"When I was a kid, my mother cooked something different every night. She made a lot of great French and Mediterranean dishes." Graduate student Mark Warhaft has inherited a discriminating palate and love of food from his mother, Winnipeg Free Press restaurant critic Marion Warhaft. He entertains frequently, specializing in Thai food, and for the past two years has operated a very successful food booth at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. "I love her Imam Bayeldi. It's great, and I've been trying to get her to write down her recipe for years." Imam Bayeldi, a robust Turkish dish of tomatoes and eggplant, is a terrific accompaniment for barbecued chicken, burgers or kabobs. It's also a sensational and easy make-ahead starter to enjoy with pita or crusty bread.
- Portion size 10 servings
For large eggplant, trim stem; cut lengthwise into quarters. Make 4 slits the length of each quarter, through the flesh almost to skin. For small eggplant, leave whole and slit lengthwise almost through. Sprinkle with salt, place in colander, cover with plate and weigh down with heavy can. Let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
Meanwhile, in heavy skillet, heat half of the oil over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic, stirring often, until light golden and translucent, 12 to 15 minutes. Add tomatoes, currants, allspice and pepper; cook until most moisture has evaporated, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley.
In large skillet, heat half of the remaining oil over medium-high heat; cook eggplant on both sides until lightly browned, about 8 minutes, adding oil as necessary. Remove and place in one layer, skin side down, in 13- x 9-inch (3.5 L) baking dish. Spoon tomato mixture into slits in eggplant, mounding the remainder over top. Pour in tomato juice. Cover tightly with foil; bake in 325°F (160°C) oven, basting eggplant periodically with pan juices for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 20 minutes longer or until eggplant is fork-tender and pan juices have thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Let cool before serving.