I don’t mess around when it comes to national food holidays. Maybe it comes from growing up in a town that hosts an annual Catfish Festival at the height of summer — I figure if a bunch of sweaty coonasses can come together for a weekend to partake of the flesh of a lowly bottom feeder, I can do a lot better for National Something on a Stick Day than serve up corndogs. And so Gil and I feasted on kofta kebabs over the weekend in observance of this celebration of finger food.
After a bit of web research, I decided to adapt two recipes from Food Network into my own. (I know, I know, really keeping it traditional, there.) It had a pretty formidable list of ingredients, but I’m lucky to work near Kalustyan’s, so picking up the few extra spices not already in my cupboard was easy enough. And let me tell you, if you’re going to make these, definitely do what it takes to find sumac. I had a taste before adding it to the lamb and instantly realized that it’s the spice I’ve been missing all this time. It’s delicious and zingy and really boosts the flavor, but I suppose substituting lemon zest might be ok per Jamie Oliver’s recommendation. Dude knows more about this stuff than I do.
(And allow me to take a moment to apologize for the above photo. If I were a better photographer, you’d have something more beautiful to look at than Mr. Hankey in a yogurt bath, but I suck and really, it’s a brown log and not photogenic at all.)
We had tzatziki, mache, and whole wheat pitas to complete the sandwich portion of our meal, as well as foul moudammas, olive oil, and Syrian za’atar on the side. Overall, the meal was a little brown, but seriously delicious and pretty easy to make. These will be on the menu again just as soon as it warms up enough to take the grilling outdoors. I can’t wait.
recipes after the jump
4 cloves garlic
A good handful shelled pistachio nuts
3 tablespoons grated onion
1 pound trimmed shoulder or neck fillet of lamb, chopped into 1-inch chunks
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for finishing
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 heaping tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 level tablespoon ground chili pepper
1 level tablespoon ground cumin
4 level tablespoons sumac, if you can find any, or 1 lemon, zest finely grated
8 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 15 minutes
4 large flatbreads
juice of 1/2 lemon
tzatziki sauce, recipe follows
Mix together garlic, onions, and pistachios in the bowl of a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and process until lamb is the texture of ground meat. With damp hands, divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and press each portion onto the top half of a wooden skewer, making little indents along the length of the kebab as you go.
Heat a grill or your grill pan. Cook kebabs on all sides until golden brown, about 6-7 minutes. Dress salad greens with a little olive oil and lemon juice, pile them on a flatbread, and top with a kebab or two and some tzatziki sauce.
Tzatziki (yogurt sauce) from Food Network
2 cups plain whole milk yogurt or 1 cup Middle Eastern-style plain yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved, and seeded
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus a pinch
1/2 clove garlic
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried mint, crumbled
If you’re using plain whole milk yogurt, line a small sieve with a coffee filter. Put the yogurt in it, set it over a bowl, and refrigerate 12 hours. Discard the expressed liquid and put yogurt in the bowl. Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater into another bowl. Sprinkle with the 2 teaspoons salt and rub into the cucumber with your hands. Set aside 20 minutes, then squeeze the cucumbers to express as much liquid as possible.
Smash the garlic, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear the mixture to a coarse paste. Stir the cucumber, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and mint into the yogurt. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
Foul Moudammas adapted slightly from RecipeZaar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin(but season to your own taste!)
1 dash cinnamon(but season to your own taste!)
1 dash cloves(but season to your own taste!)
1 dash turmeric(but season to your own taste!)
1 dash cayenne(but season to your own taste!)
1 tablespoon lemon juice(or to taste)
1 15-ounce can cooked fava beans or 1 1/2 cups cooked fava beans
1/2 cup water
olive oil for serving
Heat vegetable oil in medium pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until onion is limp. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add tomato and cook until it just starts breaking apart. Add lemon juice and spices and mix well.
Add fava beans and water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. If beans get too dry, add water to keep them from sticking. Mash some of the beans lightly before spooning into serving dish and topping with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with warm pita.