Or lamb ragout on a bed of puréed aubergine. No wonder the Sultan loved it because we do too! This is an old Ottoman dish, the name literally meaning ‘the Sovereign relished it’. I think Angie Mitchell’s translation is perfect: Sultan’s Delight! Yes! I am sure it will be your delight too.
How does this sound? Turkish lamb is deliciously succulent and summer is the time for aubergine not forgetting those fabulous tomatoes …
I was looking for a dish that I could prepare in advance and where the tastes would all meld together in a delicious combination of summer flavours. Friend Frances was coming for a few days and even though it has been extraordinarily hot, a nice meal upon arrival always says welcome.
But I do have a confession of sorts to make: instead of grilling or roasting the aubergines and making a huge mess of your oven, I used a jar. Yes, I did and I heartily advise you to do the same. It is not sacrilege just commonsense.
A Turkish friend who is a really good cook advised me and I will never look back. However she did say that one should use a make without extra flavours thrown in like garlic. This one, Sera, available from Carrefour in Istanbul at least, is as natural as it gets. Try it and see. The taste is very authentic.
- Sauté the chopped onions gently in the butter 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 and continue cooking until the juice has evaporated.
- Add the hot water and the tomato paste, cover and simmer for about 1 hr or until meat is tender. Take care it doesn’t dry out and add a little more water if necessary.
- Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly.
First, make the white sauce like this:
- Melt the butter on a low heat. Add the flour and beat well to make a roux.
- Slowly add the milk, whisking thoroughly to get a smooth consistency, and cook for 5 mins.
- Add the mashed aubergine (for traditional way, click here), a little salt and freshly ground black pepper, and simmer gently for a further 5 mins.
- Remove from heat, stir in the cheese and a little freshly grated nutmeg and simmer gently for a further 2 mins.
Serve hot, the meat sitting on top of a bed of the aubergine purée, and garnish generously with chopped parsley.
If you reheat the purée, you may need to add a little more milk to ensure you achieve the correct consistency.
A delicious meal at any time but especially now when the tomatoes and green peppers not to mention the aubergines if you are using the real thing, are at their best. I recommend making it in advance as the tastes will blend and become even better.
And here is a pic of the wonderful thank-you present Frances left me on the breakfast table this morning (Yörüks are traditionally nomads who are now settled in several villages around here and who occasionally sell their things here in Assos):