This is the Turkish name for a dish that is also very common in Greek cuisine. There are many foods that are debated over whether it is originally Greek or Turkish, but of course it is difficult to determine because of the 400 year occupation and the population exchange. Probably the only positive aspect of this terrible aspect of history, was one very big recipe swap.
The Greek name for stuffed eggplants is “papoutsakia” which also translates as shoes. But regardless of what you call this, it is a wonderful vegetarian delight. The combination of olive oil, eggplant, onions, and tomatoes melting in your mouth together is really delicious. The key is to really cook your eggplant so it is soft and literally melting in your mouth.
The imam is the Turkish religious leader, and legend holds that when he was served this dish he fainted from the aroma and flavor. But some even speculate that he swooned from the large amount of olive oil that is typically used.
Stuffed Eggplants – serves 4 half sizes2 eggplants, aubergines
1 lg. or 2 small white onions, sliced thinly1-2 mushrooms, chopped (optional)
About 1/4 – 1/2 cup of Greek olive oil
1-2 tomatoes, pulped and strained, or 1/2 can chopped tomatoesPinch of sugar and cinnamon
1-2 garlic cloves, finely diced or pressed
2-3 T. finely chopped parsley
2 T. breadcrumbs1 tsp. Greek oregano
Salt and pepper
Wash eggplants well and slice evenly down middle, but not breaking through the base skin. If using medium – large eggplants, score or slice again on both sides of the middle, creating 1/2″ – 1″ thick slices of eggplant.
Sprinkle salt inside each side of the eggplants, and turn over and let drain for half an hour/ or soak in a salt water bath. The salt releases the bitter juices from the eggplant and will make the taste much better, do not skip this step. Preheat oven to 350° F. (180° C.). Rinse the eggplant with fresh water, drizzle the insides generously with oil, then place the eggplants under the broiler and cook until soft, about 20-25 minutes. Remove until cool enough to handle, then remove the eggplant flesh leaving a boat-like holder. Chop the eggplant flesh and set aside. If needed, re-oil the insides of the eggplants and place again under the broiler. Heat enough olive oil in a large pan to saute the sliced onions until translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Add the chopped eggplant flesh and tomatoes with the pinches of sugar and cinnamon; cook until everything is tender and incorporated, about 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper and simmer for another 5 minutes. Then, remove pan from heat and allow mixture to cool slightly. Place the eggplant “shoes” into a baking dish lightly oiled. Carefully fill each eggplant “shoe” with a generous portion of the mixture, being careful not to tear the eggplant skins. Once the eggplants have been filled, pour any remaining oil from the frying pan over everything, and add a little hot water to the dish (1/4 – 1/2 cup). Sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top of each stuffed eggplant and place pan in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until very, very tender.
Best served warm or room temperature with feta cheese or tzatziki.
Some people like to also add sliced peppers or carrots to the filling, while others just increase the amount of onions for a sweeter filling. Use the ingredients that suite your taste best or try them all to determine what you do and don’t like
Whatever you choose to fill it with, I highly recommend serving it with tzatziki, the classic and most popular Greek sauce is a perfect accompaniment to this wonderful dish.