Turkish stuffed eggplants: call them if you want Vegan Karniyarik


Turkish stuffed eggplants


Time:         prep. 10 mins
                   baking 40 mins tot
Difficulty:  easy
Yields:       2 portions
Cost:          low


Karniyarik is one of the summer staples of Turkish cuisine. Beside other characteristics it is the undisputed rival of Imam Bayildi aka “the traditionally vegan Turkish stuffed eggplants”.
This dish which has hundreds of years of history, originally involves fried eggplant, filled with a very thick meat sauce; and is served strictly hot…. You may be wondering how it is a summer dish given the “very heavy ingredients and preparation way”: well I feel exactly the same way!
That’s why in my version of Karniyarik – Turkish stuffed eggplants; the eggplants are not fried but grilled; and the filling has no meat but made with one of the many meat substitutes (go ahead and choose the one you have on hand).
Finally, I agree that modifying the original recipe probably makes the dish a little less traditional, yet at the same time transforms it into something definitely healthier, cheaper and no less more sustainable, just as CHE likes it.

The importance of this last point (sustainability), I have addressed it extensively in this publication, listing the various issues related to excessive meat consumption and the consequent choice of intensive livestock farms: environmental pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, irresponsible use of antibiotics, animal welfare and deforestation.
We are called to an act of responsibility, for ourselves, as by destroying the habitat in which we live through unsustainable and unhealthy choices, we are close to the abyss.
There are plenty of alternatives to meat, just as nutrient-rich and tasty; not choosing them, at this point, becomes incomprehensible.
So to those who ask me why I use plant-based meat, “crippling” in this way a dish that makes part of our popular culture, I reply, and why not? Isn’t it worse to cripple, ecosystems on multiple levels for 5 minutes of pleasure?

After the necessary reminder, let’s move on to the Turkish stuffed eggplants recipe; first, however, a little clarification on the name Karni-Yarik, which literally means Split Belly: indeed, one only has to look at the photo of the presentation to understand how the name is, perhaps not very romantic, but certainly more than fitting.

Ingredients for 2 Turkish stuffed eggplants

2 elongated eggplants, medium
150 g meat analogues (already cooked green lentils, ground soybean, ground seitan, or plant-based meat etc)
1 small onion
1 large tomato
3 tablespoons of tomato puree (or 1 tablespoon of tomato paste)
2 green peppers or 1/4 green bell pepper
1 clove of garlic (cut it 10 min. before cooking: you can read why to do this important practice here)
a little extra virgin olive oil to grease the eggplants
2 tablespoons of evo oil to cook the filling
salt, pepper to taste

For the tomato sauce to be used in the final cooking of the Turkish stuffed eggplants

2 tablespoons of tomato puree (or half a tablespoon of tomato paste)
1 tablespoon of evo oil
½ cup of water

for garnish (optional)

2 green peppers or 2 strips of a green bell pepper
2 tomato slices or 2 cherry tomatoes


The procedure consists of 3 steps, but nothing that can be complicated even for novices.
In the first step we will roast the eggplant, then prepare the filling and finally bake the karniyarik after filling the eggplants with the plant-based sauce. End.

Exactly as per Imam Bayildi, eggplants originally should be fried; yet a recipe that aspires to be healthy cannot involve frying: on the one hand, the same eggplants that never get satiated with oil, despite every possible precaution; on the other hand, frying them, in addition to making your taste buds happy, serves no purpose at all, when similar results can be obtained by baking them in the oven or, at most, by using the air fryer (if you do not have one, I recommend reading this very, very honest review before buying it).

Right away a recommendation: if the eggplants are very fresh, the result is even more exciting, as refrigerated storage softens the flesh and dries out the peel.

Now we can tackle the preparation steps.
Cut the eggplant peels into stripes (you can also remove all, but in this way it is tastier), keeping the stem.
As I explained in Imam Bayildi’s recipe I personally do not salt the eggplants before cooking them, you are free to do so: you can read my reasons here.
Oil the surface of the eggplants and bake them in the oven at 200°C for 20-25 minutes (to safeguard energy and CO2 emissions, use the oven by baking other food items as well).
In the meantime, cut the onions into cubes and wilt them over a gentle heat in a pan with 2 tablespoons of evo oil: when they have softened after 5 minutes, add the thinly diced green peppers; after another 3 minutes, add the clove of garlic (divided in two) and the finely diced tomatoes and tomato puree; season with salt and pepper and turn off the stove after 5-8 minutes.
Combine the water, oil and tomato puree or freshly grated tomato in a small bowl: set aside.
Once the eggplants are cooked, take them out of the oven, cut them from the long side, being very careful not to cut them in two; if necessary, use a fork to mash the pulp (without removing it); stuff them with the filling.
The amount of filling needed is directly proportional to the size of the eggplant. I recommend that you always prepare a double dose of vegan ragout filling so that you can use it also for another meal.
For a very Turkish look, garnish the Turkish stuffed eggplants with a slice of tomato and a strip of green bell pepper or a green long pepper.
Now continue cooking in the oven, or in a pot with a lid, adding the sauce kept aside.
After about 20 to 25 minutes, the Turkish stuffed eggplants will be ready to be transferred to a serving dish.
The most classic combination involves rice and yogurt; vegans, on the other hand, can opt simply for some salad instead of yogurt.

Enjoy your meal and have a good revolution


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Turkish stuffed eggplants: call them if you want Vegan Karniyarik
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