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Karniyarik – Stuffed Eggplants (Aubergines) with ground lamb, tomatoes and onions


Karniyarik; Stuffed eggplants with ground meat, onion, tomatoes

Karniyarik; Stuffed eggplants with ground meat, onion, tomatoes

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, aubergine, you will find this dish wherever you go in Turkey! Though traditionally made with ground lamb, you may prepare it with ground beef or have a vegetarian version too. Simply replace the meat with your favorite vegetable (mushrooms, chickpeas work very well), sprinkle some grated cheese over the top and bake it, it turns out to be a delicious alternative.

This Karniyarik recipe and many more are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, along with stunning photography and personal stories. Signed copies are now 30 % OFF for a limited time at this link and delivered worldwide including the USA.

You can cook this dish ahead of time and gently reheat in the oven. Karniyarik freezes very well, once cooked. Here’s also my YouTube video for how to make Karniyarik :

Preparation time – 45 minutes Cooking time – 55 minutes

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 ground nut 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

Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F

Cut the eggplants in half lengthways leaving the stalk intact. 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. 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. 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. Seasoning is important, so please check the seasoning of the mixture and add more salt or pepper if you would like.

Dry the eggplants with kitchen towel thoroughly. Lightly brown them evenly on both sides in the canola oil or gorundnut oil. With the split sides facing up, place them into a well-oiled ovenproof dish or a baking tray. Spoon the filling into the splits. On the top of each filled eggplant put a slice of tomato and a 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 and a dollop of plain yoghurt by the side.

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58 Responses to Karniyarik – Stuffed Eggplants (Aubergines) with ground lamb, tomatoes and onions

  1. Shai March 2, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    I made this last night for dinner and everyone love it! Thank you. I will definitely be trying the other recipes real soon.

    Love from Ukraine,

    • Ozlem March 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

      Merhaba Shai:)

      Many thanks for the comment, so glad you tried the stuffed eggplants and enjoyed it – one of my favorites too! Delighted that you will be trying more recipes:)
      Afiyet olsun,

  2. Lindsey March 19, 2012 at 1:24 am #

    Merhaba Ozlem!
    This is a great recipe – delicious and beautiful too. I made it tonight as a surprise for my Turkish fiance and it got a 5 star rating! Thanks for sharing it! I really enjoy your website and I will keep checking in for more recipes.
    Teşekkür ederim!

    • Ozlem March 19, 2012 at 9:21 am #

      Merhaba Lindsey,
      Thank you very much for the lovely comment, so glad the Karniyarik got 5 star rating, it’s one of my favorites too:) It is my pleasure to share and I hope you can get to share many Turkish treats!
      Selamlar, Sevgiler, Ozlem

  3. Deborah Kaplan March 2, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    I am so excited to find this website and to try this recipe. In my pantry I have olive oil, canola oil and grapeseed oil. Would any of these work and if not what should I substitute? You mentioned ground
    nuts so what type would you recommend? Would peanut oil or seasame oil be OK?
    Thank you so much. I will surprise my Turkish husband with this. 🙂

    • Ozlem Warren March 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

      Merhaba Deborah, lovely to find your comment here. Canola oil or any nut oils would work well for shallow frying. I prefer canola oil best for its milder flavor for shallow frying and for sauteing the ground meat and veg, I like to use olive oil.This recipe is a huge favorite amongst us Turks and eggplant lovers, I hope you and your husband enjoy it! Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem

  4. Alida June 3, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    I really like these. They must be so tasty. A very authentic Mediterranean dish!

    • Ozlem Warren June 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

      ciao Alida, thanks – one of our favorites back home, indeed very tasty!

  5. Joanne T Ferguson June 3, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    G’day! We all must be having an eggplant craving worldwide, TRUE!
    As JUST made Baked Lamb Stuffed Eggplant with toasted almonds and roasted pine nuts too!
    Here’s the photo should you wish to view!
    Your recipe and photo look YUM!

    Cheers! Joanne
    What’s On The List

    • Ozlem Warren June 3, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

      Thanks Joanne, we food loves think alike, look forward to checking out your delicious creation : )

    • Ozlem Warren June 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

      Wow Joanne, your baked eggplant looks amazing – I loved the touch of toasted almonds in it, wonderful flavors there : )

      • Hollis Evon Ramsey September 6, 2016 at 4:20 am #

        i love the roasted pine nuts and will add them to my version. thanks, Joanne and Ozlem!

  6. Helen August 9, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    Here in Macedonia we watch a lot of Turkish tv series and they are always eating such wonderful food so i decided to go online and find some recipes and i found your website i love all of your recipes and i’m just about to take the eggplants out of the oven. thank you for the great recipes.

    • Ozlem Warren August 9, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

      Merhaba Helen, many thanks for your kind note; so glad you’re enjoying Turkish cuisine – and the Tv series!- and really glad my recipes here are helping out 🙂 You are very welcome, thank you very much for taking the time to write 🙂 Selamlar, Ozlem

  7. Gill December 20, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    Ah, was just looking for this recipe (see my message) ! Googled for it, and yours ranked second in the list of the results, which is amazing! Looks delicious! I’d better start slicing those egg plants! 😉

    • Ozlem Warren December 21, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

      Hi Gill, So wonderful to get your note, many thanks! Thrilled to hear my recipe was ranked so high and I hope you enjoy Karniyarik – many thanks again!:)

  8. Camille December 31, 2014 at 3:24 am #

    Thanks for this recipe! I made it tonight for my husband (who is Turkish) and he said it was the best thing he’s eaten in 2014! 🙂

    • Ozlem Warren December 31, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

      Merhaba Camille, so delighted to hear it, you can’t beat karniyarik!! Afiyet olsun : )

  9. Turkey's For Life March 13, 2015 at 10:53 am #

    Never knew how much we loved aubergines (or should I say ‘eggplants’ 😉 ) until we moved to Turkey. Nor they’re a staple in the fridge especially for dishes like this. Yummy! 🙂

    • Ozlem Warren March 13, 2015 at 5:00 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by Julia, especially those lovely patlicans in Turkey are so irresistable – enjoy for us too!:) Ozlem

  10. Viorel L. October 27, 2015 at 1:44 am #

    OMG, your Karniyarik recipe is outstanding. Even though the American lamb doesn’t taste like real lamb, it was delicious. Reminded me of my childhood in Romania and my mom’s eggplant moussaka.
    Can’t wait to try this dish with New Zealand lamb.

    Thank you! You made my evening.

    • Ozlem Warren October 27, 2015 at 11:20 am #

      Merhaba dear Viorel, what a kind note, thank you very much. I am so glad to hear you enjoyed my karniyarik recipe and it brought happy memories – a favorite with us too. Afiyet Olsun and many thanks again, Ozlem

  11. Kadriye Cale June 2, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

    Dear Özlem, I’ve in US for 48 yrs. My cooking is very hodge poge, but other the picky ages of grand kids no complains from my husband or adult kids. Unfortunately my husband is adammant about eggplants, he gas no idea I add them in lots of stews, even in spagetti sauce. Tonight your recripe is coming to the mountain. In US is pretty hard to find the beautiful egglpants of Turkey, but I came across some, then opened your web site. So tonight I will give it a shot. Lets see if the joke will be on him or me. If he doesn’t go for it, more for me and my daughter

    • Ozlem Warren June 3, 2016 at 6:27 pm #

      Merhaba dear Kadriye, lovely to get your note, many thanks for stopping by – do hope you enjoy Karniyarik and even your husband may have a go – if not, as you say, more for you and your daughter : ) Afiyet Olsun! Ozlem

  12. Trevor August 11, 2016 at 5:11 pm #

    Great recipe Ozlem, it will become a regular in our home. We have recently discovered Turkish cuisine, and about half of our meals are now Turkisk or Turkish inspired.

    • Ozlem Warren August 11, 2016 at 7:50 pm #

      Merhaba Trevor,

      Many thanks for your kind note, so glad you’re enjoying Turkish cuisine and my recipes here – we love this karniyarik recipe too, afiyet olsun, Ozlem

  13. Ana January 21, 2017 at 3:22 pm #

    What a yummy recipe! Bringing back some memories from our lovely holiday in Istanbul. Thank you Ozlem for publishing this. 🙂

    • Ozlem Warren January 21, 2017 at 6:08 pm #

      You are most welcome Ana, very glad you enjoyed my Karniyarik recipe and it brought happy memories of your time in Istanbul, afiyet olsun! Ozlem

  14. Kara January 29, 2017 at 1:45 am #

    Ozlem, I love your recipes. This turned out delicious. I did add some cumin and turmeric which gave it a stronger spice and a little bit of a Turkish – Indian flavor and drizzled a yogurt sauce on the eggplant. So good, thank you!

    • Ozlem Warren January 30, 2017 at 4:47 pm #

      Merhaba Kara, many thanks for your kind note, so glad you enjoyed Karniyarik; your addition of the spices sound lovely, I add cumin to mine sometimes too, afiyet olsun!

  15. Selja November 11, 2017 at 6:28 am #

    Thanks for the recipe! I tried it some days ago, replacing the meat with quorn (mushroom protein). It worked really well!

    • Ozlem Warren November 11, 2017 at 10:52 am #

      Merhaba, so glad you enjoyed it – great variation, afiyet olsun! Ozlem

  16. Magdalena February 21, 2018 at 11:49 pm #

    Merhaba Ozlem, This is the same recipe my mother used…except she was from Piemonte in Northern Italy…the only difference is she made it with beef. Now I have to go make it with lamb!!! It’s awesome when cultures converge. There are always more similarities than differences. And cooking makes the world go round and brings us all closer… I saw your red lentil soup recipie, going to try that too!

    • Ozlem Warren February 22, 2018 at 3:31 pm #

      Merhaba Magdalena, lovely to get your note – I so love seeing similarities and variations between our cuisines too and I love Italian cuisine! Hope you enjoy this version – I sometimes mix lamb with beef and that’s lovely too. Many thanks for your kind note, Afiyet Olsun! Ozlem x

  17. Carole Greenan March 16, 2018 at 12:13 pm #

    Merhaba Ozlem,
    Nasilsin? I have recently relocated from Ireland to Izmir with my husband and our daughter. I am loving my new home in Turkiye so far & most of all, the food!!!!!
    Food is such a big part of your culture so I have been trying out lots of your recipes including this one. They are superb (I made Ayva tatlisi yesterday, harika)!
    Thank you for all your wonderful recipes eleniz sağılık! I am also in the process of ordering your recipe book. Teşekkur ederim. Iyi gunler, Carole

    • Ozlem Warren March 16, 2018 at 3:53 pm #

      Merhaba dear Carole,
      Thank you so much for your kind note, Hos geldiniz! So glad you’re enjoying your time in Turkey – love Izmir and planning to be there on 2nd May – and my recipes; really the food is a big part of Turkish culture! My sincere thanks for getting my book – it is packed with wonderful recipes and photography, hope you enjoy it – Afiyet Olsun! Ozlem

  18. Julie April 21, 2019 at 4:41 am #

    merhaba! yemek tarifler için çok teşekkür ederim! çok güzeller.

    iki kez karnıyarık yaptım. birinci zaman, başka website’in yemek tarifi yaptım. eşim yaptığım karnıyarığı sevmiyordu.

    ama ikinci zaman sizin yemek tarifi kullandım. bence daha iyi ve eşim sizin yemek tarifi çok seviyordu.

    tekrar teşekkür ederim!

    • Ozlem Warren May 1, 2019 at 1:57 pm #

      Merhaba Julie,

      Notunuz icin cok tesekkur ederim, cok mutlu oldum, elinize saglik ve Afiyet Olsun : )

      Just to let you know, i also have a cookery book, with over 90 authentic recipes, If you’d like a signed copy of my book, you can order a copy at this link, it is delivered worldwide, just thought to let you know:

      Cok tesekkurler, ozlem

      So glad you enjoy my recipes, many thanks and Afiyet Olsun,

  19. Sheryl de torres December 6, 2019 at 8:26 pm #

    This is very nice.. thank you. I want to try. What if i do not have an oven. How do i cook this?

    • Ozlem Warren December 7, 2019 at 1:13 pm #

      Hi Sherry, it really is a delicious recipe – you can also cook on a wide pan (in one layer) over burner, covered. Over medium heat for about 35-40 minutes. Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem

  20. Mariska Van Eeden September 23, 2021 at 9:06 am #

    Just love all your recipes! You have a true passion for food and I definitely recommend your cookery book for sure!

    • Ozlem Warren October 1, 2021 at 2:07 pm #

      Thank you very much Mariska, very kind of you!
      Afiyet Olsun, warmly,

  21. ,Marti June 16, 2023 at 10:09 am #

    from Texas, US. Cousin who lives in Turkey sent me this recipe and we love it. Homegrown eggplant, tomatoes, basil, peppers. LOVE this meal. Added fresh mozzarella cheese last 15 min., then homegrown herbs for topping. Thank you.

    • Ozlem Warren June 16, 2023 at 2:05 pm #

      Merhaba Marti,

      Thank you so much for your kind note, delighted you enjoyed karniyarik – Afiyet Olsun! Ozlem

  22. Ozlem Warren April 22, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    Many thanks for the link!

  23. Ozlem Warren April 22, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    thank you for the link!

  24. Ozlem Warren June 3, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    thanks for the link!

  25. Ozlem Warren February 2, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    Many thanks for using my recipe and the link – glad you enjoyed Karniyarik!

  26. Gul e raana Tariq July 21, 2020 at 1:47 pm #

    i’m from pakistan and really like turkish food.
    i also want to know different and special turkish recipes . will you pls guide me about it?

  27. Ozlem Warren July 22, 2020 at 11:09 am #

    Hi, you can find over 100 authentic Turkish recipes here, also at my cookery book Ozlem’s Turkish Table – you can order a Signed copy at this link, it is delivered worldwide

    Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem


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