I’ve been to Istanbul for a short visit but would love to see more of that part of the world- beautiful architecture, fascinating culture…and of course delicious food!
Middle-Eastern cuisine has been a favourite of mine for some time. If you ever find yourself in Oxford I highly recommend a meal at Al Shami. It’s a great Lebanese place, probably my favourite Oxford restaurant, and although not exclusively vegetarian, there’s a huge selection of vegan mezze on offer. Whenever we go we order as many dishes as we can squeeze onto the table and all share, that way we can try lots of different things. (N.b. I’ve now posted a review of the restaurant here)
Here’s my attempt to bring a little of the Middle-East into my own kitchen. My creations are no doubt far from authentic, but still tasty. I stumbled across a recipe for nut kofta kebabs over at Bit of the Good Stuff and they became the starting point for this meal, with just a bit of adaptation.
To serve along with the kofte I went for a sweet spiced beetroot carrot salad, lemony courgettes, herbed wholegrain couscous and mint tzatziki- a tasty little feast.
(Adapted from Bit of the Good Stuff)
1-2T Rapeseed oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 t Ground cumin
1t Ground coriander
1T Peanut butter
1-2t Sriracha hot sauce
salt + pepper
425g / 14oz Can Borlotti beans, rinsed + drained
1C Almond meal (whole almonds finely ground in a food processor)
1/2C Finely chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts + walnuts)
1/2-3/4C Wholemeal breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 180C/350F
Sauté onion in oil over medium heat for a few minutes until soft and fragrant, add garlic, spices, peanut butter and sriracha and and continue cooking another couple of minutes. Season to taste.
Pulse beans in food processor until mostly smooth, scrape into a bowl and add onion mixture, ground and chopped nuts, breadcrumbs as needed until you get a thick consistency, slightly sticky and not crumbly.
If you’ve got time stick the bowl in the fridge for an hour to firm up and help you shape the kofte. Using damp fingers shape the mixture into approx 14 ping-pong size balls. Lay on a lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until turning brown and crispy, flip kofte half-way through cooking time.
(Makes 14- Serves 4)
This salad is a keeper, one I can see going well with a whole variety of dishes. It’s delicately spiced and a little tangy with tasty bursts of sweetness from the golden raisins in every mouthful.
Sweet Spiced Beet-Carrot Salad:
2-3C Grated Carrots
1-2C Grated Beetroot (I used a food processor to save time, although I think done by hand the shreds are a little nicer)
1/2C Golden Raisins or Currants
1/4t Sweet Paprika
1/4t Ground Cumin
1/4t Ground Cinnamon
Salt + Pepper
2 1/2T Lemon Juice
2t Agave syrup
Fresh mint to garnish
Add the grated carrot and beetroot to a large bowl, along with the raisins. In a small bowl combine spices and seasoning and whisk in lemon and agave. Pour dressing over the salad and toss well. Leave to sit, covered, in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving for the best flavour. Garnish with mint.
I thought it would be nice to have something creamy and cooling to go with the slightly spiced dishes and my mint raita went perfectly here. I tried a similar recipe from “Veganomicon” a short while ago, which is a little different, using oregano + dill, but also very tasty. I liked the mint with this meal though.
This Recipe is being shared at Raw Food Thursdays
Cucumber Mint Raita:
1/4C Cashews, soaked for an hour, drained and rinsed
1c Cucumber, peeled + diced
2t Agave nectar
1t Apple cider vinegar
1/2 Clove garlic
1/2t Ground cumin
1t Lime juice
Dash of cayenne
1/4C Fresh mint, loosely packed
Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender (except fresh mint), until smooth. Pulse in mint, leaving little flecks of green.
What’s your favourite cuisine? Although Middle-Eastern is one of mine I love trying dishes from all over the world- Indian, European, Asian, American…English is in fact one of the few I’m not a huge fan of!
If you try out any of these recipes, I’d love to hear what you think.