Turkish Stuffed Eggplants, also known as Karniyarik, is a dish that involves frying eggplants and then filling the middle slit with a mixture of seasoned ground beef, onions, tomatoes, and green peppers. Baked until the eggplants are tender, this flavorful dish is often served alongside rice or bread.
Stuffed eggplants and vegetables have been a staple in Turkish cuisine since the era of the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman influence in the Middle East gave rise to a comparable dish known as “batinjan mahshi” in Levantine and Arab cuisines. In this blog post, our focus will be on exploring the Turkish stuffed eggplant dish called Karniyarik.
The word Karniyarik is a Turkish word meaning “split belly” in English, which reflects the unique preparation method. The dish involves frying eggplants until golden brown and creating a lengthwise slit, allowing for a pocket to be filled with a tantalizing mixture of seasoned ground beef, onions, tomatoes, and green peppers.
Here are the ingredients you need to make this delicious Turkish Stuffed Eggplants:
Ground Beef: Ground beef is the main ingredient of the stuffing for this recipe. The fat content in the beef contributes to the overall juiciness of the filling.
Eggplant: This is the main vegetable used for my Turkish stuffed eggplant recipe. They are fried until golden brown, creating a tender and flavorful base for the stuffing. The characteristic lengthwise slit is made in the eggplants to create a pocket for the filling.
Bell Pepper: I am using green bell pepper which adds sweetness and a crunchy texture to the mixture, complementing the other ingredients.
Red Onion & Garlic: Both of them are chopped and sautéed to add depth to the stuffing.
Tomato Paste: The tomato paste will add a deep, rich tomato flavor to the stuffing and contribute to the color of the dish.
Tomatoes: I am using fresh tomatoes which I grated to make into a puree.
Spices: Cumin provides earthy and warm notes, enhancing the overall savory profile. Cinnamon adds a hint of sweetness and warmth, balancing the flavors. Thyme contributes a subtle herby aroma.
Other Ingredients: For the rest you will need salt & black pepper for seasoning, olive oil for sauteing the ingredients, and chopped parsley leaves for enhancing herb flavor
Things to first before Cooking
Before you start cooking, you need to first rub the eggplant with salt and then soak it with water, which you will leave for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
The purpose of this technique is to prevent the eggplant from absorbing too much oil during the frying process. In the meantime, you can set it aside while making the ground beef mixture.
Step by Step Instruction
I. Making Seasoned Ground Beef
Step 1: Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan at medium heat.
Step 2: Once it’s hot, I add chopped onion and stir till it turns translucent. After that, I added the garlic and continued stirring for a few minutes.
Step 3: Next, I added the chopped green bell pepper and stir to combine.
Step 4: After that, I added the ground beef and gently mixed to stir. Let it cook for 5 minutes or until there is less juice.
Step 5: Add all the spices such as cumin, cinnamon, and thyme. Mix to combine.
Step 6: Next, add the tomato paste and the fresh tomatoes, that I grated earlier to make into a puree. Give a quick stir.
Steps 7 and 8: Lastly, I added the chopped parsley leaves and gently stir to combine. Let it simmer for 5 minutes before turning off the heat. Set it aside.
II. Frying the Eggplant
Steps 9 & 10: Before frying the eggplant, I partially peeled them in a strip.
Step 11-13: Next, I poured vegetable oil into the pan. Once it’s hot, I added the partially peeled eggplant which I fried on both sides till it turns light brown.
Step 14: After that, I remove the eggplant and transfer it to the plate. Use a paper towel to remove the excess oil.
III. Baking the Turkish Stuffed Eggplants
Step 15 & 16: Use the knife to make a lengthwise slit in the middle of the eggplant. Use your hand to gently make an opening or pocket in the eggplant.
Step 17: Here, I stuffed the eggplant with seasoned ground beef and placed it all in the baking tray.
Steps 18 & 19: To prepare the oven, preheat it to 200 C or 400 F. Transfer the baking tray to the center of the oven. Let it bake for 15 minutes. You will notice the stuffed eggplant will be releasing its juices.
Step 20: Lastly, transfer the tray to the upper rack of the oven and then broil the Turkish stuffed eggplants for 5 minutes to develop a nice crust on the top.
Serving step: Serve this delicious Karniyarik with rice or bread. Enjoy!
In addition to that, I will recommend to serve with a healthy salad as a side dishes such as my Turkish shepherd salad.
Tips and Hints
- Select small to medium-sized eggplants with smooth, unblemished skin
- Fry the eggplants until golden brown on both sides. This step not only enhances the flavor but also helps the eggplants hold their shape during baking.
- While stuffing the eggplants, avoid overfilling to ensure even cooking. Gently press the filling into the pockets without breaking the eggplants.
- You can use ground lamb instead of ground beef for richer flavor.
- Add Aleppo pepper or chili pepper of you like your Turkish Stuffed Eggplants spicy.
- When making the slit in the middle of the eggplant, be careful not to cut through the other side.
- You can roast the eggplant instead of frying for healthier method, use the fire directly to burn the eggplant to have a smoky flavor.
Storing and Reheating Suggestion
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, you can use the oven, stovetop, or microwave.
For the oven, place the stuffed eggplants in a covered dish, add a bit of water to prevent drying, and bake at a moderate temperature until thoroughly heated. On the stovetop, gently warm them in a pan with a lid, occasionally stirring to maintain moisture.
When using the microwave, cover the container with a microwave-safe lid or damp paper towel and reheat in short intervals, stirring in between, until warmed through.
Other Stuffed Vegetable Recipes to Try
Here are other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean stuffed vegetable recipes to make at home:
📋 Recipe Card
Turkish Stuffed Eggplants (Karniyarik)
Turkish Stuffed Eggplants (Karniyarik) is a dish containing fried eggplants filled with seasoned ground beef, onions, tomatoes, and green peppers. Baked to tender perfection, this flavorful dish is commonly served with rice or bread.
- 450 grams of ground beef
- 4 medium-sized eggplants
- 1 large green bell pepper
- 1 medium-sized red onion
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes for grating
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of thyme
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil for sautéing
- 2-3 tablespoons of chopped parsley for garnish and flavor
- ½ cup of Vegetable Oil for Frying the Eggplant
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
Seasoning the Ground Beef
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan at medium heat.
Once heated, add chopped onion and stir until translucent. Then, add the garlic and continue stirring for a few minutes.
Next, incorporate the chopped green bell pepper and stir to combine.
Add the ground beef and gently mix until cooked for 5 minutes or until there is less juice.
Include spices such as cumin, cinnamon, and thyme. Mix to combine.
Add the tomato paste and grated fresh tomatoes. Give a quick stir.
Lastly, introduce the chopped parsley leaves and gently stir to combine. Let it simmer for 5 minutes before turning off the heat. Set it aside.
Frying the Eggplant
Before frying the eggplant, partially peel them in a strip.
Pour vegetable oil into the pan. Once hot, add the partially peeled eggplant and fry on both sides until light brown.
Remove the eggplant and transfer it to a plate. Use a paper towel to remove excess oil.
Stuffing the Eggplants
Use a knife to make a lengthwise slit in the middle of the eggplant. Gently create an opening or pocket with your hand.
Stuff the eggplant with seasoned ground beef and place it in the baking tray.
To prepare the oven, preheat it to 200 C or 400 F. Transfer the baking tray to the center of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, allowing the stuffed eggplant to release its juices.
Lastly, transfer the tray to the upper rack of the oven and broil the Turkish stuffed eggplants for 5 minutes to develop a nice crust on the top.
Serve this delicious Karniyarik with rice or bread. Enjoy!
- For storing and reheating suggestion, please refer to the post
- You can use ground lamb instead of ground beef for richer flavor
- If you like it spicy, add Aleppo pepper or chili pepper.
Serving: 4gCalories: 488kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 38.6gFat: 27.3gSaturated Fat: 6.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 10gMonounsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 714mgPotassium: 1524mgFiber: 8.1gSugar: 14.1gVitamin A: 100IUVitamin C: 30mgCalcium: 63mgIron: 24mg