Thursday, August 1, 2013

Karniyarik: Turkish stuffed Eggplant شيخ المحشي

I miss the food scene is Portland, Oregon. We had plenty of restaurants to choose from whenever we decided to eat out. I talked about one here. We dont really have great restaurants in San Jose. Do you have a favorite in San Jose? Let me know! Of course, San Fransisco is only 45 minutes away but parking in the city is a nightmare.
Last year, we finally found Ephesus restaurant in Mountain View, near San Jose. it is a Turkish restaurant where mom and dad cook and the sons run the business. I tried many dishes on the menu and one of them was Karniyarik. (Disclaimer: Ephesus management did not pay me to mention the restaurant, I just love this place)

Karniyarik literally translates as "split belly." Karnıyarık is widely made in every part of Turkey and is shown in almost every Turkish soap opera dining scene. Karniyarik is basically eggplant that is tradionally fried, then stuffed with seasoned ground meat and baked in the oven. If you know me by now, you would know that I am not friends with fried food, thus I opted to bake the eggplant.  I also used the ground beef that I grind myself, which is chuck cut, here is how I do it. I also added garlic which is not traditionally used in this recipe. (I am from the Middle East, I cant help it). The small eggplant is used in Turkey but I used the big eggplants because it is easier to stuff. If you are Turkish and you are offended by this, I apologize. I do get offended when people spread Hummus on bagels. This is my version of Karniyarik. We have a similar dish in the Middle East called Sheikh al Mahshi (the sheikh of all stuffed things).

In this recipe, I use my homemade tomato sauce leaving out the basil leaves. If you feel that it is too much work, then you can use the store bought tomato sauce of your choice. It is the same tomato sauce that I shared with you in my previous post, here it is.


3 big Eggplants
1/4 cup of olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
1 lb of lean ground meat
1 medium onion 
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon of all spice
Nadine's homemade sauce (only half of the recipe is needed)
2 tablespoons of red pepper paste 
Grape tomatoes (optional)
Finely chopped parsley


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Cut the big eggplants in halves, place in a big preparation bowl, add salt and pepper and olive oil. Mix well ensuring that all the eggplants are covered in oil and seasoned.

seasoned eggplant ready to be baked
Cover a baking sheet with foil and arrange the eggplants. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes each side until nicely roasted and tender.
beautifully roasted eggplants

Meanwhile, grate the onion and finely chop 2 cloves of garlic.
Grated onion
In a big pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Add the grated onions and stir for 3-4 minutes
Add the garlic and stir 1 more minute
Add ground meat. Cook until ground meat is nicely brown
Add the red pepper paste and the tomato sauce and mix
Salt and pepper as needed
Cut the grape tomatoes if using in halves or just chop 2 tomatoes and place them with their juice in an oven proof deep baking dish such as pyrex.

With the help of a fork or spoons, make a little hole in each eggplant half
Stuff eggplants with ground meat mixture and place them in the baking dish.

Ready to be stuffed in meat mixture
Bake in preheated oven at 380F until tomatoes are bubbly, around 30 minutes. Garnish with the chopped parsley. (Traditionally, Karniyarik is garnished with slices of tomatoes and banana pepper before baking)

I love to serve this dish with basmati rice and my simple Arabic salad or with some plain homemade yogurt
Nadine's Tomato Sauce, recipe is here
Simple Arabic Salad, recipe is here


  1. When were you in PDX Nadine? We left almost five years ago and back then the food scene was just up and coming.

    1. We stayed inPortland for only 2 years 2007 till 2009! I just love this city despite its weather. The farmers' Market is the best!

  2. I agree about the farmers market. It's what I miss most. Too bad we didn't meet up when we were there. We must have just missed each other.

  3. Salaam, have you tried dish dash in santa clara? I haven't been to a great restaurant in SJ but dish dash was pretty good.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I tried it once when we first moved to California and I liked the presentation and ambiance. I should give it another try on our next date night. Thanks for reminding me of the place.