In Dublin MikeyFox & I went to a lovely Lebanese restaurant called The Cedar Tree, where we had a delicious mezze followed by chickpea & aubergine stew (om nom nom!). As we ambled back to our hotel (via a few pubs) MikeyFox proclaimed Lebanese food to be The Bestest & we should eat it more often. Having spent the last 4 years making Imam Biyaldi, Baba Ganouj & Imjaddarra, not to mention stuffing our fridge with halva, Beyaz Peynir (a salty white cheese made from sheeps milk) & Labneh, it was all I could do not to just pitch him into the Liffey & be done with it all!
But I was full of various pureed legumes & spinach pastries (and Messrs Maguires fine porter), so not especially inclined towards murderings. Lucky MikeyFox.
This recipe is based on Havuc (woooah, have-a-banana!) Koftesi, a Turkish recipe for carrot rolls. If the name sounds familiar, it's because of kofte, those balls or patties of minced beef or lamb with spices & onions. These little treats are made with pumpkin instead, making them Balkabagi Koftesi. They are herby, sweet & delicious as a snack or part of a mezze.
Half a medium sized pumpkin, peeled, deseeded & roasted (a butternut squash treated in the same way will also work well)
2 slices of bread, rubbed into crumbs
6 dried apricots, finely chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
2 tbs pine nuts, bashed in a pestle & mortar
2 cloves garlic, treated with similar cruelty in a pestle & mortar
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbs each of dill, parsley & mint, finely chopped
salt & pepper
Plain flour for coating
Mash the pumpkin in a large bowl with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients & mix thoroughly. If there is any liquid in the mixture, add more breadcrumbs (bearing in mind that it should still be moist & sticky, not dry & doughy). Sprinkle a plate with plain flour. Scoop a heaped teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture into your hand & mould into an oblong. Toss in the flour & put to one side while you make the rest of them.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan & place the little kofte in it, turning regularly until they brown on all sides (you can bake them in the oven at 180c for 30 minutes, turning halfway through if you prefer).
Serve hot or cold. They go really well with yoghurt with a little lemon juice, a clove of garlic & a pinch of salt & pepper added, or with some crumbled feta or beyaz peynir
Balkabagi Kofkesi (Pumpkin rolls) with some dolmades. Om nom nom!