Lamb or beef kebab, grilled on a simple charcoal grill in the open air has been a long time favorite for Israelis celebrating their Independence Day. While these chopped or ground meat patties are enjoyed year round mainly in Arab or Mizrahi restaurants, when Independence Day arrives, Israeli macho men feel a need to show their own skills with fire. They light it, fan with piece of cardboard to keep it going, and char their kebabs while their female counterparts are busy spreading a nice array of salads, dips and pita bread to accompany the kebabs. I highly recommend you try it at home any time, and especially this week, for Independence Day.
Lamb and roasted eggplant kebab over baba ganoush
Yields 18 kebabs
3 Italian eggplants
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
2 lb. ground lamb, preferably leg, including some of the fat
1/2 onion, grated and drained
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped (or to taste)
3 oz. raw tahini
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tomato, chopped
Olive oil to drizzle
1. Roast the eggplants either in a 450 degrees oven for half an hour, or over open flame until it is soft and show no resistance when you press it with your finger. Remove the skin, put in a colander and sprinkle with kosher salt. Let sit for one hour, then chop the eggplants and set aside.
2. To prepare the kebabs, mix the lamb, onion, parsley, jalapeno and 1/2 cup of the chopped eggplant. Form 18 kebabs, put on a tray, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for two hours and up to overnight.
3. To make the baba ganoush mix tahini, water and lemon juice, then add the rest of the chopped eggplant and mix. Add salt and lemon juice to taste. Spread on a serving plate.
4. Grill the kebabs on high heat on either charcoal or gas grill, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve over the baba ganoush, sprinkled with chopped tomato and drizzled with olive oil.
Beef and date molasses kebab on cinnamon sticks
Date molasses is available in Middle Eastern and some kosher markets.
Yields about 18 kebabs
2 lbs. ground beef chuck
3 tablespoons date molasses
2 oz. pine nuts, ground in a food processor
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground hot pepper (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
18 cinnamon sticks (optional)
For the glaze:
1/4 cup date molasses
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1. Mix all the ingredients except the cinnamon sticks and knead with your hands. Form kebabs around the cinnamon sticks (if not using the cinnamon sticks, simply form into patties. Put on a tray, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 2 hours, and up to overnight.
2. Mix the glaze ingredients and set aside.
3. Brush the kebabs with glaze on both sides and grill on charcoal or gas grill, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.
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