The story behind this dish is that the Imam (a Turkish official in the Ottoman Empire) fainted when his wife told him she'd used up all the olive oil in making this dish. Eggplant is an oil sponge, it loves to soak it up. Having said that, it is also very, very delicious, and if you allow the eggplant to drain well after frying them, you will still cut calories while retaining great taste. Great dish - vegetarian.
- Saute the onions in a little oil.
- Add the garlic, tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.
- Cook until it comes together as a very thick stew (no liquid). Stir in mint.
- Cut the stem ends from each eggplant and cut eggplants in half lengthwise.
- Make 3 lengthwise slits, almost from end to end, cutting into the flesh about 1 inch deep.
- Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add the eggplant, cut side down, and fry gently, until dark golden-brown on cut side.
- Turn over and fry on skin side a couple more minutes.
- Remove from oil (most of it will have been absorbed) and place on paper towels to drain for at least 15 minutes before proceeding with recipe (this gets rid of most of the oil- you can omit the frying step to cut calories and save time, but you will NOT have the same flavourful results, and the recipe will not be as authentic).
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Hold each slit apart and spoon the vegetable mixture into each cavity.
- Arrange eggplants in a baking dish just large enough to hold them.
- Sprinkle with sugar, lemon juice, and drizzle with the remaining oil.
- Bake for 40 minutes, or until tender.
- Serve with lots of crusty bread.