Beef and chestnut stew

Beef and chestnut stew

Kestaneli kebap

Eat Istanbul
David Loftus

This stew has wonderful sweet and earthy flavours from the slow-cooked chestnuts. It’s perfect for a cold night and very reminiscent of the kind of dishes cooked all over Istanbul in the winter months. Use easy-to-find vacuum-packed peeled and cooked chestnuts in this recipe. You can also use lamb or veal instead of the beef.


Quantity Ingredient
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, peeled and sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 celery heart, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, including stems
1.5kg stewing beef, cut into 6-cm chunks, such as topside or chuck
3/4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato puree
1 tablespoon turkish red pepper paste
3 fresh bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cinnamon stick
450g whole chestnuts, peeled and cooked
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
plain cooked long-grain rice
crusty bread


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté the onions, garlic, celery and parsley for 5 minutes, or until softened. Transfer the sautéed vegetables to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
  2. Add the beef to the same pan, in batches if necessary, and sauté for about 5–7 minutes, stirring continuously until browned on all sides. Add the sautéed vegetables back to the pan and mix well. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato purée, red pepper paste, bay leaves, dried mint and oregano, cloves, allspice and cinnamon stick. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Transfer the stew to a flameproof, earthenware pot or casserole dish. Add enough water to just cover the stew, cover with a lid and simmer over low heat for 1½–2 hours, adding the chestnuts during the last 30 minutes of cooking. The stew is ready when the beef is tender and the sauce has thickened. If you prefer, you can cook the stew in a preheated oven at 170˚C.
  4. Serve the stew with rice and crusty bread to mop up the juices.
Turkish food
Middle Eastern
Andy Harris
David Loftus
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