I love it when I am so inspired by another recipe that I have to make it my own....this happened to me recently. Two things pushed me over the edge to have to make this....my version of it.
The first is this amazing Afghany restaurant up the street from us. Their menu is amazingly spiced meats on sticks, rice that I would sell my children for and a heat calming salad with a creamy dressing that is more of a garnish than an actual side but still delicious. All served with a chili sauce I would drink...... I have big plans to learn how to make the rice and chili sauce!
The second was a dear friend of mine (Robert) who is a damn fine cook (and he writes about it.) His post a few days ago got me athink'n. I wanted to make something like what he had made but his recipe called for soda crackers, something not gluten free nor is there a decent gluten free alternative. And I didn't have any ground turkey.......so I came up with my own.
First I made something like a Harissa spice blend.
I eye-balled this so the proportions are a little random. In my little coffee grinder that I use as a spice mill I added
1 tbsp chili flakes
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
I pulsed this a few times until it was mostly chopped up but not yet a powder. To that I added a tsp each of garlic powder, salt and minced mint leaves from my backyard. I added this mixture to about 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef along with 2 whole eggs and a 1/4 cup of left over rice in hopes it would help as a binder (it did) . On Roberts advice I put the meat back in the fridge for 10 minutes. Then comes the hard part...getting it on the stick. Robert has his own technique and in truth, the proper sticks - not perfectly round BBQ skewers (now that I love this I need to get some too). I couldn't find our metal skewers (I suspect they are still in with the camping equipment) but I had some bamboo skewers available. These are not the ideal skewer for this and I don't recommend them. I had to make pretty skinny 'logs' for them to stay on the skewer, this is only acerbated by the fact that they don't have any bread crumbs to hold them together.....it can be done but it takes a little more patience and some compromise on size (like most marriages). Put these back in the fridge to firm up before throwing them on the grill.
While they are 'resting' in the fridge I made some minty yogurt too. Mine was yogurt, lots of fresh finely minced mint from the yard, a finely grated garlic clove and a pinch of salt.
Get your BBQ good and hot. These are small and really only take a couple of minutes on each side. I served them with fragrant rice, a green salad and the yogurt dip which was perfect for the kids to calm the heat from the spice in the meat. Like Roberts girls, the kids loved it. This will become a staple this summer with me experimenting with different spice combinations. We ate it outside with the sun a'shinin and a breeze a'blowin'
I am including the Fragrant Rice recipe here because my original post for it is now buried deep in the recesses of my recipe columns page
3 cups Basmati Rice
2 tsps Cumin seeds
5 black Cardamon pods or 8 green Cardamon pods
2 Bay leaves
6 tbsps Butter
4 cups Water
2 tsps salt
Thoroughly wash the rice in a large mixing bowl. Gently swirl the rice in water letting it sink to the bottom and pouring off the cloudy water. Repeat 4-5 times until water is reasonably clear. Fill bowl again and let rice soak for half an hour.
Drain rice and rinse one last time. Let it drain well. Collect all your spices and bay leaves together in a small bowl. Put a large sauce pan on low heat and add the butter. When butter has melted and is just starting to sizzle, add the spices and stir them around. When you can really smell them gently add the drained rice. Stir-fry for a minute so that all the grains are lightly coated in the spicy butter.
Pour the water onto the rice and scrap down the rice caught on the sides of the pot. Add the salt, stir and turn the heat up to bring it all to a boil. As soon as it starts to bubble turn the heat down as low as it will go and cover with a sheet of tin foil AND the lid making a tight seal. This will help stop any steam from escaping. Cook like this for 25 minutes then turn the heat off and let stand for 5 minutes. Carefully remove lid and foil and ‘fluff’ with a fork. You don’t eat the cardamom pods or cloves.