Bring the flavours of Turkey into your kitchen with this juicy Karniyarik Turkish Stuffed Eggplants recipe. Baked eggplants stuffed with an exotic blend of minced beef, sauteed onions, garlic, tomatoes, bitey parsley and gorgeous Turkish spices.
Ooh sorry. Don’t mind me. Even just a picture is enough to set our mouths watering. 😛
We first came across this recipe for Karniyarik (Turkish Stuffed Eggplants) in Istanbul while staying with our two incredible hosts Gule and Chennar.
(Incidentally, they’re the ones who also taught us how to make this super delicious homemade Turkish Ayran Yoghurt Drink, too. 😛 )
Karniyarik is a super popular Turkish recipe, and what I find so amusing is that the name literally translates to ‘split belly’.
This is because the small purple eggplants are split in half lengthways before being stuffed and cooked down into soft, spicy deliciousness.
According to Gule, the trick to making Karniyarik is to peel thin strips from the outside of the eggplants before slicing them in half lengthways. After that they’re popped on a hot fry pan for a few minutes to soften juuuuust right before stuffing.
On that hot summer’s night in Istanbul we set our eggplants to fry in one pan while our beef stuffing sautéed away in another.
Along with the beef mince there were onions, garlic, tomatoes and parsley simmering away, sending their mouthwatering aromas into the air.
The smell alone was enough on their own to make our mouths water. And that was BEFORE a few sprinklings of cumin, cinnamon, sweet paprika and chilli made their way into the mix, filling the kitchen with their gorgeous warmth.
OMG. Soooo gooooood.
How to Make Karniyarik – Turkish Stuffed Eggplants
Traditionally, Turkish stuffed eggplants are garnished with slices of gorgeous red tomato and a bright green chilli before bubbling away in a hot oven. But you can easily switch it up with slices of fresh green capsicum/pepper instead.
For the best flavour and texture, be sure to use smaller Asian-style eggplants if you can get your hands on them. They’re a better size for Karniyarik and bring a softer texture to the dish than if you use the thick dark purple ones.
It’s a good idea to buy your eggplants right before you cook them, since eggplants don’t always fare that well for extended stints in the refrigerator.
Which we may or may not have learned from previous experience.
Don’t forget to serve your freshly baked Karniyarik with an ice cold glass of Turkish Salted Yoghurt Drink (Ayran). Or if you’re looking more Middle Eastern delights, check out our Egyptian Koshary spiced up with a fresh homemade Baharat spice blend.
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- 6 small purple eggplants/aubergines, washed
- 250 g beef or lamb mince
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp corn oil
- 1 brown onion, thinly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly chopped
- ½ cup green capsicum/peppers, thinly chopped + extra slices for garnish
- 2 tomatoes or 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 1 small bunch parsley, washed and chopped
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Go ahead and preheat that oven to 180 degrees celcius.
- Now, prepare your eggplants by peeling 4 strips from the skin lengthways. Chop off the top and bottom then slice through the middle (but not all the way). Pull apart to expose the inside and get ready to fry.
- Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large frypan and add your eggplants. Cover with a lid and fry gently until softened.
- Alright now pop your beef or lamb mince in a separate pan and heat gently. Allow it to cook down in its own juices until the liquid has evaporated and the meat is nicely browned. Top with corn oil and pop in your chopped onion, garlic and capsicum/peppers. Continue to fry until ingredients are soft, then add your tomatoes and cook down for another 5 minutes.
- Now add your parsley, sweet paprika, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper and mix through until all the ingredients are well combined.
- Arrange your eggplants in a large baking dish belly side up. Feel free to scoop out the seeds if you like, but it’s totally optional. Stuff with the beef mixture and pop any remaining filling around the outsides of the eggplants.
- Don’t forget to garnish with a few extra long green peppers or slices of capsicum.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, and be sure to serve hot!