This is definitely a dish with a story behind it. There are several versions of it. I like the first one, but it is upto the history experts to decide:
– In 1867 the then Sultan Abdulaziz visited Emperor Napoleon III. He could not come but sent his wife for the visit. The queen brought with her her cook. And the French and the Ottoman cook together invented the eggplant pure called “begendi” after the Sultan liked it. Later on the queen made several more visits to the Ottoman Sultan.
– Around 250 personnel worked in Ottoman Palace. They were working very hard, trying new tecniques and creating new dishes. It is thought that this dish is one of the many created around early 1600 for Sultan 4 Murat Han. Named as the Sultan’s Delight after the news was out that he liked it.
Actually this is a two sided recipe again. You can use the meat recipe to cook a meat dish alone and couple it with a nice Pilaf. However the dish as a whole is a feast. The trick to make the meat more delicious is to place them in the pot and wait without stirring or adding anything else including oil until the meat first leaves and then absorbs back its own water. Only then start to add oil, tomato and spices as described below in the recipe. Do not add salt until very end, because salt soaks up the juices of the meat and makes it tough.
Roasting the eggplants always seemed like a very difficult thing to me before, actually it isn’t. It just makes your kitchen smelly for a while, and that’s it. All you have to do is wash and dry your eggplants. Cut off the stems and the green leaves. Make little cuts right where the leaves were. Then make several holes all around the eggplant with a toothpick. Your eggplants are ready to be roasted. You have the option to roast in an oven or in a non-stick skillet. Whichever you decide to use, make sure that they are really hot before you put in the eggplants. Do not add oil or anything, just place the eggplants in the oven tray or in the skillet. Wait patiently turning them to cook all sides until they are somewhat burnt and empty. When you press down you will understand that they are somewhat empty and they are ready.
Again there are two ways to open the roasted eggplants.
The easier way is the cut the eggplants vertically and scoop out the contents with a spoon.
The somewhat more challenging way is to hold up the eggplant from where it’s stalk was (with a paper towel or similar as it will be hot) and peel downwards with your hand or a knife using the little cuts you had made before roasting. You will see that it will peel with all the black parts left behind.
Make sure your meat is ready before you are finished with the pure. When the pure waits, it tends to thicken and get an unpleasent layer so serve immediately after it is ready. However the taste will be as good even when served the next day.
The serving custom for this dish is you place a spoonful of the eggplant pure, make it flat and make a hole in the middle in which you add the meat. Sprinkle with well chopped parsley. Enjoy.
Use a large pot or preferrably a pressure cooker. Put it over a little bit higher them medium heat.
Add the meat to the pot. Cover the lid. Do not mix or add oil to it untill the meat first leaves and then absorbs back its water.
Then just when all the water is absorbed back add the butter and the olive oil.
Chop well the onions and add. Mix and cook until the onions are well done.
Chop the garlic cloves and add.
After the onions are well done add the tomato paste and the grounded red pepper. Cook, while mixing until you can smell the tomato paste.
Peel and chop the tomato and add.
When the tomato is cooked. Add the cumin, black and red pepper and warm water. There should be enough water to cover the bottom of the pot.
Cover the lid and cook according to the pressure cooker’s performance, if you are using one. If you are using a normal pot, check once in a while. If there is no water left at all you may add some warm water.
When you open the lid – in whichever type of cooker you are using – if there is too much water – then boil some more with lid open until the sauce of the meat is thick enough.
Add salt, mix and close the heat.
While the meat is cooking, roast the eggplants.
You can do this either on the stove on a non stick pan or in the oven. Whichever method you choose to use, make sure it is really hot before you put the eggplants.
Before starting to roast the eggplants cut off the stalks and the green leaves of each eggplant. Make several holes with a thin knife or a toothpick on every side of the eggplants.
Make little cuts close to the part where they used to have stalks, to make it easier to peel after they are roasted.
Cook until they are well done. You can understand whether they are ready by slightly pushing down, they will look like burnt and start looking like empty.
Then peel the eggplants. They will be very hot obviously, so watch out. There are two alternative methods to peel:
o Cut the eggplants vertically in the middle. Scoop out the white part with at small spoon or
o Hold them from the once stalky part. Peel them downwards using the small cuts you had done in the first place.
Cut the eggplant contents into tiny parts.
In a separate pot or skillet melt the butter.
Add the flour and cook mixing quick and continuously with a whisk until you can start smelling the flour.
Add the chopped eggplants, cook mixing for another 1-2 minutes.
Add the water, milk and salt, cook until it combines well and gets a thick texture.
Grate the cheese with the thinner side of the grater. Close the heat of the eggplant mixture and add the cheese. Mix well again.
On every plate or on the serving dish; put first the eggplant pure, spread it in the middle. Make it flat and in the middle of it add the meat. Sprinkle some well chopped parsley on top. Enjoy.