Turkish Kofte With Eggplant Base & Tomato Sauce

I have an easy to make festive dish Turkish koftes with eggplant base and tomato sauce. It has a bechamel like a puree base with eggplants and Turkish style meatballs kofte on top with tomato sauce and topped with kashar cheese before it goes to the oven.
With all those layers it turns out so yummy and it’s easy to make too. So let’s get started.


First, make my eggplant pure base which we call “begendi”

  1. Prick the eggplants and grill until they are soft on all sides. Then get the meaty part out. It is very easy just open with a knife and scop with the help of a spoon. It can be still hot but I can hold it from the stems. Chop it finely until it kind of a pure and set aside.
  2. Heat up a medium size pan and melt some butter about 2 tbsp and also about 3-4 tbsp olive oil. Add the all-purpose flour about 2 tbsp. and saute until having a golden color and nice smell coming out like for 1-2 minutes. It is a kind of bechamel sauce with eggplant. Add the eggplants and continue to cook for one’ two more minutes.
  3. Add the whole milk in total about 3/4 cup milk but it can change depending on the flour we use or the size of the eggplants. So just eyeball it and make a nice pure. If it comes too thick you can always add a little bit more milk to it. And season it with some salt finally kashar cheese. You can use mozzarella or any melting cheese type that is not too strong and our eggplant base “begendi” is ready.

I have a similar recipe that has an eggplant base which is “Alinazik” It is one of our favorite and most of you are tried. I got many nice comments. Make sure you watch and try it if you haven’t yet.

Making Turkish Kofte Balls

  1. I prefer to make it in the food processor I have. I have two slices of old bread and 1 medium size onion. I am going to process it until it is almost like a pure and going to add my ground beef about 350gr. it can change depends on the serving size you are gonna make.
  2. For the seasoning, I am adding 1 tsp salt and half tsp each ground black pepper, cumin, and ground red pepper. And here is a small but powerful hint, add a quarter of a tsp baking soda and drop some lemon over it. This really makes a different texture in the kofte. Just mix everything well by pulsing the food processor until It is corporate.
  3. In the traditional way, we grate the onions and add the other ingredients and knead by hand but this really comes out very easy to make. So I prefer it this way.
  4. I am going to shape my meatballs, my koftes and precook it on the griddle before assembling everything. For this recipe, I preferred to shape my koftes smaller, but it’s up to you. Going to grease my pan before placing my koftes and ready to go. Cook both sides until you have a nice color. Make it a little bit juicy, don’t dry it out but make sure they are cooked inside too. Before turning it over just brush with a little bit of olive oil to make sure it’s not going to stick.

Preparing The Tomato Sauce

  1. Heat some olive oil and saute 1 heaped tbsp tomato paste and half tbsp pepper paste. Recently on the channel, I shared both of the recipes, pepper, and tomato paste and I am happily using it in my dishes and it tastes so yummy. I hope you try too let me know.
  2. Adding two cloves of chopped garlic to my sauce and finely chopped or grated medium size tomato. Just cook everything well until it becomes a nice thick sauce.
Turkish Kofte With Eggplant

Assembling The Kofte Eggplant Puree

  1. Transfer the eggplant puree in a medium-size oven-safe deep dish pan. Arrange the koftes it over the eggplant puree.
  2. Next the tomato sauce: I don’t want to cover all my koftes with the tomato sauce so I am going to drizzle on the sides of it. And of course as a final touch some grated kashar cheese or mozzarella.
  3. Bake it in a preheated 180C oven for about 20-25 minutes until has nice color on top and sizzling and it will be ready. I think it shows itself from the scenes. I hope you give it a try and like it. Share your photos with me from my Instagram account @TurkishFoodTravel. “Afiyet olsun”

Turkish Stuffed Eggplant “Karniyarik”

Stuffed Eggplant Karniyarik is one of the traditional, best known, and favorite Turkish dish of all time. It is irresistible with the combination of ingredients and the presentation. Best served with fluffy Turkish style pilaf.

They translate the word “Karniyarik” as a split belly. “Karın” means belly and “yarık” means split. I am really excited to share this traditional Turkish recipe with you… It is probably one of the most popular eggplant dish recipes among 150 others we have in Turkish cuisine 🙂

Stuffed eggplant goes well with fluffy rice “Şehriyeli Pilav” pilav with orzo

Ingredients For Meat Stuffed Eggplant Dish Karniyarik:

  • For the stuffing:
  • 400gr. ground meat (beef or half mutton)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 3 sweet green peppers
  • handful of parsley
  • 1 tbsp each tomato and red pepper paste
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt, ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
  • For the eggplants
  • 10-11 medium same size, thin eggplants (about 1 kg or more)
  • salt to rub
  • paper towels
  • vegetable oil to fry
  • more thin sweet peppers (optional) to garnish
  • For the sauce:
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • about 2 cups boiling water (I used 40 cm round baking tray to cook, it is OK to use a regular tray or even you can cook it in a shallow wide pan on the stovetop)

How To Make Karniyarik (Turkish Stuffed Eggplant)

First Make The Karniyarik Filling:

  1. Heat olive oil in a wide pan. Meanwhile, peel and dice onions and saute in olive oil for about 3-4 minutes. Add the ground beef and continue to stir until ground beef is fully cooked.
  2. Dice the green peppers and add them to the mixture. Cut the tomatoes in half and grate. It is the best way when you are making a dish.
  3. Add tomato and red pepper paste, stir, and after 3-4 minutes add the tomatoes along with seasonings and garlic. Cook on low for about 10-15 minutes lid closed.
  4. Add chopped parsley in the last minutes and turn off the heat.
Stuffing the fried eggplant with meat filling

You can make Turkish style lentil soup “Mercimek Corbasi” to complete your traditional Turkish menu 🙂 Turkish Lentil Soup “Mercimek Corbasi”

Preparing the Eggplants To stuff:

When you decided to make stuffed eggplant, try to choose medium size eggplants and in the same sizes if possible. It will help to shorten the cooking time and will look better in the presentation.

  1. Wash the eggplants, cut the long part of the stems and partially peel them in strips.
  2. Split cut the eggplants partially, not all the way from the sides and on the bottom. (Better to watch my video:)The name “Karniyarik” comes from this cutting which means “split belly”
  3. Rub the eggplant with salt and let them sit for half an hour to soften and get the bitter juice out. It will also help to fry without soaking much oil.
  4. Pat dry the eggplants with a kitchen towel and begin to fry in hot oil. After you begin to see colors turn it gently and continue to fry until it has some light colors on all sides and soft. Drain the oil and transfer it to a paper towel. Repeat until you finish all of it.
Pouring the tomato sauce over Karniyarik

Assembling The “Karniyarik”

Here is the best and fun part. Just split fried eggplants from their belly 🙂 and fill it with meat stuffing and place it into the widest pan you have or in an oven-safe dish. After all of it comes together you might have leftover stuffing. Just be happy and grab a piece of fresh bread and dip it to the stuffing and enjoy! 🙂 Or crack an egg next morning and have your feast breakfast…

For the Final Tomato Sauce:

In a medium-size saucepan heat 4-5 olive oil and add 1 tbsp heaped tomato paste and saute for 1 minute. Add 2 cups hot water, boil it for 30 seconds more and pour over the eggplants. Cook in preheated 200C oven for about 30 minutes or until veggies are soft.