I believe the exact translation of “Imam Bayildi” is “The Imam fainted”. It was thought that the oil in this dish was so much, it caused the Imam to pass-out. Truth is, aubergines absorb an immense amount of oil when fried. That is why, I bake mine.

The secret to a delicious, oven-baked Imam Bayildi is to bake the aubergines for a long time. Aubergines become sweeter and delicious, just like fried ones, with only about 1/4 of the olive oil. I bake them first with just a little oil, then I add the tomato sauce, then finish with the orzo. During the last stage of baking, the orzo becomes caramelized at places and becomes heavenly delicious.

Baked Imam Bayildi with orzo

Galatia Pamboridis
This is delicious comfort food. Not to mention healthy, vegan and perfect for greek lent. For a non vegan version, add some feta before serving. A light drizzle of olive oil and some chili flakes is all you need.
Prep Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Main Course, Pasta, Vegetarian
Servings 4


For the eggplants:

  • 3 large eggplants (aubergines)
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 250 grams cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the imam:

  • 400 grams chopped tomatoes (from a can)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 35 grams tomato paste
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp chilli or cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 250 grams orzo
  • 1 litre approximately of water


  • Cut the eggplants lengthwise into 4 pieces. Cut each piece in half so that each eggplant is cut into 8 slices. Place the eggplants in an oven tray with the cherry tomatoes, onion and olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and bake at 200° C in the air for 50 minutes.
  • Put the tomatoes, garlic, tomato paste, olive oil, pepper, chili flakes and salt in a blender or food processor. Add 200 ml of water and grind on high speed.
  • When the 50 minutes are up, remove the eggplant pan from the oven and pour the tomato sauce over the eggplants. Return the pan back to the oven and continue baking for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the oven again and add the barley and 2 cups (500 ml) of water. Stir and return to the oven for 20 minutes. Stir well and taste the barley. If more cooking is needed, add another 1 cup (250 ml) of water and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until al dente. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.


While the food is cooling, it may thicken. In this case, dilute with a little hot water.
Collections Easter, Greek Lent

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