Sunday, December 17, 2006

Dinner at Taha's 2

We had another great Saturday night dinner at Taha's a few weeks ago. Here one of his house staff pats out the bread, for baking in a stone "chimenera"-like oven. Its just like an Indian Tandoori oven - you reach in (smoke and ember-heat overwhelm you) and smack the flatttened dough against the walls, to be peeled off in about 4 minutes by tongs. I spent a good 45 minutes using my old "Pizza Chef" technique. In that time, I produced maybe two good ones, and it was no end of enjoyable for this humble lady, who giggled and laughed and covered her face as I slung dough everywhere. She could pat one out - from ball to evenly dispersed pancake - in about 40 seconds flat, by swishing her hands from side to side, and letting it expand evenly as the radial pull of her seasoned swishing drew it out.

Chicken wings on the grill. These were the least enjoyable item on the menu that night - and they were good!

Masgouf - a Iraqi specialty. (Visible in previous picture as well). This is a flayed carp of some native variety, seasoned and spread in little "snow-shoe"-like wire cages suspended on little contraptions on the periphery of the fire. Dee-lish! The meat flakes off like white cake.

Here 1SG Winchester and the lovely, most gracious hostess Nadia practice making their own bread.

And the "piece de resistance", shwarma kebab - made that day. Seasoned meat, with layers of mutton fat between layers of spiced meats. Lemons, fat, spices, and some local seed (spice) pod called "hulls" are in this roasting heap, and they combine for an absolutely delectable meal with our homemade bread.

Here, the local lad on the kebab shreds some for me to sample. He works at a feverish pace in front of that hot, gas-fired roaster. The genius of middle-eastern meat dishes such as this is that everything continuously marinates vertically as it renders and melts - and the "tender" is there to slice off the perfectly delectable shreds as they reach perfect roast. Un-toppable.


Kati said...

Wishing you a Merry Christmas from North Pole, Alaska!!!! Found ya via: Dirk_Star (

skeet said...

Mmmmmmmmmm! Sounds delish. almost makes me want to come visit you. Okay, that's a lie, but the food sounds great. When are you going to post your famous green bean recipe?

Happy Birthday again, and Merry Christmas to you, too! Here's hoping the next one is at home!

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

This is the stuff we don't get to see back home. Thanks for showing it.