Eggplant’s last stand before the winter arrives. Did you guys know that the eggplant is a close cousin of tomatoes? Did you know that the Ottomans prepared hundreds of dishes with this vegetable? Did you know that it contains nicotine? Maybe that’s why Turks like it this much. Keywords: nicotine, Turks, smoking…
Karniyarik literally means “slashed belly”. It’s not a very complicated recipe, especially if you consider how sophisticated the final outcome looks, and of course tastes. Here’s how to make this famous Turkish dish:
For the stuffing:
100 grams of butter,
1 large onion, chopped finely,
300 grams of ground meat (lamb, beef or a mixture of both),
2 tomatoes, peeled and grated,
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper,
1/2 teaspoon of salt,
For the rest:
9-10 eggplants, preferably oval-shaped small variety, make sure they are firm and shiny,
Vegetable oil spray,
4-5 teaspoons of salt (for degorging, optional),
A pinch of ground nutmeg (optional),
1/2 cup of boiling water,
1 tomato grated,
A pinch of salt,
4 small green peppers, halved, seeded.
Peel the aubergines (peel the skin in vertical stripes if you like), remove the green bits around the stems but leave the hard stalk on top, just like you see in the picture, this helps hold them intact through the whole process.
Make a deep lengthwise slit along each eggplant, 1 inch apart from both the top and the bottom. Make the slit on the inside of the curve if the eggplants are curved. Carve out some of the flesh inside the slit.
Salt the eggplants generously, hold for about 15 minutes and then rinse, drain and squeeze to remove any excess water. Dry with paper towels. The ones harvested in summer sometimes even don’t need any degorging, but I still recommend this step after “slashing their bellies”, salting and rinsing, then draining and drying with paper towel.
Line the eggplants on a shallow tray and spray with vegetable oil, then bake for 15-20 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. Remove from the oven when soft. The original recipe calls for frying the eggplants, but this way it’s healthier and tastes way better. Sprinkle with grated nutmeg.
To prepare the filling, melt butter in a non-stick skillet on medium heat, sauté the onions till soft and brownish. Put the heat on high setting, then add ground meat. When cooked add salt, black pepper and tomatoes. Continue stirring until tomatoes are cooked and the sauce thickens.
Stuff the eggplants with the meat filling. Put green pepper halves on each stuffed eggplant. I haven’t listed it in the ingredients but at this point I place 1 teaspoon of cream on top of each eggplant. This is optional, though.
Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm with plain rice pilaf, fresh parsley leaves and yoghurt.