imam bayaldi, but not
Imam bayaldi means the sultan fainted. It's an eggplant dish made by stewing eggplant in loads of olive oil. This eggplant is not stewed, it is breaded and shallow fried, but it will still make a sultan faint from delight.
¼ cup of white sugar
¼ cup of white vinegar
10 cherry tomatoes
1 small red chili
1 clove of garlic
salt to taste
1 tsp anchovy paste
fried egg plant
1 large purple eggplant or 2 narrow Japanese eggplant
1 cup of all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten with 1 Tbsp water
2 cups of panko bread crumbs
Olive oil, enough to fill a shallow pan or with 2 cm of oil
3 big sprigs of fresh oregano
3 sprigs of curly parsley
10 sage leaves
lots of salt
Choosing the right eggplant is crucial. It should feel very light, hard to the touch with a super tight unblemished skin. Eggplant comes in all shapes, sizes and colours. From little bulbs the size of a chicken egg, to the long Japanese variety to the big long purple kind. Their colours range from pure white to black with purple marbled being the most pretty to look at.
The Japanese eggplants tend to be the best for flavour but if you can get the big purple kind super fresh, they have the best texture.
Get the sugar and vinegar into a medium sized pot over maximum heat. When the sugar dissolves add the tomatoes. Reduce the heat and put a lid on it. Cook until the tomatoes split open, about 5 minutes.
In a blender combine the chili pepper, garlic, anchovy paste and a good pinch of salt. Pour the hot tomatoes into the blender. Put the lid on the blender but remove the center cap from the blender lid and put a dry tea towel on top so the steam pressure doesn’t pop your top.
Start your blender on low and build up the speed to high until you get a smooth sauce. Pour it all back into the pot, every last drop.
Simmer on low for 20 minutes to thicken and reduce.
Refrigerate for up to a week or use it hot right away.
Bread the eggplant sticks before guests arrive.
Peel the eggplant and slice it into ¾-inch rounds. Cut the rounds into batons, about ¾-inch square, don’t worry about the rounded or tapered edges.
Get two 1L containers with lids, the clear kind from a restaurant supply store or an empty yogurt container.
Flour in the first container, then eggs in the next. Bread crumbs work best in a shallow bowl. Also, have a final plate where you can pile up the breaded eggplant.
Put a few batons in the flour container, get a lid on and shake the container really well. Move the batons to the egg mix, but make sure you knock off any excess flour. Shake them in the eggs with the lid on. Transfer them to the panko and press the crumbs in really well. Now pile them up on the plate and continue until they are all breaded. Leave them uncovered in the fridge for up to 2 hours. Which is great for making ahead.
When it is time to fry.
Get a medium sized pot over low heat. Pour in the olive oil to heat up. Put the fresh herbs into the cold oil to infuse as it warms up. As the oil heats up, the fresh herbs will start to sizzle. This tells you the oil is hot enough to fry the eggplant.
When the sizzling slows down the herbs will be crispy and can be removed with a slotted spoon and placed on a paper towel lined plate or baking sheet. They will crisp up as they cool.
Keep the temperature at a relatively low frying temperature of 300˚F.
Put a single layer of breaded eggplant into the oil. Don’t crowd the pan, leave space for them to fry. These will take a while to crisp up on low heat, but it is important not to cook them quickly. Roll them over to evenly brown all sides. When evenly golden, remove them with a slotted spoon or some tongs and place them on the paper towel plate. Season with salt immediately as they come out of the oil.
Keep frying in batches until they are all done. Serve hot with tomato jam and the little crispy herbs.