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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 55 min (includes soaking time)
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
Karniyarik, meaning “split belly” in Turkish, is a classic stuffed eggplant dish that’s full of flavor. The eggplant is first fried, then stuffed with a delicious meat and vegetable filling and baked in a tomato sauce. This dish is usually served on its own or with some white rice on the side. The classic recipe calls for frying whole eggplants in oil, but I roast them in the oven for a more hands-off version.



  1. Peel the eggplant skins in stripes, then cut a lengthwise slit down the middle of each eggplant without going all the way through, 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. Fill a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with water and mix in 1 tablespoon salt. Add the eggplants to the water and let soak, rotating them occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F; line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat it with cooking spray.
  3. Remove the eggplants from the water, gently squeeze to get rid of excess water and pat them dry. Rinse and dry the casserole dish; reserve for later.
  4. Place the eggplants on the prepared baking sheet and brush with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Bake until they are cooked and tender but not falling apart, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove the eggplants and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the filling, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes more. Add the ground beef, breaking it up with a spatula, and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the Anaheim peppers and tomato and toss to combine. Mix in the Aleppo pepper, black pepper, 1 tablespoon of the tomato paste and 1 teaspoon salt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down and the mixture is saucy, about another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  6. Transfer the eggplants to the reserved casserole dish. Open up each slit by pushing against the sides of it with a spoon, making sure the eggplant is still intact on the bottom. Spoon the filling into each eggplant.
  7. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons tomato paste with 1 1/2 cups hot water and 1 teaspoon salt in a measuring cup or bowl. Spoon the sauce over the eggplants and into the casserole dish. Bake until heated through and lightly browned on top, about 30 minutes. Top with parsley right before serving.

Cook’s Note

The classic version of this recipe calls for frying the eggplants after they’ve soaked in the salty water for 30 minutes. If following the classic method, make sure the eggplants are fully dry, then fry them in about 1/2 cup vegetable oil at 350 degrees F in a frying pan.