Assyrian Inspired Hannukah

I know I should have made something Greek for Hannukah if I wanted to make something from the relevant ancient enemy of the Macabbees, but I couldn’t find anything that sparked my interest. So, I decided to make an Assyrian dish. They did conquer Israel in 772BC and scattered the tribes throughout the Middle East. But don’t worry, I don’t harbor any bad feelings towards the Assyrians. They are our brothers and still speak a variation of the language of my forefathers, Aramaic. The Assyrians have been Christian for almost two thousand years and make up a small, persecuted, minority in Iraq; many of them fled during the period since the fall of Saddam Hussein because of the violence between the different Muslim factions in Iraq.

Mr BT forgot that we would not be eating at home on Thursday and had taken out some ground beef from the freezer. So, I had to figure out what Hannukah inspired dish I was going to make with ground beef. I didn’t want to make kebab or stuffed vegetables like I normally do. I remembered that I had seen recipes for potato patties stuffed with ground meat, but was always afraid that they would be lead bombs in the stomach. But, in the spirit of Hannukah, I decided to give it a try. Potato patties are eaten in a variety of countries, using a variety of spices or no spices at all. The Russian version are quite bland, while the Algerian and Iraqi versions are quite flavourful. I decided to make a fusion version from Algerian and Assyrian recipes for potato patties filled with minced beef or lamb. The potato exterior is from an Algerian recipe and the meat mixture is Assyrian.

Mr BT calls this type of cooking “Con-fusion” cooking. Con, as in Congress, the opposite of progress. Okay, I know, stop with the bad jokes and get back to cooking.

The potato chaps were surprisingly light and full of spicy goodness. The spices are quite subtle, so make sure you taste the meat before making the patties. If you want to see a good step-by-step pictorial of how to make them, see Mimi’s photos from Israeli Kitchen.

Chag Hannukah Sameach from Mr BT and Baroness Tapuzina!

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Potato Chaps or Potato Kibbeh
Ingredients
Potato Mixture:
  • 1 kg 2lbs white potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 medium onion minced
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup parsley finely chopped
Meat filling:
  • 1/4 kg 1/2lb lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canola oil or oil of your choice
  • Flour for dredging
Instructions
  1. Cook potatoes in water, until tender. Drain the potatoes and mash them until smooth. Add eggs, onion, garlic, salt, turmeric, cinnamon and parsley.
  2. In a frying pan, saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil. Add the ground beef, parsley, pine nuts, and all of the spices. Cook until the meat is cooked through. Set aside to cool.
  3. Moisten your hands with water, and take a couple of tablespoons of the potato mixture, flatten it in the palm of your hand. Place 1 tablespoon of the the meat mixture in the middle. Carefully bring the sides of the potato over the meat mixture. You may have to add a little more of the potato mixture to the top of the patty. Close the patty and flatten it. Moisten your hands in cold water before you make each patty. Place the patties on a tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Dredge the patties lightly in flour before frying.

Spanish and Indian-Inspired Hannukah

I really like finding interesting recipes that may not be holiday-specific, but fit in with the types of foods that are typically served for the holiday. And I like to mix cultures in a meal. I think it makes the meal more interesting. So, for this meal I decided to serve a Spanish potato fritter which is also made in Italy, and an Argentinian cut of meat with Indian spices. I just love global cooking!

Try it some time, instead of having a themed dinner party where the entire menu is from one country or region, try making the menu diverse by making a Swedish appetizer, Middle Eastern main dish, Thai side dish and a Brazilian dessert.

I decided to make another variation of the Ashkenazi potato latkes and make something a little more Sephardi, so I made potato and sage fritters. These are quite light and are perfect for a hot appetizer. They are very easy to make and can be made a few hours ahead of time and reheated in the oven. The recipe only called for one tablespoon of sage. I like a nice sage flavour, so I added two tablespoons. I probably could have added more. The lemon is rather pronounced, so if you don’t like a strong lemon flavour, you could put in only one teaspoon of lemon zest.

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Indian-Style Grilled Short Ribs
Recipe from Chef Floyd Cardoz
Servings: 4
Ingredients
  • 6 garlic cloves coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey or date honey
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 beef short ribs on the bone about 450g (1lb each), trimmed of excess fat
Instructions
  1. In a blender, combine the garlic, ginger and red wine and puree. Scrape the wine puree into a medium bowl and stir in all of the remaining ingredients except the short ribs. Pour the marinade into 2 resealable plastic bags and add the short ribs. Tightly seal the plastic bags and refrigerate the short ribs in the marinade for 3 days.
  2. Indian-style short ribs
  3. Light a grill. Remove the short ribs from the marinade, scraping off any excess. Grill the short ribs over moderately high heat until they are lightly charred and medium-rare, about 5 minutes per side.

We got a great deal on Argentinian asado, or short ribs as they are called in the States. The best part was that they had relatively little fat on them. Slow cooking is a must for this cut of meat, so when I saw this recipe and it didn’t call for slow roasting, I was a bit skeptical. I didn’t have time to marinate them for three days, so maybe that makes the difference. I marinated the ribs for a full 24 hours and then slow roasted (roasting pan, 2 cups of water, covered with foil) them in the oven at 150C (300F) for 1-1/2 hours and then grilled them. They were outstanding and I can only imagine what they would be like if I had marinated them for three days.

We actually had a problem with this recipe because the way the asado is cut here in Israel, the pieces of bone (rib) embedded in the meat are almost three inches long, which means that the thickness of the meat is considerably greater than in the States. This means that you can’t expect to cook it through with just a few minutes on the grill, however hot. In a typical South American grill in Israel (we have quite a few of them just up the road in Kfar Saba, where there is a big Argentinian immigrant community), the asado is often slow grilled for more than an hour on a vertical stand placed a few inches from the fire, which brings out the full flavour in this rather fatty cut of meat.

This marinade is also great on chicken. You can put it directly on the chicken and cook it straight away if you want.

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Indian-Style Grilled Short Ribs
Recipe from Chef Floyd Cardoz
Servings: 4
Ingredients
  • 6 garlic cloves coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey or date honey
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 beef short ribs on the bone about 450g (1lb each), trimmed of excess fat
Instructions
  1. In a blender, combine the garlic, ginger and red wine and puree. Scrape the wine puree into a medium bowl and stir in all of the remaining ingredients except the short ribs. Pour the marinade into 2 resealable plastic bags and add the short ribs. Tightly seal the plastic bags and refrigerate the short ribs in the marinade for 3 days.
  2. Indian-style short ribs
  3. Light a grill. Remove the short ribs from the marinade, scraping off any excess. Grill the short ribs over moderately high heat until they are lightly charred and medium-rare, about 5 minutes per side.
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