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Imam Bayildi, or ‘The Priest Wept’ ~ Turkish Stuffed Eggplant

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Imam Bayildi, or ‘The Priest Wept’, is a Turkish stuffed eggplant recipe that makes a wonderful vegetarian meal!

I have the worst shopping habits.  My mother always tried to teach me to buy complete outfits, not random bits and pieces that happen to catch my eye.  I never listened to her, I prefer to let passion guide me, and I’ll go for the glorious but impractical color or the un-matchable paisley print every time. And of course she was right, to this day my closet is filled with more flashy (unworn) singletons than I’d care to admit…

No surprise, I grocery shop the same way.  The other day I bagged these gorgeous glossy eggplants without a clue about what I was going to do with them.

I picked up these, too.  Can you blame me?.

Several pages into a Tastespotting search for eggplant I came across a dish called Imam Bayildi, The Priest Wept — or fainted, or was exhilarated — depending on your Turkish translation.   It’s an ancient vegetarian stuffed eggplant dish made with so much olive oil that, so the stories go, the priest was either overwhelmed by the sheer amount, cost, or deliciousness of all that oil.  Probably all three.

I cut back a bit on the oil, I don’t want anyone fainting.

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2.88 from 16 votes

Imam Bayildi, ‘The Priest Wept’ (Turkish Stuffed Eggplant)


  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • pinch pf allspice
  • pinch of cardamom
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mint
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • juice from a lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • feta cheese for garnish
  • chopped pistachios for garnish


  • Set oven to 350F
  • Halve the eggplants lengthwise and cut a small section off the rounded bottoms so they will sit in the baking dish securely. Using a vegetable peeler, peel a few strips of the peel off to make a striped effect. This will allow the juices and flavors to penetrate into the eggplant better. Finally, make a slit down the center of the flesh, being careful not to cut all the way through. Lay them out in a rectangle baking dish.
  • Using a grapefruit spoon or melon baller, cut away a small amount of the flesh to make room for the filling. This step is optional, you can also just pile the filling right on top. Season the eggplant with salt, pepper, and the juice of half the lemon.
  • Halve the onion and finely slice it. Mince the garlic.
  • Heat about 1/4 cup of the oil in a pan and saute the onions and garlic for about 20 minutes, on medium low, until they are soft. Add in the allspice and cardamom.
  • Chop the tomatoes and add to a bowl along with the fresh herbs, juice of 1/2 the lemon, salt and pepper.
  • Mix the onions with the tomatoes, making sure everything is evenly combined.
  • Top each eggplant half with a mound of filling. Put any extra filling as well as 1/4 cup of water in the pan around the eggplant.
  • Drizzle the eggplant with the remaining oil.
  • Bake covered with foil for 1 hour, uncovering half way through.
  • Serve with bread to sop up the juices. This is traditionally a meze, or Mediterranean small plate.


adapted from Clifford Wright

So the moral of this story is, sometimes passion driven shopping pays off.  Now if only I could find something to go with that gold sequin tank top…


other eggplant dishes you might like:

Pasta Alla Norma, 2

Pasta Alla Norma

Creamy Baba Ganoush

Smokey Baba Ganoush


Lamb and Eggplant Tikka Masala

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    Leave a Reply

  • Reply
    September 16, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Trying the tikka first and then this – and chiffonlike palazzo pant would be awesome with that gold top….

    • Reply
      September 16, 2017 at 11:27 am


  • Reply
    Jodi Hammock
    July 29, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    I tweak this a little and the results were out of this world too so thanks for the inspiration.

    My boss challenged me to give up meat for 1 month so I have desperately searched for recipes which were not full of carbs and grains and were not boring so I came across this one. To make it a little more filling as a stand alone vegetarian entree
    I cooked Red lentils in vegetable stock, added 2 cups cooked Lentils
    Increased the cardamom and allspice just a little bit and stuffed the eggplant
    followed the remainder of the recipe and people were fighting over it!!!

    Again thanks for the inspiration!

    • Reply
      July 29, 2015 at 8:21 pm

      Great to hear — I love your tweaks!

  • Reply
    July 25, 2015 at 7:14 am

    I grocery shop the same way, whatever shiny thing catches my eye like my dog spying squirrels.
    Thanks for this recipe! I’ve added it to the Farm Fresh Feasts Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient, a resource for folks like me who love to eat from the farm share.
    I appreciate your help in making this index better!

    • Reply
      July 25, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks Kirsten, your site is such a great resource!!

  • Reply
    [email protected] n Dishes
    June 17, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    I shop the same way with eggplant, I get lured in by the pretty color and get them without a clue of what I’ll do with them. I love this recipe, not only because I’m a lover of olive oil, but also for all of the fragrant fresh herbs. I know what I’m making the next time I buy eggplant!

  • Reply
    Mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits
    April 21, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    I absolutely love stuffed eggplant and after seeing your post I’m going to have to make some very soon!

  • Reply
    The Café Sucré Farine
    April 18, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Looks amazing! Not such bad shopping habits if you have results like this! I love to buy fresh and what’s on sale – it’s always a great challenge to me to use the ingredients in creative ways – you have surely done this!

  • Reply
    April 19, 2012 at 1:12 am

    I shop that way too-it keeps everything interesting. These stuffed eggplants are just amazing looking. Wow. The colors and flavors just pop out at you.


  • Reply
    Thyme (Sarah)
    April 18, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    One of the very few dishes my mother could cook was “stuffed eggplants”. Thank goodness they were good. She would brown ground beef, mix it with tomatoes and spices and eggplant and cover them with parm. cheese. Yours look delicious!

  • Reply
    April 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Imam Bayildi looks delicious.Please forgive me to correct the translation ,Imam bayildi means the imam loveeed it sooo much.And in Turkey we traditionally fry the eggplant before stuffing and baking.Grilling before baking can be a lighter idea too.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Wow! Those pictures are beautiful…I am drooling here!Delicious eggplant recipe!

  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    i find this to be a very interesting recipe, from the name to the ingredients to the finished product. i’d love to it, that’s for sure!

  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    The universe is telling me I need to get those beautiful eggplants at the market. This is the second eggplant recipe I see today that I really wanna try. Yum!

  • Reply
    Kitchen Belleicious
    April 17, 2012 at 11:33 am

    don’t be surprised if you see me doing a shout out of this recipe to you on my site soon! I am i heaven with this one. I heart eggplant to pieces and stuffing them is just genius! Love all those flavors !YUM!

  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Gorgeous colour, who can blame you for buying them! And the final result looks so delicious. I discovered your blog recently, and it is so inspiring. I was just thinking of making Harumi Kurihara’s egg plant with miso past.

  • Reply
    The Slow Roasted Italian
    April 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I too have a closet filled with those things, although I have become more practical since my daughter was born and my husband started his company, it still lurks in me. I can’t look at a Macy’s catalog without picking the singletons.

    Your eggplant is lovely. I have several plants growing in my garden and would love to try this recipe! Bookmarking and pinning!

  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Yay, imam bayildi! This is one of my favorite things to eat at Middle Eastern restaurants–I wonder why I haven’t tried cooking it yet? Consider me kicked in the pants.

  • Reply
    Sabrina-eat.drink.and be merry.
    April 17, 2012 at 2:00 am

    gorgeous! absolutely gorgeous! sometimes its better to visit the grocery store without a list. you find ideas for yummy recipes like this one!

  • Reply
    April 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I bought two aubergines at the weekend just on the strength of how pretty they were – now I know what to do with them! This is my type of cooking – delicious x

  • Reply
    April 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I bought two aubergines at the weekend just on the strength of how pretty they were – now I know what to do with them! This is my type of cooking – delicious x

  • Reply
    April 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    yes please…i am weeping…mmmmmm

  • Reply
    April 16, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    I grocery shop the way you do too, and I always get excited when I discover new recipes like these because of it. The eggplants look fantastic.

  • Reply
    April 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Ah… eggplants are some of my favourites! In the summer I roast them, scoop the inside and process with a bit of grated onion, salt pepper and loads of olive oil, then serve on crusty bread with a side of tomato salad. It’s delicious!

  • Reply
    April 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Guilty as charged although I have been getting better about my closet. A new fruit or vegetable or simply one picked at the perfect time always catches my eye. Luckily, a singleton ingredient can find a delicious home – as evidenced by this mouth-watering dish.

  • Reply
    Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes
    April 16, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Looks delicious, I have a similar recipe from Weight Watchers – minus all the evoo! LOL!!! I like the addition of the allspice, cardamon and herbs, mine does not have that! Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

  • Reply
    Steve @ the Black Peppercorn
    April 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    oh wow! I love eggplant, especially stuffed. These look amazing and very healthy!

  • Reply
    Inside a British Mum's Kitchen
    April 16, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Oh I LOVE this type of food – full of goodness and health AND delicious – this is gorgeous (I shop your way!)
    Mary x

  • Reply
    Tricia @ saving room for dessert
    April 16, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Well don’t you know that everything goes with a gold sequin tank top!?! This looks so flavorful and seriously savory. The eggplant speaks to me and made some this past weekend. Love it! Happy packing.

  • Reply
    Jacquelyn Grandy
    April 16, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous! It’s funny but I have never cooked with eggplant. I am a bit intimidated by it and I honestly am not a big fan. I think it is one of the most beautiful vegetables though. I always take a second glance at it when I’m at the grocery store wishing I liked it more. Sigh… Maybe I should give it another try.

    I use to be the same way when it came to shopping. I would see something I loved and then bring it home to find I had nothing to go with it. Now I don’t really have that problem as jeans go with everything.

  • Reply
    April 16, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    My closet has been filled without those countless singletons for years. Why do we do that?! And we definitely know better!

    This is a gorgeous meal, Sue. I don’t like eggplant at all and I’m considering making it anyways. One of these days, it has to click for me, right?

    Have a fabulous, moving-box filled, panic free, minimal stress day. (How’s that for wishing you peace in the eye of the BUSY week?)

  • Reply
    April 16, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Haha I shop the same way…then I look in my closet and wonder how to make outfits work. No wonder it takes me so long! I don’t blame you for picking up those eggplants. They are gorgeous and this dish looks great. I order something similar at a restaurant we go to. I love eggplant for dinner!