Some great international snacks or appetizers for the holidays or any time.:-)
If you’ve ever tried Ethiopian Berbere you will understand why so many bloggers and cooks try to sort through every food combination in their imagination to concoct new recipes that call for this special spice mix! This one works perfectly and adds a twist to that well known cereal snack recipe. Here is a link…http://allspiceonline.com/recipe/berbere-party-mix-state-fair-edition/ I have tried it without the soy sauce, Siracha sauce and green peas and it is still delicious. It’s the combination of the Berbere and the honey that make it truly addictive. Add whatever amount of Berbere you can handle; one teaspoon might be better for those who can’t handle the heat, more for those who can. Bowls of this mix go quickly.:-) Although the recipe here calls for microwaving the mix; baking the cereal mixture on a cookie sheet or cooking the ingredients in a large saute pan work just as well. Add the honey after it has been removed from the heat.
Another easy and addictive snack is the well known Chivda/Chevda snack very common in India. There are many recipes on line for this delicious snack. In India the ingredients used are slightly different, but the idea is the same–it is a cereal like snack. The combination of citric acid or amchur/mango powder, tumeric, mustard seeds,cayenne and sugar is the essence of this flavor combination that makes this snack so delicious. Who knew that Corn flakes, Rice Krispies, and Chex cereal could be so flavorful?
Here is a link to give you the basic idea, but many kinds of cereal and nuts work just as well…
Another super easy snack to make is a simple Persian plate full of Lavash bread, French Feta, and herbs like tarreh or green onions, fresh dill, tender green baby lettuce and other greens…Here is a link to a wonderful Persian food blog that gives you more information about this delicious and healthy appetizer. If you live near a Middle Eastern market ask for the French Feta; it isn’t as salty and goes beautifully with these herbs….http://mypersiankitchen.com/herbs-feta-cheese-platter/
An Iraqi breakfast combination offers a great snack throughout the whole day. Get some Date syrup–Moomtaz is a good brand, although there are many others, and Sarshir/Gaymar cream–it’s known by either name in Middle Eastern stores, and smother a piece of good warm Persian Barbari bread or warm round Arab flat bread. And drink it down with some black tea with a hint of freshly ground cardamon and your day is complete! If you live in San Diego you can buy Barbari bread at some of the Persian markets; if you live in El Cajon head over to Valley Foods and go to the back of the store and ask for the large round freshly baked bread!
For a great Afghan snack try serving a *Rote with green tea and cardamom. Rote is a dry sort of snacking cake with Kalonji seeds. A flavorful green tea and a pinch of freshly ground cardamom makes a welcome afternoon treat!
*If you live in San Diego Rote is available at Balboa International Market; I’m not sure about it’s availability in other markets.
Ethiopian and Persian inspired Meatball appetizers.
Use your favorite recipe for small cocktail size meatballs, but omit the seasoning (or purchase frozen meatballs and cook according to package directions), then fry them in a little vegetable oil until cooked and add one of the two sauces below.
For Ethiopian meatballs add the following ingredients to the cooked meatballs: 1/2 or more diced onions and one small can of tomato paste and 1/2 cup of water and as much *Berbere as you can handle. Maybe 1 teaspoon for people who don’t like their food too spicy and more for those who do. Continue to warm cooked meatballs in sauce for 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat, cool for a few minutes then place in refrigerator and cool for several hours. Then reheat for a minute or more in the microwave right before serving. These meatballs are better when they have had time for the flavors to meld together while cooling in the refrigerator.
*I’ve never made my own Berbere spice mix, as the Berbere mix for sale at Awash Market/2884 El Cajon Blvd. in San Diego, is so delicious. But for those who don’t have a Berbere outlet in their city (how sad) here is a link to a Berbere recipe by Marcus Samuelsson, the well known Ethiopian born chef. (Once you start using Berbere you’ll want to sprinkle it on everything.)
Persian inspired cocktail sized meatballs
Use your favorite recipe for small cocktail size meatballs, but omit the seasoning (or use frozen purchased cooked meatballs and cook according to package directions), then fry them in a little vegetable oil until cooked. Add a few handfuls of chopped parsley and dill to the meat mixture if making your own meatballs.
To the cooked meatballs add 1 small can tomato paste, 1 teaspoon tumeric, juice from 1 lime (or more), 1/3-1/2 cup water,2-3 strands of Saffron–optional, and 2 teaspoons of *Adiveh. (I used this recipe minus the rose petals as I didn’t have any handy.) Continue to warm meatballs in sauce for 20 minutes. Then remove from heat, cool for a few minutes, then cover and place in refrigerator for a few hours. Like the Ethiopian inspired meatballs above these meatballs are better upon reheating after they have cooled for several hours in the refrigerator; they are even better heated up the next day.
* Go to this blog of a well known Persian chef for a great Adiveh recipe as well as other wonderful Persian recipes. http://mypersiankitchen.com/advieh-%E2%80%93-a-blend-of-spices-for-persian-cooking/
Moving on to main dishes and desserts…
For a great and speedy main dish idea…try putting the ingredients for a Persian stuffed dolmeh/dolma into a lasagna instead! It is easier, can be made more quickly and is still delicious–because of the outstanding Persian flavor combination of tumeric, tomato paste, and herbs! This dish can be made as a vegetarian or non-vegetarian dish! This should work for almost any dolmeh recipe that uses a tomato base for the sauce: Persian, Iraqi or Greek! (One of the Iraqi/Palestinian versions uses a few pinches of citric acid in the tomato base to give the flavor just the right amount of zip.:-) Just chop the cabbage in half and boil first until tender–about twenty minutes; then separate the leaves and use them for the lasagna base, just as you would with noodles. Try putting a little sauce on the bottom so the cabbage leaves don’t stick; then cook with the rest of the sauce covering the cabbage and rice and/or rice, meat and split pea layers if making the Persian version. Cover with foil for about twenty minutes; then cook uncovered for another twenty minutes at 350 degrees.