Stuffed Eggplant (Karnıyarık)

Stuffed Eggplant

When I tell people where I am from, usually, first thing that they tell me is that they love Turkish Food.  Most of the time, they had it or heard good things about it and want to try it.

As I was recently in Turkey, I thought about putting some of the most popular Turkish dishes on my blog.
This, Stuffed Eggplant dish, is one of them. It’s original name is Karniyarik. The exact translation from Turkish to English is “Riven Belly”.

As usual, one my mother’s best friends, Sevil, graciously helped me make it.

Well… I will be honest. She made it. I helped. We not only had a fantastic time together but also, ended up with a fantastic dish.

Karniyarik is one of the staple dishes of the Ottoman Cuisine. In general, egglants are BIG in our cuisine. If you ever come across with an Ottoman Cuisine cookbook, you will see several recipes that use them as the main ingredient. They say, in Ottoman Cuisine, there are more than 280 original recipes made from eggplant.

Stuffed Eggplant

This dish kept its popularity over the years and, is still one of the most cooked dishes to this day in Turkey. Especially during summer times, when eggplants are in their peak season.

As most kids grew up in Turkey, I ate this dish many times during hot summer months. No wonder why I associate Karniyarik with brutally hot summer days of Bursa, where I grew up.

Stuffed Eggplant

In the original recipe, eggplants are supposed to be fried. However, since I am not a big fan of fried food, I was hesitant about putting it in my blog as a favorite dish. Sevil (as she usually does) came to my rescue and told me that she no longer fries them. Instead she grills them or like we did, cooks them on open fire on the stove top. My mother used to make it like that as well, not only for this dish but also, for some eggplant salads. If you have a charcoal grill you can grill them that way as well. The secret is to cook/grill them in open fire. Do not ask me why, but it really tastes better when you cook them this way.

Stuffed Eggplant

As I was working on the eggplants, Sevil was making the ground beef mixture. She started heating butter and olive oil in a large skillet, continuing with adding onions, tomatoes, peppers, seasoning and ground beef. (For detailed instructions, please refer to the recipe instructions below). If I was making this dish by myself, I would start making the ground beef mixture first, then grill the eggplants.

Stuffed Eggplant

When the eggplants were ready, she hand-peeled them under running water, leaving the stems intact. At this stage, since the display of this dish comes from the way the eggplants look, it is important to maintain their original shape as much as possible.
Once peeled and washed, she placed them in a glass, ovenproof pan as displayed in the picture below.

Stuffed Eggplant

Using a spoon and her fingers, she created a large pocket in the “belly” of each eggplant, gently pushing the eggplant flesh to the sides. She stuffed each eggplant belly, equally, with the ground beef mixture, letting it mound through the slit. She decorated the top of each eggplant with thinly sliced tomatoes and peppers.

Stuffed Eggplant

Prior to putting in the oven, she poured a mixture of water and tomato paste over the eggplants. Last but not least, she sprinkled chopped parsley on top of each eggplant.

Stuffed Eggplant

You see how pretty they look…

Sevil says that if you want, you can cover it with stretch film and bake it the next day or  freeze it for up to a  week. If you freeze it, just defrost it in the refrigerator the morning of the day you want to eat it.

After baking it in the oven for 15 minutes uncovered and 10 minutes covered with aluminum foil, it is ready to serve. I love to serve it with bulgur pilaf but white or black rice would go well with it.

Stuffed Eggplant

Stuffed Eggplant (Karnıyarık)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 6 eggplants
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ lbs ground beef
  • 1 cup green pepper, seeded and chopped (more for decorating, if desired)
  • 2+1(for decorating) medium tomatoes, peeled
  • 4 cloves of garlic, thinly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup Italian Parsley, washed and chopped
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F Degrees.
  2. Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the onion until fragrant, for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Chop 2 of the tomatoes, allowing much of the liquid to drain away (you do not want the stuffing to be too soggy). Add tomatoes, green pepper and garlic to the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ground beef, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook in medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the meet is cooked, 8-10 minutes. Once cooked, off the heat, add half of the chopped parsley and set aside.
  4. Mix hot water and tomato paste in a glass bowl and set aside.
  5. Grill or cook (as explained above) eggplants until they are soft. Hand-peel them under running water, leaving the stems intact. You should be left with the meat of the eggplants. At this stage, it is imperative to be careful to maintain the shape of the eggplants as much as possible.
  6. Place eggplants in 9X13 inch ovenproof glass pan. Using your fingers or a spoon create a large pocket in the “belly” of each eggplant, gently pushing the eggplant flesh to the sides. Stuff each eggplant belly, equally, with the ground beef mixture, letting it mound through the slit.
  7. Slice 1 tomato (and pepper, of desired) into 6 thin slices and place one slice on top of each eggplant.
  8. Pour the tomato paste and water mixture over the eggplants.
  9. Sprinkle it with the rest of the parsley.
  10. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes and then cover it with aluminum foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
  11. Serve with your favorite starch, mine was bulgur… ☺
A Recipe by Sevil Sebatlı.
Sevil Teyze’ciğim, sana ne kadar teşekkür etsem azdır.

  • seher

    sevgili ayşegülüm ANNEN gibi mükemmel bi ahçı olduğuna inanıyorum ve seni tebrik ediyorum sen yaparsan herşeyin iyisini yaparsın AYŞEN nimizin tariflerinden birde kitap çıkartsan süper olur BAŞARILAR ÖPÜYORUM SENİ VE EŞİNİ..:)ReplyCancel

    • Cok tesekkur ederim Seher Ablacigim. Destegin icin cok sagol.. 🙂
      Evet birgun umarim oyle birsey olur. SevgilerReplyCancel

  • Dalya

    Absolutely magnificient!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Nimet Hatcher

    Aysegul, I discovered your blog thru your aunt, Gulcin, who was my classmate at Robert College. I look forward to your recipes. My problem with karniyarik is the ground meat we get in US is too coarsely ground so the flavor of veggies don’t blend well into it. Next time I will try with having it ground twice or try ground lamb.ReplyCancel

    • Merhaba,
      First of all, thank you for your comments about my blog. It is very new but I am diligently working on it. I have never had a chance to meet you in person but heard about you from my aunt Gulcin..
      I do agree about the ground beef. Unfortunately, there is a big difference between the taste of ground beef between the two countries. My husband and I eat red meat very rarely. Therefore, whenever I decide to make a dish with any type of red meat in it, I go to a local butcher and ask him to prepare it for me according to the needs of the recipe. Most of the time it is more expensive but I think it is worth it.
      I also had some luck with meat from Whole Foods in the past.
      As you can imagine, it is really hard to find quality meat in the islands…
      I am not sure where you are living but, some of my friends living in the U.S. do go to local farms and sometimes get lucky with good quality meat (especially poultry).
      I hope you will have a chance to try my Karniyarik..
      Let me know how it turns out. 🙂

      Cheers… AysegulReplyCancel

  • dilay durmaz

    Aysegül hanim ellerinize sağlık nefis gözüküyor yeni tariflerinizi dört gözle bekliyoruz…Türkiyeden Sevgiler..ReplyCancel

    • Dilay Hanim Merhaba,
      Sitemi ve yemeklerimi begenmenize cok sevindim. Daha cok yeni bir site ama uzerinde devamli calisiyorum..
      Guzel dilekleriniz icin cok tesekkur ederim.
      Karayiplerden Sevgiler.. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Yasemin

    Teşekkür ederim!! I will make this recipe tonight :-)! I love the idea of grilling the eggplants instead of frying! Good one ;)!ReplyCancel

    • Yasemin, Tesekkurler.
      I hope it turned out good.
      I really like this as it is not as heavy as the fried version yet still super delicious.
      Thanks for stopping by!ReplyCancel

  • Decvorn

    Nice job Ice. I am totally love your website….. I might try some of those receipesReplyCancel

  • This recipe looks absolutely delicious. Photographs are stunning! Beautiful work, my friend!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly

    Merhaba, Aysegul. I am so happy I found your website. My husband is Turkish and I love surprising him with dishes from his home. Although I do make karniyarik often already, I am going to try your recipe today. It is slightly different than mine. 🙂 Now, I have a great resource in you and your webpage when looking for new recipes to surprise him.
    Teşekkür ederim!ReplyCancel

    • Merhaba Kelly,
      Rica ederim.
      I am glad to hear that you liked my page. I hope that this version of karniyarik worked out well for you.
      I am working on more Turkish recipes and will be posting them in the coming weeks. I hope you will get a chance to try them too.
      Thanks for your kind words on my website.

  • Hi Aysegul
    I love eggplant and look forward to trying this recipe. I have a (dumb)question..when you say you roast them over open fire on the stove do you literally hold them over the fire or in a skillet over open fire? Thanks
    p.s I’m going to try this with ground chicken, easily available at SproutsReplyCancel

    • Hi Robin,
      Yup. You literally put it on open fire. If you look at the blog post you will see a picture of 3 egg plants on the stove. I would recommend that you are attending them the whole time as they are cooking.. We do not want your house on fire..:P
      I have never made karniyarik with ground chicken but I think it is a great alternative.
      Let me know how it turns out and if I can help you along the way with questions you may have.

  • Cynthia B. Huntington

    Aysegul, the soup sounds like I could serve it COLD! as it is not a greasy soup. What do you think?ReplyCancel

    • Hi Cynthia,
      I am sorry but I am not sure which soup you are talking about..
      Could you please clarify?
      Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • You’re absolutely right in saying that char-grilled eggplants deliver more flavours than frying. I’ve eaten this version in a restaurant in Istanbul and that’s how I remember it. I just came across your blog and it’s fantastic. Your blog will be one of the main sources for my inspirations for Turkish cooking from now on…Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Hello there,
      Karniyarik is by far my favorite dish in the world. I am so glad you liked it.
      Thank you so much for your kind words.
      Please let me know if I can answer any questions about any of my recipes.
      Hugs from the sunny Caribbean…ReplyCancel

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