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Posts Tagged ‘tahini’

My buddy Tony and his wife Sandra took Yuki and I to Salam for lunch this past Saturday. Tony’s been talking about how fantastic their hummus is for a long time as he’s an even bigger hummus snob than I am. He took me up there for lunch a while back only to find they were on vacation, so I never got to try it. Well, Saturday worked out. We went and we dined. I have to say, that hummus is not only the best I’ve had in Chicago, it’s right up there with the best I’ve ever had period! I lived in the Middle East for a year so I know a thing or two about hummus. For the life of me I have no idea how they get such a creamy texture. Fantastic! Funny enough, Yuki found online that their hummus voted the best in Chicago by WGN Sunday night.

At any rate, when we were there Saturday I had the shawerma and Yuki had the chicken kifta, both also fantastic, but neither of us tried the falafel. Craving that hummus and wanting to not only try their falafel but also their baba ganouj we decided that we ought to go back for Meatless Monday.

We were meeting a close friend for dinner up there and got there early, so we walked around a little bit. Albany Park is a great neighborhood full of culture that I need to explore more of. We walked into the Tannourine Bakery just to check things out. They hand bake all of their own goods, including their pita bread. After chitchatting with Mike, the head honcho there, we ended up buying some spinach pockets, cheese pockets, and thyme manakeesh. He and I hit it off so he not only gave me a discount, but he also threw in a box of free anise cookies. Everything is so delicious and you can tell they care about their goods. I will definately head back to Mike when I need some good pastries.

Back to Salam. We started off with baba ganouj, hummus, and lentil soup. Believe it or not what you see in the pic are the smalls! Huge portions, only order large if you’re feeding an army. One of the best lentil soups in Chicago and that baba just might qualify as the best in town as well.

The falafel is also outstanding. If not the best in town, definately in the conversation and definately one of the largest falafel sandwiches! Perfectly cooked fresh falafel, diced tomato and cucumber, and tahini…a classic.

Just look at how green and fresh the inside of that falafel is. I know the picture sucks, but trust me, that falafel was heaven in a fried chickpea.

I also ordered the spinach pie, but honestly, I was so stuffed from the huge falafel sandwhich that I didn’t even touch it. I’m going to eat it tonight. Judging by everything else I’m sure it’s one of the best spinach pies in Chitown.

We ordered the combo plate full of kifta and kabob on rice with a tomato and cucumber salad to go along with six more falafel balls. The idea being that we had a bunch of left over hummus and baba that we ought to just have leftovers for lunch today. Not only did we have leftovers for lunch, we still have enough for dinner tonight as well. For about $40 we both got 3 full, healthy and delicious meals. You can’t beat that.

Service is also pretty good. It’s a bare bones little restaurant, but very attentive. I’ll definately make this little joint a regular stop in my rotation. I just cannot say enough good things about Salam except for “Peace be with you”.

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Last night I took advantage of another nice evening and grilled up some fish, at Yuki’s request. I decided to make some brochettes with Moroccan spiced cod. Any firm-fleshed fish would work for this recipe, cod just happened to be the cheapest and freshest as it just came in yesterday morning.

I cut up the fish into chunks large enough to skewer for the grill. Then I mixed up a marinade that consisted of 4 chopped garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne, about 4 tablespoons of olive oil, the juice from one lemon, and a few tablespoons of chopped cilantro. I tossed the fish into the marinade and let it sit in the fridge, covered, for about 3 hours occasionally turning.

When it came time to grill I took the fish out to rest for about a half hour to come to room temperature. During that time I chopped an onion and a red pepper as well as thinly slicing , about 1/4 of an inch thick, a chinese eggplant (the regular eggplants weren’t as fresh) and two small zucchini. I also let my bamboo skewers soak in water for an hour.

After all of the vegetables were cut I skewered the fish with the red pepper and onion chunks. Then I drizzled the eggplant and zucchini slices with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. I put the skewers on the bottom rack and the slices on the top rack. Everything was cooked at medium heat. That way the vegetables would cook at about the same rate as the fish. If the heat were too high the fish would cook much faster and the veggies would be too raw.

I made a sauce to drizzle on top of everything after grilling. The sauce consisted of 2 tablespoons of tahini, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, and 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro. I served with white rice and garnished with some cilantro sprigs.

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Last night I made some delicious Lamb Kofta with the leftover berbere spice from the Doro Wat. I thought I’d stick with a Middle Eastern theme by serving it with some homemade Baba Ghanoush, roasted red pepper and yellow string beans, and an Israeli Couscous and Tomato soup. Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without some pita.

Before I made the kofta, I roasted two eggplants on the burner for the baba ghanoush. Once the skin was nice and charred I set them in a bowl, covered them with plastic, and let them sit for an hour.

So, to make the kofta I mixed in the berbere spice (there was about 1.5 tablespoons left), 1 teaspoon of turmeric, salt, pepper, 6 grated garlic cloves, half an onion grated, 1 jalapeno seeded and diced, 1 slice of bread crumbed, 1 beaten egg, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, some chopped cilantro, and the juice from a half lemon into 1 pound of ground lamb. Once mixed I let it rest for a half hour covered in the fridge.

After the meat was rested, I wet my hands and formed 8 patties. They were set aside until time to cook.

Then I started on the couscous. I sautéed half an onion in some olive oil for about 10 minutes, then I added three grated garlic cloves. A few minutes later I threw in a diced carrot. That cooked for about 6-7 minutes, then I added a 14oz can of diced tomatoes and two cups of chicken stock. Once that was all mixed together I grated three more garlic cloves and tossed them in along with some salt, pepper, and about a tablespoon of cumin and a teaspoon of cayenne. I let that simmer for about 10 minutes covered over med-low heat.

After that I turned on the broiler and drizzled olive oil on the red pepper slices and yellow string beans. I seasoned them and threw them under the broiler. I left them there for about 10-15 minutes, during which time I finished the baba ghanoush.

I peeled the skin off the eggplants and mashed them up real good with a fork. I added 2 cloves of grated garlic, about 8 tablespoons of tahini, the juice from 1 lemon, and about a half teaspoon of cumin.

Then I heated some oil in a pan and cooked the kofta. I left them on for about 6 minutes each side, that gave them a nice crust, but kept them juicy. I also added about a cup of Israeli couscous to the tomato soup at this point to let it cook while the kofta was going.

Once everything was done I added a handful of chopped cilantro to the soup and plated it all up. The leftovers made a fantastic pita sandwich for lunch today!

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