THE family is not all about home-cooking all the time. Milestones and calendar holidays (except for Christmas and New Year) are celebrated outside the house.
When my Aunt Tita Blitte celebrated her nth birthday this year, the family told her we were going to mark it in a special way. She protested, saying that the money would be of better use at home.
“I don’t want ‘sossy’ celebrations,” she said, using sossy, the local parlance for classy or high-end or extravagant.
“You are our home. You are our pillar of strength. You are our door to spiritual matters. You are our floor of stability,” said Peetong, the husband of my cousin Dona.
Who could resist such praises? My aunt! But we dragged her out of the house for a night out.
Off we went to a famous Persian restaurant in Cebu. And no regrets. My aunt enjoyed every morsel of the Persian victuals. She took particular interest on the kebabs and the beige-colored dips (tahini and baba ganoush) we had with our meal.
Back home, she pestered us to look for recipes so she could recreate the kebabs and the dips she liked a lot. She tasked me with the project.
Here I am writing on how to make your meals sossy with sauces.
Tahini me. The nutty-tasting tahini has a rich flavor that would make you think it took one day to make. If you have a blender, you are good to go. All you need are the following: One cup shelled sesame seeds and two to four tablespoons of olive oil. Toast seeds till golden brown. Place in a blender and grind to a paste, adding oil bit by bit till you achieve the consistency you want.
Pair with: Toast, crunchy vegetables like carrots and cucumbers and grilled meats.
Turn to baba. To make baba ganoush, have on hand tahini to taste, two eggplants, lemon juice, one large grated garlic clove and salt. Brush eggplants with oil and grill to char the skin. Peel off the skin and finely mash while adding the rest of the ingredients. The mixture will have a nice texture.
Pair with: Pita, raw vegetables and meaty dishes.
Kit and kebabsdle. This is play of words taken from the archaic idiom “kit and caboodle” (a group or collection). My aunt wanted something more simple than the recipes I found. So this is more like an interpretation from the whole group of recipes I found.
Chop up lean ground beef while mixing in grated garlic, minced onions, celery leaves to taste (optional), finger chilies to taste (optional) and minced red bell peppers. Season with salt and black pepper. Scoop a big lump of the meat and place on skewers, while forming it into a lozenge. Brush with garlic flavored olive oil. Serve kebabs with baba ganoush, leafy salad and grilled vegetables.