As a Californian, I like to do mash-ups—taking the ingredients of one culture and the cooking techniques of another to create something new. Jan wanted taco’s, but I was growing of the same old, beef, pork, chicken or fish with the usual Mexican spices and salsas. I decided to take kubideh and make something different with it.
Kubideh is spiced beef and/or lamb that is formed into balls or skewered in thin flat kabobs. I chose to treat the meat like I would a taco filling, breaking it up and cooking it with onions. And what is a taco without salsa? But it would have to be a Middle Eastern salsa.
Karl’s Middle Eastern Tacos
½ lb. beef, ground
½ lb. lamb, ground
½ cup, red onion, fine dice
2 Tbs. red onion, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced finely
2 Tbs. fresh mint, minced
2 Tbs. Sadaf Ground Kabab Seasoning
OR ½ Tbs. ground sumac, ½ Tbs. paprika, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. turmeric, pinch ground celery seed
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. Kosher salt
Karl’s Middle Eastern Salsa
1 Persian cucumber
1 beefsteak tomato
2 Tbs. red onion
2 Tbs. Greek yogurt, plain
2 Tbs. tahini
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. black pepper
pinch Kosher salt
½ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
½ cup mint, coarsely chopped
1-2 pita breads per person
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1. Put the beef and lamb in a medium mixing bowl and break it up a bit.
2. Add the diced and grated onion, garlic, mint, and seasonings.
3. Add two tablespoons of hot water and mix the ingredients well.
Tip: The hot water warms the fat in the meat and makes it easier to mix in the other ingredients.
Note: If you are trying to make a tender meatloaf you do not want to mash the meat too much. For this dish it is OK if you “overwork” the meat. Kneading the meat causes the proteins to link together in long strands, turning the meat into sausage.
4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least one hour.
Tip: Refrigerate if you plan on resting the meat for more than one hour.
5. Chop the cucumber, tomato, and onion into ¼ inch dice and place in a small mixing bowl.
6. Add the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, pepper, and salt and mix well.
7. Let the salsa meld for 10 minutes and then transfer it to a small serving bowl.
8. Chop the cilantro and mint and mix them together. Place them in a small serving bowl.
9. Wrap the pita breads in paper towels and set them on a plate in the microwave.
Tip: You may cut the breads in half to make the “taco” shape, or separate the top and bottoms of the pitas to make flour tortillas.
10. Set the microwave to heat for 30 seconds, but do not push START at this point.
Tip: Microwaving bread will make them temporally soft, but then they will quickly turn very hard.
11. Heat the oil in a skillet, over high heat, and stir-fry the meat, breaking it up into smallish bits as it cooks.
12. Transfer the meat mixture to a serving bowl and set the meat, salsa and greens on the table.
13. Start heating the pita just before you are ready to eat.