Still keeping on with the theme of what I served for the dinner for eight the other night, when a few friends came over for dinner, this is the Main Course.
I really wasn't sure what I wanted to serve as the main meal. I wanted something a little different yet something that would be satisfying. Some years ago, we visited Turkey and about 4 years ago, I posted my variation of a dish we had enjoyed in Turkey that I called Turkish Style Lamb Sausages.
I learnt since then that what we actually had in Turkey and really enjoyed was Karniyarik - Turkish Stuffed Eggplant. For my version, I didn't really stuff the eggplant but rather cooked it with loads of minced lamb in a tomato based sauce.
I also used some fresh basil to give it some added flavour and I think if I make this again, I might spice it up a little with some chilli flakes. This is what I did:
900g minced lamb or mutton
3 bay leaves
2 large onions - chopped
8 cloves garlic - chopped
3 tsp oregano
4 tomatoes - quartered
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 Tbsp Tomato paste
50g fresh basil
6 large brinjals / eggplants (the longish kind)
Halve the brinjals lenghtwise and then cut into pieces about 4-6 inches length. Sprinkle with salt to degorge. Meanwhile, sautee the onions, garlic and oregano. Then add in the mince and cook well. Add in the fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes and allow to simmer.
While the meat is simmering, rinse the brinjals and then place in a baking tray. Lightly oil the brinjals and then make a small incision lengthwise followed by three diagonal incisions making sure you dont cut in too deep. Bake in a 170C oven till the eggplants are tender - about 30 mins.
Once the meat sauce is thick but still with enough liquid, season with salt and pepper. Add in the basil and mix well. Spoon a layer of the meat sauce into a baking pan then place the brinjals on the meat. Try to get the brinjals close to each other. Cover the eggplant with the remaining sauce and then cover with aluminium foil. Bake again in a 180C oven for another 30 mins to make sure brinjals are really tender and soak up some of the flavour from the meat sauce.
The brinjals turned out really well although there were some thicker parts that weren't as tender as they should have been. I had also thought of garnishing each brinjal with a slice of tomato and some sliced chilli but when the time came we were all too hungry and just wanted to get down to the business of eating!
I served this with rice and The Lovely Wife made a Greek Salad that went really well with this dish. I liked the mix of taste and textures and the mince tasted really good with the eggplant. My son had some the next day for lunch and he really enjoyed it. So all in all, a rather successful Karniyarik - although maybe not as authentic as it should or could have been!