|Kibbi at Open Sesame|
The first time Andrew and I went out West to see Mason, my grandson, Kym and Alex took us to Open Sesame, a Lebanese Mediterranean Grill in Long Beach (5215 E. 2nd Street, Long Beach CA. Tel: (562) 621-1698). It was our first foray into Lebanese food and it was a huge hit with us. We started out with an appetizer of Kibbi, a shell of lean ground beef and bulgar filled with pignoli nuts, onions and herbs. For the main course, I opted for Kafta, a wonderful spicy skewer of ground sirloin and lamb mixed together and then grilled. Between the Kibbi and the Kafta, there was a little redundancy. However they were both so delicious, that on my next trip west, I practically begged Kym and Alex to take me there. I was so into the food that I asked Omar, our waiter, if I could possibly get the recipe for both Kibbi and Kafta. He was very apologetic that somebody had taken their house cookbook home!
|Kafta with Hummus and Basmati Rice at Open Sesame|
I’ve been craving those flavors ever since. And one night recently I was also craving lamb. Doing a quick search, I found a recipe from the late lamented Gourmet that captured the distinct taste of North Africa’s wonderful spicy Merguez sausages. In this case, you create your own Merguez flavor by incorporating a whole medley of spices into the ground lamb. Pairing this with the sweetness of a raisin-filled couscous contrasts perfectly with the deep spice of the meat. At Open Sesame, the Kafta was served with a garlic-y hummus and a cucumber yogurt salad. You could easily add these to the plate and have a feast of Lebanese and North African flavors. I opted to steam some fresh asparagus that gave the plate a little color, crunch and springtime appeal. This dinner will take you all of about 15 minutes to prepare and a total of 30 minutes from start to finish. Here are the recipes:
Recipe for Merguez Sausage Patties and Golden Raisin Couscous
1 1/4 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 1/4 pounds ground lamb
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons harissa (spicy North African condiment)*
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or water
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 cup couscous
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Zest of 1 lemon
*Harissa is essential to this dish. It is not that uncommon. I found it at Fairway. You can order it on-line at www.amazon.com/grocery
|Lamb with spice mixture added|
- 1. Toast fennel seeds in a small heavy skillet over medium heat until fragrant and a shade darker, about 1 minute. Grind to a fine powder in grinder.
- 2. Mix together lamb, garlic, harissa, spices (including fennel), and 1/2 teaspoon salt thoroughly with your hands (do not overmix). Form into 4 oval patties (about 3/4 inch thick).
- 3. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then cook patties, turning once, about 9 minutes total for medium-rare.
- While patties cook, bring broth, raisins, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then stir in couscous. Let stand off heat, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork; stir in cilantro, zest, and salt to taste.
- Serve patties on couscous.