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Cuisine - Middle Eastern

No matter how you spell it—shisk kabob or sis kebabi—this robust specialty features skewered chunks of meat and onions marinated in oil and spices and then grilled over an open flame. The technique apparently originated in the Caucasus and then spread southward to Mediterranean countries. The traditional meat has always been leg of lamb, a meat that seems to be permitted by most major religions. To make a perfect kabob, remove any tough membrane from the meat, cut meat across the grain—and don’t forget that the meat must be marinated before grilling. Serve with a salad of tossed greens, ripe olives, and feta cheese and for dessert, baklava and Turkish coffee.

This is a special dish prepared for celebrations when guests are expected. If pine nuts aren't available, pistachio can be substituted. The Afghans use lamb tail fat to sauté the onions, but since this is not readily available, I suggest butter.

The eggplant is browned before being cooked in a spicy tomato and onion sauce, then served with garlicky yogurt. It is simply delicious served with flat bread.

This is a Greek dish that is served as an appetizer with a loaf of French bread. The diners tear off pieces of the bread and spread the chiles and garlic over it. This dish has big, bold flavors, so it is not for the timid consumers.
My husband is an excellent cook of Hungarian foods. Following is his personal recipe for Paprika Chicken, a very refined version of this classic dish. Serve accompanied by egg noodles, plain rice, or boiled potatoes. In Hungary, this dish is traditionally served with small egg dumplings called galuska.
Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.
Falafel, an ancient vegetarian dish dating from the time of the Pharaohs, is usually fried, but we have figured out a way to grill it. Both Egypt and Israel claim falafel as their national dish, so we have an Israel-style salsa to serve with it. Sabra is a colloquialism for people born in Israel (as opposed to immigrants), yet the salsa has two non-native ingredients that are now grown in abundance in Israel: avocados and jalapeños. Serve with a tomato and cucumber salad.
This recipe is a variation of one that appears in Dave DeWitt’s and my new book The Barbecue Inferno published by Ten Speed Press. Since technically there are fourteen or more countries that can be classified as Middle Eastern, this recipe reflects a style rather that a single country. It is designed so that the spice flavors don’t overwhelm the fish but compliment it. Serve with a tablouleh salad, orzo or rice, and sauteed zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes.

This is the almost universal way meat is cooked every day, as well as for festive get-togethers. It is about as close to the national meat dish of Afghanistan as one can get.  Lamb is commonly used, but beef can be substituted.

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