Baking/ Dinner/ Recipes

Karniyarik – Turkish Stuffed Eggplants

28/09/2020 (Last Updated: 29/09/2020)

Karniyarik is the perfect family dinner recipe! Featuring juicy eggplants stuffed with beef, tomatoes and aromatic Turkish spices. Easy to make, baked to perfection, and generous servings.

Baked eggplant stuffed with minced beef, vegetables and Turkish spices.

Why We Love This

Turkish stuffed eggplants is the ultimate comfort food. The aromatic spices in this recipe will fill your kitchen with their intoxicating scent well before your first bite. 

We love the combination of vegetables and meat in this dish. It creates a nice balance and doesn’t leave you feeling heavy. Serve it up as a standalone meal or pair with a side of rice and a dash of natural yoghurt.

Turkish stuffed eggplant on a plate with the rest in a tray in the background.

What is Karniyarik? 

Karniyarik is a popular Turkish stuffed eggplant recipe, usually enjoyed in summer when eggplants (aka aubergines) are in season and at their most delicious. 

The name literally translates to ‘split belly’ or ‘riven belly’. This is because the small purple eggplants are split down the middle and stuffed with beef mince and aromatic spices.

While Karniyarik is similar(ish) in flavour and ingredients to Greek Moussaka, the difference is in the preparation. Where Greek Moussaka ingredients are layered, Turkish karniyarik eggplants are filled, just like little pockets of flavour.

Where We Learned This Recipe

We first came across this recipe in Istanbul while staying with our wonderful couch surfing hosts Gule and Chennar. Incidentally, they’re the ones who also taught us how to make homemade Ayran (Turkish Yoghurt Drink), too. 

We had quite the dinner feast together, and Gule made sure we were hands on right from the start, so we could master each technique and jot down every tip along the way.

What You’ll Need

This recipe uses familiar ingredients like beef or lamb mince along with veggies and staple pantry spices.

  • Eggplants/Aubergines – We recommend the smaller Asian-style eggplants if you can get your hands on them. They tend to have a sweeter, milder flavour and softer texture than regular eggplants, and are a better size for Karniyarik. It’s best to buy fresh eggplants right before you cook them, since they don’t tend to last too long in the fridge.
  • Beef Mince / Lamb Mince – You can use either according to your preference.
  • Veggies – This recipe calls for onion, garlic, capsicum / bell pepper and tomatoes.
  • Herbs & Spices – You’ll need chilli flakes, sweet paprika, ground cumin and ground cinnamon, along with fresh parsley.

How to Make Karniyarik:

  1. Prepare your eggplants by peeling 4 strips from the skin lengthways. Chop off the very tops and bottoms then slice through the middle lengthways (but not all the way). Pull apart to expose the inside and get ready to fry.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large frypan and add your eggplants. Cover with a lid and fry gently until softened (around 5-10 minutes), turning occasionally so they don’t burn. Note the inside of the eggplant will turn darker and more transparent as it starts to soften.
  3. Pop your beef or lamb mince in a separate saucepan over a medium heat. Allow it to cook down in its own juices for around 5 minutes (stirring frequently) until the liquid has evaporated and the meat is nicely browned. Add the corn oil, chopped onion, garlic and capsicum/peppers. Continue to fry for a few minutes or until the vegetables are soft, then add the tomatoes and cook down for another 5 minutes. Add the parsley, sweet paprika, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper and stir through evenly.
  4. Arrange the eggplants in a large baking dish belly side up, then stuff with the beef mixture. If you have any meat leftover, you can either pop this around the outside of the eggplants, or serve separately.
  5. Garnish each eggplant with a few extra long green peppers, slices of capsicum or tomato.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, and be sure to serve hot!

Wandercook’s Tips

  • According to our friend 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.
  • Feel free to scoop out the eggplant seeds if you like, but it’s totally optional.

FAQs

Can I make this in advance?

Yes, you can prepare karniyarik a day ahead and bake it the next day if you need. Be sure to cover in cling wrap and store in the fridge.

How long does it last?

Once cooked, your stuffed eggplants dish will last a few days in the fridge, or pop them in the freezer. 

Can I freeze stuffed eggplants?

Yep, karniyarik can be frozen for up to a week. To thaw, pop it in the fridge in the morning on the day you plan to eat it. 

What should I serve with this dish?

We recommend serving your freshly baked Karniyarik with a refreshing glass of Turkish Yoghurt Drink (Ayran). Or if you’re looking more Middle Eastern delights, check out our Egyptian Koshary spiced up with Baharat 7 Spice blend.

Variations & Substitutes

  • Eggplants – If you prefer not to fry your eggplants, you can grill them instead. For the ultimate smoky flavour, try grilling them on a charcoal grill or over an open flame. 
  • Veggies – Use up other vegetables like carrots or celery.
  • Leftover Sauce – Place any remaining filling mixture around the outsides of the eggplants before baking. Or freeze to use later in moussaka, pasta sauce or your own homemade creation.
  • Garnish – Traditionally, Turkish stuffed eggplants are garnished with slices of red tomato and bright green chilli before baking. But you can easily switch it up with slices of fresh green capsicum/pepper instead.
Top down view of a plated up stuffed eggplant.

Looking for more flavour packed dinner recipes? Here are our favourites:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and star rating below!

Stuffed eggplant on a plate garnished with slices of green bell pepper.

Karniyarik – Turkish Stuffed Eggplants

Karniyarik is the perfect family dinner recipe! Featuring juicy eggplants stuffed with beef, tomatoes and aromatic Turkish spices. Easy to make, baked to perfection, and generous servings.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Turkish
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 325kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $10-$15

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • First, preheat the oven to 180˚C / 356˚F.
  • Prepare your eggplants by peeling 4 strips from the skin lengthways. Chop off the very tops and bottoms then slice through the middle lengthways (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 (around 5-10 minutes), turning occasionally so they don’t burn. Note the inside of the eggplant will turn darker and more transparent as it starts to soften.
  • Pop your beef or lamb mince in a separate saucepan over a medium heat. Allow it to cook down in its own juices for around 5 minutes (stirring frequently) until the liquid has evaporated and the meat is nicely browned. Add the corn oil, chopped onion, garlic and capsicum/peppers. Continue to fry for a few minutes or until the vegetables are soft, then add the tomatoes and cook down for another 5 minutes. Add the parsley, sweet paprika, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper and stir through evenly.
  • Arrange the eggplants in a large baking dish belly side up, then stuff with the beef mixture. If you have any meat leftover, you can either pop this around the outside of the eggplants, or serve separately.
  • Garnish each eggplant with a few extra long green peppers, slices of capsicum or tomato.
  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, and be sure to serve hot!

Recipe Notes

Tips to get this recipe just right:
  • Eggplants/Aubergines – We recommend the smaller Asian-style eggplants if you can get your hands on them. They tend to have a sweeter, milder flavour and softer texture than regular eggplants, and are a better size for Karniyarik. It’s best to buy fresh eggplants right before you cook them, since they don’t tend to last too long in the fridge. According to our friend Gule, the trick to making Karniyarik is to peel thin strips from the outside of the eggplants before slicing them in half lengthways (but not all the way through). Feel free to scoop out the eggplant seeds if you like, but it’s totally optional. If you prefer not to fry your eggplants, you can grill them instead. For the ultimate smoky flavour, try grilling them on a charcoal grill or over an open flame. 
  • Beef Mince / Lamb Mince – You can use either according to your preference.
  • Veggies – This recipe calls for onion, garlic, capsicum / bell pepper and tomatoes. You could also use up other vegetables like carrots or celery if you prefer.
  • Herbs & Spices – You’ll need chilli flakes, sweet paprika, ground cumin and ground cinnamon, along with fresh parsley.
  • Leftover Sauce – Place any remaining filling mixture around the outsides of the eggplants before baking. Or freeze to use later in moussaka, pasta sauce or your own homemade creation.
  • Garnish – Traditionally, Turkish stuffed eggplants are garnished with slices of red tomato and bright green chilli before baking. But you can easily switch it up with slices of fresh green capsicum/pepper instead.

Nutrition

Calories: 325kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 47mg | Potassium: 1342mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 797IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 2mg
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Karniyarik - Turkish Stuffed Eggplants

35 Comments

  • Reply
    Amy | The Cook Report
    05/08/2019 at 7:26 pm

    5 stars
    This sounds perfect for me, I love all the ingredients!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/08/2019 at 5:02 pm

      Us too, such a mouth watering creation!

  • Reply
    Tatiana
    05/08/2019 at 4:55 pm

    5 stars
    Oh I love eggplant but I’ve never tried Turkish food. This looks delicious and perhaps will be my first taste of Turkish food, ever! 🙂

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/08/2019 at 5:02 pm

      Hope you enjoy the experience Tatiana! Turkish flavours are divine. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sylvie
    05/08/2019 at 4:06 pm

    5 stars
    Anything that has eggplant in it, I wanna try – and this recipe is no exception; it looks absolutely delicious and I love all the spices and ingredient you used!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/08/2019 at 5:03 pm

      Thanks Sylvie, hope you enjoy! Eggplant is such a delicious little veggie haha, it deserves a chance to shine! 🙂

  • Reply
    Natalie
    05/08/2019 at 2:29 pm

    5 stars
    I love eggplant! Looks so delicious and perfect for a healthy dinner ♥

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/08/2019 at 5:03 pm

      Agreed! Enjoy your dins Natalie!

  • Reply
    Sapana
    05/08/2019 at 1:50 pm

    5 stars
    These Turkish eggplants look amazing! I love all the fresh veggies you use to make this dish – it sounds so flavorful and looks like the perfect dinner.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/08/2019 at 5:04 pm

      I know, there’s so much flavour from all the fresh ingredients. Hope you enjoy!

  • Reply
    Shashi at RunninSrilankan
    27/02/2017 at 9:57 pm

    I’d never heard of Karniyarik – Turkish Stuffed Eggplants before – these sound so flavorful! Loving all the spices added in.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      28/02/2017 at 3:37 pm

      Thanks Shashi, it’s a pretty delish combo – we’re looking forward to the next batch already! Haha 😀

  • Reply
    Pretty
    27/02/2017 at 6:40 pm

    I love the idea of this recipe, I am going to make a vegetarian version as I don’t eat meat.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      28/02/2017 at 3:36 pm

      Would love to see your vegetarian creation, I’m sure it’ll be just as delicious, I mean how can you go wrong with these eggplants?? ????

  • Reply
    Igor @ Cooking The Globe
    27/02/2017 at 6:01 pm

    5 stars
    Wow, these Turkish eggplants look fantastic! I have never heard about them but, oh boy, I am surely making these. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      28/02/2017 at 3:35 pm

      You’re more than welcome Igor – hope you like them as much as we do!

  • Reply
    Luci's Morsels
    27/02/2017 at 3:57 pm

    5 stars
    This looks so flavorful and the eggplant looks beautiful!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      28/02/2017 at 3:35 pm

      It really is! It’s so satisfying too, especially when baked along with all these delicious flavours. It goes all soft and melty and amazing! We’re just a little bit in love haha. ????

  • Reply
    Brandi Crawford
    27/02/2017 at 3:29 pm

    5 stars
    I have never stuffed eggplant. This looks sooooo tasty! I will have to try this.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      28/02/2017 at 3:34 pm

      Trust us Brandi it’s life changing! ???? Hope you enjoy!

  • Reply
    Tessa
    24/01/2017 at 5:39 am

    Hello! This looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it.

    Would you think it would be suitable to freeze uneaten portions?

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      25/01/2017 at 11:37 am

      Hey Tessa, thanks for stopping by. It should be perfectly fine to freeze the leftovers from this recipe. You could make up a big batch of the meat stuffing and freeze that separately if you wished, or make up a few complete with the eggplant as a quick meal to grab from the freezer. The eggplant will be nice and soft anyway from cooking so should soak up all those delicious flavours!

  • Reply
    Tugce
    20/12/2016 at 3:19 pm

    I googled this recipe in English just out of curiosity. I’m sure this tastes good, but traditional karniyarik (or any other savory Turkish dish for that matter) does not have cinnamon in it. It doesn’t have cumin either, but that’s more tolerable in this recipe than cinnamon which we normally use for desserts. I have a feeling you’ve modified this recipe after your hosts taught you (by the way, unless “Chennar” is your misspelling of Cinar and “Gule” is “Gul”, those names are not Turkish either). Finally, karniyarik is never served with the stuffing outside/on the sides as you’ve pictured (generally, if you’ve miscalculated and end up with extra stuffing, you’d put it in a separate dish and just eat it on its own or crack an egg on it the next morning or something). Google “karniyarik tarifi” (which means “karniyarik recipe” in Turkish) and hit images. You’ll see that I’m right. Now, you may think this stuff doesn’t matter and your recipe is great as it is (which I’m sure it is to those who are not used to the traditional taste), but I always get annoyed when I see a traditional recipe modified and the fact that it is modified is not stated. Sorry for being a joykill- I just couldn’t help myself when I saw the cinnamon….

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      21/12/2016 at 10:44 am

      Hi Tugce, nice to hear from you and thanks for your thoughts on the recipe. We had an amazing time in Istanbul and loved recreating our experiences with our friends there. Our blog is all about weaving in our experiences with our recipes, so while this may not be your way to prepare this dish with the inclusion of cinnamon, it’s what we learned from our Turkish friends while we were there. The only change we made to Gule & Chennar’s method was the extra meat mixture around the eggplants so all those flavours and juices could soak up through the outside of the eggplants as well as the inside. You’ll have to try it for yourself and see what you think. Feel free to omit the cinnamon too if you prefer. It’s amazing how differently spices are used between kitchens and cultures – even within the same country! 🙂

      There is no one way to cook a dish – that’s why we love discovering different recipes. A great example is our two entirely different recipes for Udon Noodles based on two regions in Japan (mountain style and temple style). Embrace the differences and try something new! 🙂

  • Reply
    Mac
    22/08/2016 at 4:06 am

    4 stars
    I followed the recipe exactly (except for adding the corn oil to the cooked meat). It was quite tasty!

    I was a bit confused about how to cook the eggplant, so I just rolled them around in the pan as they cooked, and they came out perfectly.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/08/2016 at 3:46 pm

      Hey Mac, great to hear from you and glad you enjoyed the eggplants – sounds like you nailed it! Cooking the eggplants first just helps to soften them nicely before baking, and makes them easier to stuff too. We just popped them in the frypan with a little oil, covered with a lid to prevent the oil from spitting, and gently fried them (turning occasionally so they didn’t burn). If you have any more questions feel free to get in touch. 🙂

  • Reply
    Wandercooks
    01/07/2016 at 11:23 am

    Thanks Igor! Here’s to more eggplant-eating goodness. 🙂

  • Reply
    Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy
    30/06/2016 at 10:55 pm

    5 stars
    Oh my what a great way to eat eggplants. I love them but have never ate them this way. I will have to give this a try, thanks!!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      01/07/2016 at 11:24 am

      That’s great, hope you enjoy this new discovery Gloria!

  • Reply
    Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy
    30/06/2016 at 5:41 pm

    5 stars
    These look incredible, and I bet the mince has loads of flavour too.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      01/07/2016 at 11:22 am

      Thanks Dannii, yep the beef mince with all those gorgeous spices is divine. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

  • Reply
    Heather
    30/06/2016 at 11:50 am

    5 stars
    What a beautiful eggplant recipe!! I love that this is totally new to me and what a great way to add more eggplant into your day 🙂

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      01/07/2016 at 11:22 am

      That’s what we love most about food and cooking! There’s always something new to learn and new tastes to discover. Happy eggplant eating! Haha 🙂

  • Reply
    Donna
    30/06/2016 at 6:15 am

    5 stars
    Oh my, these sound absolutely amazing! And I’m with you on the photos – enough to make me crave these straight away (and I don’t even eat meat!)

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      30/06/2016 at 8:39 am

      Haha thanks Donna! I’m sure a vegetarian substitute would be equally delicious! Perhaps you could substitute rice or quinoa?

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