Monday, February 11, 2013

Turkey Kefta & Baba Ghanoush

This may be the longest lag between posts on the blog, so a few updates are in order:
  1. I have now been rejected from foodgawker seven, count them, seven times.  
  2. Friday night I returned to Kuma's Corner after two-years of avoiding three-hour waits.  See the Lentil Turkey Burger post for my raving review of Kuma's, the "best burger in Chicago."  Well, I'm sorry to report that despite a much shorter one-hour wait, Kuma's has lost its luster.  They no longer serve the calamari - for reasons I couldn't get out of the waitress because she literally walked away seeing the pain in my eyes - and the burger was much more bland than I remember.  I'm not really surprised, that's how it goes in Chicago on the restaurant scene.  
  3. Since the Kuma's disappointment was made worse by the fact that I missed out on my weekly trip to Sultan's Market, tonight I made a healthier version of kefta and baba ghanoush.  Conveniently, I had ground turkey and eggplant left from last week's shopping cylce so it all came together nicely.  I am happy to report that Sultan's is still the best falafel in Chicago.
By no means should making the following middle eastern meal replace actually going to Sultan's if you live anywhere near the Chicagoland area.  It was a real challenge to replicate kefta kabobs with lean meat, because nothing really replaces the flavor of lamb.  I read that dark meat ground turkey can suffice, but I used extra lean ground turkey.  The addition of dairy, breadcrumbs, and egg kept them from drying out too much, but they weren't as rich as the real deal.  Comparisons aside, this was a very good, light dinner after a weekend of gluttonous consumption.  

 Ingredients: Turkey Kefta Kabobs (makes 6 turkey and 6 zucchini skewers):
  • 1 lb. extra lean ground turkey
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, fined chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 5-6 mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup cream or half and half
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 3 zucchini

Ingredients: Baba Ghanoush (makes about 4 cups):
  • 2 eggplants
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt (this replaces the tahini traditional to baba ghanoush)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Using a fork, poke holes evenly over the skin of the eggplant and place them directly on the oven rack to bake.  Rub the head of garlic with a little olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil, and also place directly on the rack.  Bake for about 30 minutes.

While that bakes, prepare the kefta mix by using a food processor or grater to finely chop the onion and garlic.  Add the cream to the bread crumbs and allow them to soak.  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, then skewer by either shaping the mix into meatballs or just shaping the meat around the skewer with your hand.  The low fat content will make it challenging to keep the meat from sliding off the skewer, so you can leave the skewers out of the process all together, if you prefer.  
Thickly slice the zucchini and toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Skewer those separately from the turkey.  Heat a grill pan to high and cook the skewers, turning every few minutes to cook evenly.
Remove the eggplant and garlic from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle the eggplant.  The skin should peel off easily.  Cut into large chunks and add to the food processor along with the parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, and greek yogurt.  You should be able to squeeze the caramelized garlic into the processor as well.  Blend until smooth, adding paprika, salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Tom is still talking about Sultan's Market after going there with you. Wanna ship some hummus and falafel our way???

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