Dinner/ Recipes

Karniyarik – Turkish Stuffed Eggplants

28/06/2016 (Last Updated: 05/08/2019)

This juicy Karniyarik Turkish Stuffed Eggplants recipe features baked eggplants stuffed with minced beef, sautéed onions, garlic, tomatoes, fresh parsley, infused with an aromatic Turkish spice blend.

Karniyarik eggplant on a plate garnished with slices of green bell pepper, a knife and fork in the foreground.

Why We Love This Recipe

Turkish stuffed eggplants are the ultimate comfort food

The aromatic spices in this recipe will fill your kitchen with their intoxicating scent well before your first bite. 


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Karniyarik eggplant on a plate garnished with slices of green bell pepper, a knife and fork in the foreground.

What is Karniyarik?

Karniyarik is a popular Turkish recipe, usually enjoyed in summer when eggplants are in season and at their most delicious. 

What we 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.

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

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

What You’ll Need

How to Make Karniyarik – Turkish Stuffed Eggplants

First, preheat the oven to 180˚C / 356˚F. 

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.

Semi-peeled eggplants, long slices of skin removed.

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.

The beef and vegetable stuffing mix for karniyarik eggplants.

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.

Sliced eggplants in a glass baking dish.

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!

A tray of stuffed eggplants cooked with seasoned ground beef.

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.

 

FAQs

Can Karniyarik be made in advance?

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

How long does Karniyarik last?

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

Can you freeze Karniyarik?

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

 

Variations & Substitutes

  • 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.
  • 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. 

Karniyarik stuffed eggplant on a plate with the tray of cooked eggplants in the background.

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.

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

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

Karniyarik - Turkish Stuffed Eggplants

This juicy Karniyarik Turkish Stuffed Eggplants recipe features baked eggplants stuffed with minced beef, sautéed onions, garlic, tomatoes, fresh parsley, infused with an aromatic Turkish spice blend.
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

  • Baking dish
  • Saucepan
  • Oven

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 1 green bell pepper / capsicum 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
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  • First, preheat that oven to 180˚C / 356˚F.
  • 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!

Notes

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.

 

FAQs

  • Can Karniyarik be made in advance? Yes, you can prepare karniyarik a day ahead and bake it the next day if you need. Be sure to cover it in cling film and store in the fridge. 
  • How long does Karniyarik last? Once cooked, your stuffed eggplants dish will last a few days in the fridge. 
  • Can you freeze Karniyarik? Yep, karniyarik can be frozen for up to a week. To thaw, pop it in the fridge in the morning on the day you plant to eat it. 

 

Variations & Substitutes

  • 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.
  • 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. 

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

Where We Learned This Recipe

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. 😛 )

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35 Comments

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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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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