Karniyarik Turkish Stuffed Eggplant Recipe [Video]

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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. 

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 a Turkish cuisine classic called karniyarik and it’s a family favorite. Bursting with flavor in every bite, this is going to be your favorite, too!

About This Recipe

This Turkish eggplant recipe 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. 

Eggplant is very popular in Turkey and there are so many Turkish recipes such as smokey eggplant salad that use eggplant as a main ingredient. People make this stuffed eggplant recipe at home frequently because it’s packed with so much flavor and is a great way to add eggplant to your weekly meal plan. 

For Karniyarik, the eggplant is usually fried, however, we are going to go through other methods of cooking as well. 

Turkish stuffed eggplant on white plates topped with fresh mint.

Ingredients And Substitutions

  • Eggplants: I recommend you use smaller ones such as Italian 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.
  • Ground beef: I recommend using lean ground beef for this recipe. You can also use ground lamb or a combination of both.
  • Onions and garlic: Yellow onions or sweet onions would work in this recipe. It’s best to mince garlic fresh instead of using packaged minced garlic.
  • Green pepper: You can use either bell pepper or sweet Italian peppers.
  • Tomatoes: Roma tomatoes or beefsteak tomatoes work well for this recipe.
  • Tomato paste: To add color and a deeper flavor.
  • Seasoning: This recipe simply calls for salt and pepper. If desired, you can add some dried oregano. For a more Middle Eastern flavor, use seven spice which is a combination of black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, coriander and other spices.
To make karniyarik you need eggplants, garlic, onion, tomatoes, pepper, olive oil and green pepper for this recipe.

Choosing The Best Eggplant

To choose the best eggplant for this recipe, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the eggplant has a bright skin and no brown marks.
  • The eggplant should feel heavy for its size.
  • It should feel firm on all sides and not mushy or soft at all.
  • It’s best to buy the eggplant on the day you’re going to cook the dish or a day in advance.

How To Make Karniyarik

Peel the eggplants, cut a slit in them and fry in some oil in a pan until brown.  saute onion and garlic add ground beef and brown it. Add tomatoes and pepper then add tomato paste and spices. Fill the fried eggplants with the filling and bake in the oven.
  1. 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.
  2. Place the eggplants in salt water for 30 minutes to get rid of their bitterness. After 30 minutes, gently squeeze the eggplants and dry with a paper towel.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Mix in ground beef and brown it completely, followed by chopped green pepper and tomatoes. Add the tomato paste, salt and pepper to the ground beef mixture and cook for about 10 more minutes. 
  6. Put the fried eggplants in a baking dish and fill them with the ground beef mixture.
  7. Make a simple sauce by mixing tomato paste and hot water and spoon it over the stuffed eggplants and also pour it into the dish.
  8. Bake in the oven at 350°F for about 30 minutes until eggplants are fully cooked and soft. 

Roasting The Eggplants Instead Of Frying

Traditionally, the eggplant is fried to make this recipe. However, you can also roast the eggplants. To do so, peel strips on the skin of the eggplants and cut a slit in the middle.

Brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil and roast in the oven at 400°F for about 45 minutes. Once the eggplants are roasted, place them in the baking dish and open up the slit to make room for the filling. Then proceed with the stuffing and baking as instructed.

Serving Suggestions

Karniyarik is a delicious complete meal on its own, but it also goes very well with some side dishes. For starchy side dishes, you can try rice with vermicelli, Turkish rice pilaf with orzo or Turkish bulgur pilaf. For lighter sides, try Gavurdagi (Turkish tomato salad), Cacik (Turkish yogurt and cucumber) or Mediterranean salad.

three karniyarik on two different plates with a hand holding a fork.

Leftovers And Freezing

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. 

Can you freeze stuffed eggplant? To freeze this dish, let the cooked stuffed eggplants cool completely, then place them in a container and freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to serve, thaw in the fridge and cook in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350°F.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between karniyarik and 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 these are two different version of stuffed eggplant. 

Do I need to salt the eggplants before cooking?

Yes, soaking the eggplants in salted water will help getting rid of their bitterness. This also helps the eggplants absorb less oil when frying them.

Can I grill the eggplant instead of frying or roasting?

Yes 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. 

karniyarik is perfect for dinner.

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4.65 from 31 votes

Karniyarik Turkish Stuffed Eggplant

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. 
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings
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Ingredients 

  • 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

Tomato sauce

  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup boiling water

Instructions 

  • Prepare the eggplants by peeling strips on their skin. Keep the top on. Cut a slit in each eggplant without 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

Video

Notes

  • 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. 
  • To freeze this dish, 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 

Nutrition

Calories: 325kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 337mg | Potassium: 1485mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 635IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Shadi HasanzadeNemati

I'm here to show you how to make delicious Persian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food at home. My easy to follow recipes will bring exciting new flavors to your table!

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4.65 from 31 votes (12 ratings without comment)

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25 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve never had stuffed eggplant before, but it sounds so flavorful! I can’t wait to try this recipe. 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Such a wonderful use for eggplant! So much flavor packed into each one. Absolutely beautiful styling too!

  3. 5 stars
    This stuffed eggplant recipe is calling my name! I can’t wait to try it out for dinner tonight. I already know I am going to love it!

  4. 5 stars
    Wow! My taste buds are tingling! Each of your recipes is so delicious. And so trusted. This eggplant recipe is no exception. I’m picking up the ingredients at the market this morning. I’ll be making this healthy dish for dinner.

  5. 5 stars
    I lived in Turkey for 5 years and fell in love with the food from the first bite! I frequented lokantas in and around Kadiköy and Acibadem where I lived, and this was one of my favourite dishes to order!
    l live in Denmark now and when I saw beautiful eggplants in the shop yesterday, I thought “karniyarik”! I found this recipe, and from the moment I opened the oven, I knew it was the really thing!
    I had the most enjoyable dinner I’ve had in a long time and we enjoyed our karniyarik and cacik. I can’t wait to have the leftovers tonight! There’s only enough for me, so my husband and kids will have to figure out something for themselves!!!

    1. Hi Kirisa! Happy to know you love this recipe! We used to live in Atasehi, still have an apartment there actually!

  6. 5 stars
    So delicious! I can’t believe that I have only made ratatouille and eggplant parmesan with this amazing veggie. Thanks for helping expand my repertoire. Will definitely make again.