Karniyarik is a classic Turkish stuffed eggplant recipe. Delicious eggplants are stuffed with a tasty ground beef, pepper and tomatoes filling and are baked to perfection.
Middle eastern and Mediterranean cuisines include many eggplant recipes that are all delicious and easy to make. From eggplant caponata and moussaka to baba ganoush, any recipe that uses eggplant can easily be my favorite! Today’s recipe is a Turkish classic that’s bursting with flavor in every bite.
Karniyarik – Turkish stuffed eggplant
Also known as Karniyrik, this Turkish eggplant dish is a classic and well loved all around Turkey. The name Karniyarik translates as “split belly” which I think is because of the fact that the eggplants are split after they’re fried and are stuffed with a delicious minced meat mixture and then baked to perfection.
Karniyarik is a must try if you’re into Mediterranean cuisines and would like to try Turkish cuisines. It’s a dish that you see in the menu of almost any Turkish restaurant. This is a dish that people also make at home frequently because it’s packed with so much flavor and is a great way to add eggplant to your weekly meal plan.
Eggplant is very popular in Turkey and there are so many Turkish recipes that use eggplant as a main ingredient. The flavor of eggplant goes very well with tomatoes or yogurt and it can be cooked in different ways depending on the recipe. For Karniyarik, the eggplant is usually fried, however, we are going to go through other methods of cooking as well.
Karniyarik vs Imam Bayildi
Another Turkish eggplant recipe is Imam Bayildi which is the vegetarian version of Karniyarik. We are going to publish a full recipe for imam bayildi in near future. But for now, let’s just say that imam bayildi and karniyarik are two different version of stuffed eggplant.
Ingredients to make stuffed eggplant recipe
To make karniyarik, you need the following ingredients:
- Ground beef
- Green pepper
- Tomato paste
As for the tomato sauce, you simply need some tomato paste and hot water. The seasoning for this ground beef stuffed eggplant is salt and pepper.
What kind of eggplants should I use to make Karniyarik?
I recommend you use small eggplants for this recipe as they cook better. They are also softer and more tender compared to globe eggplants which are very large and have deep purple skin color. Small Italian eggplants are perfect for this recipe.
How to make stuffed eggplant Turkish style
Making Karniyarik has two main steps:
- Prepare the eggplant:
Peel strips from the skin of the eggplants. Cut a slit in the middle of the eggplants without cutting all the way through. Fill a large bowl with water and add 1 tsp salt to it. Place the eggplants in salt water for 30 minutes to get rid of their bitterness. This also helps the eggplants absorb less oil when frying them. Read more about salting eggplant on the Kitchn.
After 30 minutes, gently squeeze the eggplants and dry with a paper towel. Heat vegetable oil in a pan and fry the eggplants on all sides until cooked and brown. The eggplants will be pretty soft. Place the fried eggplants on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
- Prepare the ground beef filling:
While the eggplants are soaking in salt water, make the filling by sauteing onion in olive oil. Add garlic to the onion and saute until golden brown. Mix in ground beef and brown it completely, followed by chopped green pepper and tomatoes. Add tomato paste, salt and pepper to the ground beef mixture and cook for about 10 more minutes.
Put the eggplants in a baking dish and fill them with the ground beef mixture. Make the sauce by mixing tomato paste and hot water and spoon it over the stuffed eggplants and also pour it into the dish. Bake in the oven at 350°F for about 30 minutes until eggplants are fully cooked and soft.
Can I roast the eggplant?
Traditionally, the eggplant is fried to Turkish stuffed eggplant. However, you can also roast the eggplants for this recipe. To do so, peel strips on the skin of the eggplants and poke them with a fork. Brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil and roast in the oven at 200°F for about 25 minutes. Once the eggplants are roasted, cut a slit in each of them. Then proceed with making the filling and stuffing the eggplants. Then cook the stuffed eggplants in the oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes.
What to serve with Karniyarik
How to freeze stuffed eggplant
Let the cooked stuffed eggplants cool completely, then place them in a container and freeze for up to 2 months. To serve, thaw in the fridge and cook in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350°F.
Notes and tips to make Turkish stuffed eggplant
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. To reheat, place the stuffed eggplants in a baking dish and heat in the oven at 350°F for 15 minutes.
- You can also grill the eggplants over open fire flame if you would like them to have a smoky flavor. Make sure to poke the eggplants with a fork a few times before grilling them.
- Classic karniyarik is made with ground lamb, however, you can make this dish using ground beef, or a mix of both.
- If you would like karniyarik to be spicier, add some Urfa or Aleppo pepper to the beef mixture.
- It’s always best to purchase the eggplants the day you’re going to make the dish as they’re very fresh then. Fresh eggplants have fewer seeds which makes them more delicious.
Looking for more Turkish recipes?
- Cilbir (Turkish eggs recipe)
- Turkish yogurt soup (yayla corbasi)
- Simit recipe
- Turkish white bean salad
- Bulgur pilaf recipe
- Lahmacun (Turkish pizza)
Karniyarik Turkish Stuffed Eggplant
- 6 Italian eggplants
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onion chopped
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 8 oz ground beef see notes
- 1 green pepper diced
- 1 large tomato diced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup boiling water
- Prepare the eggplants by peeling strips on their skin. Keep the top on. Cut a slit in each eggplant with going all the way through.
- Fill a large bowl with cold water and add 1 tsp salt to the water. Stir and place the eggplants in the salt water. Soak them for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat and saute onion until translucent. Add in minced garlic and cook until golden brown.
- Add in ground beef and brown it completely. Add diced green pepper and tomato to the ground beef mixture and cook for a few minutes.
- Add in tomato paste, salt and pepper to the filling and mix well.
- Discard the salt water and gently squeeze the eggplants. Dry them using a paper towel.
- Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat and fry the eggplants on all sides until they're soft and brown.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Place them on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
- Place the fried eggplants in a baking dish and stuff them with the ground beef mixture.
- Make the sauce by mixing the tomato paste in water and spoon it over the eggplants and into the dish. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the eggplants are completely cooked and soft.
- Serve warm with white rice and cacik.
- You can also use ground lamb or a mix of ground beef and lamb for this recipe.