Ottoman lamb with sultans pleasure

A Turkish classic: roast lamb on a creamy aubergine sauce known as hunkar begendi, meaning the sultan likes it
By Diana Henry
Ottoman lamb with sultans pleasure
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes plus 24hrs marinating
  • Effort: medium


For the lamb

  • 1.8 kg leg lamb
  • 200 ml plain yogurt
  • 30 ml tomato purée
  • 60 ml red wine
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

For the sultans pleasure

  • 675 g aubergines
  • olive oil, for rubbing
  • 40 g butter
  • 40 g plain flour
  • 275 ml full-fat milk
  • 25 g parmesan
  • 55 g feta cheese, crumbled

To serve

  • 1 handfuls coriander
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • cayenne pepper, for sprinkling
  • saffron couscous
  • on-the-vine tomatoes, roasted


1. For the lamb: remove the skin and fat from the lamb, exposing as much flesh as possible. Make incisions all over the leg with a small sharp knife.

2. Mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl and add the lamb, rubbing the marinade into the incisions. Leave the meat to marinate for 24 hours.

3. For the sultans pleasure: preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Drizzle the whole aubergines with a little olive oil and roast them for 30 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.

4. Turn the oven up to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.

5. Cut the aubergines in half and scoop out the flesh. Lightly press it in a sieve using the back of a spoonto help get rid of some of the juices. Transfer the flesh to a food processor and purée.

6. Drain the lamb of its marinade, but dont wipe it clean. Roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and cover with foil to keep warm. Leave to rest for 15 minutes.

7. Prepare the rest of the sultans pleasure by melting the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour and stir continually until the mixture forms a pale golden paste.

8. Take the pan off the heat and add the milk, slowly at first, making sure the liquid is well mixed in before you add the next bit. Put the pan back on the heat and bring to the boil, stirring continually until the sauce has thickened. Turn the heat down and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.

9. Stir the aubergine purée and cheeses into the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

10. Serve the lamb on a platter with some sprigs of coriander round the bone end, and a mound of the sultans pleasure at the other. Drizzle the purée with a little extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Serve with side dishes of saffron-flavoured couscous and roasted tomatoes on-the-vine.

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