I've made the original version many times, and I can see, smell, and taste the attraction, although I have never fainted, having always made it myself, of course.
For this version, I left the eggplant at the farmer's market and used pumpkin, instead. I still have 10 pounds of pumpkin to eat my way through, after all.
It's amazing how the spices are so perfect for the pumpkin, and I didn't really need to change much from my ex's Imam Biyaldi recipe; cinnamon and cumin are the perfect spices here. Oh, don't skimp on the olive oil. I say 4 tbsp, but it is even better with a couple more. I know you, and you won't do it, though. ;)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 cups raw pumpkin or squash, cubed
1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp cumin seeds, whole
1 clove garlic, minced
6-8 roma tomatoes or 3-4 large tomatoes, chopped1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Saute the cubes of pumpkin until they are browned on all sides. Remove from heat and put the pumpkin in a large heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven.
Add another tbsp of oil to the skillet. Saute the onion and bell pepper until the onion is lightly browned and translucent. Place the onion and peppers into the pot with the pumpkin.
Add another tbsp of oil to the skillet and cook the cumin seeds until fragrant. Add the garlic and stir, allowing it to cook for about 1 minute. Do not let it burn. Quickly stir in the chopped tomatoes and lower the heat to low. Combine well to stop the cooking process of the garlic and then scrape the mixture into the pot.
Stir in the cinnamon, pepper, salt, and water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 30-45 minutes, until the squash is very tender and almost falling apart.
Serve with meatballs and maybe some feta cheese, if desired.
I dedicate my latest twist on Imam Biyaldi, which I've named Lutfiye Biyaldi, to my ex-girlfriend. ...who's now my wife, Galya. What or who is Lutfiye? A famed princess turned spy, a strong and sleek warrior, and a woman who's beauty was enough to start wars. When she faints, look out.