Persian Persuasion & Lebanese Love

Today I hosted an ethnic food tour for my group. This month we focused on Persian cuisine and visited a Lebanese market. I think I’ve found my new fave restaurant, Noon o Kabab. It was a fabulous lunch of Hummus, Baba Ghannouj, Kash-Ke-Bademjan, Caspian Eggplant, Joujeh Koubideh, Joujeh Kabab and Koubideh (descriptions follow).

Unfortunately my camera’s battery died shortly after taking pics of some of our appetizers, however here’s what I was able to take pictures of… (I’m definitely going back there and will try to get more pics to add here!)

Fresh Feta Cheese & Radish Plate
Blended chick peas, Tahini (sesame seed oil),
garlic and spices topped with lemon juice.

Mix of eggplant, mint and onion with Kashk (aged dried yogurt),
topped with fried onions & mint.

Baba Ghannouj
Charbroiled eggplant, tahini sauce, fresh garlic, and fresh parsley

Caspian Eggplant
Mix of sweet eggplant, tomato, onion and garlic
topped with moosir (Fine Persian Shallot Mix with yogurt).

Fresh ground beef, prepared daily with Persian seasonings
carefully put on skewers, cooked on open fire

Joujeh Kabab
Sskewers of deliciously marinated and seasoned chicken breast

Joujeh Koubideh
Skewers of marinated & seasoned ground chicken

After lunch, we walked across the street to Al-Khayameih, a Lebanese market complete with a bakery, butcher shop, countless aisles of middle eastern foodstuff and even a section dedicated to flavored tobbaccos and hookahs!

From Al-Khayameih, I purchased some sweet walnut baklava… and it was enough for me to return again (perhaps after another lunch at Noon o Kabab! I’d love to also return so I can take pictures of all the wonderful offerings the store has. It really is a great grocery find in such a diverse neighborhood of Albany Park in Chicago!

Mediterranean Magic, My Love…

It’s a blusterous day here in Chicago ~ so bad that my office closed early! When I got home from work, my husband surprised me with Pre-Valentine’s Day dinner plans. We’re die hard Chicagoans and this weather didn’t stop us from battling the wind and snow to get our destination… the Mediterranean.

Sinbad’s Grill specializes in Eastern Mediterranean cuisine which includes foods from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Israel and Morocco (which is really categorized as North African.)
This type of cuisine is prepared in a really mild, fresh and healthy way. Interestingly enough, this is where wheat and barley was originally cultivated, along with chickpeas and fava beans. As for meats, goat and lamb are staples. Some of these countries also use tahini (a thick sesame seed paste) and yogurt.
Common preparation techniques include baking and slow cooking in ovens, as well as slow cooking in liquid. The flavors include fresh parsley, dill, mint and especially cinnamon. Two flavor principles are common: the combination of tomato sauce and cinnamon (usually with lemon and dill), and a mix of lemon and parsley (enhanced with garlic and mint).
Tonight we started off with a common appetizer of fresh, warm pita bread and marinated black olives.
My husband also ordered a lentil soup, which was smooth and creamy.
For our entrees, my husband ordered a combination of a lamb kabob and chicken shawarma. The lamb kabob is a skewer of charbroiled seasoned ground lamb mixed with onions, parsley, herbs and spices. The chicken shawarma is thin slices of seasoned and marinated chicken breast that’s been grilled. Both of these were served on top of a bed of basmati rice, grilled vegetables and tahini sauce.

I ordered the couscous plate, which included tender lamb coated with Moroccan spices. It was simmered in a tomato sauce and cooked with zucchini, carrots and chickpeas. This lamb stew was served over a bed of couscous.

Everything was delicious – the place was romantic because it had it all to ourselves and it ended sweetly with walnut baklava that we took home.
Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone and
here’s wishing you the gift of love to share!