It’s a new year, time to try out some new flavors.
Suzanne Husseini’s new book, Modern Flavors of Arabia: Recipes and Memories from My Middle Eastern Kitchen, (Random House, $27.95, softcover) is the perfect partner in the search for something new.
Unless, of course, like Husseini, you grew up with Middle Eastern cooking. In fact, the spices so prevalent in Husseini’s book — cinnamon, allspice, sumac, cumin — are about as ancient as they come.
But everything old will, at some point, be new again.
So for the new year, try out some old-world tastes in this recipe for Kofta Sandwiches that are packed with flavor and dressed with a creamy tahini yogurt sauce.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp. tahini (see note)
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cardamom
½ tsp. ground coriander
2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses (available at Middle Eastern grocery stores or specialty stores)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb. ground lamb
¼ cup peanut oil
6 small pita breads
Tahini and parsley sauce (recipe follows)
Sliced red onions
Fresh mint leaves, to garnish
Parsley leaves, to garnish
Put the chopped onion in a bowl along with the parsley. Add the tahini, spices and pomegranate molasses, salt and pepper, and mix well. Knead the meat into the flavorful mixture. Form into six oval patties and set aside until you’re ready to cook them.
Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce.
Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Fry the kofta patties about 4 minutes on each side until they’re cooked through.
To assemble, open up a pita pocket and place a kofta patty inside. Drizzle on the tahini sauce and add a slice of tomato, onion and some mint and parsley leaves.
Makes six servings.
Note: Tahini is ground sesame seed paste, available in most grocery stores.
TAHINI AND PARSLEY SAUCE
2 cloves garlic, mashed
Juice of 2 lemons
½ cup tahini
½ cup yogurt
½ cup chopped parsley, stalks removed
Mix the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, yogurt and parsley until smooth and creamy. Season with salt.
Makes about 1 cup.