Not exactly sure if this is the correct spelling for this dish, nor what exactly does it mean. I think it is Palestinian or Lebanese, and when you order it in a restaurant you would usually get minced lamb cooked with spice and topped with tahini, but it can also be topped with tomato sauce, or the meat used can be veal or beef, and you can sometimes get potatoes or cauliflower cooked with the meat as well.
We always used to have it in Hinawi, a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Jaffa coastline, unfortunately closed now. there you would get loosely formed patties, very gently seasoned with cumin, allspice, parsley and garlic, in a thin tahini sauce. my attempts at recreation did not go well at first – tahini tends to split when heated. to stabilize it I eventually added yogurt and eggs, the result was a creamy, sesame flavoured custardy kind of thing that is delicious but so rich I had to up the seasoning of the meat. Now I have a spice mix ready-made just for this which includes cumin, fennel, coriander, cinnamon and chilli. the meat needs to be very strongly flavoured, almost too much, so that it stands up to the rich topping.
It has become one of our staples, something we make when we need instant comfort, or when we invite people on the last minute, like we did last night. all you do is cook the mince, add the spice, while it is cooking you prepare the topping and chop some vegetables for a lemony salad – it really needs it – when the meat is cooked pour the topping, place in oven for 5 min, just to set it, and serve with flatbread. a middle eastern sloppy joe.
I didn’t cook this as a trial for the restaurant( although when I think about it could be a really nice lunch dish) but because as I said, this is our ten minute wonder for spur of the moment invites . Our friend Varny and her friend Abbi came over after we all been to a movie at the Ritzy. Varny knows our food and likes it I think, but I am always concerned when new people come that I am going too native, that the food is too strange and they hate it. And I never really believe people when they say they enjoyed it, I always think they are just being polite. how does that work for a restauranteur-to-be?
A pleasant evening, all in all, don’t know if it’s the food or the company, but I think three bottles of wine helped.
not the hangover…