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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, chicken and for a vegetarian option, topped with more baked vegetables, such as zucchini, peppers, mushrooms.

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 (please note this recipe is not included at my current book); Signed hardback copies are now 25 % OFF here, and delivered worldwide – 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 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 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
4 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 warm milk
60 gr /3fl oz 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 35 – 40 minutes 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 40 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 7 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 (pide bread works well) or plain rice aside.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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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Smoked Eggplant Salad with Garlic Yoghurt – Patlicanli Yogurtlama

Patlicanli yogurtlama; smoked eggplant salad with garlic yoghurt and mint

Patlicanli yogurtlama; smoked eggplant salad with garlic yoghurt and mint

Another refreshing smoked eggplant salad from southern Turkey, Antakya, this time with garlic yoghurt and mint. It goes very well with grilled meats, or just with some nice crusty bread as an appetizer. If you can cook the eggplants over open fire or on stove top, eggplants get a delicious, smoky flavor.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 45 minutes

1 large or 2 medium eggplant (aubergine)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
About 200 ml/ 7 fl oz/1 cup plain yoghurt
5 ml/ 1 teaspoon dried mint
15 ml/ 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze of a quarter of lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200 C/ 400 F

Cook the eggplants (aubergines) on a barbecue grill or over and open gas flame turning occasionally by the stalks until the outer skin is charred and blistered and the inner flesh soft. (Alternatively they can be pricked in few places and baked in a hot oven for about 45 minutes). Peel away the burnt skin and discard the stalks. Put the flesh in a colander to drain away any bitter juices. (You can prepare the eggplants this way a day in advance; squeeze lemon juice over to retain its color and keep in the fridge covered). Finely chop the flesh and set aside.

Combine the yoghurt, flesh of eggplant, garlic, salt, black pepper and the dried mint in a mixing bowl. Transfer the mixture to a serving dish, sprinkle a little more dried mint and drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over.

This delicious meze and over 90 authentic recipes from my homeland are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table; signed copies available at this link (it is 25 % off), delivered worldwide including the US and Canada.

We are delighted to share that hardback copies of Ozlem’s Turkish Table now also available via Milk Street Online Store in the USA, via link here.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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Karniyarik – Stuffed Eggplants (Aubergines) with ground lamb, tomatoes and onions

 

Karniyarik; Stuffed eggplants with ground meat, onion, tomatoes

Karniyarik; Stuffed eggplants with ground meat, onion, tomatoes




This impressive dish is a legacy of the Ottoman Palace kitchens and yet another of the imperial demands for ingenuity concerning the much loved eggplant, aubergine, you will find this dish wherever you go in Turkey! Though traditionally made with ground lamb, you may prepare it with ground beef or have a vegetarian version too. Simply replace the meat with your favorite vegetable (mushrooms, chickpeas work very well), sprinkle some grated cheese over the top and bake it, it turns out to be a delicious alternative.

This Karniyarik recipe and many more are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, along with stunning photography and personal stories. Signed copies are now 30 % OFF for a limited time at this link and delivered worldwide including the USA.

You can cook this dish ahead of time and gently reheat in the oven. Karniyarik freezes very well, once cooked. Here’s also my YouTube video for how to make Karniyarik :

Preparation time – 45 minutes Cooking time – 55 minutes

3 dark purple eggplants (aubergines; small to medium variety if possible)
340 gr / 12 ounces ground (minced) lean lamb
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400 gr /14 oz (1 can of) chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
240 ml / 1 cup water
1 bunch or 1/2 cup Italian (flat) parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 – 4 tablespoons canola oil or ground nut oil for shallow frying
6 thin slices of tomato and green bell peppers, seeded – for decorative topping
1 -2  teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F

Cut the eggplants in half lengthways leaving the stalk intact. In each half of eggplant, cut a deep split lengthways without cutting through to the skin on the opposite side and leaving 1/2″-13 mm- uncut at either end. Sprinkle salt over the flesh side of the eggplants and leave them aside for 15 minutes. Salt will help the moisture come out of the eggplants.

In a little of the olive oil, sauté the onions until soft. Add the ground lamb and cook until all the moisture is absorbed. Add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, mix well. Continue cooking for a further couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in most of the chopped parsley. Seasoning is important, so please check the seasoning of the mixture and add more salt or pepper if you would like.

Dry the eggplants with kitchen towel thoroughly. Lightly brown them evenly on both sides in the canola oil or gorundnut oil. With the split sides facing up, place them into a well-oiled ovenproof dish or a baking tray. Spoon the filling into the splits. On the top of each filled eggplant put a slice of tomato and a green bell pepper. Mix the water with a drizzle of olive oil. Pour this mixture on the baking tray. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking for another 15 minutes or until they are tender and the eggplants are nicely browned on top.

Serve hot with plain rice and a dollop of plain yoghurt by the side.

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