Thursday, April 19, 2012

Middle Eastern Night

Sultan's Market in Chicago is quite possibly my favorite restaurant on the face of the earth. The magicians behind the counter somehow manage to keep the falafel patties superbly crisp even when they're nestled beneath a thick, creamy layer of Jerusalem salad, a hearty squirt of Sriracha, and wrapped in a cozy pita bread hug. The golden chicken shawarma is perfectly spiced, the kefta kebabs succulent, served with zesty onions and juicy tomatoes, and don't even get me started on the baked egg and cheese pie. There have been days I would have gladly traded bodily appendages for a piece of that eggy, cheesy goodness. All that and dinner for two is almost always under twenty bucks.

At home, hummus is a mainstay in the fridge. Bean and Roo like to dip their baby carrots. Looly is underwhelmed by hummus, but she does love a good hunk of feta cheese. I make falafel from time to time but it's usually from a box and the littles rarely try more than a crumble. Even pita is hit or miss with them. Basically, they are not that into Middle Eastern food, which is a complete and utter calamity.

So, in an effort to open the eyes and the mouths of the young to this glorious cuisine, I mandated Middle Eastern Night. The menu was varied but straightforward featuring a few "safe" foods alongside some newer flavors. Pita bread, hummus, garbanzo beans, sliced cucumbers, black olives (Looly's suggestion), and feta cheese are all relatively familiar fare for our crew. Falafel, tabbouleh salad, and Cat Cora's Middle Eastern Turkey Links, a recipe I found in a recent Parenting Magazine, were the floaters for the night.

Looly was anxious to help crumble bread for the turkey links, though not quite as enthusiastic about sampling the finished product.
crumbling bread for the turkey links

Overall the night went much as expected. The hummus and garbanzo beans were a hit with bean-loving Bean and Roo, while Looly preferred her plain pita bread above all else. Cucumbers, feta, and black olives were tolerated by all. The turkey links proved a bit spicy for the kids' delicate palates, but Mufasa was happy to take their extras. Bean and Looly sort of liked the zingy tabbouleh, but it made Roo gag. And the falafel? The best I could summon from the crowd was a cumulative "meh". What is wrong with these people?!

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