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Imam Bayildi

(Makes 4 stuffed halves)

Legend has it that this dish acquired its name because it caused the Turkish Imam to faint through pure pleasure. Great served warm but some say best enjoyed at room temperature the next day, which makes it a perfect BBQ side dish, easily prepared in advance. Make a meal out of it by serving alongside grilled harissa lamb cutlets and tzatziki, with a simple couscous or flatbreads to soak up all the beautiful flavours.

blog 2Heat oven to 180C. Slice 2 aubergines in half lengthways, score through the flesh deeply then brush with oil and season with salt. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes (until the flesh is soft enough to scoop out and dice).blog 4Finely chop 1 brown onion and fry in 2 tbsp of oil for a few minutes, add 1 finely diced red pepper and fry until softened then 4 minced garlic cloves for an extra few minutes.blog 6Add 1 tsp of sugar, ½ tsp ground cinnamon and ½ tsp of smoked paprika and fry for a minute or 2 then deseed and chop the flesh of 2 beef tomatoes and add to the pan with the diced aubergine flesh and 1 handful of chopped parsley, simmer for long enough for the flavours to amalgamate (a good 5-10 minutes). blog 1

Place your aubergine shells into a shallow baking dish then spoon in your filling, drizzle with oil and bake for about 20 minutes until the edges start to brown. To serve, toast a handful of pine nuts and scatter over the top with chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon.

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