Karniyarik, Bulgur Pilaf and Cigarette Borek

July 01st, 2008  | Category: Meat, Rice and Grains, Turkish Cuisine, Vegetable


Just like the Mung Bean Salad, Karniyarik wasn’t included in the initial menu for the SF Chronicle article. Instead, I wanted to do a Turkish version of a dish that could have easily filled two full pages of my taste journal if I had ever kept one.

It is the Chicken Claypot I ate at The Slanted Door. I thought adding chickpeas and peppers and tomatoes from my father’s garden will definitely make the dish Turkish, but without the sugar and caramel flavor, the dish would have never shown the influence of the original. So, in short, I ditched the idea and decided to go with my most favorite Turkish dish: Karniyarik. Literally translated, karniyarik means split belly, named after the process of splitting the eggplants and stuffing them with the minced meat mixture.

At the end of the post, you’ll find recipes for the rest of the menu. These recipes are, again, based on ingredients found in Turkey. Especially cooking times may differ, so if you’re living in the US, I recommend that you follow Janet’s instructions instead. You know where to find them.

For the Bulgur Pilaf photo, I was torn between two amazing pots.

Here’s the one I finally decided on:

Bulgur Pilaf

And here’s the other one that was just as beautiful. The above is authentic Turkish, so it was the obvious choice.

Bulgur Pilaf 2

Oh, and here’s the borek dish. It is super easy to prepare.

Borek 2



Serves 4


  • 2 sheets of yufka, each cut into 6 triangles*
  • 6 thin slices of pastirma (spicy air-dried cured beef)**
  • 2 ounces Turkish Kasar cheese***
  • 4 ounces feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped finely
  • Canola oil, for frying

* Here’s where you can buy yufka, pastirma and Kasar cheese online.

** You can substitute breasola for pastirma.

** You can substitute Jack cheese for Kasar cheese.


  1. Cut yufka into 12 equal triangles and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine feta cheese and dill and mash with a fork.
  3. Place one triangle of yufka on the countertop and arrange slices of pastirma and Kasar cheese or feta cheese &dill on the wider end, fold in the sides and roll like a cigarette. Moisten the pointed tip with water and press gently to secure filling.
  4. Repeat with remaining filling.
  5. Heat oil over medium-high heat to 375F and fry the boreks in two batches. Transfer immediately to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.



  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1+1/2 cups (320 gr) medium-grain bulgur
  • 2+1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned and diced
  • 3 peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac
  • 1 teaspoon dried sweetbasil
  • 1+1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Pinch of ground black pepper


  1. Put the bulgur in a sieve and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear. Set aside to drain.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown.
  3. Add tomato and red pepper pastes and saute for another 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Add bulgur; stir to coat.
  5. Add tomatoes, dried mint flakes, red pepper flakes, sumac, sweetbasil and salt.
  6. Add boiling water and cook covered until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  7. Continue simmering on low heat until liquid has evaporated and bulgur is tender, about 25 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and stir in the sliced green peppers. Place a double thickness of paper towels on the surface, cover with lid and set aside to steam for 15 minutes.



  • 4 eggplants
  • 1/2 pound (250 grams) ground beef
  • 1 large onions, diced
  • Flat leaf parsley, for garnish
  • 2 tomatoes, one sliced thinly other one grated
  • 2 sweet green peppers, sliced into two lengthwise*
  • Ground pepper, salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste, divided
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided

* You may have a hard time finding this type of pepper. You can substitute green chile for it.


  1. Pare eggplants in stripes lengthwise.
  2. Place eggplants in a large bowl of salted water, invert a plate over the eggplants to keep them submerged in water and set aside for 30 minutes to remove any bitterness.
  3. Drain and dry well with paper towels.
  4. Add enough canola oil to a large skillet to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat oil over medium-high heat and fry the eggplants in two batches. Transfer immediately to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Once drained, place eggplants in an oven dish and set aside.
  5. Preheat your oven to 375 F.
  6. In a separate skillet, place 1 tbsp olive oil and garlic and cook over medium-high heat until garlic is evenly browned. Add diced onions and saute until translucent.
  7. In a separate skillet, place 1 tbsp olive oil with ground beef and cook over medium-high heat.
  8. Combine onions and beef and grate one tomato over the beef mixture. Add 1/2 tbsp tomato paste adjust seasoning and cook until all tomato juice evaporates.
  9. With the help of two spoons, slit eggplants into two, leaving the tops and bottoms attached.
  10. Sprinkle 1/4 tbsp sugar on each and stuff with the ground beef mixture. Slice one tomato thinly and arrange one slice and half a slice of green pepper on each eggplant.
  11. Whisk together boiling water and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon tomato paste. Spoon a little over the eggplants to moisten them and pour the rest around them. Bake until the peppers have softened and the liquid in the pan has reduced to syrupy juices, 30-40 minutes. Serve warm.
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  1. 1 - inga on July 1st, 2008

    Everything looks so delicious…especially that Pilaf!

  2. 2 - valentina on July 1st, 2008

    Cenk, I love all the three dishes. The ingredients really make my mouth water. congratulations on such wonderful execution. Greetings from Singapure.

  3. 3 - Silvia on July 2nd, 2008

    I have to tell you that you are a truly great chef indeed and a really good photgrapher also!
    Have a good day

  4. 4 - The Mansion on July 2nd, 2008

    it is SUMMER , This is getting boring. Some summer dishes please………

  5. 5 - Fearless Kitchen on July 2nd, 2008

    These all look wonderful. I’m especially keen to try the karniyarik – it looks so delicious, and great to serve to a crowd!

  6. 6 - S on July 2nd, 2008

    Cenk, thanks for the wonderful recipes for authentic Turkish cuisine. They look great!!

  7. 7 - tangobaby on July 2nd, 2008

    These photos are making me so hungry! Great pics and delicious recipe.

  8. 8 - Tony on July 4th, 2008

    I love your choice of pots for the presentation. The purple backdrop is also great against the stainless steel. Congrats on the article!!
    My grandmother recently made me a couple logs of bastirma and they’re sitting in my freezer right now : ) (although in Halab they call it qadeed and not bastirma for some reason, but I love it all the same).

  9. 9 - Cynthia on July 5th, 2008

    You are a master in the kitchen. I love the pot with the cover in the 4th photograph.

  10. 10 - Shaun on July 9th, 2008

    Cenk ~ I have a great weakness for aubergines and have made many “split belly” versions. I love the smokiness that is absorbed by the meat. This is a killer of a dish – pitch-perfect, savoury, filling.

  11. 11 - Vera on July 11th, 2008

    I’ve cooked Karniyarik!wonderful!thank you for the recipe.

  12. 12 - Marleen on December 10th, 2008

    Finally a recipe for bulgur pilav that satiesfies my husband 🙂 I tried everything to make my bulgur taste like his mom’s but to no avail, until now 🙂 turkish men can be very particular about food, and us poor foreign women are just at a loss sometimes 🙂 Thanks Cenk!

  13. 13 - Cenk on December 11th, 2008

    Marleen – Glad to hear your husband liked it!

  14. 14 - BobbyV on February 22nd, 2009

    I’m so glad to have found your website. I spent 2 wonderful years living in Incirlik near Adana, Turkey. I remember the cigar borek, the fresh baked, crusty bread, and the eggplant Karniyarik. I also remember the warmth and friendship shown me by the Turkish people during my travels through their beautiful country.
    te?ekkür ederim, sa?ol

  15. 15 - Rachel on July 17th, 2009

    Wow, those pots are amazing.

  16. 16 - Mia on September 10th, 2009

    We have something very much like the borek in bosnia, burek, and im assuming it’s originally turkish. thank you for the recipe, i can taste it already!

  17. 17 - Sibel Gençaydin on February 16th, 2010

    Toronto’dan selamlar Cenk!

    Hayatimda ilk defa senin tarifinle karniyarik yaptim. Gercekten anneannemin yaptiklari kadar lezzetlilerdi. Sanirim puf noktasi icine serpistirdigin seker. Bir suru tarife baktim ama bu kucuk detayi goremedim.

    Tariflerin ve muhtesem blogun icin cok tesekurler. Hergun isten eve gelince merakla guzel fotograflarinla suslenmis yeni yazdigin tarif ve yazilari okuyorum.

    Bu arada seninle ve okuyucularinla yeni kesfettigim bir dergiyi paylasmak istedim. Onceden soyleyeyim dergiyle uzaktan yakindan alakam yok, tesadufen online buldum uye oldum. Adi Cornucopia (http://www.cornucopia.net/) Dergi senede 3 kere Ingilizce basiliyor ve tamami Turkiye ile ilgili. Gercekten hem gorsel hem icerik acisindan muhtesem diyebilirim.

    Tarif icin tekrar cok tesekkur ederim.


  18. 18 - Cenk on February 16th, 2010

    sibel – Afiyet olsun. Aslında karnıyarığın sırrı iyi patlıcanda. Şeker elbette tat katıyor ama babamın bahçesinden koparıp getirdiği ve annemin pişirdiği karnıyarığın yanına yaklaşabilen bir tane bile yemedim. Dergi linki için çok teşekkürler. Ben değilim ama arkadaşlarım abone, ve her sayısını ziyafet çekermiş gibi okuyorum.

  19. 19 - karni yarik on March 6th, 2010

    coook guzel

  20. 20 - esen on September 13th, 2010

    merhabalar blogu uzun zamandir takip ediyorum ve gecen hafta itibariyle san franciscoya tasindim burayla ilgili gastronomik bilgilere ihtiyacim var aklima senin de burda ldugun ve muhtemelen burdada yemek yaptigin aklima geldi malzemeler es gecilmemesi gereken restoranlar turk malzemeler satan yerler belki hepsi isime yaricaktir,cunku daha eve gecmedigim icin ac kaldim burda 🙁 simdiden tesekkurler…

  21. 21 - Cenk on September 13th, 2010

    Esen – Market alışverişi olarak en iyi yerler Whole Foods ve Ferry Plaza’daki Farmer’s Market. Türk malzemeleri satan San Francisco içinde bir yer hatırlamıyorum. San Jose taraflarına arkadaşlarıma gittiğimde orada bulabilirdik ama adres vs. hatırlamıyorum. Eminim Google’a yazsan bulursun. Restoran önerisi olarak da ilk aklıma gelenler Betelnut, Slanted Door, In-n-Out Burger, Zuni Cafe ve Chez Panisse (Berkeley’de) ama genel olarak San Francisco’daki ucuz ufak restoranlar bile şahanedir. Aç kalınabilecek en son şehirde yaşıyorsun.

  22. 22 - Martina on January 22nd, 2012

    oh my goodness!! i have to try the eggplants! i adore the turkish cuisine!

    Gülle Gülle

    Greetings from France

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