Tag Archives: Armenia

Recipe: Authentic Imam Bayildi Armenian style

I am married to a tall, dark and (I think) handsome man, he gets his olive skinned good looks from his Dads side of the family and he is half Armenian, meaning the small boy is one quarter Armenian. I have no hint of interesting ancestry on my side of the family so I have wholeheartedly embraced some parts of Armenian culture. If I’m honest it’s the bits which involve food.

Armenian food is very Mediterranean, you can find very similar food in Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. They do beautiful things with vegetables, so I’m sharing my favourite vegetarian Armenian recipe Imam Bayildi, I hope you like it.

Imam Bayildi is basically stuffed, baked aubergines. They’re simple to make, you can prepare them ahead of time and then cook them when you need them and they are melt in the mouth gorgeous. I like to use good quality ingredients in this recipe as every single mouthful zings flavour. Fresh vegetables are essential and Cirio Tomato fillets are ideal, full of flavour and a little does go a long way.

Imam Bayildi Imam Bayildi – Armenian Style (serves four)

Ingredients:
2 aubergines
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced (I prefer red, but a white onion works too)
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 green pepper, finely diced
Half a can of Cirio tomato fillets
Big handful of chopped parsley
1 teaspoon of sugar
Salt & pepper

Method:
1. Cut the top off each aubergine, slice it in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh, leaving an aubergine boat, leave a little of the aubergine flesh around the skin so it can help retain its structural integrity while in the oven. Griddle the aubergine halves on a high heat until they have a little bit of char, then put in a baking dish so they are snuggled up close to each other, this will help them keep their shape in the oven.
2. Chop up the aubergine flesh and fry gently in the olive oil, while that is cooking (stir frequently) chop and add the onion and peppers to the pan. Cook until they are all soft and then add your crushed garlic cloves and half a tin of Cirio tomato fillets.
3. Season well and add your sugar, cook and stir regularly until most of the liquid has evaporated and all of the vegetables are cooked and soft. Stir through the chopped parsley (reserving a small amount to garnish with later).
3. Carefully spoon the tomato and vegetable mixture into the aubergine skins. Add two tablespoons of water to the baking dish to help the aubergines to cook. Bake for 30 minutes at 200c.
4. Once cooked serve with salad, rice or bulgar wheat, maybe some pitta bread.

Imam Bayildi

We love Imam Bayildi, it’s a regular meal for us, really flavoursome and healthy as well as being a traditional Armenian meal. I’m ticking all of the good wife boxes here.

I like to use Cirio tomato fillets because the quality of the tomatoes, the juice is really thick and you can tell by the colour, texture and flavour of the raw ingredient that anything you make with them will be delicious. They are especially good in my Imam Bayildi, a meal we all enjoyed as a family.

Note: I was sent some Cirio tomato products to try out in some of my recipes. All images, opinions and recipes are my own.

My Armenian Boy

When I started seeing husband Hodge in 1995 I knew he was tall, dark and handsome and had a funny surname. I also knew he was adoring with excellent taste in music and ultimately that he was my soulmate. The fact that he was half Armenian mattered not a jot. I just didn’t and don’t like his (now our) surname, no one can say it or spell it correctly and it just marks us out as extra different.

He wasn’t brought up in a household teeming with Armenian culture. His father would take him to his church and out for the occasional traditional meal but that was pretty much as far as it went.

When Hodge became mine, I was keen that he try and keep some of the ties to his roots, his heritage is now our heritage and that of our son. Knowing that the way to his heart is through his stomach and that young Splodge shares similar culinary tastes, we have regular Armenian nights where I cook from an amazing cookbook called “The Armenian Table” by Victoria Jenanyan-Wise, which I treated myself to a few years ago (I have an obsession with cookbooks, our bookshelves groan with them).

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It’s a brilliant cookbook which I probably would’ve loved anyway. Armenian food is similar to Greek, Turkish and Persian cuisine and big hits from the book include lamb kufta, Armenian salads, stuffed aubergines and Armenian pilaf rice. I did mean to cook up a meal for this blog but time ran away from me, but I will blog one of our Armenian nights in the future.

It is important to us that Splodge understands his heritage and what a contrast his lucky first world life is compared to the hardships faced by large numbers of Armenian families. We regularly send packages of warm clothing and essentials to needy families via Oxfam and it’s important Splodge is involved in that process.

In Manchester we are lucky enough to have access to the Armenian church and the wonderful friends within it, although we rarely attend, it is still a vital connection to the past. We also regularly visit the Armenian Taverna in the city centre for meals and we love (seriously love) Armenique which is a fantastic deli in Gatley which we visit often (do try it, it is amazing).

Apart from our ridiculous surname, I do enjoy being part of a slightly multicultural family. It seems that all of our friends families are made up from descendants of first, second and third generation immigrants from all over the world. So I don’t feel any different to anyone else. Apart from the daft name.