Turkish food has always tantalised me, Ive had a few dishes that promised so much, but finding good Turkish restaurants is difficult in the UK and I have resorted to educating and cooking them myself at home. Isn’t that always the best way anyway! I much prefer a home cooked meal, prepared with love than something bought. I am not a good diner out-er, I rarely have a good time and seem perpetually let down by the food. This maybe due to the fact that I live in the sticks in Wales and in Spain, in the big cities, where cultures merge and intermingle, things are a very different story.
Thing is, I’ve always been more fond of food from further afield that Europe (is Turkey now a part of the ever expanding ‘Europe’, I hope not!?), maybe its the exotic element and imagery of new and distant horizons. Turkish cuisine has such bold flavours and is normally pretty simple to get together, focusing on super fresh produce and a constant flow of awesome yoghurt!
A wonderful dish this ‘Imam Bayeldi’ of Turkish origin, bursting with flavour and delicious texture. You’ve probably made something like this in the past, but its nice to get a specific origin to things, I love the heritage and tradition attached to dishes, the stories and legends behind them.
Imam Bayeldi translates as ‘the priest fainted’, according to Armenian legend, a housewife was surprised by a visit from a priest and created this dish especially (whipped it up quickly I’m sure!) At the first mouthful the priest fainted with delight!
I have been buying a few cheap as chips cook books on-line, I’m shifting slightly away from constant experimentation in the kitchen and looking at what other people are up to. The books I am buying are mainly retreat style cooking, Ayurveda and Macro-biotic influenced; I have some very cool Zen Buddhist cook books but this recipe (well most of it) came from the awesome ‘Shoshoni Cookbook’, which is a Yoga retreat up in the hills of Colorado. The food is simple, vibrant and superbly nutritious. The philosophy of cooking at Shoshoni, be ever present and immersed in your activity, constantly channeling love and good intention into your food and its preparation are essential for me in the whole wonderful food game, enjoyment! This is food charged with positive energy, cooked from a special place.
I know there are many different ways of preparing this dish, but this is my favourite. The aubergines are very tender after boiling and the light spices and herbs work very well together.
Aubergines can be grown in Britain, but only in greenhouses. We are struggling getting good local produce at the moment, so our seasonal fare is sparse. Fingers crossed this cold weather won’t hold, it’s been gloriously sunny in the days and freezing in the morning and nights. Not good for our poor plants, but makes for beautiful days walking.
You my live in a lovely part of the world where your veggies are just plain amazing and sweet. I would omit the honey and even the tomato puree in this case, with great produce, well, it speaks for itself and needs no assistance.
Yemek Keyfini! Enjoy!
Serves two quite nicely.
2 aubergine (whole), 1 onion (diced small), 3 cloves garlic (crushed), 4 tomatoes (diced small), 1 red pepper (diced small), 1/2 teas ground coriander, 1 teas cumin seeds, 1 tbsp tomato puree, 1 teas honey, 3 tbs pine nuts, 1 cup coriander (leaves and stems), 3 tbs olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper (to taste), parsley and mint (chopped for topping)
Place aubergines in a pot of boiling water, press down into the water with a lid and boil for 15 to 20 minutes until tender. Do not overcook, they have a lovely smooth texture, but the skin is fragile and breaks easily (as I learnt the hard way!) When cooked, run under cold water to chill quickly.
Split the aubergines down the centre lengthwise and gently score out the pulp and remove without piercing shells. Good luck here! Keep the skins warm somewhere of your choosing, a warm covered plate works well.
Saute your cumin seeds for two minutes, they will pop a bit, then add onion and cook until translucent, add aubergine and cook for 10 minutes or until tender, add ground coriander, tom puree, pepper, garlic, honey (if needed) and tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add some of your herbs (coriander, parsley or mint or a mix) and pine nuts, season well to taste.
Fill the warm shells with vegetables and sprinkled with some more herbs and a good drizzle of amazing olive oil. Traditionally served with Mudjedera (recipe to come soon) or cous cous.
We Love It!
A simple, tasty dish that didn’t make us faint this time, but we’ll work on it!
Aubergines have very few calories but plenty of fibre, it contains loads of the vitamin B’s and some vitamin C. It also has good levels of manganese which acts as an anti-oxidant around the body and plenty of potassium which is good for many of your parts! (nerves and heart especially).