Friday, February 22, 2013

Tasty Tourism Series-Middle East, Part 2

Continued from Part 1-
Speaking of dinner parties, you can't go wrong with a nice shish kabob. You'll want to plan ahead, though, because it takes a day to properly marinate the meat. Here is a recipe from the country now known as Iran.

Persian Shish Kabobs
2 pounds beef tenderloin, cut into cubes
1/8 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon salt
1 onion, chopped
1 pinch ground black pepper

Put the lime juice and spices in a bowl. Add the beef, cover and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Then, preheat the grill to high and oil the grate lightly so the meat doesn't stick. Thread the beef onto the skewers and cook for about 12-16 minutes, 3-4 minutes each side. Some people also thread bell peppers, onion and pineapple; it's all up to you.

When we went to a Turkish restaurant for our anniversary, my husband tried baklava for the first time. I love the stuff, but he thought the syrup was too sweet. While I don't know if such a thing is possible, I can see his point. If you want something that is sweet but not too sweet, here's another Middle Eastern dessert.

1 cup white sugar
2 cups semolina flour
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/3 tablespoon baking powder
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup almonds, whole
¼ cup milk, adjust as needed

1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8-inch square baking pan. In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder, butter, coconut and 1 cup of sugar. Mix together and add the yogurt and milk. Stir it all until the flour mixture is moistened but not watery. If it turns out to be too dry, you can add more milk. Now, spread into the baking pan until it is as smooth as possible, add the almonds to the top and bake for 40-45 minutes.

While you're baking, mix the water, lemon juice and 1 cup sugar in a small pot and boil for about 5 minutes. When it's finished baking, pour the syrup evenly and put back in the oven until it's absorbed, about 5 more minutes. Let stand for 20 minutes and serve.

Finally, here's a nice after-dessert tea from Kuwait.
Kuwaiti Traditional Tea
1 ½ cups water
1 pinch saffron
2 black or green tea bags
2 whole cardamom pods, broken

Just boil the water and spices, add the tea bags and let it steep until it reaches the desired strength. If you like, add sugar; some people also add cinnamon or vanilla.

Now that you have several recipes from the Middle East, I expect an invitation to your next dinner party. I'll bring the wine.

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