Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Imam Bayildi, Arto Der Haroutunian recipe

Stuffed - pre baking
I have a lovely book on vegetarian Middle Eastern cookery by Arto Der Haroutunian.  One of the thing I love about the book is the little stories that accompany every recipe.  One tells me that a Persian proverb is "Even the worm in the rock dreams of fresh herbs"!  Another tells the story of the name of this dish - "the imam fainted" due to its deliciousness.

I've always wanted to try it but it's quite fiddly so it's taken me a little while to get around to it.

Mighty Aubergines!
 The recipe involves frying up onions, green peppers, tomatoes, garlic with paprika, salt and black pepper slowly with lots of olive oil.  You then put a slit in each aubergine and fry them in 250 ml of oil.  This was where I got a bit stuck.  Much as I love this cookbook, one thing it's a bit short on are detailed instructions.

In this case, it told me "fry the aubergine until the flesh has started to soften".  Clearly, it starts to soften almost immediately!  When you stop really depends on how much softening counts as softening!  

Stuffed - pre baking

Eventually, I went for frying them for about 15 mins, when the outer flesh was soft but the aubergines were still not completely cooked.  You then open up the slits a bit, stuff them with the onion/pepper mixture, then bake for an hour with some water to cover the bottom of the dish.

Stuffed - pre baking
Overall verdict:  pretty damn tasty.  But:
  • this recipe is realy quite faffy compared to some others and I'm slightly dubious as to whether it's really quite worth it..
  • because, unlike some other recipes, this recipe doesn't involve scooping out any of the inside flesh of the aubergine, the resulting dish involves quite large chunks of aubergine flesh - which tastes nice but ended up very undersalted as there wasn't really a way to salt it and aubergine really needs salt to taste really good.

I think the stuffing was the best bit - the slow frying suggested by the recipe and the sheer quantity of olive oil involved made it gorgeous. I might just stop there next time!

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