Recently I was watching the documentary on Netflix by Michael Solomonov (acclaimed Zahav chef) titled "In Search of Israeli Cuisine." The documentary features Solomonov traveling Israel, meeting with Israeli restauranteurs and food critics in search of an answer to the question "is there a real Israeli cuisine?" If you ask me the question is, yes. If pizza and pasta have become "American food," than why isn't Shawarma and Falafel Israeli food? Furthermore, what else would call something as inherently Israeli as the Sabich sandwich? But then again, no one is asking me.
If you know me, this documentary spoke to me for very obvious reasons. I inhaled it the way Carrie Bradshaw inhales Vogue and found myself taking notes in the notes app on my iPhone. Have I mentioned recently how weird I am? Moving on..
One of the places he visited, and I apologize for not knowing the name, was serving kebabs on cinnamon sticks. If you follow me on instagram or you've seen any of my meat recipes, you know I'm a big fan of cinnamon in my meat and I knew immediately this was something I had to put to the test. Spoiler alert: great success.
(Side note a bird just flew into my window. Total non-sequitur but I'm home alone and felt like someone should know)
If you haven't had cinnamon in your meat you might think I sound insane but the truth is that cinnamon isn't inherently sweet. As Americans, we tend to pair cinnamon with things like vanilla, sugar and flour, bringing to light the sweetness in cinnamon. But paired with ingredients like cumin, allspice and lamb, an entirely new flavor palette arises. Now go on, and take yourself outside your comfort zone. And as we say in Israel, Be'teavon!
Makes 12-15 kebabs
1 pound ground lamb
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon hawaij seasoning
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 handful Italian parsley
juice of half a lemon
about 12-15 cinnamon sticks.
1. Place the lamb into a large bowl.
2. In a small bowl combine the cumin, cinnamon, hawaij and allspice to form a spice mixture. Pour it over the lamb and use your hands to incorporate it until the lamb is evenly coated in the spice mixture.
3. Chop the parsley and add to the lamb mixture along with the lemon juice. Use your hands to mix until just combined.
4. Form the kebab: place a handful of the lamb mix into your hand and flatten it into your palm. Place the cinnamon stick in the center and fold the lamb over the cinnamon stick. Use your hands to form it into an oval shape. Pinch the lamb around the cinnamon stick at the base of the kebab to seal it shut.
5. Place the formed kebabs onto a cold cast iron grill pan or other heavy-bottomed pan. The pan should not be oiled. Turn the heat to medium and allow the fat to render from the lamb. This should take about one minute. The fat has rendered when you can see the grease bubbling on the pan. At that point raise the heat to medium high and cook the kebabs until fully cooked. You should cook the kebabs on all 4 sides, about 2-3 minutes each side.