Thursday, 4 October 2012

Would you like a 'Fainting Priest?'

My eye was rather taken by an item on the menu of a restaurant in Turkey (in fact, all restaurants seemed to offer this dish).

It was called "Fainting Priest" or, occasionally, "The Priest Fainted" and it is a delicious dish made with aubergine, onions and tomatoes, baked in a hot oven and topped with melted cheese.

It may look a trifle pre-digested but it is truly delicious!

Sadly, the "Priest" in question turns out to be a Muslim priest, an Imam.

The 'story' varies somewhat and ranges from an Imam fainting when told that the chef had run out of olive oil with which to cook the dish to an Imam fainting with anticipation when presented with this dish after the Ramadan fast.

I think that this might also cause the Imam to faint

If you are interested, here is the recipe; it may be eaten hot or cold and is best washed down with a glass of Efes.

  • 6 medium sized long aubergines  
  • Olive oil
  • 3 medium sized onions, finely chopped
  • 4 medium tomatoes, skinned and chopped
  • 10 cloves of garlic, finely sliced 
  • 1 lemon
  • Large pinch of sugar & large pinch of salt
  • A handful of parsley, chopped
  1. Peel alternate stripes along the length of each aubergine, to just before the stalk. 
  2. Using a sharp knife make a slit the length of each aubergine, starting half an inch from the stalk and ending half an inch from the end - don't cut all the way through but go as close as you feel confident with.
  3. Place the aubergines in a bowl of salted water, with a plate on top to keep them submerged, for about 30 minutes. This helps extract some of the bitterness from the aubergines. 
  4. While the aubergines are soaking you can make a start on the sauce. Sauté the onions in olive oil until they are translucent. Then turn off the heat and add garlic, sugar, salt, chopped tomatoes and half of the parsley to the pan - stir to combine and transfer to a bowl. 
  5. Pat the aubergines dry and put them in a preheated sauté pan that has a decent glug of olive oil in it. The idea is to gently sauté the aubergines so that they soften to the point that they can be opened along the slit you cut earlier. It may be necessary to add more oil as you go, as aubergines tend to absorb it quickly. 
  6. Once the aubergines are softened, put them in an oven dish. Pull open the slits and stuff tomato filling inside. Pour any excess over the top and then sprinkle with salt, a small amount of sugar and drizzle with olive oil. 
  7. Place in a 160C oven for 40 to 50 minutes, checking to see whether the aubergines have cooked through and completely softened. 
  8. Sprinkle over the remainder of the parsley, top with feta cheese and grill for a few minutes.
  9. Serve alongside other Turkish dishes, such as kofte, cacik, kisir and with plenty of crusty bread to soak up the sauce. 
Perhaps some enterprising Catholic cook could create a similarly named dish, maybe, "The Bishop Fainted" (after being told by Rome that he should be providing more EF Masses).


  1. Methinks it was the smell of garlic that caused him to "faint". What an amount!
    I could make that on Fridays and it does sound and look delicious, smell disregarded.


  2. Momangelica - yes, I can really recommend it.