Thursday, August 10, 2017

Kangaroo Kofta Kabab

     Kangaroo Street Food!
     Minced Lamb or Beef Kofta Kababs are a popular street food in the Middle East.  Minced meat is highly seasoned with traditional spice mixtures.  Egg and Bulgar Wheat are used as a binding agent.  The minced meat mixture is then shaped on a skewer.  The minced meat can be pressed into ball, conical or a cylinder shape to make the kabob look fancy.  The Kofta Kababs are then slow roasted till they are browned.
     Gourmet street food has been the rave in trendy cities like Las Vegas for a few years.  Kofta are among the greatest tasting meatballs in the world, but in America they are usually only found at Middle Eastern or Armenian style Kabab shops.  The word Kofta actually means "ball shape" and there are many ways to spell this word in various dialects everywhere from India all the way to Morocco.  There are hundreds of cultural variations of the Kofta recipe too.  Vegetable Kofta are popular in India, while Beef Kofta are popular in Arabic countries.  Greek Kofta will taste different than Kofta that are made somewhere in North Africa.  As one can imagine, there is a world of interesting traditional Kofta flavors to discover.
     As far as classic Kofta recipes are concerned, they really do not need any improvement.  The only option for making a different kind of Kofta is to select an exotic vegetable or an alternative meat.  Street food that is made with alternative meat appeals to the health minded crowd that avoids commercial beef.  Alternative meat street food also appeals to daring customers that just want to brag about trying something different to their peers.  Alternative meats also offer opportunities for street food vendors to use some crazy sounding marketing tactics that generate consumer interest.
     Kangaroo meat has become a popular alternative meat during the last decade.  Kangaroo is a disease free, low cholesterol meat option that tastes great.  Kangaroo only contains 2% fat, so it is a truly healthy alternative meat option.  The flavor of kangaroo meat is about as strong tasting as lamb, so it will appeal to those who do not like the strong flavor of some types of wild game.  
     Since kangaroo is such a lean meat, it is recommended that it should be cooked rare to medium at the most.  When prepared as a Kofta style minced meat mixture, it must be fully cooked, but the eggs and binding grain will keep the lean Kangaroo Kofta Meat moist.
     I have never heard of anybody making Kofta with kangaroo meat, so it took a little bit of thought when designing the recipe.  Because kangaroo meat is so lean, olive oil was added in place of fat.  A small amount of Chickpea Flour (Gram) and extra soft cooked Basmati Rice were used as the binding filler.  The Kofta spice mix came from a Persian Arabic food market in Chicago.  Pre-mixed Kofta Spice sells for a nice price.  
     While shopping at the Persian Arabic food market, the Iranian lady at the cash register asked if I needed any help and we struck up a nice conversation about food.  I told her that I was planning to make Kangaroo Kofta and I asked if she had ever eaten Kangaroo.  She looked at me with a blank stare, because the word Kangaroo was not understood.  So, I proceeded to hop around while doing my imitation of a Kangaroo.  Then she understood what I was talking about!  She responded by saying "No, no, no!" while laughing so hard that she almost fell off of her chair!
     Kangaroo are comical animals and just the thought of eating kangaroo meat makes people laugh, because they picture old cartoons of a character doing such a thing, then the character starts bouncing around like a big rabbit.  With this in mind, the phrase "Hoppin' Good Kangaroo Kofta Kabobs" would be a good sales pitch!

     Soft Cooked Rose Water Basmati Rice:
     This recipe yields about 2 cups.
     Only a small portion of soft rice is needed for the Kabob recipe.  The extra soft rice can be used for stuffing a few grape leaves that can be used to garnish the plate.
     The Basmati Rice does not need to be pre-soaked, because the rice will be mashed.      
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the water to a boil.
     Step 2:  Add 2/3 cup of Basmati Rice.
     Return the water to a boil.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer and steam till the rice is very soft and mushy.  
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Rose Water while stirring.
     Set the pot of Soft Rose Water Rice aside and let it cool to room temperature.

     Kangaroo Kofta Kabab: 
     This recipe yields 2 portions.  (2 kababs that weigh about 6 ounces apiece)    
     Pre-made Kofta Spice Mix can be found at Mediterranean food markets. 
     Step 1:  Soak 2 bamboo skewers in water ahead of time.  (10" length)
     Step 2:  Place 8 ounces of ground kangaroo meat in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely minced onion.
     Step 3:  Add 1 tablespoon of Kofta Spice Mix.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Sumac Berry Spice.
     Add 1 pinch of black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of ground fennel.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt.
     Step 4:  Add 2 pinches of marjoram.
     Add 2 pinches of minced mint leaves.
     Add 2 pinches of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Step 5:  Place 1/4 cup of the Soft Rose Water Basmati Rice in a small bowl.
     Thoroughly mash the soft rice.
     Add the mashed soft rice to the meat mixture.
     Step 6:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of whisked egg.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil.
     Thoroughly mix the ingredients together.
     Step 7:  Add just enough Chick Pea Flour, while mixing, to thicken the meat mixture to a stiff firm consistency.  (About 2 tablespoons.)
     *The meat mixture should be able to easily hold its shape when rolled into a ball shape.
     Step 8:  Place the Kangaroo Kofta mixture in a container.
     Chill in a refrigerator for 2 hours, so the flavors meld and the texture becomes extra stiff.
     Step 9:  Place the chilled Kangaroo Kofta mixture on a cutting board.
     Divide the mixture into 2 equal size portions.
     Roll each portion of the Kangaroo Kofta into a long cylinder shape that is about 1" wide.
     Step 10:  Press a pre-soaked bamboo skewer lengthwise into each cylinder shaped Kofta, so the skewer is centered.
     Roll the Kofta and skewer back and fort together as one, till the skewer is sealed in the center of the Kofta cylinder shape.
     Step 11:  Brush a roasting pan with blended olive oil.
     Place the 2 Kangaroo Kofta Kababs on the roasting pan.
     Lightly brush the kababs with blended olive oil.
     Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Roast till the meat is fully cooked and it just starts to brown.
     Step 12:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Use a spatula the carefully free the kababs from the pan.
     Keep the Kangaroo Kofta Kabobs warm on a stove top.

     Rose Water Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves: 
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.  (5 or 6 stuffed grape leaves)
     The stuffed grape leaves can be prepared ahead of time while the kofta mixture chills.
     Step 1:  Cut the thick stem vein end off of 5 or 6 Pickled Grape Leaves.
     Place the grape leaves side by side on a countertop.
     Step 2:  Place about 2 tablespoons of the Soft Rose Water Basmati Rice on each grape leaf.
     Fold the edges of the leaves over the rice.
     Roll each stuffed grape leaf into a small cylinder shape, so the rice is completely sealed in.
     Step 3:  Brush a small baking pan with olive oil.
     Place the stuffed grape leaves in the the pan.
     Pour 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice over the stuffed grape leaves.
     Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the stuffed grape leaves.
     Step 4:  Cover the baking pan with a lid or foil.
     Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Bake for till the stuffed grape leaves are piping hot.  (about 4 minutes)
     Remove the pan from the oven.
     Keep the stuffed grape leaves warm on a stove top.

     Za'atar Khubz Arabi:  
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.  (1 small pita bread)
     Za'atar Spice Mix is available in Mediterranean food markets.  
     Step 1:  Select a small 6" to 8" pita bread (Khubz Arabi).
     Place the pita bread on a baking pan.
     Brush the pita bread with a generous amount of olive oil.
     Sprinkle a generous amount of Za'atar Spice Mix on the pita bread.
     Gently rub the Za'atar Spice on the pita bread.
     Step 2:  Place the pan in the 325ºF oven.
     Bake till the pita bread and spices are lightly toasted.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Cut Za'atar Khubz Arabi into 6 pie shaped pieces and keep them warm on a stove top.

     Kangaroo Kufta Kebab Presentation:
     This recipe yields 1 appetizer platter.  (or 1 light lunch portion)
     Step 1:  Place the Za'atar Khubz Arabi pieces on a plate as a bed for the kabab.
     Place the roasted Kangaroo Kafta Kabab on the Za'atar Bread.
     Step 2:  Place 5 or 6 Rose Water Basmati Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves on the plate.
     Step 3:  Place a small bed of Italian Parsley sprigs on the plate.
     Place some assorted Persian Pickles and olives of your choice on the parsley.  
     *The Persian Pickles in the photos are Pickled Wild Cucumber and Pickled Pink Turnip.  Arabic Scratched Green Olives and Roasted Red Bell Pepper add a nice touch too.

     This healthy Kangaroo Kofta Kabob appetizer platter tastes as good as it looks!

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