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Turkish Stuffed Eggplant (Karniyarik)

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This fantastic Turkish recipe, called karniyarik, is stuffed eggplant with ground beef, pepper, and tomato. It's a wonderfully hearty dinner recipe.

Karniyarik means "split belly" in Turkish, referencing the split of the eggplant that's stuffed with ground meat and peppers.

This recipe does require several steps, but it's relatively easy and straightforward to make. If you like eggplant, you've got to try it!

Two stuffed eggplants on a white plate, next to a fork and knife.

Why You'll Love This Stuffed Eggplant Recipe

If you like Turkish cuisine or Mediterranean recipes, you've got to try this stuffed eggplant. It's a fun recipe to make and it's also a delicious, traditional Turkish dish.

You can serve this recipe on its own or alongside some rice or a salad. It's easy to reheat and tastes just as great a day or two later.

Eggplants, ground beef, a yellow onion, tomatoes, green peppers, tomato paste, garlic cloves, spices, and olive oil on a marble background.

Ingredients You'll Need

Eggplants - This dish is traditionally made with long, thin eggplants found in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. In Northern Europe and the Americas, these eggplants can be difficult to find, so we'll use 3 Italian eggplants, that we'll cut in half before using.

Onion - You'll use 1 medium yellow onion for the base of the meat stuffing.

Ground Meat - You can use either 1 pound of ground beef or 1 pound of ground lamb. I like to use ground beef because it's easier for me to find!

Green Pepper - You'll use 1 green bell pepper for the meat stuffing and optionally 1 hot or sweet green chile, cut into strips, for topping the eggplants before baking. I used a poblano pepper, but you can also use an Italian pepper or green bell pepper if you'd like it to be less spicy.

Tomatoes - You'll use either 3 fresh tomatoes (that you'll grate) and 1 (14-ounce) can of diced tomatoes. If tomatoes are out of season, use canned tomatoes.

Tomato Paste - You'll need 4 tablespoons of tomato paste. Two tablespoons are for the meat stuffing and two tablespoons are added to water and used in the baking dish to help the eggplants soften while baking.

Spices - You'll use 2 teaspoons of sea salt, 1 teaspoon of Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon of paprika.

Parsley - You'll use 1/2 cup of chopped parsley in the meat stuffing. You can use additional parsley to garnish the eggplants once they've come out of the oven as well.

Oil - You'll use 1 tablespoon of olive oil to cook the onions and an additional few tablespoons of neutral oil (like safflower, canola, etc) to fry the eggplants before stuffing them.

Four photos showing the process of making the meat and pepper filling for the eggplants.

What To Serve With This Recipe

You can serve these stuffed eggplants on their own or with a simple side dish. Here are some ideas:

Halved eggplants topped with salt on a baking sheet.
Fried eggplant halves on a baking sheet.
Stuffed eggplants on a baking sheet in a tomato sauce, before going in the oven.

More Turkish Recipes to Try

If you like Turkish food and flavors, be sure to check out some of our other favorite regionally-inspired recipes.

Turkish stuffed eggplants on a baking sheet, after coming out of the oven.

Tips for Making this Recipe

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Specialty Ingredients - This recipe calls for Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes. If you'd like to try Aleppo pepper, I highly recommend the Spice House Aleppo pepper.

Recommended Tools - Because you'll cook the eggplants in a little bit of water with tomato paste (this will help the eggplants soften), you need to use either a rimmed baking sheet or a large baking pan.

Storing Tips - This recipe will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and reheats well.

Diet/Allergy Alternatives - There is a vegetarian version of this recipe called Imam Bayildi which is also very delicious!

If you try this recipe, let us know! Connect with us on Instagram and share your photos or leave us a rating.

Yield: 6 servings

Turkish Stuffed Eggplant (Karniyarik)

Two stuffed eggplants on a white plate, next to a fork and knife.

This delicious eggplant stuffed with ground beef recipe is a flavorful Turkish dish.

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 Italian eggplants, halved
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste, divided
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 tomatoes, grated (or 1 can diced tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of neutral oil
  • 1 green chile (poblano or other), sliced
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. 
  2. Cut a slit down the center of the halved eggplants without piercing the skin. Sprinkle the eggplants with salt and set them aside. This will help them release excess water. 
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and once it’s hot, add the diced onion. Sauté for 3 minutes. 
  4. Add the ground beef and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until most of the pink is gone. Break it up into smaller chunks. 
  5. Add the diced bell pepper and sauté for 2 minutes. Then add the tomato paste, sea salt, Aleppo pepper, and paprika to the skillet. Stir continuously for 30 seconds till the tomato paste is incorporated. 
  6. Stir in the grated tomatoes and then bring the mixture to a low simmer for 5 minutes. 
  7. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the chopped parsley. 
  8. Using a paper towel to remove any excess water from the eggplants. 
  9. Heat a few tablespoons of neutral oil in a large skillet or cast iron pan. Fry the eggplants cut side down for several minutes until they are browned and a little crisped. Flip them and cook the skin side for 2 minutes. Remove and set on a paper towel. Work in batches if necessary. 
  10. Place the eggplants on a large, rimmed baking sheet or in a large baking dish. Top with the meat and pepper mixture. Place a slice or two of green chile on top of each eggplant. 
  11. Stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons and 1/2 cup of water together, then pour in the bottom of the rimmed baking sheet or baking dish. 
  12. Cover the eggplants with aluminum foil. Bake covered for 20 minutes and then remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. 
  13. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. 

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 397Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 1494mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 9gSugar: 14gProtein: 26g

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