Recipe: Karnıyarık – Stuffed Eggplants With Ground Lamb, Tomatoes and Onions

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This impressive dish is a legacy of the Ottoman Palace kitchens. And yet another of the imperial demands for ingenuity concerning the much-loved eggplant, or aubergine. It is for sure that you can find this dish wherever you go in Turkey! Though traditionally made with ground lamb, there are other ways, too. You may also prepare it with ground beef or have a vegetarian version. Simply replace the meat with your favourite vegetable (mushrooms, chickpeas work very well), sprinkle some grated cheese over the top and bake it. It turns out to be a delicious alternative.

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Stuffed eggplant is traditionally made with ground lamb.
Stuffed eggplant is traditionally made with ground lamb.

In Turkish cooking, people use a lot of onion and garlic. Both have very valuable health benefits. For example, onions carry healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon. In addition, they can reduce the risk of tumours developing in the colon. Another good reason to welcome them in our dishes!

You can cook this dish ahead of time and gently reheat in the oven. Karniyarik freezes very well, once cooked.

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Following ingredients will allow you to cook karnıyarık and serve it for 6 people. As for the timing, on the other hand, the preparation time approximately takes 45 minutes. And cooking time takes an hour, more or less.

Making stuffed eggplant takes you 1 hour and 45 minutes, including cooking and preparation time.
Making stuffed eggplant takes you 1 hour and 45 minutes, including cooking and preparation time.

Ingredients for Stuffed Eggplants with Ground Lamb

  • 3 dark purple eggplants (aubergines; small to medium variety if possible)
  • 340 gr / 12 ounces ground (minced) lean lamb
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 400 gr /14 oz (1 can of) chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 240 ml / 1 cup water
  • 1 bunch or 1/2 cup Italian (flat) parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons canola oil or groundnut oil for shallow frying
  • 6 thin slices of tomato and green bell peppers, seeded – for decorative topping
  • 1 -2  teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
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By the way, the oven must be preheated to 180 C / 350 F.

How to Cook Stuffed Eggplants with Ground Lamb

Cut the eggplants in half lengthways leaving the stalk intact. Then, in each half of eggplant cut a deep split lengthways without cutting through to the skin on the opposite side and leaving 1/2″-13 mm- uncut at either end. After that, sprinkle salt over the flesh side of the eggplants and leave them aside for 15 minutes. Salt will help the moisture come out of the eggplants.

In a little of the olive oil, sauté the onions until soft. Later on, add the ground lamb and cook until all the moisture is absorbed. Add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, mix well. Continue cooking for a further couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in most of the chopped parsley. By the way, seasoning is important, so please check the seasoning of the mixture and add more salt or pepper if you would like.

It is strongly advised to serve karniyarik with pilaf and yoghurt.
It is strongly advised to serve karniyarik with pilaf and yoghurt.

What to Serve with Stuffed Eggplant (Karnıyarık)?

Afterwards, dry the eggplants with kitchen towel thoroughly. Lightly brown them evenly on both sides in the canola oil or groundnut oil. With the split sides facing up, place them into a well-oiled ovenproof dish or a baking tray. So, spoon the filling into the splits. On the top of each filled eggplant put a slice of tomato and green bell pepper. Mix the water with a drizzle of olive oil. Pour this mixture on the baking tray. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking for another 15 minutes or until they are tender and the eggplants are nicely browned on top.

Serve hot with plain rice (pilaf) and a dollop of plain yoghurt by the side.

After all, you are ready to enjoy your karnıyarık. So, Bon Appetit!

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