First and foremost, I believe I owe you each a big fat french kiss for voting me through to the second round of Project Food Blog! I flove you!
Secondly. It’s time you heard about my love affair with Kurdistan.
I am going to go ahead and guess that 95% of the people reading this don’t know that I spent the majority of my senior year of college thinking about Kurdistan. (well… the part of senior year where I wasn’t expanding my palate to all types of fermented grapes…) The truth is, I (with the help of the rest of team Kurd) wrote a 75 page dissertation on the United States foreign policy with Turkey and how it should be changed. Kurdistan is like the red headed step child of Turkey and therefore I naturally took a liking to her. I’ll tell ya why. A-Here we go!
Reasons why I, Whitney Amuse Bouche Moss, love Kurdistan:
Kurdistan is to Turkey, as Eastern Kentuckians are to Kentucky. (I am from Kentucky, so I feel like it’s okay to say it…)
Here the red headed stepchild syndrome comes into play, only in Kentucky it’s more like barefoot toothless relatives syndrome. Turkey actually throughout the 30’s and 40’s referred to Kurds as “Mountain Turks” and to that I say BRAVO. We should go ahead and give Turkey credit for inspiring the movie ‘Mean Girls’.
In 2003 when American Troops entered Iraq, the Kurdish people welcomed them with dancing in the streets.
Are you kidding me? Do you know what I would do if someone welcomed me by dancing in the streets? Well obviously I would dance back! Way to rage, Kurds. way. to. rage!
Finally, Kurdish traditional dishes are based off 2 of the greatest things ever. MEAT AND CARBS PEOPLE. Meat. And. Carbs.
And sometimes it’s fried. So obviously, I’m in.
The dishes featured in this post are traditional Kurdish recipes that are found in Kurdistan’s shared cultures: Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. These kibbeh or kubba are also found frequently in older Jewish families, and I’d just like to call that a BONUS! (As previously mentioned in many posts, Dad is Jewish.) Kurdish tradition most frequently fries these kubba and you’ll see an ingredient which we aren’t terribly familiar with here. Baharat. It’s a Turkish spice that contains black pepper, allspice, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, cardamom, and nutmeg. I actually couldn’t find Baharat, but never fear, with a little research and some common pantry spices we were Baharating all over the kitchen! Without further ado, I’d like to welcome you to our Kurd-fest 2010. Buckle up and get your fry daddy out.
Fried Kubba from the Complete Guide to Traditional Jewish Cooking
(These are supposed to be shaped like a torpedo. Have I mentioned Kurdish people are awesome? Torpedo food? I mean way to market to an immature child like myself!)
1 cup fine grain bulgur
1 cup fresh lean lamb minced
1 onion, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Baharat
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons semolina flour
1 ½ cup ground lamb
½ cup pistachios
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper
¼ teaspoon baharat
To make the shell, soak bulgur in water for about half an hour. Drain excess water by squeezing it out with your hands. Puree the onions, meat and spices in a food processor until completely smooth. Add the bulgur and process until well mixed. Remove and knead until smooth. If the dough seems too course you can add a few tablespoons of flour or egg. (I sure did!) Cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator. The dough should be cold, smooth and a sticky.
For the filling, saute the onion in olive oil until golden. Add the lamb and brown breaking up the meat. Add about ½ cup of beef stock and cook, uncovered for about 20 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated. Add the nuts, baharat, and pomegranate seeds and cook for another minute. Cool completely.
To put it together, take about a walnut size piece of dough and using your thumb, make a hole to put filling in. These need to be thin, otherwise it will be too thick since it expands while cooking. It is very helpful to have a bowl of water near you to help shape the shells if they become sticky. Wet hands are key. (Bubby’s all across the middle east have perfected this art of stuffing a Kubba. What the flip! I have to get my hands on a bubby.)
Kubbat Shorba from the Essential Mediterranean Cookbook, section Turkey.
(These are more circular dumpling shaped kubba.)
8 cups chicken stock
4 large tomatoes pureed
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 onion, chopped
1-2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon baharat
6 tbsp allspice
6 tbsp black pepper
3 tbsp cinnamon
3 tbsp coriander
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp nutmeg
1 tbsp cloves
½ tbsp cardamom
Saute onion until translucent. Add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, just long enough to release the flavor. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock and cook for about 40 minutes.
1/3 teaspoon baharat spice
1 cup minced lamb
½ minced medium onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery leaves
Combine all the ingredients for the filling. Mix well.
2 cups semolina flour
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients until a dough is formed. This is quick, probably 30 seconds in the kitchenaid.
Take a piece of dough the size of a half dollar, shape the dough into a ball and with your thumb make a hole for the stuffing. Work the dough around the meat and secure with wet fingers. The sides of the shell should be thin, as the dough will expand in the soup. A bowl of water is useful to dip your hands in to keep the dough from sticking. When the soup is boiling add the kibbeh. Cook for about 20 minutes or until they begin to float. Do not put these in until you are 20 minutes out from dinner time, they will fall apart on you if cooked too long.
I am not going to lie to you, this kubba business takes a lot of work. Back in the day they had entire villages making kubba because it took so long from start to finish. Obviously, for you to learn a little bit about Kurdistan, it was well worth the troubles.
Thanks again for making my life and voting Amuse Bouche through to round 2 of Project Food Blog. Voting opens Monday, September 27th. Don't worry, I'll remind you. A-shank-ayou-berry-much! I am sending a big ole piece of baklava your way! Abig Kiss!