Saturday, June 6, 2015

International Cooking Challenge: Turkey - Imam Bayildi & Lahmacun (with Bonus Dates stuffed with Almond paste)

We love Turkish food.  For Mother's Day, we went a local Turkish restaurant for dinner.  I knew I wanted to cook some Turkish food in honor of our International Cooking Challenge.

While I was looking for recipes, I found this delicious looking eggplant recipe on NPR - Imam Bayilda, which  translates to "the priest fainted" because it was so tasty... that's a good recommendation!

I also wanted to make a version of Lahmacun, a Turkish take on pizza.  Yum and yum.

The Lahmacun especially is a keeper - we'll make this again.  I used a shortcut and made the pizzas on Middle eastern flatbread, so it was very quick.

I loved the Imam Bayilda, and the kids ate it, but I don't know if it would be a repeat dish.  It is worth trying, especially if you like eggplant.

I also make some dates stuffed with almond paste with some orange blossom water and a little cinnamon.. then read the recipe was Moroccan.  Oops.  I was the only one in the family who liked them, which was disappointing to me.  I'll bring some to work... they'll get gobbled up quickly, for sure!

Imam Bayilda
(modified from

2 eggplants
8 Tbsp olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 large yellow onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, crushed
3 Tbsp dill
3 Tbsp parsley
3 Tbsp basil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Halve eggplants lengthwise.  Brush with just a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Preheat grill pan and cook, cut side down, for about 5 minutes (working in batches)  Place in large baking pan, cut side up.

Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl, then scoop on top of the eggplant.   Bake for 40-60 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened.

(modified from

8 pieces Middle Eastern flatbread (you could make your own - see original recipe)

2 Tbsp ghee or butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef or ground lamb (I used beef - lamb would be delicious)
1 tomato, chopped
2 c parsley, chopped
1 tsp ground sumac (optional)
1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Melt ghee in a saute pan.  Add onions and garlic and cook over medium high heat until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. 

Stir in the ground meat and cook until browned.  Cook with the tomatoes, parsley, and spices for an additional 3 minutes.  Scoop on top of flatbread and bake for about 12 minutes, or until slightly crispy around the edges. 

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