I love having small bits and pieces on the table, and then everyone creates their own customised spread. Indeed, I think that is the main appeal of the vegetarian restaurant chain Tibits. Of course, with the institution of meze, Arabic cuisine is especially adapted to such spreads.
For this particular dinner, I went for only three dishes, as there were only to of us eating, but this can very easily be presented as a feast for ten: multiply the amounts of the recipes I made by three, add hummus, couscous, tabouleh, and some seasonal salad, pita (or some other) bread, and you have yourself a very nice dinner party. To wrap up the theme, serve baklava as dessert and accompany it with coffee or tea.
I remember making two dishes from the wonderful Persiana cookbook, but for the life of me I cannot remember where the aubergine and pepper dish came from…
Yoghurt, cucumber, and mint maast o khiar
large cucumber, coarsely grated
2 tsp dried mint
generous handful of golden raisins
500ml (18fl oz) Greek yogurt
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve (optional)
finely chopped fresh mint leaves
dried edible rose petals
Carefully squeeze out and discard the excess water from the grated cucumber – you can do this by hand or in a sieve. Put the drained cucumber pulp into a mixing bowl.
Add the dried mint and golden raisins to the bowl, followed by the yogurt, and mix well. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. To serve, drizzle with a little olive oil and scatter with chopped walnuts, finely chopped mint leaves and dried rose petals, if desired.
Spiced beef and potato cakes (Kotlet)
115 g breadcrumbs
500 g minced beef
400 g potato, cooked and mashed
1 onion, finely minced
20 g coriander, chopped
2 tsp garlic granules
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
1. Put the breadcrumbs on to a flat plate, ready to coat the patties.
2. Put the remaining ingredients, except for the oil, in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
3. Make patties from the mixture the size of a golf ball and coat in breadcrumbs.
4. Fry in the oiled frying pan, about 6-8 min on each side.