With their emphasis on fresh fruit and vegetables, sweet and sharp flavours, delicate spices and lovely fresh herbs, the cuisines of the Middle East suit our warm climate and outdoor lifestyle. Dukkah has been on our restaurant tables and in our homes for years, hummus is virtually a staple, and couscous can be found on any supermarket shelf.
When Tel Aviv-born Michael Rantissi and his partner, Kristy Frawley, opened Kepos Street Kitchen in the inner-Sydney suburb of Redfern in 2012, Rantissi’s mother was incredulous that Aussies were coming in first thing in the morning and ordering falafel. Hence the title of Rantissi and Frawley’s cookbook, Falafel For Breakfast, published by Murdoch Books.
As Rantissi points out in the book’s introduction, no one in the family would ever have dreamt that “Dad’s favourite brekkie” – a selection of hummus, tomato, boiled egg and falafel – would have been one of the most popular items on the Kepos Street Kitchen menu.
From the team at Kepos Street Kitchen
Although it’s a cute story, I think the pair have done themselves a disservice with the title as neither the book nor the restaurant are confined to falafel or even breakfast. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, and the book’s sub-title points out that it is a collection of “modern Middle Eastern recipes for any time of the day”.
And what a feast of treasures the recipes are, from slow-cooked braises, grills and amazing salads and vegetable dishes, to mouth-watering pastries, breads and cakes. Recipes like Warm Moroccan Carrot Salad, Roasted Cauliflower and Raisin Upside-Down Bread, Lemon and Orange Blossom Slice, and Persian-style Pavlova make the book essential reading (and visits to their Sydney restaurants a must – they have since also opened Kepos & Co in Alexandria).
The recipe for Dukkah Lamb Cutlets reproduced here is very easy but big on impact with the sharp, clean flavours of the Mint & Pomegranate Salad. Make the dukkah ahead of time and store in an airtight container (or buy the dukkah if you really want to speed things up).
Leading Sydney chef Serge Dansereau has endorsed the book by writing the foreward. Rantissi was his sous chef at The Bathers’ Pavilion and Dansereau clearly holds him in high regard.
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DUKKAH LAMB CUTLETS WITH MINT & POMEGRANATE SALAD
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons hazelnut dukkah
8 large lamb cutlets (or lamb chops or noisettes)
Mint and Pomegranate Salad:
1 handful mint leaves
4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1 preserved lemon, skin only, julienned
juice of ½ a lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
Put the olive oil and dukkah in a large bowl and mix together. Add the lamb and rub the dukkah mixture into the meat. Cover the bowl and transfer to the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.
To make the salad, put the mint, pomegranate seeds and preserved lemon in a bowl. Shake together the lemon juice and olive oil in a small jar. Pour over the salad, toss gently and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, taking care not to use too much salt as there is salt in the dukkah on the cutlets.
Heat the barbecue to high or heat a chargrill pan over high heat on your stovetop. Cook the lamb cutlets for 2–3 minutes on each side. Remove the pan from the heat and rest the lamb for 5 minutes before serving with the mint and pomegranate salad.
Makes 520 grams (1 lb 2 oz)
1¾ cups hazelnuts
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1¼ cups sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F).
Put the hazelnuts on one baking tray, and the coriander and cumin seeds on a separate tray, and bake until toasted, approximately 15 minutes.
After the hazelnuts and seeds have been in the oven for 10 minutes, add the sesame seeds on a separate tray and toast for the remaining 5 minutes, or until lightly coloured. Remove all the trays from the oven and allow the nuts and seeds to cool to room temperature.
Put the hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse to a coarse breadcrumb size. (You could also crush the hazelnuts the traditional way using a mortar and pestle – good exercise for the biceps!) Transfer the hazelnuts to a large mixing bowl.
Put the cumin and coriander seeds in the food processor and process until almost a powder. (Use a mortar and pestle to do this if you prefer.)
Add this powder to the bowl along with the toasted sesame seeds, salt and pepper. Mix well using a wooden spoon.
Recipe and images from Falafel For Breakfast. By Michael Rantissi and Kristy Frawley. Published by Murdoch Books and reproduced with permission of Murdoch Books.
This post was originally published in PS News online.