Olly’s Recipe: Hunkar Begendi (Sultan’s Delight)

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Hünkar Beğendi, which literately translates as “the Sultan liked it.” The main origin of this dish was created for Sultan Murad IV (1612-1640) and obviously he liked it. Another story I’ve heard is that this dish was served for Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, in Sultan Abdülaziz’s Beylerbeyi Palace in 1869, apparently 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 hesitant to share his recipe. Thank you to whoever shared the recipe later on. Now its your turn to share the recipe.

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.


500g Trimmed/Boneless Lamb Leg, Diced (2cm Pieces)
1 Onion, Finely Choppped
2 Tbsp Butter Approx. 50g
1 Clove Garlic, Crushed
2 Ripe Tomatoes, Diced
1 Sweet Pepper, Diced
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1,5 Cup Of Water
1 Tbsp Salt & Pepper

Aubergine Puree:

3-4 Medium Sized Aubergine
75g Butter
2 Tbsp Plain Flour
1,5 cup of warm milk
1 Tsp Salt
1 Handful Grated Kasar Cheese
1 Tsp Nutmeg

Instructions: Braised Lamb

Heat butter in a pot and sautee the onions and garlic for a few minutes. Then add the dice lamb meat. When browned on all sides, add sweet pepper. Stir for a few minutes.

Add tomato paste and stir for another couple of minutes.
Add tomatoes 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 needed.

Instructions: Aubergine Puree

Grill aubergine whole without peeling them by holding over a flame and turning slowly, or prick skin in several places and set in hot oven.

When the skin begins to break and the inside pulp feels soft, slip off the skin; discard sacs containing seeds and chop up pulp; put pulp in a saucepan.

Mix lemon juice with pulp and simmer until very soft, stirring often (10-15 minutes).

Meanwhile, melt butter, add flour to it and allow flour to brown.

Beat the butter and flour mixture into the eggplant.

Slowly add several tablespoons of hot milk and the nutmeg and continue beating until mixture resembles mashed potatoes.

Lastly add several tablespoons of grated cheese and cook several minutes more.

Serve immediately.


The Author

A food business focusing on traditional Turkish food based in South East London. Running local pop-ups and events - Chef @Meze_Mangal @Grub_Club

1 Comment

  1. I first had this dish in a restaurant in Istanbul several years ago. It was an immediate new favorite. However, I have never found a restaurant in Chicago that serves it, and the Turkish cookbook I bought in Turkey doesn’t include it. So thank you for sharing the recipe. I look forward to enjoying this dish again.

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