Karniyarik or ‘Stuffed Split Belly Eggplant’

Posted on February 19, 2011 by


This is one of my favourite Turkish recipes! Karniyarik, or the stuffed eggplant is hugely popular not only in Turkey, but also around the Balkan countries where it is known by the same name. It’s absolutely delicious, and it’s easily convertible into a vegetarian dish: you simply follow the recipe for karniyarik without adding the minced meat. Then, the dish which you’ll have is ‘Imam Bayildi’: which literally means ‘the imam (the Muslim priest) fainted’. It also can be interpreted as ‘the imam was thrilled’ which speaks for the taste of the stuffed eggplant, don’t you think? :). Traditionally, the eggplants are fried before being stuffed, but I think this veggie absorbs too much oil, therefore, I prefer to roast the eggplants before stuffing them. Thus, keep in mind that the recipe which you’ll read is not the orthodox way to prepare Karniyarik and feel free to choose the preparation method which suits your taste best.

Ingredients (for 3 servings):
3 medium size eggplants
200 grams minced beef (or lamb) meat
1 medium size yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
2 ripe tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of dried mint
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of paprika powder
1 cup of olive oil
fresh parsley to garnish

1. Preheat you oven to 220°C. Wash and cut the eggplants in halves. You can choose whether to peel their skin, in strips or in whole, or to leave it on. Then soak the eggplants in salty water for about 15 minutes to remove their bitterness, if any. To make sure that the eggplants don’t float on the top of the water, place an inverted plate on their top.
2. Drain the eggplants and pat them dry with a paper towel. Oil a roasting plate and place the eggplants in it so that the bottoms face the plate. Cut around 15 strips on the upper side of the eggplants, as each strip can be around 2-3 cm deep. Oil every piece with a spoonful of olive oil and roast them in the oven for 30 minutes.

Cutting strips in the eggplants

3. While your eggplants are in the oven, start preparing the mixture for stuffing. Peel the onion and the garlic and mince them finely. Chop one of the tomatoes finely for the stuffing mixture, slice the other for topping the stuffed eggplants, and set aside. Add a spoonful of olive oil in a saucepan and heat.
3. Saute for 2-3 minutes the onion and garlic, add the tomato paste to them and mix well. In a minute, add the minced meat as well. Stir the minced meat with the onion, garlic and tomato paste well, cook for about 6-7 minutes on medium heat (or until the meat is cooked), and add the chopped fresh tomato into the pan. Season with the salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, cumin and basil, cook for 1-2 minutes more and set aside.
4. When the eggplants are nicely roasted, take them out from the oven without turning it off. Mash gently the core of each piece with a fork without piercing its bottom. Then, stuff the ‘boats’ of eggplants with the mixture which you cooked, and top with slices of tomatoes. Put back in the oven for 20 minutes more.
5. When ready, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve warm.
We like karniyarik accompanied by thick Turkish yogurt (süzme yoğurt), and I think karniyarik also likes to be eaten this way :).

Karniyarik or Stuffed Eggplants