Well, I was going to post about chef Musa’s Adana kebab as a follow up to my previous post on street kebabs in Aleppo but then he brought out his special kebab knife, known as zirh in Turkish, which looks more like a sabre than a knife. It is used to chop meat for kebabs, or tripe for iskembe çorbasi (tripe soup) or the herbs and peppers that are mixed with the meat. Everyone in Turkey will tell you that there is no other way to chop these ingredients — the chopping has to be done by hand to get the right texture, and despite the zirh looking enormous and unwieldy, it is surprisingly easy to use, and as you can imagine, very efficient. So, I thought I’d post a few of the photos I had taken on various trips to Turkey showing the zirh in action .
Here is a black & white one of a tripe soup maker chopping an impressive amount of tripe.
And here are a few which I shot in Gaziantep in the kitchens of Imam Cagdas, with each cook using his zirh to chop meat, herbs or peppers I think. Quite a sight.
And here is a short, and I’m afraid not very good clip of all of the chefs at Imam Cagdas chopping away.
And finally, here is one of chef Musa, chef Burak and me in action at WOF which Zeynep, chef Musa’s wife snapped.
And here are two recipes, chef Musa’s Adana kebab and my tripe soup. As for my own zirh, I will post a picture of me using it in London. I can see it becoming an integral part of my demonstrations!
Chef Musa’s Adana Kebab
15 oz (450 g) lamb, shoulder and flank
1/3 oz (10 g) tail fat (from a male lamb)
1 red pepper, finely minced
1 shallot, finely minced
1 tbsp Maras chili pepper
- Using a knife or mezzaluna, mince the lamb and tail fat.
- Put the meat in a bowl. Add finely minced shallots.
- Discard the excess juice of minced red pepper and add in the bowl.
- Add Maras pepper. Mix all the ingredients well.
- Divide this mixture into 4 balls.
- Using wide metal skewers, put the meat onto skewers.
- Grill on oak charcoal.
- Serve on lavash bread.
Tripe, both sheep and ox, is a prized meat in most Mediterranean countries. In Italy, Spain and France, it is sold already cleaned and cooked. All you have left to do is dress it at home with your choice of sauce or garnish. However, in Middle Eastern countries, tripe is sold uncooked although, most of the time, already cleaned. You will still need to clean it further at home by washing it in several changes of soap and water. The following recipe comes from Turkey where there are many restaurants and cafés that specialize in tripe soup. A similar version of this soup is also popular in Greece (patsas) and, again, it is consumed early in the morning, after a night’s drinking. However, if you are horrified at the idea of eating offal or variety meats as it is known in the US, you can easily replace the tripe with lamb or chicken. Serves 6
10 ounce (300 g) piece of uncooked sheep’s tripe
5 tablespoons (75 g) unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 egg yolks
juice of half a lemon, or to taste
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup white wine or champagne vinegar
1 – Wash the tripe in several changes of soap and water and rinse well. Put in a large saucepan and add 1 1/2 quarts (1 1/2 litres) water. Place over a medium-high heat, add salt to taste and bring to the boil. As the water comes to the boil, skim the surface clean then cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until tender.
2 – When the tripe is done, remove and slice into thin strips. Strain the stock and set aside.
3 – Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a clean saucepan and stir in the flour. Slowly add the strained tripe stock while continuing to stir. Add the tripe and simmer for another 5 minutes.
4 – Beat the eggs with the lemon juice.
5 – Melt the rest of the butter in a frying pan. Stir in the Aleppo pepper. Add a little of the hot soup liquid to the egg mixture then pour the egg mixture into the soup stirring all the time. Remove from the heat and stir in the garlic and vinegar. Usually the garlic-vinegar mixture is served on the side for people to help themselves but I prefer to mix it all in.
6 – Taste and adjust the seasoning of the soup then pour into a pre-heated tureen and drizzle the flavored butter all over. Serve very hot with good bread.
©anissa helou, from Mediterranean Street Food
In a few hours, another World of Flavors conference will start at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). The theme this year is street food and comfort food and as some of you know, I love street food and am constantly on the lookout for fun street food scenes wherever I go, not only to watch but also to taste, if the conditions are right that is. Regardless, I find it hard to resist anything that looks good on the street especially if I am in Aleppo, my favourite city, where you see people eating on the street throughout the enchanting souks.
On a recent trip there, I was spoiled for choice. As I walked through the vegetable market opposite Bab Antaki, I came upon a lone gentleman tucking into the best looking kebab I have seen on the street. I asked if I could snap him, or more to the point if I could photograph what he was eating and he was very gracious about my interfering with his meal. Then, right by the Bab, I stopped at an incredibly popular falafel stall where the vendor had piles of fresh mint on the table which his customers picked by the handful to stuff in their mouth with every bite of their sandwich. Sadly, I never got to take any pictures. It was just too crowded. Then there was a vendor I had never seen before who was making kibbeh sandwiches — he announced very proudly that his mother had made the kibbeh. Again no snapshots but this time because the display was not very pretty. But here are a few shots of the delicious kebabs my lone gentleman was eating.
And later this afternoon, I’m hoping to be able to take a few shots of some Adana kebabs being prepared by Chef Musa Dagdeviren from Ciya, together with Chef Necdet Kaygin and Chef Burak Epir which I will post in the next couple of days.
I was exchanging tweets with Heidi Leon about belly dance — she has just taken it up — and I thought I’d tell her about Nadia (actually I meant Samia, see ps below) Gamal, possibly the greatest belly dancer of her era, perhaps of all times, and my favourite. I also have a weakness for Tahiya Carioca if only for the name which always made my sisters and I giggle when we were young in Beirut. She was our reference for anything vulgar. Am not sure why. She wasn’t, as you can see from the video below. We must have been stuck up bourgeois girls.
In any case, I googled Nadia and found various links and videos. I like this one best. She is still very young and gorgeous, slim without being skinny; and as a bonus there is also Sabah in the video, also still very young and pretty.
In my days, there were two singing divas in Lebanon. Feyrouz, a heavenly voice but ugly with crooked teeth, and Sabah, a glamour puss with a sexy voice. Both are still alive and are old versions of their young selves. Feyrouz less scary than when she was young and Sabah still trying to hold on to those gorgeous looks with some help, and not from her creator! Watching Nadia and Sabah reminded me of my youth in Beirut when I hated both Arabic music and belly dancing. I only liked western pop music and to my shame, it was mostly French pop. Now, I love Omm Kulthum, Nadia Gamal, even Sabah but only when she was young and many others. As for pop music, it has been replaced by classical and opera. I wonder if I should look at myself closely in the mirror to see if I have aged like Sabah! As for gorgeous Nadia, she died quite some time ago, without I think turning into a caricature of herself. Have to check on that. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this snippet of Egyptian high life when it was gay and sophisticated.
Ps. A Lebanese friend drew my attention to the fact that the dancer I am thinking of is not Nadia but Samia and here is a video of Samia Gamal. I can’t work out if the first video is Samia or someone else who’s almost as good but called Nadia. perhaps one of you will be able to tell me.
One of my all time favourite fruit. Looks like a pine cone but inside the rough skin are soft, creamy fleshy kernels enveloping shiny black seeds. The flesh is perfectly exquisite and the texture incredibly sexy. Totally irresistible except for one minor detail, the price which is fairly exorbitant in England. In Beirut, I could afford to eat one or two a day (my figure less) but here in London, custard apples will have to be an occasional treat. Still, not to be missed when in season which is now and until round about Christmas.