Monday, 25 May 2015

Tasting Jerusalem #12 – Baharat

Beef Meatballs with Broad Beans and Lemon
Dee – Baharat is a spice blend used throughout the Middle East and was August 2013’s featured ingredient.  It appears in several recipes in the book, but the one I chose was the Beef Meatballs with Broad Beans and Lemon, featured on page 196.  The dish is described in the book as being perfect for a spring supper, so I took the opportunity to cook it at the suggested time of year.
In my chosen recipe, the baharat was one of the ingredients for the meatballs, where it joined onion, herbs and capers to introduce something of a piquant and fresh taste. 
There is a recipe for the Baharat spice mix on page 299 but as with so many other spice blends, there are umpteen variations.  The key to baharat is to achieve a balance, as a lot of strong spices, both sweet and savoury, go into it.  Pepper, Cinnamon and Cloves appear to be common across most recipes, with paprika, cumin, coriander nutmeg and cardamom appearing in others.
Once the meatballs had been prepared and browned in the pan, the rest of the dish could be completed fairly simply.  I wasn’t able to find any fresh green beans, so had to use tinned ones.  They had been cooked for longer than I like personally, and I wasn’t able to recreate the colourful combination of skin-on and skin-off beans that appears in the book, but as the beans tend to play second fiddle to the meatballs in this dish, it wasn’t too much of a problem.
Once the cooking time was up, there wasn’t a lot of sauce left.  We did consider adding some water to top up the sauce quantity, as was suggested in the recipe, but in the end we decided to leave it as it was.
It was great to read that the recommended accompaniment was the Basmati Rice and Orzo on page 103, and as this is a favourite of both Jay’s and mine, we were only too happy to follow this advice.
Blanched almonds are also suggested as an optional extra, but I was happy with just the beans.  Next time I make it, I will seek out some fresh broad beans just so that I can cook them as I like them.  I also want to replicate the contrasting colour effect by removing the skins from half of them, though I’ll be doing this on my own as Jay considers it too much extra work.
The dish does have quite a few ingredients and takes some time to assemble, but once the meatballs are made, and the beans are ready, the rest of the cooking process is quite simple.  The serving quantities worked out exactly right and when served with the rice and orzo made for a good hearty meal.

“Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ebury Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to  following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, liking our Facebook Page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups’ dishes on Pinterest

(Please note: I have listed the UK publisher and have linked to the UK Amazon site.  The US details are provided on the web site)

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