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Traditional Turkish Dish: Karniyarik

Countries sharing the coastline of Mediterranean Sea share many dishes. Each culture brand these delicious recipes with a local name, while the taste slightly differs thanks to cultural preferences and improvisations with different ingredients. Yet, one ingredient is constant and it reigns among others: the olive oil –the integral part of the Mediterranean diet. Several observational studies affirmed that the Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. Heart and Stroke foundation lists Mediterranean diet as a “heart-healthy diet, modelled after well-researched eating plans.” (Arnett et al., 2019)

Karniyarik (literally “riven belly” or stuffed eggplants as commonly called) is one of the most notable Turkish dishes and a fine sample of the Mediterranean kitchen. The recipe is not quite labour-intensive, though it consists a number of steps. In my opinion it’s well worth the effort!


  • 4 medium size eggplants (avoid picking thick ones)

  • 200 grams of lean ground beef

  • 2 medium size tomatoes

  • 1 medium size sweet pepper (preferable cubanelle)

  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste (or half a cup of unsalted tomato sauce)

  • Olive oil

  • Salt

  • Black pepper

  • Garlic powder

  • Paprika


1. Wash the eggplants and trim off the green end. Peel off the skin in a striped fashion so that the remaining skin can hold the flesh of the eggplant together. (And the skin is edible and nutrient-rich!)

2. Brush a baking dish with one tablespoon of olive oil. Place the eggplants on the baking dish and brush the eggplants with one tablespoon of olive oil

3. Roast in preheated oven (400 degrees F) until fork tender, around 15 to 20 minutes

4. While the eggplants are in the oven put the ground beef in a high-sided skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook the beef, breaking the meat with a wooden spoon, until brown

5. Chop one of the tomatoes into small cubes and add into the skillet. Add salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Stir. Add two tablespoons of tomato paste with same amount of water and stir (If you use tomato sauce, no water is needed)

6. Cook for another two or three minutes until the meat absorbs the tomato sauce. Set the skillet aside to cool

7. Remove the eggplants from the oven and allow them to cool for ten minutes

8. Place the eggplants into a baking dish and slice each eggplant vertically from one end to the other without touching each tip or reaching the bottom of the eggplant. Pry each end open to make a fine pocket

9. Fill the pockets with the cooked beef mixture. Slice the second tomato and the sweet pepper and place them on the mixture. Pour another tablespoon of olive oil on the eggplants.

10. Place the baking dish into the oven and cook for another 20 minutes (400 degrees F)

The dish stores well in the refrigerator for a few days. You can reheat it in the oven (375 degrees F). It is customary to serve plain yogurt with karniyarik. You can also try it solo or with some sour cream on the side. Bon appétit.

-Batu Cakmakci, Healthy Cooking Team Member


Arnett, D. K., Blumenthal, R. S., Albert, M. A., Buroker, A. B., Goldberger, Z. D., Hahn, E. J., . . . Ziaeian, B. (2019). 2019 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. Circulation, 140(11), e596-e646. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000678


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