James Whetlor's aromatic kid with smoky eggplant (hunkar begendi)

James Whetlor shares the recipe for hukkar begendi, an aromatic stew of kid served with smoky eggplant. Whetlor demonstrated this dish at Masterclass supported by Sanpellegrino during the 2019 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival.

Makes 4

The eggplants can also be grilled on a barbecue.


800g diced kid

1 tbsp olive oil

20g butter

1 onion, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 green capsicum, seeds removed, finely chopped

400g can peeled whole plum tomatoes, drained and chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

¼ tsp Turkish chilli flakes

2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped


Smoky eggplant

4 eggplants

30g butter

2 tbsp plain flour

400ml milk

50g hard goat's cheese, finely grated (or substitute parmesan or pecorino)

1 lemon


1. Fry the kid in the olive oil in a large frying pan, in batches if necessary, until browned (5 minutes). Transfer to a plate.

2. Add the butter, onion, garlic and capsicum to the same pan and sauté until softened (about 10 minutes). Add the chopped tomato, oregano, chilli flakes, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and 1 tsp salt, and cook until thickened slightly (5 minutes). 

3. Return the kid to the pan along with 200ml water, then cover and cook slowly for 1-1½ hours until the meat is completely tender and the sauce is rich and thick. Check the water every now and then to ensure it doesn’t dry out.

4. For the eggplant, preheat the oven to 220˚C and bake the whole eggplants until completely soft; it doesn’t matter if the skin burns (25 minutes; this can also be done on a barbecue). Remove from the oven and leave to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and roughly mash the flesh. 

5. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, stir in the flour and stir until it’s a sandy colour (2 minutes), then gradually whisk in the milk and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes until a smooth sauce forms. 

6. Mix the eggplant and grated cheese into the white sauce and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Keep warm. 

7. When the kid is ready, check the seasoning, adding freshly ground black pepper to taste and salt if required. Serve the kid stew on the eggplant and scatter with the parsley.