The ragout that James Bond finds so delicious in From Russia, With Love (1957) is a simple rustic dish served in a gypsy camp on the outskirts of Istanbul. The coarse food provides a perfect entrée before the main event: a fight between two gypsy women, rivals in love. The girl-fight is optional, but the traditional Turkish stew, a combination of meat and a lot of small onions, is essential eating. The recipe is inspired by a 1958 dish by I Orga. That recipe calls for mutton, but lamb or beef will do just as well.
- 350g mutton or lamb, diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- c. 15 shallots or baby onions
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 300ml lamb stock
- 150ml red wine
- 1 tbsp parsley
- ½ tbsp thyme
- 1 tsp dill
- Salt and pepper
- Seasoned flour
Peel the onions, leaving them whole. Finely chop the garlic and herbs. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan or flame-proof casserole and fry the onions on a low heat for 5 minutes until they take on a brown, caramelised appearance. Meanwhile, coat the mutton in the flour.
Add the meat and let it brown for a minute or two, then pour in the wine and stir. Raise the heat if necessary to bring the liquid to the boil, then add the stock, garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper, thyme and half the parsley. Return the liquid to the boil, then cover the pan, reduce the heat and simmer on a low heat for about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally.
Just before taking the stew off the heat, stir in the dill and the rest of the parsley. Serve with coarse, chunky bread.