Recipes from Istanbul: Berhan’s Stuffed Eggplant

Meet Traveling Spoon host Berhan from Istanbul, Turkey. Though she was born in Germany, Berhan grew up in Ankara, Turkey, learning to cook local Turkish dishes from the Black Sea and Aegean coast areas. She’s been cooking since she was 10 years old and uses only fresh and organic ingredients. Berhan loves meeting new people and sharing Turkish dishes with travelers from around the world.

03_CuttingBerhan chopping fresh cucumbers and tomatoes for salad

Read on for her recipe on how to make mouthwatering stuffed eggplant, or karnıyarık.

Karnıyarık, which literally translates to “split belly” in Turkish, is baked eggplant stuffed with minced beef, sautéed onions, garlic, tomatoes, parsley and Turkish spices. Easy to make and absolutely delicious, it can also be served as a vegetarian version called Imam Bayildi (which translates to, “the Imam fainted”).

7_IMG_1771ResizedForWebBerhan’s mouthwatering stuffed eggplant

Stuffed Eggplant (Karnıyarık)


5 short, wide eggplants

2 onions (chopped)

5 cloves of garlic

1 tomato (cubed)

10 long, thin green peppers (cubed)

1/2 pound ground beef

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Salt and pepper to taste

Sunflower oil (for frying)


  1. After peeling the eggplant, poke a few holes in them with a fork and soak the eggplants in a pot of salt water for 30 minutes (this eliminates some of their bitterness). After half an hour remove the eggplants and dry thoroughly.
  2. Heat sunflower or olive oil in a frying pan and add the eggplants.
  3. Evenly brown the fronts and the backs of the eggplants and set them aside when they are roughly half-fried.
  4. In another frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of sunflower or olive oil. Add salt, pepper, tomato, green peppers, onions and sauté for 5-6 minutes.
  5. Add ground beef and brown in the pan and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Half the eggplants lengthwise, rendering an opening or pocket in the middle and place them on an oven-safe tray.
  7. Divide up the ground beef mixture evenly between eggplants, and top each filled eggplant with one long, thin green pepper, as shown in the picture above.
  8. In a separate bowl, mix the tomato paste with 1 tablespoon warm water. Pour this mixture over the eggplants on the oven tray.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy!

Thank you, Berhan, for this delicious recipe! For more traditional Turkish dishes like this one, visit Berhan in Istanbul today.

Recipes from Istanbul: Berhan’s Stuffed Eggplant