Lebanese feast

One of our favorite places to grab fabulous food in Brattleboro, Vermont is Sarkis Market. Located at 50 Elliot Street, Sarkis Market makes take-out or eat-in Lebanese food, mainly amazing wraps stuffed with falafel, kibbee (a ground lamb mixture), chicken, and many other specialties. Recently when I was making falafel at home I learned Sarkis will sell their tahini sauce and hot sauce in small to-go containers so you can get a more authentic taste... they even sell their falafel mixture if you want to fry your own.

Recently I got it into my head to recreate a Sarkis meal at home, from scratch.

The big orange pot is full of kousa, to its left is mujadra, left of that is hummus, and at the top is tahini sauce, chopped parsley, plus some Tabasco sauce for the heck of it.

I invented the recipes for my Lebanese feast after studying some similar ones online. Mujadra is a rice-lentil mixture that Sarkis Market often adds to a wrap (a bit like getting rice & beans to fill out a burrito). To make it, I boiled together green lentils and brown basmati rice (about 1/2 cup each) for about an hour. I threw in extra water now and then to avoid sticking and burning. Then I sautéed some chopped red onion and stirred in the rice and lentils, added a pinch of cumin and about 1/2 teaspoon of zaatar. Finished with about 2 T of chopped parsley and set aside (lukewarm is OK).

The kousa at Sarkis market is a squash mixture that makes a nice vegetarian addition in a wrap. The recipes I found online were all about stuffed kousa, being a yellow summer squash cut in half and filled with tomatoes. But Sarkis Market makes a chopped-up kousa, so I improvised. I heated half a can of crushed plum tomatoes with 2 cloves of crushed garlic and threw in 4 yellow summer squash that I'd cut into small cubes. I added a cinnamon stick and several dashes of allspice. I also added pours of olive oil several times during the cooking. (Next time I think I'd skip the cinnamon stick (maybe just a pinch of cinnamon instead), cut the squash into even smaller cubes, and possibly add sauteed onion at the beginning.)

After years of trial and error, I now love my hummus. I go by texture so don't have an exact recipe. I make it in the food processor and visualize mayonnaise while I work--that's the kind of emulsification I want. I added a can of chickpeas, the juice of 1/2 lemon, and a generous spoonful of tahini. Also a big pinch of salt. I started the food processor and drizzled in olive oil until all was getting creamy, then let it run for a minute to really emulsify. Delicious--do not be shy with the olive oil.

The tahini sauce was a somewhat lame and runny invention--another spoonful of tahini whisked with the juice of 1/2 lemon and a bit of water. It added some bite to the meal, but I don't think it was essential. I should just buy the Sarkis stuff next time because I don't know what I'm doing.

I made the pitas from scratch based on this Kalofagas.ca recipe. My dining companion seemed to think it was a little crazy and miraculous to make pita bread at home rather than simply buying a bag.

Rolled out pitas, ready to cook.

Cooking individually in a non-stick pan.

Cooked pitas in a towel.

My pitas did not turn out to be "pocket bread" in that they didn't form a pouch inside. But they were fine for wrapping around the other ingredients. I was happy to try my hand at pita-making, but I'm going to go back to buying them--pita bread is not that expensive, and the convenience seems worth it.

This was a pretty good dinner, though nowhere near the excellence of Sarkis Market. Still, I'm proud of myself. I also realized that I'd inadvertently made a meal that was entirely vegan!

1 comment:

Alice said...

Your pitas look great. Good work and effort! But, I was relieved for the news that buying them might work out fine after all. Going to try your version of hummus tonight. I usually make mine the same but add crushed garlic and some leftover water from can. I always find it too sharp/garlicky. Also liked your cannelloni recipe! Anything that your youngest diner enjoys--do share!