Turkish Stuffed Eggplant. Karnıyarık

In Turkey eggplants are everywhere - meze, main dishes, appetizers; broiled, roasted, mashed, diced!
The name of this dish translates as split belly or the belly is split and it originates in the Ottoman cuisine. When in Turkey I saw it in restaurant menus but stuffed eggplant seemed not-exotic enough to try in a new country's cuisine. So I filed it in my 'to-do' list and viola!

The recipe is quite complex and time-consuming to prepare but it is well worth the effort. As with many Turkish dishes, there is no overwhelming combination of spices, just a bit of pepper - that is why the vegetables should be the freshest and the best.

  • 6 eggplants (one per person), 20 cm in length, the ones you find at the farmers' market ones are best or in the worst case scenario use Chinese aubergines (but adjust the cooking time)
  • 2 medium white onions, diced finely
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped finely or minced
  • 1 lb ground beef or lamb (using lamb is in the authentic Ottoman recipe)
  • 1 ripe tomato, diced
  • 1 tsp red pepper / paprika
  • 3 tbs tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 ripe tomato for decoration
  • green banana peppers or slices of green bell peppers, as many as eggplants, for decorating
  •  salt, pepper to taste
  1. Wash the eggplants. Using a peeler, peel the eggplant lengthwise, in 1cm-wide strips. Put the eggplants in salted water and press them down with a plate to prevent from floating up. Leave for 30 minutes - this will remove any bitterness.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 375 F.
  3. In a frying pan, saute the onions in olive oil, add meat and cook until no longer pink. Add the chopped garlic, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and red pepper. Mix gently, add the parsley, add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
  4. Roasting eggplants: Remove the eggplants from water, dry with a towel. Line a baking sheet with foil, drizzle with oil and lay eggplants. Prickle the white strips with fork to allow better roasting. Pour 1 tsp oil over each eggplant and put the sheet in the oven for roasting. Check them in 15 minutes, turn them over, add more oil if needed. In 45-50 minutes the eggplants should be a bit charred. Prickle with a knife to check if they are ready - the knife should go in easily. Take them out, let them cool. 
  5. Now, a bit tricky here - with the two spoons, slit eggplants into two leaving the tops and bottoms attached. Fill with meat. The eggplant flesh should be very soft and give in easily for stuffing. On the top of each filled eggplant put a slice of tomato and a green bell / banana pepper slice.
  6. Lay the stuffed eggplants in an oiled baking dish. Mix 1 tbs tomato paste with 1 cup of boiled water and pour to cover the bottom of the dish.
  7. Put in a 350F oven for 30 minutes or until the peppers on top have softened.
  8. Serve with pide bread or plain white rice.

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