Aubergine Stuffed with Lamb

Karnıyarık

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Literally, karnıyarık means ‘split stomach’, which describes the way the dish is prepared. Although versions of it are made throughout Anatolia, this classic dish owes its origins to the inventiveness of the Palace kitchens. It can be made with any size of aubergine but, as it is quite filling, it is best made with smallish thin ones. The stuffed aubergines can be cooked on top of the stove or in the oven.

Ingredients

  • 4 thin aubergines, peeled into zebra stripes and soaked in salted water for 1 hour
  • sunflower oil for frying

For the filling

  • 8 oz/225 g minced lamb or beef, or both mixed together
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed with salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • bunch of fresh parsley, dill and mint, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the top

  • ½ green bell pepper (halved lengthways)
  • 1 tomato, sliced

Cooking liquid

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400F/Mark 6/200C
  • In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the filling. Knead well, lifting the mixture up into the air and slapping it back down into the bowl. Continue to knead until it resembles a paste.
  • Drain the aubergines. Heat enough sunflower oil to deep-fry them in a shallow pan. Roll the aubergines in the oil, and cook until lightly browned and soft. Transfer them to a shallow oven-proof dish. Slit them down the middle lengthways, not quite reaching either end and taking care not to cut what is now the bottom of each aubergine; then prise open with tongs. Carefully stuff some of the meat mixture into each one, swelling them out until all the meat is used up and the aubergines look like canoes.
  • Cut the half-pepper into 4 slices and place a slice of pepper and a slice of tomato over the stuffing of each aubergine.
  • Mix together the ingredients for the cooking liquid and pour it over the aubergines. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove the foil and put back in the oven for a further 40 minutes, until the meat and aubergines are very tender and almost all the liquid has evaporated. Serve hot or cold.
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