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Lamb Stew with Velvety Eggplant Puree

As the name suggests, Hünkârbeğendi (Sultan’s Delight) is a dish worthy of sultans. This is a popular dish served to entertain guests in the best possible way. In Turkish cuisine, it is a popular practice to roast eggplants and purée the flesh. However, preparing a roux similar to the technique used for béchamel sauce, and flavoring it with plenty of cheese indicates traces of Westernization.

Ingredients
Serves 6

For the Lamb Stew (Tas Kebab)

  • 100 g butter or clarified butter
  • 750 g lamb, trimmed and cubed
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 l water
  • 2 medium tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped

For the beğendi (eggplant puree)

  • 1.5 kg seedless, long eggplants
  • 50 g butter or clarified butter
  • 50 g all-purpose flour
  • 750 ml milk
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 90 g mature cheddar cheese (kaşar), grated
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg to flavor

Preparation

  1. Heat the butter in a saucepan, add the meat and
    sauté for 8-10 minutes until juices are released and
    absorbed.
  2. Add the onions and garlic. Sauté for another 2
    minutes before adding the tomato paste. Then add
    the black peppercorns, salt and water.
  3. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes and add the tomatoes. Simmer until the meat is tender.
  4. To prepare the beğendi or eggplant puree, trim
    the leaves around the stems of the eggplants, then
    lightly Pierce the eggplants in a few places using
    the tip of a knife. Place the eggplants over hot coal,
    on the chargrill or on a hot stovetop burner and
    rotate until they are completely soft. Transfer these
    onto a plate.
  5. Hold the eggplant by the stem and peel off the skin
    from top to bottom without removing the flesh.
    Cut off the stems and carefully remove any
    remaining burnt sections. Chop up the flesh with a
    knife.
  6. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour.
    Sauté for 2 minutes over a medium heat constantly
    stirring with a whisk, then remove from the heat.
    Leave to cool for about 5 minutes, then add boiling
    milk. Whisk continuously over low heat for 2-3
    minutes before adding the skinned, chopped
    eggplant.
  7. Mash while whisking, add the salt and cook for
    5 minutes. Add the cheese, remove from the heat
    and keep hot. Place the slow-cooked meat and the
    juices on top of the eggplant puree and serve.

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