Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Reluctant Domestic Goddess: Stuffed Eggplant (Karniyarik)

karniyarik homemade
Karniyarik that we made with the help of our instructor

This past March I visited Istanbul with my younger brother. During the four day trip we took a Turkish Cooking course where I picked up some delicious recipes. This past week I had the chance to cook for some friends and decided to try Turkish stuffed eggplant which is called Karniyarik (Split Belly)

To make sure I could recreate some of the dishes, I brought some spices back with me from Istanbul. My favourite spice that I discovered was Ottoman Spice, a unique chili based Turkish blend. It has become a staple in all my tomato sauces, regardless of cuisine. I needed to replenish my supply so I ask a fellow globe trotter to grab some on her recent trip to Turkey. She returned with the prized spice in hand, and for her efforts, I cooked for her!

The main difference in my version of the recipe was the size of the eggplants (aubergine). My teacher used small slender Italian eggplant and I had to use 3 medium eggplants.

fresh eggplant or aubergine for karniyarik
Eggplants before preparation (photo source)
Eggplant is a tricky tricky vegetable. It is loaded with moisture and if the water isn't needed for the recipe it can really alter the flavors and consistency of the dish. Before cooking the eggplant I had to stripe them, cut them in half, and create a slice in the middle to later stuff the meat. Then I rubbed the eggplants with salt and let them sit for an hour. This helps draw out the moisture. The eggplant have to sit in a colander or on a rack to allow for all the excess water to drip off. While the eggplant was draining I gathered my ingredients.

ingredients for karniyarik
Fresh ingredients
Here is a list of ingredients:
3 medium eggplant, peeled in stripes lengthwise, halved
1 lb of ground beef
1 sweet onion choppped
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 cup parsley, finely choppped (be generous)
1 or 2 tomatos chopped
1 tomato, sliced for garnish

dill for garnish (optional)
green  peppers, 6 one for each eggplant
ottoman spice to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
sugar to taste
ground pepper to taste
salt to taste
my own personal blend of spices i cant remember but make everything taste good. ha!
2 tablespoons olive oil
mild flavor oil for browning eggplant
1 cup hot water

serve with:
basmati or jasmine rice
flat bread
yogurt (optional)

Oven should be preheated to 180 degrees C/380 F

meat filling for karniyarik
The meat stuffing
I browned the onions in a pan with a bit of olive oil. Once onions were soft I added the beef and cooked it until done. Then came the garlic, chopped tomato, tomato paste, and all my spices and sugar except the parsley. You should let it simmer to ensure all the spices and flavours have time to marry. It would be a good idea to prepare the meat filling the night before and let them really soak in overnight but I didn't have that kind of time :) I let the meat filling simmer while I pan fried the eggplant. Be sure to test the meat occasionally, experiment until you get it to taste just right.

 split eggplant for karniyarik
Eggplant ready for frying

Now back to the eggplant. I wiped off all the excess salt and I heated some mild flavoured oil in a frying pan. Now you have to make sure the oil is super hot or the eggplant with just absorb all the oil. You want to make the eggplant brown on all side and gets a little soft.
Once I was done with pan frying the eggplant I dried them out on paper towel and took my meat filling off the fire. This is when I added the parsley and began to assemble my masterpiece.

assempled karniyarik
Pre-oven prettyness
Lay your eggplant into a deep oven pan and stuff them evenly with the meat filling. Top each piece of eggplant with a slice of tomato and a pepper. Before putting it into the oven, I mixed a bit of olive oil in a cup of water and poored it into the pan. I covered it with foil and let it cook in the oven for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes I removed the foil and let it cook uncovered so the peppers and  tomato could get some color.

homemade karniyarik
Completed Karniyarik. It was a hit!

It should be noted that I had so many spare ingredients that I retried the recipe again the same week. It was delicious both times. I think my teacher would have been proud!

Have you ever taken a cooking course? Have your re-creations been successful?

Be sure to follow me on twitter @nicolenewblack


  1. Well, I don't cook at all, but I'll make sure to come and visit so you can make this for me. ha!

  2. Sounds delish. Too bad I am staying with my aunt and family who aren't appreciative of anything new or different. :-/