KARNI YARIK

Karnıyarık  literally translates as “split belly.” It is widely made and dearly loved almost in every part of Turkey, but probably has it’s origin in southeastern and eastern Mediterranean regions of Turkey. This is not a light dish, but it is absolutely fantastic. Though traditionally made with ground lamb, you may prepare it with ground beef, ½ and ½  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.

There are a couple things to be careful about when you’re cooking with eggplants. Buy eggplants right before you cook and pick the firmer ones; eggplants tend to get soft in the refrigerator. And for this dish, do not use huge eggplants, try to find thinner ones…

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 (about 1,8kg) eggplants
  • olive oil, to drizzle
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 onion, very finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped thinly
  • 1 kg minced beef
  • 4 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 5 tomatoes, 3 finely chopped, 2 sliced thinly in halfmoons
  • 2 tsptomato paste
  • salt, pepper
  • 5 green pepper
  • To serve: yoghurt combined with crushed garlic

 

PREPARATION

 

(Preparation time – 45 minutes Cooking time – 55 minutes)

  1. Peel 4 wide strips from each eggplant, one on each of four sides. Place the eggplant in a large bowl of salted water (Salt will help the moisture come out of the eggplants), invert a plate over the eggplant to keep them submerged in the water and set aside for 15-20 minutes, to remove any bitterness. Drain and dry well with paper towel.

 

  1. Most recipes call for frying the eggplants in oil to soften them, but you can also bake, which is just as effective:

Preheat oven to 180°C. Pierce eggplants all over with a fork. Drizzle with oil and rub into skin. Place on an oven tray and roast, turning occasionally, for 35 minutes or until soft.

(Alternatively: add enough canola oil (vegetable oil) to a large sauté pan to a depth of 5 cm. Heat the oil over medium-high heat (Make sure oil is really hot before you place eggplants, otherwise eggplants will soak tons of oil) and fry the eggplants, turning until browned and almost tender all the way through. Transfer immediately to a plate, lined with paper towel to drain. Once drained, place the eggplant in an oven dish and set aside.)

 

Stuffing:
3.  In a large frying pan, place 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring over medium heat until the garlic is lightly and evenly browned (1-2 minutes). Add the onion and saute until translucent (6-8 minutes).

  1. Add ground meat. Cook until ground meat soaks all the juice it lets out.
    5.Add 1 tsp tomato paste and diced tomato. Cook until all the water evaporates.
    6.Add chopped parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  2. Transfer the eggplants to an ovenproof dish large enough for eggplants to fit snugly. Increase the oven heat to 200 .With the help of two spoons or a knife, split eggplants lengthwise, cutting two-thirds of the way into the flesh, leaving base and stem of the eggplants intact. Open up the split with the spoons to make a nest for the filling.
  3. Stuff eggplants with ground meat mixture.
  4. Place a slice of half moon shaped tomato and a green pepper on top of each split belly eggplant for decoration
  5. Whisk together a cup of boiling water with 1 tsp tomato paste. Spoon a little over the eggplant to moisten them and pour the rest around the eggplant into the baking dish. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until tomato is softened and beef is slightly browned. Drizzle over the pan juices and serve with rice, garlic yoghurt and/or salad.