Kafta caught my attention while I was paging through The Arab Table, by May S. Bsisu. Kafta refers to a family of grilled, baked, or fried meat dishes across the Arab world, and in different places is made with lamb, beef, or fish, parsley or cilantro, and a range of spices. At first I thought it might be one of those veganized meat dishes that sort of strain credibility - I'm still trying to comprehend the vegan Monte Cristo sandwich, for example (though I've seen tempting photos). But then I figured that if kafta can be something different in Egypt, Syria, or Palestine, why not work on a vegan North Dakota version? I've had worse ideas.
I built my kafta with a tempeh base, using quick oats and wheat gluten for binding. Here's the ingredients, inspired by a recipe in The Arab Table:
1 8 oz. package tempeh
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and coarsley chopped
1 cup flat leaf parsley
1/3 cup quick oats
1/3 cup wheat gluten flour
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
Prep was easy - just pulsed everything in the food processor until well combined, leaving the onions, parsley, and tempeh still in coarse pieces. I added just enough vegetable stock to moisten the oats and wheat gluten, making a firm "dough." Form into walnut sized balls, like these:
A deep fryer would be ideal to fry the kafta, but I fried them in ample corn oil in my cast iron frying pan - as the top photo shows, I fried them to a nice deep golden brown. They were super crispy outside, and tender and spicy inside - here's a closeup:
The tomato sauce, by the way, is another recipe from The Arab Table. It's very simple, with sauteed garlic, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and cinnamon - a nice complement to the taste of the kafta spices. Mint garnish wrapped up the Middle East vibe.
This weekend I broke out the grill for the first time this summer - nice to cook outside instead of heating up the apartment. Plus, standing in front of the grill with a beer is one of the finer things in life, I believe. Here's before and after shots of zucchini, BBQ-rubbed tempeh (from a BBQ rub in this month's Vegetarian Times - num!), baked potatos, and a kabob with mushrooms, onion, and yellow bell pepper. As the second pic shows, I let things get a little burnt, but isn't that the whole point of grilling?
Finally, time to cool down with this avocado soup from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen - a good book to have on hand as summer heats up.