I received this absolutely AMAZING present through the post yesterday; it's so amazing on so many different levels. Plus, it came all the way from Kurdistan so the recipes should be pretty authentic, right?!!
Since moving to London, not only have I failed to cook properly, but I have stopped being able to 'pop' over to other people's house to eat or to taste bits of their dinner or what they were cooking. I relish the days in Hull where everyone lived so close that it was impossible to not meet- unlike here in London where it's almost impossible to meet without a prior appointment, at least a couple of weeks in advance!
Just the thought of Kurdish food reminds me of Hull- of the community that once played such a big part of my life and my past for the past few years. It's become part of me so much that even the smell of middle eastern food reminds me of Hull. Chinese smells strangely only remind me of Hong Kong and not of Hull! Weird....
Obviously I haven't had a chance to cook anything, but I've had a little flick through the book:
Dolma is one of the most key dishes that is made when guests come or only probably a couple of times a month as it takes quite a while. It always astonishes me how this is usually made on such a huge scale (big big pot), and also the amount that you end up eating! It's so good!! Everyone has their favourite part of the dish that they like; it usually contains stuffed aubergine, tomatoes, pototoes, courgettes, vine leaves, beans aswell as meat. my favourite has to be the onion. I've lost count of the the number of times that I've help to carefully spoon the stuffed vine leaves first from the top onto the large silver platter and then the larger veg and finally the rest is poured on top to make a very big dish of food. Yummmmm....
Mastaw is often served with dolma. It literally means yoghurt water. As much as I'd love to say that I like it, I don't. I usually eat and drink most things, but I still didn't quite get this. Although it's seen as a great drink- I just cannot stomach it! May be it's due to my Chinese upbringing which has a minimal amount of dairy stuff- my experience of yoghurt was mainly 'Munch Bunch' fromage frais in my lunchbox and Muller-rice (which isn't even yoghurt!)
Any good meal Kurdish cannot be served without bread! I love it all. I remember back to when I visited Kurdistan, I saw some women sitting outside making the nanitteri, which is dry and wafer thin crispy bread that can be stored in a stack for ages. When you want to eat it, all you do is to sprinkle a bit water, cover with a cloth and it becomes so soft that it's great eaten with anything.
I know that kebabs and schwarma are quite common fast food meals that a lot of people associate with middle eastern food, but I think that the Kurdish make the most amazing shifta and kubba. I'd be happy just to eat that! Shifta is like a really soft kebab- made with minced meat, onion, tomato and parsley. Shano makes really good shifte and I remember helping to make some amazing ones in Sulimaniyeh as well. Kubba is like a big rugby shaped ball of minced meat (keema) surrounded by a layer of bulgar and rice. It's absolutely delicious. Both taste great just eaten by themselves, or with a salad and bread.
So, I'm looking to returning back to Hull in a few weeks time, not for the food....but for the people that I love so much. Until then....this book will be a great reminder of the precious times spent with these people, the meals eaten together and the times spent sharing our lives together.
Thank you so much for this precious gift; it was you who introduced all this to me. It is you who is helping me to remember everyone. I think that 'nisik' (yellow soup) and chicken livers are still some of my favourite memories), as well as eggs and tuna of course!