During our trip to Istanbul, we ate A LOT of aubergine and lamb. But this particular combination became my absolute favourite – possibly my new favourite meal ever! It’s Turkish name is Beğendili Kebab, but it’s also called Hünkar Beğendi which means ‘the monarch approved’. The traditional recipe uses a white sauce made with a roux and milk, but in this recipe I’ve substituted that for thick cream. I’ve also cheated by using smoked salt instead of cooking the aubergine over an open fire but the effect is similar!
Ingredients – for 2-3 people
For the aubergine purée:
1 large aubergine
1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. double cream
3 tbsp. mild cheddar or Emmental cheese
Pinch of nutmeg
For the lamb stew:
400g lamb, diced
1 onion, finely diced
1 glove of garlic
1 large tomato, skinned and chopped
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup beef or lamb stock
Start with the lamb first. Season well with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a medium pot, and once hot, brown the lamb all over.
Add the finely diced onion and garlic, along with the tomato, and cook for a few minutes. Combine the stock and tomato paste and pour into the pot. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 1-2 hours, until meat is nice and tender.
Meanwhile, for the aubergine purée, roughly chop it into small pieces; it doesn’t matter too much as it’s all going to be mashed up soon enough! Heat a small pot or pan, and melt the butter. Cook the aubergine on a low heat until it’s really soft and mushy – you can add water if it starts to burn or stick to the pan. Add the cream, cheese, salt and nutmeg, then mash (or blend) until you get a smooth-ish paste.
To serve, place the aubergine purée on the plate, then spoon the lamb over the top with plenty of sauce. Sprinkle with sumac and garnish with a slice of tomato. Enjoy!