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EGGPLANTS IN TURKISH CUISINE

A Flavorful Journey


The eggplant, also known as aubergine in France and the United Kingdom, melanzane in Italy, brinjal in India, and patlican in Turkey, is grown all over the world. It is a plant species from the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Other nightshades include tomatoes, bell peppers, chillies, tomatillos, physalis, potatoes, goji berries and huckleberries.


If there's one ingredient that's loved by many in Turkish cuisine, it's eggplants. Eggplants are versatile and flavorful vegetables that are used in a variety of dishes. From appetizers to main courses, eggplants play a significant role in Turkish cuisine. Lets take a closer look at eggplant and its place in Turkish cuisine.


The eggplant is a staple across Turkey due to its availability, and how easy it is to grow. It has been said that Turkish people have over 100 different recipes for this versatile vegetable.

Although people classify eggplants as a vegetable across the globe, their botanical definition classes them as a berry.


Texture and Flavor

Eggplants have a unique texture that's soft and creamy yet slightly chewy. When cooked, they have a mild, slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with bold spices and herbs. Turkish cuisine showcases the versatility of eggplant by using it in different ways. It's commonly roasted, grilled, or fried and can be served hot or cold.


The absorbent, sponge-like flesh of the eggplant makes it the ideal vegetable to soak up all the flavors of the other ingredients in a dish.


Turkish cuisine throughout the whole country varies dependent upon the area. Bursa, Istanbul, Izmir and the remaining Asia Minor regions’ diet derives from the era of the Ottoman court cuisine.

The food isn’t as heavily spiced as in other areas of the country, and due to the wider availability of vegetables, stews and stewed vegetables, such as this imam bayildi recipe, are popular feasts.


One of the most popular eggplant dishes in Turkish cuisine is "imam bayildi," which translates to "the imam fainted." Legend has it that an imam (a Muslim religious leader) fainted from the deliciousness of this dish when he first tasted it. It's a vegetarian dish made with eggplants stuffed with onions, tomatoes, and garlic, then simmered in olive oil until tender. The dish is typically served cold, and the flavors of the eggplant, tomato, and garlic meld together beautifully to create a flavor explosion in your mouth.



Alongside imam bayildi, there are a number of other eggplant-based recipes prominent across Turkey such as baba ghanoush, or kyopolou, which is a creamy dip (sometimes referred to as a salad), made from charred eggplant, bell peppers and tomatoes cooked with garlic and olive oil. Turkish eggplant with yogurt (patlicanly yogurtlama) is another popular dish in Turkey, and it is the perfect appetizer for a Turkish banquet.



Conclusion

Eggplants are a staple in Turkish cuisine, and for a good reason. They offer a unique texture and flavor that's complemented by the aromas of the spices and herbs used in Turkish cooking. Whether roasted, grilled, or fried, eggplants are a versatile vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes. And if you're looking to try one of the most popular eggplant dishes in Turkish cuisine, give "imam bayildi" a try. Who knows, you might even faint from the deliciousness of it!




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