because gluten-free food doesn't have to be rubbish

Potato moutabel

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Imagine peanut butter and mashed potato. Ok, that may sound odd, but now imagine a peanut-buttery sort of flavour, only more sesame-esque, and a bit of yoghurt and a splash of lemon juice, and then another big splash of lemon juice and a pinch of cumin. That, my friends, is potato moutabel, and I fear I may have to make it at every meal that calls for mash. Apparently the original version of this dish is made with aubergines, those tricky creatures that I’m still unsure about, one way or the other. But this version, this was made with mashed potato, skins and all, and then made sticky, and nutty, and sour and sweet by the addition of yoghurt and tahini and lemon juice and cumin, respectively. I’ve never thought of mashed potato as boring before, I love mash, and it goes with everything, but this, wow. It plays around with mash to the extent that you’re not entirely sure what the base is. This is to mashed potato what a chocolate soufflé is to a bar of Dairy Milk; the two are not entirely comparable, and Dairy Milk definitely has its uses, but at least 8 days out of 10 I’d choose the soufflé. 

The best bit about this version of moutabel though is because you mash the potato with the skins it takes 5 minutes to make, from start to finish, since you can microwave your spud in its skin. Microwave, mash, slop in the flavourings, mash some more and serve.

Rowe pairs this with some delightful lamb kebabs (well, it’s the other way round but frankly I think the moutabel took centre stage here). That said, the kebabs were amazing. The list of ingredients is fairly familiar, red pepper, mozzarella, pine nuts, mint and then wham, out of nowhere, walnuts. Walnuts, in a kebab? And yet they were the flavour that worked best for me. These didn’t taste aggressively walnutty, never a good thing, but for some reason the walnut worked really well with the lamb and just rose above the other flavours ever so slightly. It took a standard lamb kebab (or meatball, however you want to shape them) and made it a little different, and a little special, and a little more delicious.

There is no reason not to make this dish. Yes you have to buy tahini, but then you can make your own hummous, which is loads cheaper than buying it, and tahini goes with lots of things. And you don’t even need an egg for the kebabs. Quick, not too messy, and grilled things to me always have faint overtones of summer.

Al Halabi lamb kebabs with potato moutabel
From Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume

The name of the kebabs comes from the restaurant in Syria where they were invented, which has now been added to my list of must-see places. Though maybe not anytime soon.

250g minced lamb
10 small fresh mint leaves, chopped
40g walnuts, chopped
40g pine nuts, chopped
1 small red pepper, seeded and chopped
Small handful of mushrooms, finely chopped
50g grated mozzarella

1 large baking potato, cooked in the microwave and mashed, skin and all
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon flaxseed or sesame seed for sprinkling on top

1. Put the lamb and all the kebab ingredients into a medium bowl and mix together very well. Season with salt and pepper, then shape the mixture into 4 long, flattish kebabs and carefully ease onto skewers. Put the skewers in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up.

2. Preheat a grill and cook the skewers under the hot grill for 6 minutes on each side, or until dark brown. Check that they are cooked in the middle; if not move them down a rack and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.

3. To make the moutabel, mash the cooked baked potato, with its skin in a bowl, with the tahini, yoghurt, lemon juice, cumin and a pinch of salt. Serve immediately, sprinkled with flaxseed, with the kebabs on the side. I also served mine with some grill-blackened strips of orange and red peppers.

I served this with a Spanish Garnacha, not too tannic or high in alcohol so it didn’t completely overpower the mild flavours or the lean lamb.


Written by guffblog

20th March 2011 at 15:56

Posted in Main courses

Tagged with , , , , ,

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