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Tag Archives | Aubergine

Tender chunks of chicken breast wrapped in eggplant (aubergine) slices -Patlıcanlı İslim kebabı

Tender pieces of chicken wrapped in eggplant slices; Islim Kebabi; a special treat.

Tender pieces of chicken wrapped in eggplant slices; Islim Kebabi; a special treat.

This elegant Ottoman dish is a wonderful melt-in-your-mouth experience of soft eggplant slices, tender chicken pieces and a sturdy tomato sauce, featuring Turks’ beloved eggplant (aubergine), patlican. Traditionally chunks of lamb or beef are used, and I made this version with chicken breast. Marinating the chicken as below really makes the meat tenderer and add a lot of flavor.

Wrapping the chicken in strips of lightly fried eggplant may take a little time to prepare but it is absolutely worth it and the result is impressive and very tasty. You can also bake this dish a day in advance and keep in the fridge, which makes it a great entertaining feast. Any leftovers can also be kept in the freezer.

For us Turks, cooking for family and friends have been an important way of showing that we care for them, and I do think, this is one of the nicest ways of showing your affection. The pleasure of having friends and family gathered around the table sharing your food and savoring the moment, is for me one of life’s greatest pleasures. This special dish I am sure would fit the bill perfectly and I do hope it would bring you all a lot of pleasure.

Serves 4-6
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes (+20 minutes for the eggplants)

3 long aubergine/eggplants (dark purple Holland eggplants)
Canola oil for shallow frying
1 medium tomato, halved and sliced
1 green bell pepper, halved and sliced lengthways
30ml/2 tablespoons olive oil to saute the chicken breasts

For marinating the chicken:
385gr/13 1/2oz chicken breast, cut in small chunks
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
30ml/2 tablespoon natural plain yoghurt
15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil
10ml/2 teaspoon tomato paste
5-10ml/1-2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

For the tomato sauce:
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsley chopped
Left over green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
15ml/1 tablespoon tomato paste
8fl oz/1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180C/350 F

First marinate the chicken. In a large bowl, combine the chicken pieces with the marination ingredients listed above and mix well. Cover and keep in the fridge at least for 30 minutes. This marination adds a wonderful flavor to the chicken and make the chicken breast tenderer. You can also prepare this marination a day in advance and keep in the fridge, covered.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplants (aubergines) length ways in stripes like a zebra. Slice the eggplants length ways, about ½ inch thick. Sprinkle some salt over them and leave for about 15 minutes. Squeeze out their moisture with paper towel. Then shallow fry them in the canola oil for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on the paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the marinated chicken breast. Sauté for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and black pepper and take out the meat to cool off.

On a board or a plate, place one eggplant slice horizontally and the other slice vertically on top of each other and place the meat mixture in the middle. Fold over the slices to wrap the meat mixture and place eggplant package seamside down, in a greased baking tray. Lay a small slice of tomato on top and then the green pepper and fasten the structure with a cocktail stick. Repeat with the rest of the eggplant slices. (If an eggplant slice is not long enough to do the duo wrap, you can place chicken pieces in the middle of one slice and roll like a cigar.)

Place the sliced carrots, onions and left over green peppers amongst the eggplant packages in the tray. Mix the tomato paste with water, season with salt and pepper. Pour this sauce around the eggplant packages and bake them in the oven for about 35 minutes. Please check towards the end if more water is needed and add some to the baking tray.

Serve the eggplant packages and the vegetables hot with plain rice by the side. Cucumber, garlic and yoghurt dip, Cacik, also would complement this delicious dish well.

Afiyet Olsun,


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Sautéed Aubergine (Eggplant), Courgette (Zucchini) and Peppers with Tomato Sauce-Saksuka

Patlicanli, kabakli saksuka; fried eggplants and zucchini in tomato and red pepper paste sauce

Patlicanli, kabakli saksuka; fried eggplants, peppers and zucchini in tomato and red pepper paste sauce

This is one of the most popular mezes, appetizers at home, featuring our beloved eggplant (aubergine). It is delicious and easy to make. Garlicky yoghurt accompanies this dish really well. I like to add a little Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi to it; it really adds a wonderful flavor. If you like to make your own red pepper paste, here is my recipe.

One of the joys in life for me is to cook and eat with friends and family. The life evolves around kitchen, children come and go and you get to cook with those dear to you, simply wonderful. We made and enjoyed this dish with friends this week; in Turkish we say “the food tastes better when shared” and it sure did.

Serves 4
Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

1 large aubergine (eggplant)
1 courgette (zucchini)
1 red bell pepper
2-3 chili peppers (as hot as you wish), kept whole or sliced in half
Sunflower oil for shallow frying
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

For the tomato sauce:
400gr/14oz can of chopped tomatoes

10ml/2tsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi (optional)
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed with salt
5ml/1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
15ml/1tablespoon olive oil
Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Garlicky yoghurt sauce:
200ml/7fl oz thick and creamy natural plain yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400F (if you prefer to roast the vegetables)

Using a vegetable peeler, partially peel the aubergine in stripes. Cut the aubergine in half length ways and then cut each half into thick slices. Sprinkle salt over the eggplants and leave them aside for 15 minutes. Salt will help the moisture come out of the eggplants. Dry the eggplants with kitchen towel thoroughly (otherwise the excess water will cause the hot oil to spatter everywhere).

Cut the courgette in half lengthways and then cut it width ways into thick slices. Deseed the red bell pepper and cut it into bite size pieces. You can leave the chili peppers as a whole or cut in half if they are too big.

Heat enough oil in a wide pan. Sauté the vegetables in batches until they are golden brown. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. Lightly season with salt and ground black pepper.  Alternatively, if you prefer to roast the vegetables, you can spread the sliced vegetables on a roasting tray and coat them with olive oil (about 2-3 tbsp) and season with salt and black pepper. You can then roast the vegetables in the preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes until they start to turn golden brown.

On a separate pan, sauté the garlic for a minute or so with the olive oil. Add the canned tomatoes and the hot pepper paste (if you are using) and mix well. Stir in the red pepper flakes and the parsley. Add salt and pepper to your taste. The tomato sauce is ready.

For the yoghurt sauce, beat the yoghurt with the garlic and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pile the hot vegetables on to a serving dish and spoon the tomato sauce over the top. Serve the yoghurt sauce by the side, accompanied by chunks of fresh bread to mop up the tasty sauce.

Afiyet Olsun,


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Sultan’s Delight – Lamb ragout with pureed eggplant and béchamel sauce; Hunkar Begendi


Hunkar Begendi - Sultan's Delight; chunks of delicious meat served over the eggplant puree

Hunkar Begendi – Sultan’s Delight; chunks of delicious meat ragout served over the eggplant puree

This classic lamb dish is served with smoky tasting eggplant with cheese in a béchamel sauce. When Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, visited Topkapi Palace – Istanbul as a guest of the Sultan, she admired the puree so much that she sent her chef to Topkapi Palace to learn the technique. Once you’ve mastered the eggplant puree, it goes well with any grilled meat and chicken.

This dish is one of the landmarks of our cuisine and very popular at home. It is great for entertaining; looks very inviting and the marriage of the eggplant & béchamel sauce with the lamb ragout is divine. You can also make it with beef or chicken too.

I am passionate about my homeland’s delicious, healthy Turkish cuisine; over 90 authentic Turkish recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland; Signed hardback copies are now 30 % OFF here, and delivered worldwide, including the US – ebook option available too. Afiyet Olsun.

Serves 4-6
Preparation time: 35 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour

For the lamb ragout
500 gr/ 1 1/4 lb leg of lamb cut in chunky cubes (or  chunks of chicken or beef, if you prefer)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
30 ml/2 tablespoons butter / olive oil
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tomatoes, skinned and chopped (or 400 gr/14 oz can chopped tomatoes)
240 ml/ 8 fl oz/ 1 cup hot water
15 ml/ 1 tablespoon tomato paste
15 ml/ 1 tablespoon red pepper paste (optional, Southern Turkish way)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley for garnish

Cibatta bread slices or plain rice to accompany

For the eggplant puree
6 medium / 2 lbs eggplants
1 squeeze of lemon juice
60 ml /4 tablespoons butter
45 ml/ 3 tablespoons plain white flour
480 ml / 16 fl oz/ 2 cups warm milk
45 gr / 1/2 cup mature hard cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grated nutmeg

Sauté the chopped onions gently in the butter or olive oil until soft. Season the meat with the salt and pepper and add to the onions, stirring occasionally until evenly browned. Add the chopped green pepper and garlic, and when these are sizzling, add the chopped tomatoes. Continue cooking until the juice has evaporated. Add the hot water, tomato paste and red pepper paste, cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until the meat is tender. Take care it doesn’t dry out and add a little more water if necessary. Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly.

For the eggplant puree, cook the eggplants on a barbecue grill or over an open gas flame turning occasionally by the stalks until the outer skin is charred and blistered and the inner flesh soft. Alternatively, you can prick and bake the eggplants in a hot oven (200 C/400 F) for about 50 minutes or until they feel very soft when you press them and the skins are wrinkled. When cool enough to handle, peel away the burnt skin and discard the stalks. Put the flesh in a colander to drain away any bitter juices and then mash together with the lemon juice using a fork or a potato masher.

Make the béchamel sauce by melting the butter on a low heat. Add the flour and beat well to make a roux. Slowly add the warm milk whisking thoroughly to get a smooth consistency and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the mashed eggplant, a little salt and freshly ground black pepper and simmer gently for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese, a little freshly grated nutmeg and simmer gently for a further couple of minutes.

Serve hot, the meat sitting on the top of a bed of the eggplant puree and garnish generously with chopped parsley. This dish goes very well with some crusty bread (Cibatta works well) or plain rice aside.

Sultan's Delight; Hunkar Begendi - Lamb ragout over eggplant puree with bechamel sauce

Sultan’s Delight; Hunkar Begendi – Lamb ragout over eggplant puree with bechamel sauce

Afiyet Olsun,


Notes:1) If you reheat the puree, you may need to add a little more milk to ensure you achieve the right consistency.

2) You can marinate the cubed lamb with some olive oil, red pepper flakes and seasoning a couple of hours before cooking, this can make the lamb tenderer. Refrigerate until cooking.

3) You can also prepare the smoked eggplant flesh a day in advance. Mash the flesh with lemon juice and a little (about 1 tablespoon) milk. Cover and keep in the fridge.

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