Thursday, June 04, 2009

CHATTER 21 A Sephardic Feast

There are two main cultural branches of the Jewish people - Ashkenazim, whose origins lie mainly in Europe and Russia, and Sephardi which strictly refers to those Jews whose ancestors lived on the Iberian Peninsula. They have different styles of cooking. The Askenazi lived in a cold world, a world of chicken fat, onion and garlic, cabbage, carrots and potatoes and fresh water fish. The Sephardi lived in a warm world of peppers and aubergine, courgettes and tomatoes, rice and cracked wheat, saltwater fish and olive oil.
Greg Malouf, renowned for prize winning Middle Eastern travel cookbooks, iconic Melbourne restaurant MoMo's and for the introduction of Middle East meets West fusion food, cooked up a sumptous Sephardic feast fcor several hundred people at a fund raising dinner. Served on very large tables decorated with a Middle Eastern theme

the meal began with a Mezze Entree of silk hummus, tomato, leek and cumin relish, smoky baba ganoush

and jou jou bread which wa on the tables before the guests arrived.

Either stuffed into the bread or eaten separately each mezze was mouth watering. They lasted about three minutes. Next came an atlantic salmon, tarator style.

Cooked for 15 minutes at 80 degrees the fish was lightly but perfectly cooked. a layer of tehina was then covered with parsley, walnut, a touch of corianderand chilli to produce a superb second entree. The second course was a chickpea and lentil soup with chicken threads.

A common dish but again well spiced and a joy to the palate. My waiter Walid

was constantly at hand to serve wine and fold serviettes! This was followed by the main course designed for sharing except for the individual serves of lamb tagine cooked in parchment

with dates and preserved lemon, potato, onion and other vegetables.

It was accompanied by a colourful baby cos salad with purple and white whitlof and pomegranite dressing

and a jewelled couscous with pomegranite, currants and pistachio nuts.

None of these dishes are paricularly difficult to prepare but they were distinguished by great flavour and excellent balance. Dessert of thousand layer apple cake with apple and cinnamon torte followed by walnut baklava
was very sweet and rich followed by mint tea or Turkish coffee.
All in all an outstanding meal. Many of the dishes are available at MoMo's but be aware reservations are essential.

1 comment:

kitchensink said...

That feast sounds divine! But Sandra, shouldn't you be working on your final essay?