lamb casserole

The dish Hünkâr Begendi is translated into “The Sultans delight”, and it sounds oh so noble and posh. But it makes sense, when you taste it … really , really good. Soft, creamy, rich in flavor and delicious. Yes, exactly that.

Hünkâr Begendi is a fairly old court. It is not known exactly when it entered the Ottoman kitchen. One story goes, that it was created for the Sultan Murad IV (1612-1640), and that the discerning Sultan immediately became very fond of the lamb casserole and the creamy pure. Another story tells how Napoleon D. III’s wife, Empress Eugenie, was visiting Sultan Abdülaziz in the Topkapi Palace in 1869. Here she was so thrilled with the dish, that her chef was sent to the Sultan’s kitchen for training in making this particular dish.

Whether it is the one or the other story that is true, is completely irrelevant. The truth is, that the dish was developed in the great Ottoman Sultan kitchen. They have not only created this lamb casserole, but have created countless dishes, that even today are regarded as some of the pillars and classics of Turkish cooking. And this one tastes beautiful.

Hünkâr Begendi – not the typical tourist meal:

If you haven’t tried Hünkâr Begendi yet, I can only recommend it. However, I do not think, that there are so many tourists, who have tasted the dish or go after it. It is really a heavy and bold dish, that might be best at a cold winter or a windy autumn day. At least I couldn’t dream of eating or making it in the summer – it simply gets too much.

lamb casserole

It’s not hard to make Hünkâr Begendi – just a little time consuming (like any other stew). And then there is the eggplant-puree and maybe a little bread, that also requires some time. I like to serve an ordinary light, green salad with a sour dressing. Just to freshen up everything. Simit or another soft bread such as pide ekmek is really good alongside, so you can sweep up the sauce.

Grilled eggplants in the stove:

You should not be scared by having to make eggplant puree. The biggest problem is to grill the aubergines in the stove, on the grill or just in the oven, to make them soft and tender, so that the skin can be easily removed. It is important that you turn and turn the eggplants, so that they are evenly grilled. The oven is okay to do so, but you will lack the smoked taste – and it is quite important right here !! So I really recommend, that you use one of the other options.

Grillet aubergine

Maybe you think, that it sounds a little odd to grill the eggplants
in a stove . But yes, it can easily be done, and I often use it for various. different vegetables. Just enter the vegetables in the fire glow, turn them regularly, keep an eye on them and take a plate, so that the juice does not run out all over (because it is HOT). Let them cool a little and then pull the skin off with a fork.

The eggplant puree is called “Begendi” and is also used with several other dishes. It is a creamy pure filled with smoked eggplant, “kasar” cheese, butter and milk. It tastes heavenly with the tender lamb and the slightly sour, aromatic tomato sauce made up by Hünkâr Begendi. The longer the casserole boils, the more tender and tasteful the meat and sauce will be.

Læs artiklen på dansk/ See this article in Danish here.