The Turks' Favorite Eggplant Dishes

Eggplant dishes

Turkish cuisine presents a unique symbiosis of different tastes and ingredients. Vegetables take a prime spot in it, which besides as a garnish often serve as a separate dish. A shining example of a traditional Turkish dish is imambayalda - eggplants stuffed with onions, tomatoes and garlic.

Imambayalda

Ingredients: 5 eggplants, 1 bunch parsley, 2 cups oil, 1/5 cup olive oil, 3 garlic cloves, 5 tomatoes, 5 green peppers, 5 onion heads, lemon juice, sugar for sprinkling.

Preparation: Remove the green part of the eggplants' stems. Peel their skins into strips. Make a cut lengthwise down the middle of the eggplants. Salt them, soak them in water for 10 min.

Chop the onions into strips. Peel the tomatoes and chop them finely along with the peppers. Chop the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a deep pot. Braise the onions and garlic in it. Once they soften, add the peppers and tomatoes. Leave them to saute for 1-2 min., then sprinkle with the salt. Add 1 cup of water and saute another 20-25 min. with a lid on. Strain the juice and set it aside. Sprinkle the ready vegetables with parsley and stir.

Imambayalda

Heat the oil in a separate pot. Braise the eggplants until golden, then take them out onto napkins to drain away the fat.

Arrange the drained eggplants in a suitable rectangular tray. Open them up along the cuts and sprinkle with salt and sugar. Pour on the lemon juice and stuff them with the veggies.

Cover the stuffed eggplants with slices of green peppers and tomatoes. Pour on the strained vegetable sauce from earlier and put them in the oven. Bake 20-25 min. at 356°F (180 °C). Eat the imambayalda cooled.

Then of course, the recipe for moussaka is among the most characteristic of the Balkan Peninsula. It's no wonder then that in Turkey they make it with their beloved eggplants, generous amounts of meat and tomatoes.

Turkish Moussaka

Ingredients: 3.5 lb eggplants, 4 tbsp butter, 3 onion heads, 17.5 oz lamb mince, 1 bunch parsley, 21 oz tomatoes, 2 green peppers, 2 red peppers, salt, black pepper.

Preparation: Peel the eggplants into strips and cut them into round slices. Sprinkle them with salt and leave them aside.

Moussaka

Cut the onions into strips and braise them in half the butter. Add the mince and stir until half the grease evaporates. Season the mixture with salt and black pepper to taste. Peel half the tomatoes, chop them finely and add them to the mix. Let them boil for 5-6 min.

Rub the salt off the eggplants, dry them and braise them in the remaining butter. Arrange them tightly along the bottom of an oven dish. Mix the mince with the chopped parsley and lay it on top of the eggplants. Arrange the peppers and remaining tomatoes, roundly sliced, on top.

Pour 4-5 tbsp of hot water over the moussaka, cover it with a lid or foil and bake in a preheated 356°F (180 °C) oven for 20 min. Remove the lid and finish baking the dish for another 10 min.

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