The Jew And The Carrot

Balaboosta's Tangy Chamusta Soup

By Einat Admony

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Courtesy: Einat Admony

Chamusta

Excerpted from Balaboosta by Einat Admony (Artisan Books). Copyright (c) 2013.

Einat’s Notes: Like a few other recipes in this book, I owe this one to my friend Guy. If I get mad at Guy, all I need to do is eat his amazing chamusta, and I soon forget why I was upset. Chamusta is a Kurdish sour soup that’s traditionally served with a semolina dumpling stuffed with minced meat. My recipe turns the dumpling inside out, creating a meatball with semolina inside. Baharat is an Israeli spice blend; make my version or look for it in ethnic markets.

Serves 4 to 6

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
7 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
½ bunch Swiss chard (about 2  ½ cups), coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4 to 6 lemons)
6 cups chicken stock
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon sugar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Kebab
1 pound ground beef
½ cup semolina flour
1 medium yellow onion, grated
2 cloves Roasted Garlic (see below), finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon Baharat (see below)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
½ teaspoon chile flakes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the garlic, celery, and leek. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and chicken stock. Stir in the turmeric and sugar and add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer and cook for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the kebabs: Combine all the ingredients except the canola oil in a large bowl and roll the meat mixture into kebabs the size and shape of your thumb (you should be able to make about 16). Heat a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat for 5 minutes, then add the canola oil. Grill the kebabs for 3 minutes on each side.

To serve, put the kebabs at the bottom of a shallow bowl and top with a few ladles of chamusta.

Roasted Garlic

The traditional way to roast garlic is in the oven. But here’s an easier version: peel the bulb ahead of time instead of after and then braise it in oil. I didn’t forget to put any quantities in this recipe. Roast as many garlic cloves as you’d like.

Garlic cloves
Canola oil

Peel each garlic clove and place it in a saucepan. Pour in just enough canola oil to cover the cloves completely. Place the pan over a very low—and I mean low—flame. Simmer until the garlic cloves are tender and brown spots start to appear, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely before transferring the garlic to an airtight container with just enough oil to cover the cloves.

I store the roasted garlic in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. And I never throw away the rest of the oil, because it’s great for brushing on slices of ciabatta right before grilling them. Just make sure to store the oil in the refrigerator as well, and this will keep much longer than a few weeks.

Baharat
Makes about 1 1/3 cups

In arabic baharat means “spices” and refers to a blend of spices. This combination of spices, which can improve even the most inedible dishes, changes from region to region, from one dish to another; its use varies from lamb to fish, from chicken to pickles. Here is the combination of spices I prefer, and I think it goes with everything.

2 tablespoons ground black pepper
3 tablespoons allspice
3 tablespoons ground coriander
5 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon dried lemon zest (optional)
4 teaspoons dried ginger (optional)

Combine all the ingredients together until well mixed. Store in an airtight jar and keep away from direct sunlight.


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