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Turkish Stuffed Eggplant – Karnıyarık

Stuffed eggplant, known as karnıyarık, is a classic Turkish dish enjoyed throughout all regions of Turkey. My mother-in-law makes this meal at least once every time she visits, usually when my parents also come over for a big family meal. 

This dish is a little more involved than other, easier recipes on this site. However, it is very delicious so worth the trouble! Because of this, we usually make a lot at a time so we can enjoy leftovers for a couple of days. The version I’m sharing here is a family recipe, made in my husband/mother-in-law’s style.

Karnıyarık is typically enjoyed with a side of rice. However, if you’re avoiding starches I think it is quite satisfying on its own!

Here’s what you need:

  • 2-3 medium-large eggplants
  • 1 lbs ground lamb or beef
  • ~3 medium-large tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tbsp pepper paste (salça) or tomato paste
  • ~2-3 cubanelle peppers
  • 3 ½ tsp salt (separated by 1½ tsp and 1 tsp)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ~1 cup of olive oil (separated by 1 tbsp, 1 tbsp, and the rest for frying eggplant)
  • ~4 cups of water (separated by ½ cup, and 3½ cups)
  • 1 small 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • Optional: ~2 cups of grated cheese

To begin, get the “stuffing” ready. Chop your onion into very small pieces, along with 1 large tomato, and 4 cloves of garlic. Place into separate piles.

Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a hot pan. Cook your lamb or beef until it just starts to brown (around 1 minute) before adding onion. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes. Next, add in the tomato and pepper (or tomato) paste. Add in 1 tsp black pepper and 1½  tsp of salt. Cook for another 5 minutes, then set aside.

While your stuffing cooks, you can start preparing the rest of your vegetables. Cut the end of your eggplants off and slice in half, once through the middle. Next, cut your tomatoes into large, thin slices. Quarter your cubanelle pepper. 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.

Now it’s time to pre-cook your eggplants by pan-frying them. Add olive oil so it’s about ⅛ inches deep in the pan, and turn the heat to medium-high. When the oil is hot, add the eggplant, sliced-side down. Cook for about 2-3 minutes before turning and cooking another minute. The eggplant will absorb much of the oil so you’ll need to add more depending on how many eggplants you can fit into your pan. The eggplants should be soft and brown when you remove from the oil and place sliced-side up on a sheet pan. 

When you’ve fried all of your eggplants, press down on the center using a spoon to create room for the stuffing. The indentation doesn’t have to be great, just slight will do. Fill in the eggplants with your mixture.

Next, top your eggplants with your sliced tomatoes and cubanelle peppers.

One more step before you start roasting! In a small mixing bowl, add in one small 6 oz can of tomato paste, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt and ½ cup of water and mix. It will look almost like ketchup. Dribble a thin layer of sauce on top of your eggplants. With the leftover sauce, drop a few dollops onto your sheet pan. 

At this point, you can also add the optional cheese on top.

Finally, add water to the sheet pan so that it is about ⅛ inches high, just covering the very bottom of the eggplants. 

Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. When finished cooking, you an also drizzle some of the sauce sitting in the pan on top of the eggplants before serving.

Serve with rice (recipe for Turkish rice pilav here)  or enjoy by itself. Enjoy!

Turkish Stuffed Eggplant - Karnıyarık

Dinner Mediterranean, Turkish
By Janice Yucel Serves: 6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes Cooking Time: 45 Minutes Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2-3 medium-large eggplants
  • 1 lbs ground lamb or beef
  • ~3 medium-large tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tbsp pepper paste (salça) or tomato paste
  • ~2-3 cubanelle peppers
  • 3 ½ tsp salt (separated by 1½ tsp and 1 tsp)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ~1 cup of olive oil (separated by 1 tbsp, 1 tbsp, and the rest for frying eggplant)
  • ~4 cups of water (separated by ½ cup, and 3½ cups)
  • Optional: ~2 cups of grated cheese

Instructions

1

To begin, get the “stuffing” ready. Chop your onion into very small pieces, along with 1 large tomato, and 4 cloves of garlic. Place into separate piles.

2

Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a hot pan. Cook your lamb or beef until it just starts to brown (around 1 minute) before adding onion. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes. Next, add in the tomato and pepper (or tomato) paste. Add in 1 tsp black pepper and 1½  tsp of salt. Cook for another 5 minutes, then set aside.

3

While your stuffing cooks, you can start preparing the rest of your vegetables. Cut the end of your eggplants off and slice in half, once through the middle. Next, cut your tomatoes into large, thin slices. Quarter your cubanelle pepper. 

4

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.

5

Now it’s time to pre-cook your eggplants by pan-frying them. Add olive oil so it’s about ⅛ inches deep in the pan, and turn the heat to medium-high. When the oil is hot, add the eggplant, sliced-side down. Cook for about 2-3 minutes before turning and cooking another minute. The eggplant will absorb much of the oil so you’ll need to add more depending on how many eggplants you can fit into your pan. The eggplants should be soft and brown when you remove from the oil and place sliced-side up on a sheet pan. 

6

When you’ve fried all of your eggplants, press down on the center using a spoon to create room for the stuffing. The indentation doesn’t have to be great, just slight will do. Fill in the eggplants with your mixture.

7

Next, top your eggplants with your sliced tomatoes and cubanelle peppers.

8

One more step before you start cooking! In a small mixing bowl, add in one small 6 oz can of tomato paste, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt and ½ cup of water and mix. It will look almost like ketchup. Dribble a thin layer of sauce on top of your eggplants. With the leftover sauce, drop a few dollops onto your sheet pan. 

9

At this point, you can also add the optional cheese on top.

10

Finally, add water to the sheet pan so that it is about ⅛ inches high, just covering the very bottom of the eggplants. 

11

Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. When finished cooking, you an also drizzle some of the sauce sitting in the pan on top of the eggplants before serving.

12

Serve with rice or enjoy by itself. Enjoy!

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