Baking/ Dinner/ Recipes

Karniyarik – Turkish Stuffed Eggplants

28/09/2020 (Last Updated: 01/02/2021)

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 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.

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★ 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.
    6 eggplants
  • Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large frying pan 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 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 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 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, chilli flakes, sweet paprika, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper and stir through evenly.
    250 g beef mince, 1 onion, 4 cloves garlic, 1 capsicum / bell pepper, 2 tomatoes, 1 bunch parsley, 1 tsp sweet paprika, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, Salt and pepper, 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 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.
  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, and be sure to serve hot!
  • Garnish each eggplant with a few extra long green peppers, slices of capsicum or tomato before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • 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

Nutrition Facts
Karniyarik – Turkish Stuffed Eggplants
Amount per Serving
Calories
325
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
19
g
29
%
Saturated Fat
 
7
g
44
%
Cholesterol
 
30
mg
10
%
Sodium
 
47
mg
2
%
Potassium
 
1342
mg
38
%
Carbohydrates
 
32
g
11
%
Fiber
 
15
g
63
%
Sugar
 
19
g
21
%
Protein
 
13
g
26
%
Vitamin A
 
797
IU
16
%
Vitamin C
 
34
mg
41
%
Calcium
 
65
mg
7
%
Iron
 
2
mg
11
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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

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37 Comments

  • Reply
    Debbie Lynn Valva
    01/12/2021 at 6:07 pm

    5 stars
    Wonderful recipe! Finally got my husband who doesn’t care fiit eggplant to love a dish! This is now in our regular repertoire!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      02/12/2021 at 1:35 pm

      That’s fantastic Debbie, thanks for letting us know! 😀

  • 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! 🙂

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