Cooking time: 1 hour
This is the stuffed eggplant recipe that is often served as a side dish with grilled lamb chops or a roast shoulder of lamb. However you can also add some cooked cubed or ground lamb to the basic purée to create the traditional Turkish dish called hünkar begendi, or "the Sultan approved." This refined and delicate eggplant purée requires careful preparation: after all, it is associated with Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, who fell in love with the dish during a visit to Sultan Abdülaziz.
You can adapt the recipe by varying the spices to your taste or adding some finely diced tomato.
Instead of peeling the eggplant once it is cooked, split it lengthwise and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Serve the purée in the hollowed out eggplant.
- Prepare a charcoal fire in an outdoor grill and let it burn down to glowing coals. Place the eggplants over the coals and roast, turning frequently, until the skins are charred all over and the pulp is very soft and well cooked, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let the eggplants cool.
- Peel the eggplants, being sure to remove all the skin. Place the pulp in a bowl and mash it with the lemon juice until completely puréed.
- Melt the butter in a skillet. Blend in the flour and cook briefly. Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens into a smooth white sauce. Stir in the eggplant purée and kasseri cheese and continue cooking until the cheese has melted. Season to taste.
- Serve the eggplant purée on its own, or fold in some cooked ground or cubed lamb.
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