Stuffed Eggplant is a dish you find everywhere in Turkey. And there are many regional versions of it. Indeed, we loved it so much we cooked 3 different versions of it!
Dolma refers to any vegetable which is stuffed with a grain such as rice or bulgur, other vegetables and sometimes meat. And one of the most popular dolmas are stuffed eggplants.
True to the guild system developed in the royal kitchens, the vegetable cooks had their own guild so it is not surprising dolmas and other vegetable dishes are so popular in Turkey.
Eggplants are a staple in Turkey. They go brilliantly with tomatoes, garlic and olive oil and there is usually no shortage of these used in the cooking process!
Rice is a major grain grown in Turkey. Of course, it is from Asia originally. But given the Istanbul Spice Market was the terminus for the Spice Route, it is not surprising rice is so popular in Turkey.
Turkey is one of only 7 countries able to feed itself. Can you guess which are the other 6? That means Turkey has a fabulous array of vegetables to choose from.
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We noted vegetables were only available in season. And Turks claim their farming is basically organic with little use of fertilizers. Indeed we noticed whole fields were left “fallow” to rest. Isn’t that something all countries did before the advent of modern fertilizers and cold storage (and dare I say rather tasteless food)?
No cold storage going on here so that means the vegetables were full of flavor, with people looking forward to the season commencing and having their favorite vegetable become available.
Stuffed eggplants can utilize whatever ingredients are available. It is popular because small amounts go a long way and the dish is actually quite filling. They are very popular at lokantas.
We used bullhorn chillies (we did not de-seed them as they are not overly hot) and lamb mince for a more authentic Turkish experience. These can be easily substituted. As well it is simple to make this a fully vegetarian meal. Refer to the notes.
It is also worthwhile to make some garlic yogurt as a finishing touch. We came across this everywhere in Turkey, even as a meze by itself. It just gives the dish a touch of class.
Other Stuffed Vegetable Recipes
In addition to this stuffed eggplant recipe, we feature other stuffed vegetable recipes on Compass and Fork. What a great way to get more veggies into your children’s diet. They’re also fabulous winter warmer comfort foods.
Peruvian food is receiving lots of well-deserved recognition lately. Find out why with these Peruvian stuffed peppers, perfect with scalloped potatoes.
One cuisine that doesn’t get a lot of love is Bulgarian cuisine, which is unfortunate as it is one of the world’s oldest cuisines. Find out how good it is with these authentic cabbage rolls.
Looking for an appetizer? Italian, baked stuffed zucchini flowers (or squash blossoms) are a fabulous and healthy dish. Give them a try.
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- 4 eggplants *
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic sliced
- 4 tomatoes small, sliced
- 2 bullhorn chilies sliced lengthways in half*
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- pinch paprika, mild optional
- 2 onions, brown medium, finely diced
- 2 bell peppers (capsicums), green small, finely diced
- 1/2 lb ground (minced) lamb or ground (minced) beef*
- 2 tomatoes medium, finely diced
- 2 tbsps pepper paste *
- 1/2 cup parsley finely chopped
- Using a small knife, peel 4 wide vertical strips off each eggplant, striped-pajama fashion. Cut each eggplant in half lengthways.
- Heat the olive oil and shallow fry the eggplants over a medium-high heat until browned all over. You may need to cook in batches, depending on the size of your pan. Remove the eggplants and drain on kitchen paper. Reserve any remaining olive oil.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 F (180 C).
- In the same pan over a medium heat, fry the onions for a few minutes stirring until translucent.
- Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring, for a few minutes.
- Add the beef or lamb mince and cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes, pepper paste and half the chopped parsley to the mixture. Season with pepper and salt. Stir the mixture for a further 5 minutes and put aside to cool.
- Place the reserved eggplants in a low casserole dish, cut side up. Using a knife, slice each eggplant vertically, about 2/3 of the way through and gently prise open the sides to widen the eggplant. Season with salt and gently press the sliced garlic into the flesh. Then fill each eggplant with the reserved filling.
- Top each eggplant with the sliced tomatoes and sliced chilli. Pour the 1/2 cup of boiling water around the eggplant. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Place in the oven for 45 minutes.
- To serve, sprinkle the remaining parsley and paprika, if using. Serve with a green salad and garlic yogurt.
In Turkey, we used long skinny eggplants. The instructions on the cutting of the eggplants work for the egg-shaped eggplants we normally see.
Use small green chillies if you can't source bullhorn chillies and de-seed them if you prefer a milder taste.
Lamb mince is the more authentic Turkish selection but beef mince works just as well. You can substitute Turkish pepper paste with tomato paste.
Garlic yogurt is a common accompaniment with many Turkish dishes. To make, finely chop some garlic and add to yogurt. Simple.
We have cooked this as a vegetarian dish by omitting the mince and substituting with red bell peppers (capsicums). And it is just as good!
Kim @ Land of Zonkt
wow! they look amazing!
I’ve stuffed tomatoes, capsicums and potatoes but never an eggplant. That’d have an amazing flavour. YUM.
Thanks for linking up to YWF. x
Stuffed eggplant (Turkish-style) was a highlight. We tasted many different versions and they were all good! It is still one of our favorite meals.
Vicki @ Boiled Eggs & Soldiers
I love the look of these, it makes me want to rush out and get some eggplants. I’m saving this for when the weather cools down a bit here as I think this is great comfort food. Yum and I love all the herbs and spices too.
Vicki, Depending on your hemisphere (Northern or Southern) it is either prime comfort food season or luckily coming into it. It’s a great recipe. a favorite in our house,
Charlene @ That Girl Cooks Healthy
I had to do a beeline for this stuffed eggplant recipe, it somewhat mirrors my quinoa recipe in a sense that it’s a stuffed vegetable, can’t go wrong there.
Charlene, I couldn’t agree more on the stuffed vegetable. Not only are stuffed vegetables healthy but they are quite attractive as well. In Turkey dating back some 500 years there was a guild chefs had to belong to, to prepare dolmas (stuffed vegetables). What a fascinating history Turkey has.
I love eggplants and I am always looking for different recipes to have them. I have to try your recipe asap. Thanks for sharing it!
My pleasure. This is one of the better ways to prepare eggplants. We really enjoyed it. Cheers….Mark
Levan @ Crazy Vegan Kitchen
Perfect, perfect, perfect!!! I could stuff these all day long and devour them immediately 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Levan. Thanks for your comment and I love your enthusiasm. Yes it is a very satisfying dish. Cheers….Mark
This is exactly the sort of recipe we love! Thank you for sharing it 🙂 Pinning for later use!
Great! Thanks for reading and the Pin, I hope you enjoyed reading it and come back to visit.
This sounds fantastic. And easy to make! I will look around at your other Turkish recipes too.
Hi Karen. Thanks for that. We really enjoyed our Time in Turkey. And the food was a highlight. Cheers….Mark
Would you believe I bought eggplant this morning and as I love it so, was wondering what to cook…now I know. I love the sound of this recipe.
Hi Germaine. The Turks love their eggplants and this dish is one of my favorites as it is so rich in flavor. Cheers….Mark
You know….I NEVER used to like eggplant…but now I really do. It’s a great veggie….and for all those who don’t try it….they are missing out. Sounds awesome!!
Hi Gloria. Couldn’t agree with you more. Eggplant is underrated, has a rich taste and it is filling. Cheers….Mark
Turkey is on my list of “must travel to” places. Thanks for sharing this delicious looking recipe. Will definitely give it a try!
We had wanted to go to Turkey for years, so glad we went, we just loved it. The people are so friendly. (And the food is good) There is a lot of other Turkish food and content on the site, have a look around.