Stuffed aubergines with lentils, Mercimekli Karniyarik
My family loves Karniyarik, Stuffed aubergines/eggplants with minced/ground meat and vegetables, one of my favourite dishes growing up in Turkey too. We equally love lentils; in an attempt for my children to enjoy lentils more, I made this plant based version of Karniyarik, using green lentils and vegetables, Mercimekli Karniyarik. Filling has been similar to Antakya’s Mercimekli Mualla, Aubergine, lentils and peppers cooked in olive oil recipe. I used green peppers here and added pul biber, Turkish red pepper flakes in the seasoning, along with the refreshing dried mint. The end result has been so very delicious and light in flavour – delighted to report the children loved it too. I sprinkled some grated cheese (mild grated mozzarella, Turkish beyaz peynir or feta cheese would all work well) over a couple of our Stuffed aubergines, this version has been a delicious variation too. You can prepare the filling ahead of time; this lovely dish tastes even better the next day and freezes well.
Recipe type: Vegetarian, Vegan
Cuisine: Turkish cuisine
Serves: 4
  • 2 dark purple medium aubergines/eggplants
  • 60ml/4tbsp green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ green bell pepper, finely chopped (save 4 thin strips of green peppers for decoration)
  • 200g/7oz (1/2 can of) chopped tomatoes
  • 90ml/3fl oz water
  • 60ml/4tbsp light olive oil, canola oil or groundnut oil to par bake the aubergine halves
  • 30ml/2tbsp olive oil (for the filling)
  • 4 slices of tomato for decoration
  • 30ml/2tbsp grated cheese (mozzarella or beyaz peynir, feta cheese ) – optional –
  • 10ml/2tsp dried mint
  • 5ml/1tsp Turkish pul biber or chili flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F
  2. Cut the aubergines/eggplants in half lengthways leaving the stalk intact. In each half of the aubergine, cut a deep split lengthways without cutting through to the skin on the opposite side and leaving ½in/13mm uncut at either end. Sprinkle salt over the flesh side of the aubergines and leave them aside for 15 minutes.
  3. Dry the aubergines/eggplants with kitchen towel thoroughly. Place them on a baking tray, skin side down. Pour in the light olive oil (or canola or groundnut oil) over the aubergine halves and rub the oil all round them. Bake in the preheated oven (200C/400F) for 30-35 minutes, until they soften and start to get a nice brown colour at the edges.
  4. While aubergines are baking, put the green lentils in a pan of boiling water, stir and cover. Simmer in low heat for 15 minutes. Drain the water and place the lentils in a medium sized bowl.
  5. Combine the partially cooked lentils with onion, garlic, bell peppers, chopped tomatoes, salt, dried mint, olive oil and Turkish pul biber or chili flakes in the bowl. Season with ground black pepper; check the seasoning and add more salt if needed.
  6. Take out the partially baked aubergines from the oven and turn the heat down to 180C/350F.
  7. Once cool enough to handle, gently open up the cavity of the softened aubergines. Place them on a baking dish. Spoon the filling into the cavity of the aubergine/eggplant halves, also some over the top. Place a slice of tomato and pepper on each half. Pour 90ml/3fl oz water on the can of chopped tomatoes you have used, to finish off the left over tomato sauce. Mix and pour this on the baking tray. Cover and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
  8. Then uncover the baking dish, and if you prefer, sprinkle some grated cheese over. Bake further 10 minutes or until they are tender and the aubergines/eggplants are nicely browned on top.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature, with pide ekmek or crusty bread aside.
  10. Afiyet Olsun.
Recipe by Ozlem's Turkish Table at