When I told a Turkish professor at Bahçeşehir University that I was making a blog on Turkish food, the first question he asked was "Have you made karnıyarık?"
At that point I had not yet tried to make it, because I was a little bit intimidated. But that conversation inspired me to give it a try.
Karnıyarık is basically fried eggplant, stuffed with sautéed ground meat, onions, parsley, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. It is actually categorized as a "dolma" because it is stuffed, rather than rolled.
While the Turks actually did not have access to eggplant before the rest of Europe, they managed to create this dish (and its close relative İmam bayıldı) before anyone else could think of it. The reason for this is because Turkish people actually just adapted their traditional stuffed pide bread to work with eggplant, and soon invented this famed dish. 
Makes 4 karnıyarık, 4 servings
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, grated
1/2 pound ground beef (250 grams)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1 cup crushed tomatoes (240 grams) + additional 1/2 cup for later in recipe
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
4 eggplants (~2 lbs/1 kg)
~ 1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying
Optional topping: 1 long green peppers & 1 tomato
For the filling:
- Heat olive oil in large saute pan. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add salt, pepper, and ground beef. Cook until the beef begins to brown.
- Add 1 cup crushed tomatoes and chopped parsley. Cook for 2-3 more minutes then set aside.
For the eggplants & final product:
- Peel eggplants "black and white" by removing stems and using a vegetable peeler to remove 4 long pieces of the eggplant skin. It will look striped.
- Place eggplants in a bowl of salted water (use ~1 teaspoon salt) for 20-30 minutes to remove bitterness.
- Remove eggplants from salt-water. Dry them with a clean kitchen towel to avoid putting water into the hot oil.
- Add vegetable oil into a saute pan so it covers the bottom (about ¼ inch deep). I use 1/2 cup of oil for a large pan that fits all 4 eggplants at once. This may seem like a lot of oil, but as long as you keep the temperature high, the eggplants won't absorb much of it. I measured the oil left in my pan after I removed the eggplants and got 1/3 cup back, meaning that the eggplants only absorbed about 1/6 cup, which became even less when I drained them on paper towels!.
- Place eggplants into the hot oil and allow them to fry. You should place a lid on the pot to keep the hot oil from popping out. You will need to turn them at least once so that they get evenly cooked. You will be able to tell they are ready when they feel extremely soft.
- Remove eggplants onto a plate with paper towel to collect excess oil.
- Place eggplants into oven dish and make a cut down the center (but not through to the bottom) so you have a place to put the meat filling.
- Evenly distribute meat filling among eggplants.
- Place pepper and tomato on top as decoration.
- Mix 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes with 1/2 cup of water and then add this to the dish around the stuffed eggplants. If you don't have another 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes, use a tablespoon of tomato paste instead and add 3/4 cups water.
- Place in oven and cook for 20-30 minutes.
Tips & Additional Information:
- Remember that frying is a dry cooking method (as opposed to boiling, braising, etc. which are wet cooking methods). This means that the eggplants actually should not be very greasy after you fry them if you do it properly. To achieve this, make sure the oil is very hot before you add the eggplants. They are like sponges and will soak up the oil if the oil is not hot enough.
- Do not crowd the pot when you fry your eggplants as it will lower the oil temperature. I would suggest frying 2-3 at a time. It is okay if the first ones cool down a bit as you continue frying the rest because you will be putting them into the hot oven.
- For a more professional look, you can grill the long green peppers and tomatoes before you put them onto the karnıyarık. This will give them some grill marks which is considered desirable.