Friday, 9 March 2012

Lamb Stew with Aubergine Sauce - Random Recipe

Encourged by my sister's Random Recipe offering I decided to take part this month myself.  So late in the evening I counted to the seventeenth book on the bookshelf and pulled out Claudia Roden's Arabesque.  I was lucky.  I've had this book quite a few years and have cooked several good recipes from it and particularly love the Yoghurt Cake, so it was quite tempting to cheat and choose something I knew I would like!  However, I resisted the temptation and the page fell open on Hunkar Begendi otherwise known as Lamb Stew with Aubergine Sauce.  The literal translation of the name is "Her Majesty's Delight" and dates back to 1869.  Apparently the Sultan Abdul Aziz entertained the wife of Napoleon III in his palace on the Bosphorous and this is what he had his cook make for her.  Napoleon's wife, Empress Eugenie, loved this dish so much she asked for the recipe to be given to her cooks, however, the Sultan's cook could not oblige because he "cooked with his eyes and his nose"!  I love it when you get some background history to a recipe and so many Turkish recipes have a history behind them that is passed on so it's not forgotten.

Anyway, this recipe was very simple and easy and I can see why the Empress Eugenie was enchanted by the creamy aubergine sauce - it is so unusual and so "moreish" - not sure if that is a proper word but I'm sure everyone knows what I mean.

So, enough waffle, onto the recipe - oh, by the way, this recipe serves 6 and was served with rice.


1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1kg boned leg or neck fillet of lamb
500g tomatoes, chopped and peeled
1 teaspoon of sugar
salt and black pepper

For the Aubergine Sauce:

1.5kg aubergines
75g butter
3 tablespoons flour
500ml hot milk
good pinch of ground nutmeg
50g grated cheese - this is a little tricky because the recipe calls for kasar (a turkish cheese which is quite strong) but suggests Gruyere would be a suitable alternative or a mature cheddar.  I used gruyere.

To make the stew I chopped up the onion and put it in the pan with the oil, fried it until it was soft, then I browned the meat in the same pan with the onions.  This was followed by the tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper.  I then covered this with water and set it to simmer for about an hour.

What I forgot to mention was turning on the oven before doing all the above - set to 240 C.

Then I took the aubergines and pricked them with a knife and put them into the oven  - the pricking stops them from bursting in the oven- these were cooked in the oven for about 45-55 minutes.

In the meantime I made the bechamel sauce by first heating the milk.  After this in another pan I melted the butter to this I added the flour and cooked them together until the paste turned a biscuity colour.  Then I gradually added the warm milk a ladle-full at a time and stirred well to make sure no lumps appeared.  At this point I added some salt and nutmeg.  I then cooked this for about 15 minutes.

By this time the aubergines were ready to take  from the oven after the allotted time, I peeled them and put them into a sieve - mashed and mashed with a wooden spoon.  The aubergine was then added to the bechamel sauce along with the grated cheese and mixed well.

After the hour, I took the lid off of the stew and let it bubble away for a good twenty minutes.

Instructions are to put the stew in the middle of a shallow dish and pour the aubergine sauce around it.

Rice served in a separate bowl

I am entering this recipe in the Belleau Kitchen Random Recipes challenge.


  1. Well done! I am not a big eggplant fan but this sounds great - do you think this would work just as well with peppers? I know a neighbour that has grown so many is giving them away by the bag full.

    1. I'm not sure about peppers, they are quite a different texture to aubergine aren't they. You could always try making half the quantity or less of the bechamel and adding the peppers to see how it tastes. I will make this with a different cheese next time - when we next go to the Turkish shop I'll get the turkish cheese and see how different it becomes.

  2. Oh wow this sounds so delicious! It's right up my street all that lovely meet with the cheesy juices around it and yes, quite unusual. I'm so glad you enjoyed the challenge and very brave of you to stick to the rules! Thanks so much for taking part x

    1. I am so pleased I took part - the challenge opened my eyes to a recipe I have obviously skimmed over in the past but which will now be a dish I will make over and over again.

  3. It looks lovely, and I like the idea of the Random Recipe.

  4. I don't usually like lamb much but I've eaten this dish in a restaurant and it was so delicious - I'm glad to have now found a recipe for it.