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Aubergines Turkish Style (Imam Bayildi)

ingredients

2 long, thin aubergines, each weighing approx. 14 oz (400 g)
4 medium-sized onions
4 small green peppers
1/2 green chilli pepper
approx. 1 1/4 lb (600 g) large ripe tomatoes
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp chopped parsley
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp caster sugar
salt and pepper

method

1. Rinse the aubergines and cut off both ends. Slice lengthwise in half. Use a potato peeler to peel two strips along each half, leaving a strip of skin nearest the cut edges and along the middle.

2. Make 3 or 4 deep lengthwise cuts along the inner, cut side of each half where the flesh is at its thickest. Sprinkle with salt and leave at an angle in a colander to allow the bitter juices to drain away from the flesh.

3. Slice the onions very thinly and place in a sieve resting in a bowl; sprinkle with 2 tbsp salt and mix well.

4. Add sufficient cold water to just cover the onions, place a plate that fits easily inside the sieve on top of them, press down and place a weight on top. Leave for 30 minutes.

5. Blanch, peel and seed the tomatoes. Chop the flesh into very small pieces. Remove the stalks from the peppers and cut them into thin rings; remove the seeds and pale inner membrane.

6. Rinse the aubergines thoroughly under running cold water and then dry thoroughly. Rinse the onions by pouring a kettle of near-boiling water over them, drain and squeeze out excess moisture.

7. Mix the onions in a large bowl with the tomatoes and peppers; season with a little salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

8. Use 1 tbsp olive oil to grease a wide, shallow flameproof casserole dish large enough to accommodate the aubergines in one layer, cut side uppermost.

9. Use your fingers to open out the deep incisions and push some of the onion and tomato mixture down into them; spread the rest over the exposed cut surfaces. Place a slightly crushed whole garlic clove on top of each aubergine and sprinkle the remaining oil all over the topping and garlic cloves. Sprinkle with the sugar.

10. Pour in 9 fl oz (250 ml) cold water through a gap between the vegetables, bring to the boil, cover and reduce the heat to very low. Simmer very gently for 1 1/4 hours. Remove the lid and allow to cool. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

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