Tag Archives: Middle Eastern

Lamb Kofta Meatballs with Spiced Yogurt

17 Oct

I’ve never been a huge fan of lamb. The problem is, I often see photos of and recipes for lamb that look really tantalizing. (I feel the same way, only stronger, about goat cheese. I know, I know…)

While casually cruising around Kensington recently, I popped into Sanagan’s Meat Locker, an amazing hipster butcher (pardon the term), that we recently discovered. This is the kind of busy place that requires you to grab a number and await your turn. Once you have that little paper tab, things tend to move quickly. You are under pressure.

During this hasty moment, with endless options before me,  I spontaneously bought some ground lamb.

Middle Eastern food and flavours are amongst my favourite, and many recipes call for lamb. So what the hell?

“I’ll make kofta!” I thought.

But alas, I didn’t have any wooden skewers, and couldn’t find any in a pinch. So instead of cooking these on a stick (!!) I made them into meatballs. They were equally delicious if not quite as fun.

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I served them with spiced yogurt and paprika, a couscous salad and fried eggplant.

 

Lamb Kofta Meatballs with Spiced Yogurt 

(Makes about 15)

  • 1 lb ground organic lamb
  • 1 shallot or 1/4 onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (toasted) or 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons semolina (couscous) uncooked
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1.5 tablespoons dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne

Spiced Yogurt 

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Cup roughly chopped parsley and mint (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tsp chives (fresh or dried)

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients of yogurt sauce first, and let sit in the fridge
  2. In small pan, lightly toast cumin seeds with slivered almonds (can also use pine nuts, which are more traditional)
  3. Combine lamb with all of the spices, onion, herbs, egg and semolina. Mix well with hands.
  4. Roll into small meatballs, being careful not to pack them too tightly. If you have the time,let them rest for 30 minutes or more refrigerated to let the flavours blend.
  5. You can either pan fry them or bake them. I fried them lightly over medium high heat (about two minutes) and then baked them on a tray at 300 for 10 ish minutes.
  6. You can also form them onto soaked skewers (fun!) and bake them that way.

This meal totally hit the spot. I fried up some eggplant (my new fave) dipped in egg whites, and layered it with raw cucumbers (a nice contrast of soft and crunchy), with a lemony couscous/tabouli hybrid salad. I drizzled the whole thing with fresh lemon juice and touch of olive oil.

The yogurt sauce was spicy and tangy and complimented the lamb very well.

These were a hit well worth repeating! They would also make great appetizers.

I may be a lamb convert yet. Stay tuned! 

xo M

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Harissa Spiced Tofu Bowl with Cured Lemon Cous-Cous and Herbed Yogurt

9 Mar

YUM. A colourful and spicy triumph. This whole dish was inspired by an experiment with preserved lemons (which I made ages ago) yet mysteriously had not been enlisted to bolster any recipes. They are my new favourite ingredient. I love Middle Eastern flavours.  It may be my favourite kind of food (after Indian, obvs), and something I’d like to experiment with much, much more.

All of the elements of this dish worked together beautifully. The tofu was spicy and chewy, the couscous fluffy and savory, the avocado rich, and the tangy herbed yogurt tied it all together seamlessly.

20140309-235243.jpgThis was also my first time making Harissa paste. It is a Tunesian hot pepper paste that is usually made with fresh hot red peppers. I didn’t have any of these on hand, so I substituted them for dried chili powder and smokey paprika. It was pretty easy and packed a huge punch of flavour. I can’t wait to try it out again (with fish, with chicken, with chickpeas, and and and…)

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Harissa Paste: 

  • 1/2 half teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (crushed or shredded)
  • 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Mix.

I then coated the tofu cubes with the spice paste and let it sit for 1 hour (the longer the better). On an oiled baking sheet I baked the tofu with lemon slices at 350 for about 45 minutes. (I really like baked lemons, bothvisually and for a cleansing, sour finish to the meal!)

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Meanwhile, I prepared the cous cous and yogurt.

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Moroccan Spiced CousCous

  • 1 medium sized onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • red pepper, sliced
  • 2 small dates, chopped (or substitute raisins or dried apricots)
  • juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
  • olive oil
  • 3/4 tablespoon cured lemon rind (chopped finely)
  1. In a small pot, bring 3.5 cups of salted water to a boil (optional: use vegetable or chicken stock). Once boiling point is reached, add two cups of couscous and remove from heat. Add one tablespoon olive oil and cover tightly.
  2. Meanwhile, in small frying pan, fry onions until soft (about 6 minutes). Add spices (minus the parsley) and fry over medium heat until fragrant (about 2 minutes) mixing well. Add some coconut oil if the pan gets too dry. This should form a nice paste.
  3. Once couscous is ready (about 5 minutes) remove lid and fluff gently with a fork. Add to frying pan and mix wit onion and spice mixture. Add raw tomatoes, peppers, lemon juice, lemon rind, dates and parsley, taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Mix well.

This made for awesome leftovers.

“What is cured lemon rind?” I hear you wondering. It’s basically lemons pickled in their own juice with lots of salt and a few spices. You only use the rind for flavour, and a little bit goes a really long way to brighten up any dish.  I was inspired by Chuck Hughes’ Food Network show Chuck’s Day Off, which I love. He put it on fish, and made it look so sexy (the fish I mean).

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You should try it out!

Cured Lemons:

  • 4 lemons
  • 1.5 cups course sea salt
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 4 kefir lime leaves

Read more 

Cured things make me happy. Listen to this song while making these for a double whammy.

Now onto the easiest/yummiest concoction…

Herbed Yogurt

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or one clove fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilntro
  • 1 teaspoon dried chives
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch brown sugar, to taste

If you do nothing else, make sure you include this yogurt. It made the meal, in my opinion!

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To serve, pile all elements haphazardly into one bowl. I served with a dollop of garlic hummus, avocado, sesame flat breads and fresh cilantro.

Dayyyum.

And that’s how we do March.

M

Persian Eggplant Stew, Fattoush and Baba Ghanoush- an Ode to Aubergine

31 Oct

I don’t cook with eggplants much. When I think of eggplant, what usually comes to mind is that cold, suspiciously slimy and bland ” filling” of roasted veggie sandwiches, the type found at Starbucks or the airport terminal. Blech. Although I find its deep, glossy purple colour and shape absolutely gorgeous (in the same odd way that I find sliced avocados and fresh lemons to be beautiful) the appeal of eggplant has long eluded me. I’ve bought them with false hope a few times, only to see them wither in the fridge, neglected. However,when I saw this tasty-looking recipe for Khoresht-E Bademjan, aka Persian Eggplant Stew, at Della Cucina Provera, It gave me fresh inspiration.

Half way though the cooking process, after I dehydrated it a bit and fried it in olive oil and plenty of salt, I could not stop snacking on my few favourite food, undisguised! Eggplant.

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Deceptively difficult to take a good photo of something so pretty.

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This recipe was sooooo tasty. It was a bit of a process, I suppose, about 3 hours start to finish. It’s not a quick “whip up” recipe, but I find cooking supremely relaxing, so for me it was no biggie.

Once I started with this stew, I was inspired to take the Middle Eastern theme and run with it. With the other eggplant I ended up making baba ghanoush, and then a fattoush salad with toasted pita. I served the stew on couscous mixed with chopped dates, and doused everything with plenty of fresh lemon juice. The whole thing worked together deliciously.

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Baba Ghanoush

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 table spoons tahini
  • 1 roasted eggplant (next time I’d used less chickpeas and more eggplant, probably 2)
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil ( about two tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon smokey paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sumac powder (and to garnish)
  • Fresh thyme to garnish.

1) Blend in food processor.

Fattoush Salad

  •  red pepper
  •  tomato
  •  cucumber
  • 1/4 onion, thinly sliced
  • Pita bread, toasted
  • fresh parsley and mint ( I had none, but this would be ideal!)

Dressing:

  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • sprinkle sumac powder
  • sprinkle ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey

Cut pitas into strips and toast in oven with olive oil and plenty of salt at 400 for 10 minutes, or until browned and very crispy. WARNING!: Highly addictive.

Persian Eggplant Stew, Khoresht-E Bademjan 

  • 1 lb stewing beef
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1.5 teaspoons red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Water
  • Fresh thyme to garnish
  1. Peel eggplant and cut into 1 inch strips. Salt on both sides and lay the strips between layers of paper towels. This draws out the bitterness. Let rest for 20 minutes or so.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, brown onions with red pepper flakes, garlic and beef.
  3. Once meat is browned, add turmeric, cumin and cinnamon. Then cover with water and stew for one hour or more.
  4. While the meat is cooking, fry eggplant in olive oil until cooked and a bit crispy (This is where I began snacking!). Set aside to cool.
  5. Once meat is tender, add tomatoes. Let simmer for another hour.
  6. Lastly, add eggplant, and season with salt, pepper, honey and squeeze of lemon juice.

Serve over rice, couscous or quinoa. For a (quicker!) vegan option, substitute the beef for lentils or chickpeas. It would obviously change the dish, but would still be good. OR check out this post I did for a veggie Moroccan Stew.

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The plate of spicy stew, sweet dates, tangy salad, crunchy,salty pita chips and garlicky dip all worked together amazingly well. I can’t wait to make this meal again, for guests or family or just us.

It’s turned me into a total eggplant convert! Next on the list: eggplant bharta.

Fun Fact: “Eggplant is an excellent source of digestion-supportive dietary fiber and bone-building manganese. It is very good source of enzyme-catalyzing molybdenum and heart-healthy potassium. Eggplant is also a good source of bone-building vitamin K and magnesium as well as heart-healthy copper, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and niacin” (www.whfoods.org)

On a side note, October was my best-ever month for Food, Mostly. The comments and views have been really encouraging. Thanks for all the support after a long break of inactivity! I’ve felt much more inspired lately to cook and contribute, and I look forward to growing my blog over the next few months.

Merci,

M

This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Becky from  My Utensil Crock To join, or for more info click here.

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Falafel with Tahini Dip- an almost perfect meal, soon to be perfected

4 Jan

These little wonders turned out awesome, filling and soft and satisfying. I fried them at first (as per the recipe), hoping they would crisp up on the outside. Maybe the pan or the oil wasn’t hot enough, because the frying didn’t really do the trick, the falafel just soaked up the oil like a sponge. So, I then baked them, hoping for some added crispy-ness, which worked to some extent. Regardless, these falafel were delicious, but next time I’ll just straight up bake them and save on some unnecessary calories!

The tahini dip was lemony and a little bit spicy, mixing tahini with lemon, salt and cayenne,  and the salad was simple with a lemon and garlic dressing.

Recipe is loosely based on this one (although personally, I season based on instinct and not precision, to varying degrees of success):

  • 2 cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (added more than this, as I love cilantro and also the colour green in my food)
  • 2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (if frying)

Basically, just blend all this together and ball them as if you were making meatballs. So simple! This yielded about 16…and were devoured in less than 12 hours.

Immy May

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