Sultan's Delight (Hünkar Beğendi)














I have heard two different stories surrounding the name of this dish, Hünkar Beğendi, which literately translates as "the Sultan liked it." The first one is that the dish was created for Sultan Murad IV (1612-1640) and obviously he liked it. Where the dish was created--in the palace kitchens or in the kitchen of a moderate house that Murad IV spent a night on his way back from a hunting trip--is not clear. The second rumor is that the same dish was served for Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, in Sultan Abdülaziz's Beylerbeyi Palace in 1869, and she liked it so much that Abdülaziz promised her to ask his chef to give Eugenie's cook the recipe. And the rumor goes that Abdülaziz's chef was reluctant to share his recipe. I salute whoever shared the recipe later on.

Hünkar Beğendi is lamb stew served on a bed of creamy roasted eggplant puree. However, "begendi," in time, started to be used for eggplant puree. Now you can also find 'chicken beğendi' or 'meatball beğendi.'















for the stew
1 lb stew lamb (preferably from leg)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 green chilies or bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, petite diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
2-3 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1-1 1/2 cup hot water

for the eggplant puree
2 lb eggplant
1/4 cup white flour
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup grated Turkish hard mature cheese OR kashkaval cheese OR parmesan
1-1 1/2 cup milk
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

-Heat butter in a pot and sautee the onions for a coupe of minutes. Then add the meat. When browned on all sides, add green pepper. Stir for a couple of minutes.
-Add tomato paste and stir for another couple of minutes.
-Add tomaoes and cook for 5 minutes.
-At this point add the hot water and let simmer until meat is tender, approximately an hour. Add more water if need be.
-Meanwhile, wash and prick the eggplants with a fork on at least two sides.
-Place eggplants oon gas burner or under broiler turning them frequently until eggplant is collapsed and skin is charred. You can also bake them until flesh is soft, but charred tastes better.
-Let cool and then peel eggplants and discard stems.
-Mash eggplant with the back of a fork in a bowl and mix with lemon juice.
-Heat butther in a pot. Add flour and stir constantly to make a roux on low heat.
-Warm the milk and add slowly. Whisk to make the mixture smooth. simmer for 4-5 minutes.
-Add eggplant puree and mix well.
-Add salt and black pepper, and cheese. Mix well. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
-Make a bed on a plate with eggplant puree and place meat on top of eggplant puree. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

19 comments:

  1. Burcu, I made the creamy eggplant part of this dish earlier this year and it's so decadent!

    Thanks for your rendition...I must make it again soon.

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  2. Burcu, Hünkar Beğendi is a great main dish!! When I make it all my guests are begging for more!

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  3. This is certainly a memorable dish Burcu:D I will definitely need to try it if it raved about by so many..sultans included!!

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  4. bloğunuzu çok beğendim, resimler tarifler, hepsi birbirinden güzeller;) ayrıca, hünkar beğendi enfes gözüküyor, ellerinize sağlık....

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  5. This sounds fabulous. No wonder. It was intended for royalty.

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  6. This dish sounds delicious. I am especially interested in the eggplant puree. Can you use any kind of eggplant (Chinese, Japanese) or does it have to be one of those globe ones?

    Thanks for adding us as a friend on Foodbuzz. We welcome you to come visit our site!

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  7. I have made this so many times with different types of meat and it is always a great success with my guests. However, I didn;t know the story, Thanks for sharing

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  8. This is one of my favorite Turkish dishes. So delicious! Soltan had no reason not to like it:)

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  9. You don't quite need a refined palate to like this, so no wonder Hünkar did so.

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  10. Aslı Katina10:08 PM

    This is a very special dish from our rich cuisine, however this was my first trial. It turned out to be great, I will try it with other kinds of meat as well (köfte, etc.) I love your blog, especially your giving the background of the dish, and the little cultural explanations, giving hints of our gorgeous culture. Especially the translation of the dish is very successful and well-thought. I appreciate so much, keep going :)

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  11. Thanks, Asli! I am glad you're enjoying the blog. As much as I'd like to take credit for the translation, it wasn't me; I saw the translated name in a Turkish restaurant's menu, in Columbus, OH, if I am not mistaken.

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  12. Anonymous4:13 PM

    Very good! I was looking for a recipe after recently having this at a local restaurant. I added more Parmesan as well as a little goat cheese to the eggplant, which I need to char a little more next time for the smokier flavor they served at the restaurant. Definitely a keeper.

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  13. Az once denedim ve cok guzel oldu! Tesekkurler!

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  14. Anonymous12:34 PM

    Hi Thanks for the excellent recipe. Will try for my special guest. I just wonder how much milk needs? What 1-1.5 milk means?

    Thanks in advance.

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    Replies
    1. Sorry for the confusion; it should be cup. I corrected the recipe as well.

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  15. I am always looking for new ways to prepare eggplant; and this is totally new to me! Love it.

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  16. Anonymous8:39 AM

    We make a similar spicy dish in India called Began (Eggplant) Bharta (puree), but it goes without meat and cheese. The sauces and spices in the eggplant puree are a lot more elaborate, though. It is eaten with roti or naan (breads) or parantha (fried bread)

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  17. I made this with lamb shoulder (they did not have leg) and it was delicious! I had a little trouble with the eggplant though. I bought the large globe looking eggplant (was torn with getting the skinny Chinese eggplant). After it was roasted, I couldn't figure out how to de-seed it without taking out most of the flesh with it so I ended up with less eggplant than the recipe called for. Still the cheesy lemony dip was delicious with the lamb. Great recipe!

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