In this podcast, Sydney chef Somer Sivrioglu, from Efendy restaurant, explains how Turkish cuisine embraces eggplant, their "adopted vegetable" in a variety of dishes. This recipe, titled karniyarik, literally translates as "split belly". This is widely made and dearly loved in almost in every part of Turkey, but this variation is specific to the south-eastern and eastern Mediterranean regions of Turkey. Somer warns that while this is not a light dish, its quality flavours will change your perspective on eggplant dishes.
- 4 small Turkish eggplant, about 150 g each (see Note)
- canola oil, for frying
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 250 g lamb mince
- 2 roma tomatoes, 1 grated, 1 thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ground pepper and salt
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- ½ green bullhorn chilli, sliced lengthways
- ½ cup boiling water
- chopped flat-leaf parsley to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.
Resting time 30 minutes
Peel 4 wide strips from each eggplant, one on each of four sides. Place the eggplant in a large bowl of salted water, invert a plate over the eggplant to keep them submerged in the water and set aside for 30 minutes, to remove any bitterness. Drain and dry well with paper towel.
Add enough canola oil to a large sauté pan to a depth of 5 cm. Heat the oil over medium-high heat 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 just large enough to fit the eggplant and set aside.
Preheat oven to 190°C. In a separate saucepan, place 1 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).
In a large frying pan, place the remaining olive oil with the lamb and cook over high heat, stirring until browned. Combine the onion mixture, lamb and grated tomato. Add 2 tsp tomato paste, adjust the seasoning and cook until all the water evaporates.
With the help of two spoons, or a knife, split the eggplant lengthways halfway through, leaving the tops and bottoms attached. Open up the split with the spoons to make a nest for the filling. Sprinkle 1 tsp sugar on each eggplant and stuff with the ground lamb mixture. Arrange one slice of tomato and a slice of green chilli on each eggplant.
Whisk together the boiling water and the remaining tomato paste. Spoon a little over the eggplant to moisten them and pour the rest around the eggplant into the baking dish. Bake for 30–40 minutes, until the bullhorn chilli slices have softened and the liquid in the pan has reduced to a syrupy juice. Serve garnished with parsley.
• It’s best to buy eggplants fresh right before you cook them. Pick firm eggplants, as they tend to soften once refrigerated. If Turkish eggplant are unavailable, use small regular eggplant.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Michelle Noerianto.