Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tempeh Kafta Balls, grilling time, and raw soup

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
vegetable broth

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.


Sal said...

ooh it all looks good, especially the grilled stuff. yum.

Mary Catherine said...

You're quite the inspiration, Mike. Came across your blog while searching for vegan pupusas as I've a big bag of masa left after trying my hand at tamales. Your pictures and descriptions make we want to do my best. Will be grilling out this afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Whoa - that looks good. Reminds me of a're really creative with your food.

Yea like the person said before're quite the inspiration. Well done. You get the blue ribbon:D

Hope all is well!

Bianca said...

Fried tempeh balls?! Delicious! The almost sound like falafel but better. And I'll have to make that avocado soup for my next raw day. It sounds and looks tasty!

Standing in front of a grill with a beer is truly one of the finer things in life. Unfortunately, I'm grill-less (kinda...I have one, but it's old and rusty and I'm not counting it as real).

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

Thanks for reminding me of Ani's Raw Food book. I need to put myself on some kind of cookbook challenge to put my books to better use.

Clotilde M. said...

The Tempeh Kafta Balls look very good. Thanks for sharing.

Lacey said...

great blog! i think you would like

Sam said...

I am now your loyal follower. One of these days, come and see me at I'd be honored to have you as a visitor/friend or best of all, follower. Keri (a.k.a. Sam)

Viagra Online said...

It was a great recipe and looks so simple to make it... but I can't find the black pepper! Where I can find it ? does it easy to find in Afghanistan? Thanks for share the recipe but isn't a great idea for us, because we don't have black pepper!