Imam Baildi is a food that has its roots in Turkey. It took its name from the imam who baildisse (that means fainted in Turkish). There are various versions of what made him faint. Others say he liked Imam Baildi so much that he ate so much that he fainted. Others say that he fainted when he get to know how much oil was spent on cooking, as oil was very expensive at that time.
Imam Baildi has a reputation for being very heavy meal… and not unjustly as, traditionally, eggplants are fried and enough oil is added to the pan. In our vegan recipe, however, the eggplants are grilled and we use only half a cup of olive oil.
In this vegan version of Imam Baildi, we use allspice and cinnamon, spices traditionally used in Turkish cuisine. We also use the necessary parsley and few leaves of fresh basil that gives the necessary notes of freshness.
But what makes this vegan Imam Baildi incredible delicious is the crispy tofu!
You can make it without tofu, and it will be delicious too. But if you are in the process of cooking vegan Imam Baildi, please try it with tofu... you will thank us later!
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Vegan Imam Baildi with crispy tofu, allspice and cinnamon in 40 minutes (without frying)
For the vegan Imam Baildi
- 1 kg / 35 oz eggplants preferably 10 small fairytale
- 1 kg tomatoes the juice
- 4 onions
- 5 cloves garlic
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 cup fresh parsley
- 1 Tbsp fresh basil optionally
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste optionally
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp sugar unprocessed
- salt and pepper
For the tofu (optional)
- 200 g tofu 1 package of firm tofu
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice optionally
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper
Imam Baildi (Instructions)
- Score, with a knife and lengthwise, three parallel incisions in each eggplant (on the side that will be their top).
- Optionally put them in a bowl of salted water to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Lightly grease them, place them in a pan with the incisions facing up and bake on a preheated grill for 20 minutes on one side and another 5 on the other.
- At the same time, cut the onions and garlic in half and then into thin slices. Finely chop the tomatoes and finely chop the parsley (and basil if used).
- Preheat half of the olive oil (¼ of the cup) together with allspice and cinnamon in a pan, at a medium heat.
- Saute the onions for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and after 5 minutes the tomato paste and mix well.
- Add the tomato juice, salt, pepper and sugar and simmer, until you have a relatively thick sauce, for about 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, add the parsley (and basil if used) and mix well.
- Put the rest of the olive oil (¼ of the cup) in a medium pan and place the eggplants, with the incisions facing up. Press them lightly with a spoon to make them a little flat (they will take the shape of little boats). Place them next to each other. Ideally, don't left any space between the eggplants.
- Fill them with the filling that you prepared and pour all over the pan any excessive filling.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 480F (250C) degrees for 30 minutes.
- If you use tofu. Sprinkle it over the eggplants, after the first 15 minutes of baking. Then keep baking for another 15 minutes.
Tofu preparation (optional)
- Press the tofu between your palms to get rid of the most of the liquids.
- Crush it and mix it well with the other ingredients for the tofu (olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, garlic & onion powder ).
- Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
- Imam Baildi can be served slightly hot but many prefer it cold.
- You can serve it with fresh wholemeal bread and white wine.
- For the presentation we can sprinkle the vegan imam bildi with freshly chopped parsley or a few small basil leaves.
- You can use any type of eggplant we want. If they are large, cut them in half lengthwise.
- The stalks can be removed. But keeping them can help in better presentation and you can also find easily the eggplants in the pan that will have been covered with the tomato sauce.
- In order to save time:
- While cooking the aubergines, prepare the filling and the tofu.
- Put the grill to preheat 5 minutes before the eggplants are ready for cooking.
- Put the oven to preheat after adding the tomatoes in the pan.