HÜNKAR BEĞENDİ (SULTAN’S DELIGHT)

Despite the fact that I have traveled almost 100 countries all over the world and tasted the local food of each one; Turkish Cuisine is still the most precious one for me. That’s why I will share several recipes of Turkish cuisine days to make your stomachs and souls happy during Covid-10 quarantine days. 

Hünkar Beğendi is an Ottoman dish of stewed meat served on a bed of grilled and mashed eggplant with bechamel. 

The history of Hunkar Begendi, or “Sultan’s Delight,” dates back several centuries and originating from a heart breaking love story.

The recipe’s origin is based on a legend that Hunkar Begendi was first served at Beylerbeyi Palace in 1869, when Empress Eugenie of France visited the Ottoman Empire.  

Ottoman Sultan Abdulaziz visited France in 1867 and fell in love with Empress Eugine (The wife of Napoleon iii.)

2 years later, Napoleon was invited to the opening ceremony of the Suez Canal however he sent his wife to represent him. Empress Eugenie, on her way to Egypt, visits İstanbul and visited Sultan Abdulaziz. She also brought her cook together with her to the Ottoman Palace. While her cook was preparing Bechamel Sauce; the cook of the Sultan mixed it with grilled eggplants and serve the Sultan’s favourite meat dish on this mixture. The new dish is served to Sultan and theEmpress. And “Viola!”the name of the ne dish is “Hünkar Beğendi ( Sultan’s Delight).     

The history is full of bad luck and sufferings for both of them; Sultan Abdulaziz was deposedby his Ministers in 1877  and Empress Eugenie was exiled with his husband after Napoleon iii was overthrownin 1870.

Ingredients:

2 eggplants

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion

2 tomatoes

2 green peppers

2 cloves of garlic

300 gr diced lamb meat

1 table spoon tomato paste

1 cup water

1 coffee spoon grated nutmeg

½ cup whole milk

½ cup grated cheese (manchego, kashkaval, cheddar etc.)

1,5 table spoon butter

1,5 table spoon flour

Salt

Ground black pepper

Finely chopped parsley to garnish

Instructions:

Wash and dry the eggplants. Make several incisions on the surface of eggplants, sprinkle olive oil and salt, cover them with baking paper and then with aluminium foil.Bake them in preheated oven (200 Celcius with fan, 220 Celsius without fan) until they get tender.

Meanwhile; heat 2 table spoons olive oil in a sauce pan, add the meat and sauté it until it browns. Add finely diced onion, garlic and green pepper. Then add finely diced tomato (take the seeds out as well)  and tomato paste. Finally add 1 cup of water let it simmer until the meat gets tender. Add salt and black pepper when it is cooked.

Take the eggplants out of the oven, place them in a large bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and  set tit aside for 10 minutes. (This process is for making easier to peel it) Peel the eggplants and slice them finely; then mash them with a whisk. 

In a separate saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, add flour and cook it while until tis color turns into golden. Add the mashed eggplant, milk, nutmeg and grated cheese.Cook it for 1-2 minutes. 

To serve, divide the eggplant puree among plates, top with the lamb and scatter with finely chopped parsley.

Enjoy!

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