I love aubergines, the glossy purple skins call to me from the market stall, I love the colour and the taste and versatility of this vegetable. I share this love with the Turks. Way back to the Ottoman times this has been a popular vegetable, some say the recipe was designed especially in the royal kitchens. No real credence to this story but it is certainly a dish fit for a king or Queen! Sometimes people confuse karniyarik with Imam Bayildi. The second is made similarly but without meat and served cold. Karniyarik means riven belly, which is exactly what we do to the vegetable.Although the names brings up images of the cruelty of the ottoman times – ever watched one of the films on Turkish history? If you haven’t take a look at Muhtesem Yuzyil (Magnificent Century) a prime time TV serial but quite spectacular to watch even if you don’t know a lot of Turkish.
What I love about karniyarik, along with the taste, is that although a bit time consuming it can be prepared earlier and re heated and it can be frozen. For those of you who like measures I usually follow this recipe but with my slight alterations… first I prepared the mixture, I normal used minced beef, but have also used minced lamb and a mixture of lamb and chicken. I also add some paprika and a slight touch of cumin to the mix. I also tend to buy the smaller aubergines which I peel off about 3 stripes using a potato peeler. I then carefully split open the whole aubergine, taking care to open a pocket and not cut through the opposite side. I also do not salt them until after I have fried them – find they spit if I salt them before. Do not forget to salt before you add the meat mixture. before i put in the oven I pour over each aubergine some tomato sauce. This I make from tomato puree, grated tomato, soy sauce, garlic (plenty) and oregano. make the sauce not too runny. This addition was taught to me by my Turkish neighbour – we cooked for 12 people that time and I still love making karniyarik!!!