Monday, January 17, 2011

Chicken Kebab, Za'atar Khubz Arabi, Mushroom Stuffed Grape Leaves and Sumac Berry Yogurt

Great Persian and Arabic flavors!
     Khubz Arabi is what the western world calls pita bread.  Za'atar toasted sesame seed and wild thyme spice mix is such a very nice topping for khubz arabi.  Many secondary spices are in a za'atar spice mixture.
     Persian pickled vegetables are traditional condiments in the middle east.  Pickled wild cucumber has a very refreshing dill flavor.
     Mushrooms are commonly used in Persian cuisine.  There are traditional Iranian baked mushroom rice dishes that use morels, cepes, field mushrooms and common cave mushrooms.  The flavor of pickled grape leaves stuffed with mushroom rice is a nice change from meat and rice stuffings.  You can use fresh grape leaves if you wish, but the must be blanched first.  Pickled grape leaves are very nice.
     The sumac berry spice flavored goat's milk yogurt is very tart and refreshing.  The chicken kebabs were marinated with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and a few common Arabic spices.  The flavors and aroma of this kebab platter will put a smile on a face!
     Mushroom Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe:
     Boil 1/2 cup of basmati rice with 1 cup of water.
     Add 1 1/3 cup of finely chopped mushrooms.
     Place the rice and mushroom mixture into a mixing bowl.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Add 3 pinches of fenugreek.
     Add 2 pinches of cumin.
     Trim the stem and thick vein off of a few pickled grape leaves.
     Place a little bit of the rice mixture on the stem end of a grape leaf.  (About 2 tablespoons.  The amount depends on the size of the grape leaves.)
     Roll the leaf over and fold the sides over the stuffing.
     Roll the stuffed grape leaf, so it is tight and shaped like a sealed small cigar.
     The stuffing must be completely sealed by the grape leaf.
     Place each stuffed grape leaf into a casserole dish as you make them.
     Drizzle some olive oil over the stuffed grape leaves.
     Squeeze some lemon juice over the grape leaves.
     Warm the stuffed pickled grape leaves in a 250 degree oven.
     Take care not to let the grape leaves dry out.
     Set the stuffed pickled grape leaves on top of an oven to keep them warm.
     Chicken Kebab Recipe:
     Trim all the skin and fat off of a 5 to 6 ounce chicken breast filet.
     Cut the chicken filet into large bite size pieces.
     Place the chicken pieces into a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of crushed dried red chile pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 3 pinches of fenugreek.
     Add 1 pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 2 pinches of cumin.
     Add 2 pinches of sumac berry.
     Add 1 pinch of mace.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Allow the chicken pieces to marinate in a refrigerator for one hour.
     Place the chicken pieces on a skewer with pearl onions and small green pepper pieces.  (This kebab features the chicken, so do not put too many vegetables on the kebab.)
     Broil the kebab in an oven or roast it over a char grill, till the chicken becomes fully cooked.
     Za'atar Khubz Arabi:
     Place an 8"wide pita bread flat on a counter top.
     Generously brush the pita bread with olive oil.
     Sprinkle some Za'atar sesame seed spice mix on the olive oil.
     Sprinkle a little more olive oil over the za'atar seasoning.
     Bake the za'atar khubz in a 350 degree oven, till it becomes warm and the za'atar sesame seed aroma develops.
     Set the za'atar khubz aside and keep it warm.  (Only bake the pita bread, till it is warm and soft.  Do not bake the pita bread till it is toasted crisp!)
     Chicken Kebab, Za'atar Khubz Arabi, Mushroom Stuffed Grape Leaves and Sumac Berry Yogurt:
     Place the za'atar khubz arabi on a platter.
     Place a few Italian parsley sprigs on the platter.
     Place a pickled wild cucumber on the parsley.
     Place a couple of dates next to the pickle.
     Place the mushroom stuffed grape leaves on the platter.
     Mix 2 to 3 tablespoons of plain goats milk yogurt in a bowl with 1 generous pinch of sumac berry spice.
     Place the sumac berry yogurt into a small ramekin.
     Set the ramekin next to the stuffed grape leaves.
     Place the chicken kebab across the za'atar khubz arabi.
     The chicken is meant to be removed from the skewer and eaten with the bread.  You can tear off small pieces of the bread or simply fold it in half like a sandwich.  The sumac spiced yogurt can be poured over the mushroom stuffed pickled grape leaves or used as a dip.
     Do not be shy about using your fingers to eat this plate of food.  This is finger food, just like many Arabic and Persian entrees are!
     The flavors and aromas of this simple kebab platter are so captivating.  Persian and Arabic spice flavors with lemon and olive oil is such a classic combination.  The sweet dates and the refreshing pickled wild cucumber add a nice touch to this platter.  Yum!  ...   Shawna

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