THE GLUTTON’S IMAM BAYILDI

Each edition, our resident foodies go head to head with their take on a different ingredient. This time, the humble eggplant/aubergine. This flavoursome Turkish curry will give your taste buds a treat.


Don’t let the lengthy list of ingredients for this Turkish delight put you off – all those flavours combine to create a taste that will leave you purring. Literally meaning “the imam fainted”, the dish allegedly derives its name from a tale of a Turkish imam who swooned with pleasure at the flavour. With the addition of some succulent and spicy roast lamb, this curry is a comforting dish to satiate the taste buds.

To serve, I like to tumble slices of the lamb on top of spoonsful of the imam bayildi, before dolloping on some delightful dressing and serving with flatbreads. Delicious!

Ingredients:

Roast Lamb

2 lamb rumps

Juice of ¾ of a lemon

Salt

6 sprigs of thyme

Marinade

250g natural yoghurt

4 red chillies

4 cloves of garlic (finely grated or crushed)

1 tbsp roasted cumin seeds

Imam Bayildi

1 ½ tbsp cumin seeds

1 ½ tbsp cumin seeds

1 ½ tbsp ground turmeric

10 cardamom pods

1 aubergine/eggplant (diced into 1cm cubes)

4 garlic cloves (finely grated or crushed)

6 tomatoes (into eight)

125ml olive oil

Dressing

175g natural yoghurt

2in length of cucumber (finely diced)

A handful of mint leaves

Flatbreads

200g self-raising flour

Juice of ¼ of a lemon

1 tsp coriander leaves (finely chopped)

1 tsp fennel seeds (crushed)

Splash of olive oil

Water to bind

Method:

Score the fat side of the lamb. This will prevent the meat from shrinking and allows the delicious flavours of the marinade to permeate into the meat. Rub the salt (sea salt is best), lemon juice and thyme into the meat and set aside for around 15 minutes.

Whilst the meat is tenderising, prepare the marinade. Place the yoghurt, chillies, garlic and cumin into a food processor and blend. Transfer to a large bowl and add the lamb when ready, making sure to turn it until it is fully coated. Place the bowl into the fridge and leave to marinade for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 8.

In a deep frying pan, heat 25ml of olive oil before adding the cumin, coriander, cardamom and turmeric. Gently fry for two minutes so that the spices can infuse the oil. Add the aubergine, tomatoes, garlic and a further 100ml of olive oil. The aubergine acts like a delicious sponge and will need plenty of oil, so don’t be shy! Leave the imam bayildi to cook gently for 50 minutes. Season with salt and a little pepper once cooked.

Whilst the curry simmers away, splash a little olive oil on to a griddle pan and crank the heat up. Add the lamb and sear for 5 minutes on each side; when you turn the lamb pour any remaining marinade on top of it. Transfer the lamb to a tray and place in the top of the oven to roast for 35 minutes. Alternatively, you can place the lamb and the marinade in an ovenproof dish, cover with foil and slow cook overnight at a low temperature.

To make the flatbreads, grab a bowl and mix all the ingredients together to form a dough. Separate into 6 pieces and roll the dough into small circles, making sure the breads are quite thin. Dry fry each in a large frying pan for 2 minutes on each side. These can be made in advance and reheated.

For the dressing, simply add the cucumber and the mint to the yogurt and mix well.

Tuck in and enjoy!

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