These lamb kabobs, flavored with Moroccan spices, were inspired by an interview I had with Kitty Morse, an author and cooking teacher who grew up in Casablanca.
Kabobs are one of Moroccos most popular fast foods, Morse told me. Whether in small-town souks or in the heart of Marrakesh, she said, the smoky aroma of grilled meat drifts across the squares as kabobs grill on open fires.
Morse makes a fragrant marinade for her kabobs; after theyre cooked, she sprinkles them with a pinch of salt and cumin for added zing. I use a dry rub instead to shorten the preparation time in this recipe, adapted from her book, Cooking at the Kasbah.
These kabobs can be grilled or cooked under the broiler. Theyre served in the pockets of warm pita bread and topped with a tomato salsa thats made from fresh mint a cooling contrast with the spicy kabobs.
The best cut of lamb for kabobs comes from the leg. Its not usually displayed in the meat case, so ask the butcher to cut some for you. (To save time, place your order first and do your shopping while its being filled.)
The recipe calls for sweet Hungarian paprika. If you cant find it, substitute another variety. In either case, remember that paprika loses flavor quickly; buy a new jar if yours is more than 3 months old.
• Beef or chicken can be substituted for the lamb.
• If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes first.
• Clean mushrooms by wiping them with a damp paper towel; this keeps them from absorbing too much water.
• Leave a little space between each item on the skewer so the meat will cook evenly.
• Preheat grill or broiler.
• Prepare the lamb.
• Chop onion and garlic together in a food processor.
• While lamb marinates, make the salsa.
• Cook the kabobs.
Here are the ingredients youll need.
To buy: 3/4 pound lamb cubes, 1 jar sweet Hungarian paprika, 1 jar ground cumin, 8 button mushrooms, 2 medium tomatoes, 1 small bunch scallions, 1 small bunch mint, 1 package whole-wheat pita bread and skewers.
Staples: onion, garlic, hot pepper sauce, sugar, salt and black peppercorns.
3/4 pound lamb cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon paprika (preferably sweet Hungarian)
2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Several drops hot pepper sauce
12 button mushrooms, (about 1 inch in diameter)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 whole-wheat pita breads
PREHEAT grill or broiler. Remove fat from lamb cubes. Mix onion, garlic, paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin, black pepper and hot pepper sauce in a medium bowl. Add lamb and toss to coat well. Set aside while you make the salsa. Thread skewers alternately with lamb and mushrooms. Place directly on grill grates or line a baking tray with foil and place under broiler. Cook 5 minutes, turn and cook 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
MIX remaining 1 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt together and sprinkle it over the kabobs. Place the pita bread on the grill grates or under the broiler to warm for 1 minute. Cut pita bread in half and carefully open the pockets. Slide lamb and mushrooms into the pockets and top with Moroccan salsa.
Yield: 2 servings.
Per serving: 614 calories (19 percent from fat), 13.2 g fat (3.9 g saturated, 4.4 g monounsaturated), 111 mg cholesterol, 50.7 g protein, 79.1 g carbohydrates, 11.8 g fiber, 811 mg sodium.
2 medium tomatoes, cut into small cubes
2 scallions, sliced
Leaves from 3 mint sprigs; if large tear into small pieces: 1/4 cup
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
PLACE tomatoes, scallions and mint leaves in a small bowl. Add sugar and salt pepper to taste. Toss well.
Per serving: 46 calories (8 percent from fat), 0.4 g fat (0.1 g saturated, 0.1 g monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 1.9 g protein, 10.4 g carbohydrates, 2.6 g fiber, 12 mg sodium.
Yield: 2 servings.