Beef Stew Over Hot, Creamy Eggplant & Cheese

The Sultan Liked It, a Turkish favorite for entertaining

Elizabeth Taviloglu / Getty Images

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 80 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
440 Calories
19g Fat
36g Carbs
34g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 440
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 10g 48%
Cholesterol 103mg 34%
Sodium 909mg 40%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 34g
Vitamin C 16mg 80%
Calcium 272mg 21%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 800mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

In Turkish, this dish is called "the Sultan liked it," or "Hunkar Beğendi" (hoon-KYAR' BAY'-en-DEE'), and for good reason. Can you imagine anything more delicious than a succulent, melt-in-your-mouth beef stew served over a warm, creamy mash of eggplant and aged cheese?

This classic Turkish main course is one of the highlights of Turkish cuisine and a great example of the kinds of food served in the Ottoman palace kitchens.

You'll be surprised at how easy it is to prepare this dish, especially if you already have roasted eggplant on hand. Hunkar Beğendi is another great example of how Turkish cooks use very simple ingredients to create delicious dishes.

In addition, you don't have to stick to a totally Turkish menu to serve this dish. It also goes very well with more familiar side dishes like steamed asparagus and fancy, new potatoes.


  • 1 pound (750 grams) top round beef, or another cut good for stew, cut into cubes

  • 4 cups fire-roasted eggplant, or canned roasted eggplant

  • 1 onion, grated

  • 1 tomato, grated

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 3 rounded tablespoons butter

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 3 to 4 cups milk

  • 1/3 cup grated Turkish kasar cheese, or grated Romano cheese

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Squeeze the extra liquid out of the grated onion and place it in a covered saucepan along with the meat and the grated tomatoes. Add the salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir the ingredients until combined.

  2. Start the mixture on high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Let the meat simmer very slowly, stirring occasionally until it's very tender and the tomato and onion are reduced to a thick sauce, about 1 hour.

  3. While the meat is cooking, prepare the eggplant mash. If you are using fresh eggplant, roast them and extract the flesh.

  4. If you are using jarred eggplant, drain the contents in a fine wire strainer and rinse with a little water. Press the eggplant flesh in the strainer to remove the extra liquid.

  5. Melt the butter in a large shallow saucepan or skillet. Add the flour and stir for a minute or two without allowing the flour to burn. Add the milk and stir with a wire whisk to form a smooth bechamel.

  6. Add the salt, pepper, and optional garlic and continue stirring with the whisk over low heat. Don't allow the mixture to boil. Add your eggplant and cheese and continue stirring until you have a smooth mixture with no large pieces of eggplant.

  7. Turn the heat to the lowest possible setting, cover the pan and let it gently bubble for about 5 minutes. When your eggplant mash is ready, give it a final stir. Then cover the bottom of your serving platter generously with the hot mash.

  8. Arrange the hot beef stew on top of the mash at the center of the platter, leaving a ring of mash all around the meat. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs just before serving.