3 medium-size eggplants, sliced lengthwise in three, salted, left to drain for about 20 minutes
5-6 roma tomatoes, whole
2 medium-size onions, thinly sliced
1 pepper (red, yellow or green) sliced lengthwise in 1/2-inch strips
About 6 or 7 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
A tablespoon of lemon juice (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil for frying
1/4 cup olive oil for baking
1/2 cup of water
Garnishes: parsley, dill, basil, pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fry the eggplant until golden and the onion until translucent. Remove the stems from the tomatoes and fry them whole in the pan until the skin bursts. Neither the eggplant nor the tomatoes needs to be thoroughly cooked -- they just need to be seared. In a baking dish arrange the eggplant with the onion and garlic on top and the tomatoes interspaced. Poke the tomatoes to make sure the juices will escape into the pan. If you're so inclined, you may peel the tomatoes and cut them in thick slices. Sprinkle the garlic all over the dish. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper, and the water. Add the ¼ cup of oil in dashes across the assembled dish. Cover and bake for about 50 minutes, or until the eggplant is very soft when poked with a fork.
Let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle your favorite herbs and nuts on top of it. I like to add more lemon. As a main dish it feeds about four people with big appetites. As a side to meat, it should feed about six. You can use canned tomatoes if you're in a hurry; they won't hurt the dish.
The iman bayildi in the picture was cooked on the stovetop, at very low heat for about an hour. I intended to cook it, arrange it nicely, photograph it and then throw it away. However, once I was done with it, my boyfriend ate it and loved it. He is still alive and well.