for their wedding by making this dish several days in a row (his favorite).

Olive oil in this recipe is it used for poaching the eggplant. The practice of poaching vegetables in Turkish cuisine are known as zeytinyagli dishes. In this case “Zeyitinyagali Patlican Dolmasi.”

Some versions of the recipe ask for 1/2 cup of olive oil or more – this is a slimmed down version, replacing some of the poaching liquid with more water instead. 

Stuffed Eggplant is a very typical addition to a Turkish Mezze (appetizer) platter.  

In Istanbul, when you arrive at a restaurant it isn’t long before the waiter comes along with a tray of mezze samples to order and enjoy with friends. It’s one of my favorite ways to eat. Here are a few addition Turkish recipe ideas to create a mezze appetizer platter at home.

And a few additional eggplant recipes you might enjoy:

Stuffed Eggplant with Onion, Tomato and Fresh Herbs

Stuffed Eggplant with Onion and Tomato

Poached Eggplant Stuffed with Onion, Tomato and Fresh Herb



  1. Place the onion slices in a bowl with the salt. Roughly squeeze them between your fingers until they become limp.
  2. Add the garlic, sumac, red pepper flakes, honey, fresh herbs, tomatoes and tomato paste to the onions and mix thoroughly.
  3. Prepare the eggplant for stuffing
  4. Wash and dry the eggplants. Using a sharp knife, cut off the leaves but leave the white stem core. Place each eggplant on the table to gauge where they will lie flat.
  5. On the opposite surface peel off a ribbon of the skin, being careful to allow about 1/2 inch of skin intact on each end.
  6. Remove the white part of the flesh under the slice to expose the seeds. Score the inside of the eggplant without piercing the skin.
  7. Now press the white flesh inside the eggplant with your thumbs, being careful not to puncture the skin. This will create a cavity for stuffing.
  8. Eggplant with cavity for stuffing
  9. Brush them with olive oil and then place the eggplant in a 400 degree oven and bake until the skin starts to blacken (about 20 minutes).
  10. Allow them to cool and drain (opening side down) for 20 minutes.
  11. Stuff each eggplant with the onion/tomato mixture pressing it in firmly. Place the eggplants side by side in a sauce pan so that they fill the space inside.
  12. Heap additional stuffing on top of each one. Drizzle them with the olive oil.
  13. Fill the pan with water until it reaches 1/2 way up the side of the eggplants.
  14. Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer. Cover the dish and allow it to cook for 45 minutes, basting with the cooking liquid occasionally.
  15. Continue to cook until the onions become translucent (this could be 1 hour or more).
  16. Allow the pan to cool. You can remove the eggplant and serve them each on individual plates when they are room temperature. But if you can wait they will have more flavor if you keep them in the sauce pan overnight and serve them cold the next day.

Pin the recipe for later:

Stuffed Eggplant

Other related stories about Travel in Istanbul that you might enjoy:





Mel @

Monday 12th of October 2015

This stuffed eggplant looks delicious. I would love it served with fresh, crusty bread for dinner, or as part of a mezze platter. Yum!


Monday 12th of October 2015

Isn't any dinner better with some good crusty bread?

Stella @ Stellicious Life

Tuesday 6th of October 2015

I LOVE to stuff my vegetables and then bake them in the oven. Every week I try to have it once, be it squash, sweet potato, zucchini or eggplant. Interesting how you stuffed it, I usually just cut it in half and spoon out the middle :-)


Monday 5th of October 2015

I love stuffed eggplant. In Turkey, they are everywhere, with many different versions. They are gloriously rich. Yum.

Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy

Friday 2nd of October 2015

Eggplant is one of those veggies that you love or hate. I never used to like it, but have been experimenting with it and it now has become a fav in our house.


Monday 12th of October 2015

Same here - so surprised that it is now one of our favorites too.

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