One origin story of this dish, as Esin explains, goes back to 1867. The sultan Abdulaziz visited France and invited the emperor, Napoleon III, and his wife, Eugenie, to visit him in Istanbul. Unable to get away from his work, Napoleon III sent Eugenie in his place. She brought her chef along, who, one day, prepared béchamel sauce, to much interest from the palace kitchen chef, who happened to be making roasted eggplants at that very moment. The palace chef combined the two, making a new dish which he served with lamb — much to the delight of the sultan.
First make the topping: Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and
While the meat is cooking, make the base: Prick the eggplants with a fork; place them on a foil-lined baking sheet and
Carefully remove the charred skin, placing the flesh in a large bowl, then finely chop the eggplant flesh and mash with a fork or a wooden spoon.
Melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium heat, then add the flour and cook until it’s almost golden and smells toasty. Add the mashed eggplant, warm milk, and salt;
Hünkar Beğendi can also be garnished with finely chopped parsley.
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