Living abroad we can enjoy various cultures that are inherently different from ours. This also helps us in adopting cultural changes in our lifestyle. We get to make new friends from diverse cultural backgrounds. Naturally, food plays a huge role in bringing us – people from different backgrounds – closer together.

One of my best friends from university, AA, has lived in Turkey for several years. They were blessed with caring and kind neighbors. Exchange of food among neighbors is a part of Turkish culture, just like in Pakistan. If a neighbor sends you some food, you never send the dishes back empty. I think this is a beautiful tradition.

Some friends are like family and bounds of time and space do not hinder with the friendship. AA is one such friend. I am glad that our children get along very well as well. We recently spent a weekend with them and it was wonderful. Filled with laughter, late night gossip sessions, Pictionary, and tea with never ending snacks, the weekend passed quickly. This much-needed visit served as a break from the monotonous daily routine.

AA made an extremely delicious dish that she learned from her Turkish friends during their stay in turkey and it was mind blowing. It made it to my list of tastiest foods I have ever had.

KARNIYARIK – Eggplants cooked with minced beef, tomatoes, and potatoes. This Turkish dish – a legacy from the Ottoman Palaces – is a slow cooked eggplant and mince casserole which is baked with tomatoes, potatoes, and herbs and is served with boiled rice. It is widely eaten and celebrated across Turkey. Even if you don’t like eggplants, you will fall in love with this indulging manifestation of the earthy vegetable. One can prepare the dish ahead of time and gently reheat in the oven.

Keeping the spirit of diversity alive, AA shared the recipe with me and I am sharing it with you all today.

Ingredients:

  • Eggplants – 3, small to medium in size
  • Potatoes – 3, cut into wedges
  • Tomatoes – 3, seedless and cut into wedges
  • Green Capsicum – 2, seedless, julianne cut
  • Ground Beef – 250 gm
  • Onion – 2, finely chopped
  • Tomato paste – 2 roughly chopped and grind into a paste.
  • Red chilies crushed – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt and Black pepper – 1 teaspoon each
  • Garam masala – 1 teaspoon
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves or Parsley– a small bunch
  • Oil – 3 tablespoons, mixed with water
  • Preparation time : 45 Minutes
  • Cooking time : 60 Minutes
  • Number of servings (yield) : 5 – 6 Individuals

Instructions:

  1. Peel the skin of the eggplants in a way that zebra print is formed length wise. (Peel off the skin lengthwise, leave some width of the eggplant and then peel off another length).
  2. Cut the peeled eggplants longitudinally into half. Then make cut marks along the length on the cross section. Sprinkle some salt over the eggplants and dip them in water for 30 minutes, while you can prepare beef. Salt will help the moisture to come out of the eggplant.Heat the oil in a pan, sautee the onions until translucent. Add the ground beef, cook for a minute, and add the tomato puree, garlic and garam masala. Season with salt, black pepper and crushes red chilies. Mix well. Cook over high flame. When the ground beef is about to cook with slight water left in it, remove it from flame. Add the chopped coriander leaves or parsley in it.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan, sautee the onions until translucent. Add the ground beef, cook for a minute, and add the tomato puree, garlic and garam masala. Season with salt, black pepper and crushes red chilies. Mix well. Cook over high flame. When the ground beef is about to cook with slight water left in it, remove it from flame. Add the chopped coriander leaves or parsley in it.
     Note: Do not cook the ground beef completely at this point. When it is partially cooked remove from flame.   
  4. Dry the eggplants on a kitchen towel thoroughly. In a pan fry the eggplants evenly on both sides and remove. After frying bake them for 20 minutes in the oven, turning sides after 10 minutes.
  5. Slightly boil the potato wedges.
  6. Now, take a baking dish and oil it well. Add the prepared ground beef into the dish. Then place the eggplants split side facing up on the dish along with the potatoes, tomatoes and capsicums.
  7. Mix the 3 tablespoons of oil with a table spoon of water and drizzle all over the dish.
  8. Covers the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and bake and for another 15 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp and brown on the top.
  9. Serve with boil rice.

Fatima Ali

I am trained to be an IT professional. I served National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) for six years after graduating from the same university. As long as I can remember, cooking good food has been my passion and it makes me happy. My cooking lessons were a bit unusual though. Back in the day when digital did not mean much, my father would record cooking shows (knorr ka kitchen, kaukab khuwaja and Zee Khana Khazana – Chef Sanjeev Kapoor) for me to watch endless times later on, before trying the recipes out. I would make brownies and cold cake almost every day while my mother was asleep. This was my way of surprising her every evening. My mother cooks amazing food too and I have tried many of the recipes written in her recipe book. I draw inspiration from a number of chefs from televised cooking shows such as Late Chef Farah, Chef Rahat, Chef Mehboob, BBC Food, Masala TV, Chef Shai, Chef Sharmeen, Master Chef Australia and my ultimate favorite Chef Shireen Anwer. I would not be as good a cook I am now without passive guidance from each one of these.