Hunkar Begendi (Meat Stew over Eggplant Sauce) Recipe
I recently learned an interesting story about the history of Hunkar Begendi and I was quite surprised. For as long as I can remember, I thought that the sultan who liked the food was one of the Ottoman sultans. Turns out it wasn't.
Where Does the Name Hunkar Begendi Come From?
Literal translation of Hunkar Bengendi to English is: Emperor (or Sultan) liked it. It was cooked in the kitchens of Dolmabahçe Palace for the French Empress Eugenie, who came to Istanbul to visit Sultan Abdülaziz for the first time. In fact, the empress liked the meal, not the sultan.
It is also said that Abdulaziz and Eugenie had a love affair during this visit. Abdülaziz and Eugenie met for the first time in Paris 2 years before Eugenie's visit to Istanbul. It is rumored that Abdulaziz fell in love with Eugenie as soon as he saw her and could not look at anything but her during his visit to Paris. Eugenie was also a woman whose beauty was legendary.
Two years later, Eugene stopped by Istanbul on his way to Egypt for the opening of the Suez Canal. As soon as he arrived in Istanbul, Abdulaziz showered Eugenie with gifts. Eugenie was hosted at Beylerbeyi Palace. Again, rumor has it that on the night of October 17, after everyone went to sleep, Abdulaziz went to Eugenie's room in the Beylerbeyi Palace and spent the whole night there. This escapade failed to stay hidden. All of Istanbul was shaken by this gossip. So much so that Sultan Abdulaziz's mother Pertevniyal visited Eugenie personally and said, "Don't you have a husband? Go back to your country." she said.
This love could not go any further. Abdulaziz was deposed and killed, and Eugene was exiled with her husband. However, in 1911, when Eugene was 85 years old, he made another visit to Istanbul, and during this visit, he met Yusuf Izzettin Efendi, son of Abdulaziz, and visited the Beylerbeyi Palace. Although this visit strengthens the rumors, things that do not have conclusive proof are always gossip for me.
But if that rumor is true, then I think whatever you put in front of Eugenie she would like it anyway. Does the eye of a woman in love see food? Fortunately, they cooked this delicious dish and it lived up to its name.
Hünkar Bengendi with or without sauce?
The meat of the Hunkar Begendi, which I ate in a famous hotel restaurant before, was not sauced as I cooked it, on the contrary, it was almost completely unsauced. They were just sauteed with a little tomato paste and onions. It was obviously too dry to eat on its own. In my opinion, the meat will be so slightly juicy that it will have a light aroma outside of itself and pass through your throat. You can also leave it juicy or drain it according to your own taste.
How can we cook Hünkar Begendi without a pressure cooker?
Also, if you are not cooking in a pressure cooker, increase the amount of water a little more and cook it on low heat with the lid of the pot closed.
Enjoy the recipe...
- 400 g of beef cut into bite-size pieces,
- 1 medium onion,
- 1 tomato,
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste,
- 2 teaspoons of paprika,
- 1 pinch of black pepper,
- 1 pinch of cumin,
- 1/4 cup of vegetable oil,
- 4 cups of hot water.
For the eggplant puree;
- 2 eggplants,
- 1/2 water,
- 1/2 cup of milk,
- 1 tablespoon of flour,
- 1 tablespoon of butter,
- 1 handful of grated cheddar.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a pressure cooker,
- Add the meat and cook until it turns light brown,
- Add the finely chopped onions and cook until translucent,
- Add the tomato paste and paprika and stir for 2-3 mins,
- Add the chopped tomato and cook until softened,
- Add the black pepper, cumin and water, then stir,
- Put the lid on and cook according to the instructions of your pressure cooker,
- Open the lid, add the salt and continue to boil in order to reduce the sauce, until you reach the desired consistency,
- Roast the eggplants either in the oven or over the stove,
- Peel off the skin and finely chop,
- In a saucepan melt the butter,
- Add the flour and stir for 3 mins,
- Add the eggplants and stir for 1-2 mins,
- Add the milk, water and salt and cook constantly stirring until thickened,
- Remove from heat, add the cheddar and stir,
- On a serving platter, first pour the eggplant sauce and then pour the meat sauce on top.