Ooops... I almost wrote "mice" instead of mince... of course no mice in my food, I am not called Ronald after all, am I? So this is another one of those dishes that will possibly provoke some controversy... I may not be a complete stranger to Middle Eastern cuisine, I have spent the last year slowly immersing myself into the dishes, ingredients, restaurants of the region - but at the same time, it's a really broad church and inevitably, as I get used to ingredients that don't pertain to my culinary heritage, I am bound to create some sort of fusion cuisine... authentic? Maybe not. Wrong? I don't think so. I hope you can forgive me and embrace this dish with the same, heart-warming ignorance that I have!
So I have been playing with Middle Eastern food stuff for the last 12 months - and that's BEFORE I even made the trek to the Iraqi shop in Kingston Vale! If there is one culinary prediction I have for 2010 in London, it would be that we're being invaded by Middle Eastern cuisine! Not a month goes by without another Lebanese restaurant, deli or cafe to open and the ingredients belonging to this type of kitchen also have become more widely available. The pomegranate molasses I spent months finding (and eventually got fom my Iraqi friend) is now easily obtainable from Sainsbury's. The day when they stock something because it features in one of MY recipes, not Jamie Oliver's or Delia Smith's, will be a happy day and possibly the end of the world as I know it. (not a new year's resolution, this!)
How I came up with this dish? Hhmm? Ask me something a little easier, ok? I remembered aubergine rolls of some sort and format when I trawled through a bunch of old photographs today and came across the wonderful Arabic Feast my friend Dabia laid out for us last year. I had a picture only and couldn't for the life of me remember what it was (sorry Dabia, there were just too many delicious things you made for us...) I guessed it was a combination of mince and stodge and decided to go for beef mince (rump steak) and barley couscous. A fair amount of onions and garlic (which feature in all of my recipes, desserts - mostly - excluded) and then, there comes the more exotoc bit, sour cherries and pine kernels and a generous amount of pomegranate molasses to which I have become addicted.
Not your average mince stuffing, but wonderfully fruity, the molasses are bursting with flavour, sweetening and slightly sour at the same time, you might think it a strange combination, but I have tried this on the most conservative of palates and they loved it, so you're quite safe!
Also, before I forget, there's a wonderful book that's just come out - if you enjoy to read about global food and search out the best dishes or ingredients to be had on any given continent, this might be for you. It's National Geographic's "Food Journey's of a Lifetime - 500 extraordinary places to eat around the globe", featuring articles from yours truly! It's been out for a month and already re-printing... an excellent browse, you know you want it!