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.
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.
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.
- 1 ½ kg lamb, cut into squares
- 50 g butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 1 oblong Sivri pebber
- 4 garlic cloves , crushed
- 2 tbsp tomato paste, (or one tomato and one red pebberpaste)
- 4 tomatoes, no skin and finely diced
- ½ tsp thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 cup water or lamb stock
- salt and pepper
- maybe a little diced italian parsley
- 3-4 big eggplants
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp salt
- 700 ml water
- 1 cup warm milk
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 4 tbsp butter
- ½ cup flour
- 3/4 cup kasar cheese
- salt and pepper
To the lamb casserole:
1: Trim the lamb meat from fat and cut the meat into 2 cm pieces
2: Melt the butter and oil in a saucepan, brown the meat a little at a time, so that it turns brown without boiling. Season with salt and pepper
3: Add onions, peppers and garlic. Gently stir for 1 minute
4: Add tomato and possibly pepper puree together with the tomatoes, spices and water
5: Let it boil for a good hour with the lid on on low / middle flame
6: Look at the meat along the way and add a little more water, so that it does not boil dry. You should have a little, delicious, concentrated sauce left, when it is finished
1: Prick the eggplants with a fork, so that the heat can penetrate. Grill them on the barbecue or in the stove. Make sure they are evenly baked without being burned. It takes approx. 10-15 minutes
2: Mix water, salt and lemon juice
3: Peel the skin of the aubergines with a fork, when cooled a little, and bring them into the lemon water. Leave them here for 10 minutes to prevent them from changing color and becoming brown. Then let them drip in a sieve and squeeze out excess water with a wooden spoon
4: Heat the milk and cream in a small saucepan
5: Melt the butter in another pan, add the flour and stir to collect with the butter.
6: Slowly whisk the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture to become a uniform mass. Let it boil for about 1 minute.
7: Add the eggplant meat and cheese and whisk thoroughly. Let it cook for 3-4 minutes while whipping until you get a uniform, creamy mass.
Spread some spoonful of eggplant puree on a plate and put the lamb meat and a little sauce on top of the puree. Sprinkle a little chopped parsley on top of the dish and serve immediately.
You can possibly serve a little green salad and a little bread to.