Abu Dhabi GP 2018: Koobideh, Shirin Polo, and Fattoush

It is already the end of the season! Hard to believe. It was a great first half with proper competition between Vettel and Hamilton and the Red Bulls putting up a fight. Though Hamilton started to dominate toward the end it was fun to watch the top 6 duke it out on track and lots of drama in the mid field. Congrats to Hulk for winning the F1.5 competition as well!

My three favorite moments from the 2018 season:

  1. Max tearing through the field race after race, particularly his win in Mexico and his excellent drive in Austria.

  2. Kimi’s solid win at the U.S. GP, it didn’t hurt that we saw it LIVE!!

  3. Lewis smashing the track record at the Singapore GP, pure perfection, with the added bonus of the new coined term: “Lewis Lap”.

Three things I am looking forward to for 2019 season:

  1. All the new blood! Looking forward to seeing all thenew F1 rookies: Norris, Giovinazzi, Albon, and Russel! Also super excited to see how LeClerc and Gasly stack up to their more experienced teammates of Vettel and Verstappen.

  2. New regulations might bring the pack together a little more and create more excitement! Especially simplifying the front wing which will likely make for better following and passing opportunities.

  3. Jenson Button commentating for Sky! I’ve missed JB and look forward to seeing how he contributes to the race weekends.

What are you looking forward to?

Of course I’m also excited about continuing to find new dishes and explore more traditional foods, my Christmas wishlist is replete with cookbooks and cooking implements like tagines, maamoul molds, pasta cutters, and the like. I have expanded my spice collection and have learned a lot of new techniques this year. I never thought I would make bagels, let alone croissants. I think I’ll take some time over the winter to work on my pasta making skills!

Our last meal of the season for Abu Dhabi was a nice little feast. We grilled up some koobideh kebabs, made shirin polo, and fattoush, and my friend made a delicious dessert of basbousa.

Abu Dhabi Meal

Koobideh

Adapted from 196 Flavors

 A few saffron threads
¼ cup water
1 lb ground beef
1 onion
½  tablespoon turmeric
½  tablespoon sumac
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 roma tomatoes

1. Soak saffron in ¼ cup of boiling water, infuse for 10 minutes.

2. Grate entire onion on a box grater or in a food processor with the grater attachment, then using a dish towel or paper towel squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the grated onion.

3. Mix the ground meat with the grated onion, then add the spices, salt and pepper. Stir for 2 minutes or until fully incorporated.

4. Finish with 2 tablespoons of infused saffron water and mix well again.

5. Place in a covered container in the fridge for at least 6 hours.

6. Make 4 koobideh kebabs by pressing the meat well onto wide barbecue skewers. If you do not have traditionally wide koobideh skewers, simply form into a 8-10 inch log shape. (Standard skewers or bamboo skewers will not hold the beef and it will slip around or even slip off easily.) Optional: Pinch the meat with your fingers regularly throughout the log/skewer every inch to give it the characteristic koobideh shape.

7. Grill the skewers on a grill or grill pan over high heat. Turn them regularly to ensure even grilling for approximately 7-10 minutes (depending on the heat of your grill or pan). At the same time, grill the tomatoes until lightly charred in parts and softened.

Shirin Polo

Shirin Polo

 Adapted from Food 52 recipe by Fig & Quince

Rice
2 ½ cups Basmati rice
Water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter 
Toppings
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound carrots, julienned
½ cup barberries (soak in cold water for 5-10 minutes, rinse a few times, drain)
2 tablespoons sugar, separated
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon ground saffron, dissolve in 2 tablespoons hot water
¼ cup almonds, slivered or chopped
¼ cup pistachios, chopped

1. Wash rice with cold water, using your hands to swish it around. Repeat several times until the water runs clear. Drain.

2. In a large pot bring 2-3 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil. Gently add the rinsed rice. Bring to a gentle boil again and boil rice for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally & gently. Drain in a colander. Pour 2 to 3 cups of tepid water over the rice in the colander. Drain again.

3. In a big pot, preferably nonstick, bring 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons oil plus 1 tablespoon of butter to a boil. Then, one spatula of rice at a time, arrange rice in the pot by first covering the bottom of the pot, using a spatula to spread it, then layering the rest of the rice to taper on top in the form of a pyramid or dome. Make several wells in this rice dome with the handle of a wooden spoon. Cover and cook over medium heat until rice steams – usually around 20 minutes.

4. Once steaming, reduce heat to low, and continue to cook for another 30 minutes until rice is fully cooked. When done, turn off heat and let rice rest undisturbed in the pot for 5 minutes. (Your goal here is to both produce fluffy steamed rice and a crusty bottom referred to as tahdig.)

5. Meanwhile prepare the carrots and barberries. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add carrots and sauté over medium heat until slightly soft, around 5 minutes. Season carrots with cumin, coriander, cinnamon  and 1 tablespoon sugar. Stir to combine, then cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Wipe skillet with a paper towel, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil till very hot; reduce heat and sauté barberries with 1 tablespoon sugar on low flame, stirring frequently, for no more than a minute. Remove from pan and set aside in a separate bowl.

6. Once rice is ready to be served, place 2 spatulas of rice in a small dish and sprinkle with saffron water, using a fork to fluff the rice grains and color it with saffron water. Lightly mix the colored rice into the pot, not fully integrating so that you will still be able to see it when it is served.

7. You have two options for how to serve the rice: 

Platter inverting method: Using a butter knife run it along the edge of the pot to separate the tahdig (crisp rice) at the bottom corners of the pot. Then, using a large platter, set it over the rice cooking pot and invert the contents of the pot onto the platter in a quick flipping movement. If the tahdig does not comes with the rice just take a moment to release it in as few pieces as possible and layer it on top of the rice pile. Top with prepared carrots and barberries in between or next to the tahdig. Garnish platter with the pistachios and almonds.

 Scooping pyramid method: Alternatively, taking one spatula full of rice at a time, arrange a layer of rice on a platter and then top with a third of the carrots and barberries. Then add another layer of rice, forming a pyramid or dome with each new layer, top it again with another third of the carrots and barberries. Repeat till you've used all the rice, reserving just a little of the carrots and barberries to serve as garnish. You will then reach the tahdig, or crispy bottom. Try to separate this from the pot as gently and as in tact as possible. Top the pile of rice with the tahdig to serve. Garnish everything with remaining barberries and carrots, and the pistachios and almonds.