Ever since Mr. BT gave me the Plenty cookbook I have been wanting to make everything in the book. Most of the recipes are perfect for the scorching summer when no one feels like cooking. The Friday before last it was blazing hot, and the thought of spending all morning in the kitchen did not appeal to me. I made two quick and easy Ottolenghi dishes: one was a baked lamb pie that I found on his Guardian weekly column and the other came from the cookbook.
Kibbeh, kibbe, kubbeh or koubeiba, which means dome or ball in Arabic, can be found in Iraq, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Israel. Kibbeh Nabelsieh is the better recognized torpedo-shaped kubbeh with a shell of bulgur and lamb that is ground to a paste and filled with ground lamb, spices and pine nuts. There is also Kubbat Haleb which is made with a rice crust and named after Aleppo. This version is served anytime, but especially made during Pesach in a Jewish home.
Kubbeh soup dumplings are made with a semolina shell and filled with ground lamb or preserved lamb. Kibbeh Nayyeh is finely chopped raw lamb or beef mixed with fine bulgur and spices, such as Baharat. There is also Kibbeh bel-saniyeh which is made with a decorative top or covered with a tehina sauce like I made.
The perfect match to the baked lamb pie was a refreshing and light salad with green beans, peas and mangetout, which are called snow peas in the United States.
125 grams (1/2 cup) fine bulgar wheat
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
350 grams (3/4 lb) minced lamb
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons roughly chopped coriander
60 grams (2 ounces) pine nuts
3 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
2 tablespoons self-raising flour
Salt and black pepper
50 grams (3-1/2 tablespoons) tahini paste
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sumac
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).
Line a 20cm (8-inch) spring-form pan with parchment paper. Put the bulgur in a bowl, add 200 milliliters (1 cup) of tap water and set aside for 30 minutes.
Place four tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and saute the garlic, onion and chilli on medium-high heat until soft. Place in a bowl and set aside. Cook the lamb on high heat and cook until brown. Add the onion mixture back to the pan and add the spices, coriander, salt, pepper, and most the pine nuts and parsley. Cook for a couple of minutes and remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. You want the spiciness to come through the lamb.
Check if the water has been absorbed by the bulgar, if not, then strain it through a fine sieve and place back in the bowl. Add the flour, a tablespoon of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of black pepper. Work into a pliable mixture, with your hands, until it just holds together. Push the bulgar mixture firmly into the base of the spring-form pan until it is compacted and level. Spread the lamb mixture evenly on the top and press down. Bake for 20 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, 50ml (3 tablespoons) of water and a pinch of salt. The sauce should be thick, yet pourable. Spread the sauce on top of the kubbeh, sprinkle on the remaining parsley and pine nuts and bake for 10 minutes until the tahini is set and the pine nuts are golden.
Before serving, sprinkle the sumac and drizzle a little olive oil on top. Cut into wedges.
From Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London's Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi
250 grams (1/2 lb) French green beans, trimmed and blanched
250 grams (1/2 lb) mangetout (snow peas), trimmed and blanched
250 grams (1/2 lb) green peas (fresh or frozen), blanched
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, roughly crushed with a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 mild fresh red chilli, seeded and finely diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 handfuls baby chard leaves or other mixed baby leaf lettuce (optional)
Coarse sea salt
Combine the blanched green beans, mangetout and green peas in a large bowl.
Place the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds and mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, pour the contents over the bean mixture. Toss together and add the nigella seeds, red onion, chilli, garlic, lemon zest and tarragon. Mix well and season with salt to taste.
Just before serving, gently fold the chard leaves and serve.