Kebabs & Mezze Platter…

As a continuation of my adventures in the middle east, i made these sumptuous kebabs and a super-simple Mezze platter… The Sheesh Taouk is a very quick recipe & looks extremely inviting when served freshly cooked. Some pitta bread, a few dips & Sheesh Taouk make for a great meal…The Kebab Dajaj has a Syrian twist to it, with the parsley & anise adding a different flavour…

Sheesh Taouk

Sheesh Taouk
Sheesh Taouk

Ingredients:
– 125gms Chicken breasts, boneless & cut into 1inch cubes
For Marinade
– 1 Tbsp plain yogurt
– 1Tbsp lemon juice
– 1Tsp Tomato paste
– 1 clove garlic, crushed
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp paprika powder
– a pinch of allspice
– a inch of pepper
– 1 tsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients to make a smooth marinade. Add the chicken cubes & allow to rest for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
  2. Thread the cubes onto skewers & grill for about 10 – 12 mins, flipping once to ensure even cooking.
  3. For those who don’t have a grill or an oven yet, you can still enjoy these kebabs if you have a gas burner/stove. After step 1, heat about 2 tsps of oil in a pan & add the chicken. Cook for about 8 mins. Then thread onto skewers (minding your hands as the chicken will be hot) & hold over a medium gas burner for a min or two. this will, in fact, lend a nice charred flavour almost like a barbecue….

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Kebab Dajaj
This is inspired from a Syrian recipe & was my first attempt at making minced meat kebabs at home. Believe me, these are easier than you think & can be made in less than an hour! The result of a little bit of hard work are juicy kebabs that you can proudly serve for parties or enjoy over a romantic dinner…..
I used chicken breasts to make minced chicken for this kebab & it paid out well. if you don’t have a grinder, you could directly buy minced chicken. Don’t worry if you do not have all the spices mentioned below. As long as you have a reasonable number, you can still relish the kebab. Also, feel free to play around with the spices, depending on which spices you have a personal liking for! that’s the beauty of chicken, esp when it is minced, it will adapt to whatever spices you like….
Chilling the mixture helps to shape them into kebabs later & also allows time for all the chicken to imbibe the flavours. Do not skip this part. In fact you can keep the prepared chicken up to 6 hours before shaping them…

Kebab Dajaj
Kebab Dajaj

Ingredients:

125 gms chicken (minced)
– 1/2 onion (minced)
– 1 clove garlic (can mince along with the onion)
– 1 tsp lemon juice
Ground spice mixture:
1/4 tsp fennel seeds, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder,
1/2 tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp cardamom, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp coriander,
1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp all spice, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg
– a handful of parsley leaves (i mince these along with the onion, but you can chop them too)
– salt to taste
– For the optional accompaniments: Thickly sliced (3/4 inch) onions & tomatoes; olive oil, salt & paprika

Method:

  1. Combine together all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover & refrigerate for about 30 mins.
  2. Meanwhile season the Onion & Tomato slices with a little olive oil, paprika & salt.
  3. in a small bowl take some water. Dip your hands into this to discourage the chicken from sticking.
  4. with wet hands, divide the chicken mixture into 6 parts.
  5. One by one, work each portion into a ball & then slide them onto a metal skewer. Flatten to elongate the ball around the skewer – up to 5 inches. Try to keep a similar thickness on all sides. The kebab will look pretty much like a thin sausage stuck on a skewer. Remember that the kebab will slightly fatten after cooking.
  6. Once the chicken is all skewered, grill the kebabs for about 10 – 12 mins, flipping them, around twice to evenly cook. (Those blessed with a rotary grill just need to wait patiently for the entire cooking time…no turning needed!)
  7. After 5 mins, if using the accompaniments, put the tomato & onion slices in the grill with the chicken.

Enjoy hot from the grill! The kebabs lose their flavour if kept waiting for long or reheated…

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Mezze Platter
After having done the hard work of making homemade dips, kebabs, breads (and almost risked melting my baking tray while baking the pita breads!), i think it was only fair that i got away with a quick & easy Mezze platter….. and i did sear the Halloumi at home!  The platters are courtesy a very dear friend, who probably knew that sooner or later i would be needing these…Halloumi cheese is easy to prepare and this is one recipe you mush try!

Ingredients:

Mezze Platter: Assorted Olives, Croutons & Haloumi Cheese
Mezze Platter: Assorted Olives, Croutons & Haloumi Cheese

– Store bought Halloumi Cheese
– a few spoons of all Purpose flour
– a litle ghee or clarified butter

Method:

  1. Cut the Halloumi into 3/4 inch thick slices.
  2. If you don’t relish the salty flavour of the cheese you could soak it in cold water for a few hours. i only soaked it for about 15 mins!
  3. Pat the cheese dry. coat it evenly with all purpose flour, rubbing off any excess.
  4. In a pan, take about 1 Tbsp of Ghee or Clarified butter & fry the cheese on both sides until golden. This will take about 2 mins.
  5. Plate right away & serve!

It goes wonderfully well with olives & a white wine like Sauvignon Blanc….

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