There are many Kurds who live in Lebanon especially Beirut and I have met and grown fond of a few. I have admired their courage and always felt a fascination for their culture and traditions and sad for their hardships.
I recently found out that there are several flights a week from Beirut to Kurdistan (Iraq) and I would love to go visit at some point. The flight takes only about an hour. Inchallah!
This recipe is taken from a Kurdish blog edited by Gula Welat in French. Gula is a native of Diyarbakir (Turkey) and through her I am learning more about this cuisine and culture; some dishes have a lot of similarities with Lebanese dishes, including their names (kofta, hariré, baba ghannouj), the ingredients (bulgur, semolina, lamb, grape molasses, tahini,walnut, pistachios,pine nuts) and spices (sumac).
At first glance this could be a Lebanese kebab; however, the techniques and the taste are completely different. Check this out.
INGREDIENTS: 20 kebabs
- 1 pound of ground beef (or lamb)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 tablespoon of red pepper paste
- 1 tablespoon of hot red pepper paste (can substitute tomato paste + 1 tablespoon of hot or mild paprika)
- 1 bunch of flat-leaved parsley
- 1/2 cup of pine nuts
- Olive oil as needed
- 1 teaspoon of hot red pepper paste (can substitute red chili paste)
- 1 cup of fine bulgur (#1)
- 1/2 cup of pistachios
- 1 cup of drained yogurt or labneh
- Red pepper paste, as needed
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Prepping the kebabs: Chop the onion by pulsing in the food processor; pluck the parsley leaves and place in the food processor bowl with the onions. Place the bulgur in a bowl and pour warm water on it to cover; leave for about 5 minutes until the bulgur is swollen. Transfer the bulgur to a sieve and press to extract all the remaining water. Place in the food processor bowl. Add salt, red pepper paste both mild and hot (or substitute with red chili paste or paprika); process until the bulgur is red in color and all the vegetables are well mixed. Add the meat and process some more. Adjust seasoning. Chop the pistachios coarsely and add to the meat mixture and combine.
- Place a cookie sheet covered with foil on a work surface. Fill a small bowl with ice water. Start shaping the kebabs one at a time and place on the cookie sheet, dabbing your fingers in the ice water to help with the stickiness.
- Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the kebabs over medium-low heat, making sure they don’t burn as they will cook rather fast, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate covered with paper towels to soak the excess oil. Serve warm or at room temperature with the pine nuts and some yogurt sauce on the side.
To prepare the pine nuts: Heat some olive oil and add a teaspoon of hot red pepper paste. Stir to mix and add the pine nuts; fry over gentle heat for 3 minutes or until they turn golden-brown, watching them carefully as they burn easily.
To prepare the yogurt sauce: Place one cup of drained yogurt in a bowl; mash 2 cloves of garlic in a mortar with some salt; add one tablespoon of red pepper paste and the mashed garlic. Taste to adjust seasoning, adding a squeeze of lemon if necessary.
NOTE: Gula’s recipe called for egg yolks to bind the meat; I forgot to add them and it was fine; however, it might be nice to have that added richness (3 egg yolks should suffice).