The Mediterranean way of cooking is to use simple, natural ingredients grown (or raised) close to where the cook lives. And in the Druze village communities, traditional recipes – the ones passed down intact from mother to daughter, from one neighbor to another, over centuries – are cooked the same way each time.
You won’t see fusion cooking or dishes jazzed up to suit modern trends. The families would simply refuse to eat them. That’s not how they remember their mother’s food. Memories preserve culture, so we’re grateful for those stubborn husbands and kids who resist innovative cooking. Original recipes would get lost otherwise.
If you’re looking for something unique, you might consider cooking sinyah: It’s rich but not cloying, and almost a complete meal by itself. Just make a simple rice, mix up a leafy salad, and you’re done. This traditional dish borrowed from the Druze might become a welcome innovation on your own menu.
- 2 lbs ground lamb, beef, turkey or chicken, coarsely ground
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion, chopped fine or grated into the meat
- 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
- ½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped fine
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the tahini
- 2 cups unprocessed tahini paste straight from the jar, preferably whole-grain
- 1 cup cold water (it's important that it be cold)
- 1 large clove garlic
- ½ tsp salt
- Juice of 2 lemons
For the vegetables
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 bell pepper, any color, sliced
- 1 large tomato, sliced
- 1 lemon, sliced thinly
- Mix all the kebab ingredients. Cover and put in refrigerator to mellow for half an hour at least.
- Prepare the tahini. (Do not use store-bought, ready-to-eat tahini. It will separate in cooking.) Mix all the ingredients, stirring with a whisk. The mixture might be lumpy at first. Don’t worry; keep stirring. If it is too thick, add a little more cold water. The consistency should be thin. It will thicken with cooking.
- Correct taste. It should be lemony.
- Preheat oven to 350˚ F (180˚ C).
- Roll kebabs into 2″ balls. Sauté, in batches, in olive oil until browned on both sides but not cooked through. Remove to a platter.
- Add the onion and bell pepper to the hot oil used for frying the kebabs. Fry 2-3 minutes until onion just starts to change color.
- Place kebabs on a clean frying pan (or oven tray). Cover with fried onion and bell pepper slices. Scatter sliced tomato and lemon over all.
- Pour tahini over the kebabs and jostle the pan a little so it seeps between the kebabs and spreads evenly. Place the frying pan over medium heat or oven tray in oven.
- Cook for 5 minutes, until the tahini thickens and changes color from white to light brown. Look for the golden-tinged edges.
- Serve with plenty of pita to mop up the delicious sauce.