Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Hunkar Begendi -- Sultan's Delight

My family and I just returned from Turkey where we spent a few weeks touring Istanbul, Ephesus, Pamukkale, and Ankara, visiting family, and eating our way through absolutely delicious Turkish food. I'll post soon some pictures from our trip, but I must post this recipe for Hunkar Begendi, compliments of my siser-in-law, Ummuhan. She made it for us during our visit, and when I tasted it, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. It's the most divine recipe for eggplant I think I've ever tasted. Obviously, a long-dead sultan once thought so too as the English translation for this traditional recipe is usually Sultan's Delight.

I hope you enjoy!


for the eggplant puree:
  • 6 eggplants
  • 1 tbsp whole grain spelt flour *my revision is for whole grain spelt in place of white flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp kasar cheese (or hard cheese of your choice)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • sea salt, pepper to taste

for the meat kebab:
  • 1 kg. cubed meat (lamb or cow)
  • 2 onions
  • 2-3 tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt, pepper to taste


  1. Saute the chopped onion in olive oil until translucent. Add the cubed meat and fry.

  2. Add the peeled and chopped tomatoes and continue cooking until soft.

  3. Add 2-3 glasses of water to the meat/tomato mixture and cook until the meat is soft. Add salt and pepper. The amount of water in the level should be about 1-1.5 large tablespoons.

  4. Grill the eggplants on the stove starting from the eggplants' tips. Then split the skins of the eggplants and chop the eggplant fine. (Or you can roast the eggplants in the oven or on a grill until soft and blackened).

  5. Fry the eggplant in the flour with oil until they are pink. Add shredded cheese, milk and cook. Add salt to taste. (NOTE: This is the direction in the book, however, my sister-in-law says that it is better to make the besamel sauce first by browning the flour in the oil, then gradually adding the milk and finally the cheese and salt to taste. Once this sauce is fixed, then you mix it with the eggplant, and warm together. I've tried it both ways, and Ummuhan is, of course, right!)

  6. Serve the mashed eggplants over the meat. Garnish with parsley.

This recipe is translated from Bereketli Olsun by Gonul Candas.

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