Baked pita, minced lamb koftas, sizzling meat satays, kebabs, falafel, and a good dollop of hummus sprinkled generously with freshly chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and parsley is what comes to my mind, when someone mentions to me of Mediterranean food. Those fresh produce and power packed flavors are good enough to take you through the tapestry of cultures which probably those cities have to offer. These days, a burnt eggplant and tahini dip more commonly known as Baba Ganouj and gorgeous gorgeous silky smooth hummus made of chickpeas and tahini served alongside baked pita chips and fresh cucumbers are must for us to accompany the drinks, whenever we throw a dinner party at home. And they are always a hit with our friends.
Somewhere in my deep desires, I have a long due wish to visit the countries of Mediterranean, more than any other place on this earth, for the diversity of food which they have to offer. It is the use of fresh and local produce, which people tend to eat seasonally and eat what grows locally in their area. And the list is endless.
Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem is a book which talks about the medley of Jerusalem’s food, which has recipes inspired by the flavors of Jerusalem, some age old traditional dishes and some updated to suit the evolving taste buds of the today’s generations. The book weaves in the wonderful mixture of countless cultures and historical events that have influenced the city’s cuisine for centuries. The book has many vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes classified under Vegetables, Pulses, Grains, Meat, Soup Sweets, and all are so enticing. The anecdotal stories behind the recipes, depicting cultures associated with them tantalizes and educates at the same time. These chicken and zucchini burgers, adapted from the book are delicately spiced with cumin and perked up with a generous slather of tangy sharp lemon yogurt and sumac sauce. And the best part is they are a real health fast food, as it hardly takes 20 minutes to whip them up, including preparation. You could take them to a friend’s or pack them in lunchbox for work.
Chicken & Zucchini Burgers
500 gm minced chicken
200 gm grated zucchini
40 gm spring onions, thinly sliced
1 large egg
2 tbsp chopped mint
2 tbsp chopped coriander
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
100 ml sunflower oil for searing
Yogurt & Sumac Sauce
200 gm Greek/hung yogurt
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sumac
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- First make the yogurt and sumac sauce by placing all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside or chill until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 220 degree C. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for meatballs except sunflower oil. Once evenly mixed, shape into burgers, depending upon how big you want your patty to be.
- Pour enough sunflower oil in a large frying pan, so you get a thin layer of oil at the bottom. Heat well and sear the meatballs in batched over medium heat on all the sides. Cook them for about 4 minutes, adding oil as needed, until golden brown.
- Carefully transfer the seared meatballs into an oven tray lined with grease proof paper and place in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until just cooked through. Serve warm or at room temperature, with sauce spooned over.