With just a few ingredients from the eastern side of the sea, you can give familiar dishes––even burgers––an exotic spin
Chef Philip Busacco of the Turkish-inspired Troya, on San Francisco’s Fillmore Street, uses halloumi as a canvas for salad,
swapping in other fruit molasses and fruits.
Recipe: Arugula and Halloumi Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing
Ingredients from several dishes at Troya in San Francisco come together to inspire this easy yet exotic meal.
Recipe: Coriander and Sumac Roast Chicken with Chickpeas and Hazelnuts
Arabic spices meet the Persian touch of pistachios in the kefta (skewered ground meat) at Mamnoon in Seattle, where the food combines the owners’ Syrian, Lebanese, and Persian heritage
with chef Garrett Melkonian’s Armenian background. We opted for an easier version: burgers.
Recipe: Pistachio, Lamb, and Beef Burgers
At Saffron in Walla Walla, Washington, Chris Ainsworth fills tiny Turkish dumplings called manti with Dungeness crab and thick
yogurt. We shamelessly took the easy route, with store-bought pasta, and used yogurt as a sauce. But we kept the touch of
saffron and fruity Aleppo pepper.
Recipe: Dungeness Crab and Garlicky Yogurt Pasta
This brilliant combo of sweet squash with tangy yogurt, fruity syrup, toasted spices, and browned butter comes from Matthew
Dillon, chef of Sitka & Spruce and the new Bar Sajor in Seattle.
Recipe: Kabocha Squash with Dukkah and Cider Molasses
Here are 10 of the tastiest, most versatile ingredients from the eastern Mediterranean—and easy ways to work them into your
Think yogurt is just sweetened snack cups? The plain full-fat stuff has a beautiful tang and creaminess, and is a revelation as an ingredient.
Get: At any grocery store.
Try: Add a little salt and mint for a sauce for vegetables or grilled meat. Drain so it’s thick and satiny, and you’ve got labneh (make your own, below, or buy at Middle Eastern mar-kets). Mix with olive oil and garlic and toss with pasta, or serve with bread for dunking.
From chef Chris Ainsworth
Makes: 3 cups | Time: 5 min., plus 7 hours to drain
Line a strainer with cheesecloth and spoon in 32 oz. plain whole-milk Greek yogurt. Set over a deep bowl, cover, and chill 7 to 24 hours to drain. Keeps, chilled, up to 1 week.
A fruity, mildly hot crushed chile with a hint of smokiness. Grown in Syria and Turkey, it’s reminiscent of Mexican ancho
chile (a good sub).
Get: At gourmet grocery stores, or buy at worldspice.com
Try: Toss with seafood, ground meat, even fruit salad.
A ground red berry (not the poisonous stuff) with a zingy lemony flavor.
Get: In your store’s spice aisle, or at worldspice.com
Try: Sprinkle over roast lamb or chicken, toss in a salad with pita chips, or scatter on hummus.
“Spices” in Arabic, this blend of sweet spices, pepper, cumin, and coriander is popular from Syria to Palestine; the Turkish
version throws in mint.
Get: Look in your store’s spice aisle for Spicely brand, or go to worldspice.com
Try: Mix into meat for burgers or meat loaf, rub on shrimp for the grill, or stir into lentils and pilafs.
Just pomegranate juice boiled down to create a vibrant, sweet-tangy syrup.
Get: In the international aisle at grocery stores, or at savoryspiceshop.com
Try: Drizzle over roasted vegetables or salty cheese such as feta, or use as a last-minute glaze for grilled lamb chops or steak.
A salty cheese with a squeaky texture, made from sheep’s and goat’s milk.
Get: At well-stocked grocery stores.
Try: Drizzle chunks with olive oil for an appetizer, pan-brown slices for salads, or grill cubes for kebabs (it keeps its shape when heated).
An Egyptian blend of toasted seeds, nuts, and spices, popular in Turkey as well.
Get: Look in your store’s spice aisle, or go to worldspice.com—better yet, make your own (below).
Try: Sprinkle over olive oil for a totally addictive bread dunk, toss into green salad with orange slices, or scatter generously over cooked squash or cauliflower.
From chef Matthew Dillon
Makes: 1 cup | Time: 25 min.
Toast 6 tbsp. sesame seeds in a frying pan over medium-low heat until golden, 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl. Toast 1/4 cup coriander seeds and 1 tbsp. cumin seeds in pan until cumin is a shade darker, 2 to 3 minutes; pour into bowl. Let cool. In a spice grinder or mortar, coarsely grind seeds in batches with 1/4 cup roasted, salted pistachios, 2 tbsp. roasted hazelnuts, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/8 tsp. peppercorns. Keeps 1 month.
An intense, concentrated version of apple juice, made like pomegranate molasses.
Get: Not readily available, but super easy to make (below).
Try: Use the same ways as pomegranate molasses.
Recipe: Cider molasses
From chef Matthew Dillon
Makes: 1 cup | Time: 55 min.
Boil 1/2 gallon unfiltered apple cider in a large pot for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil, stirring often, until reduced to1 cup, 5 to 10 minutes (watch closely); it will thicken as it cools. Keeps, chilled, up to 1 month; bring to room temperature to use.
A crushed Turkish chile similar to Aleppo in fruitiness and heat, but layered with a rich, earthy, tobacco flavor.
Get: Hard to find, but worth it; buy at worldspice.com , or substitute ground ancho chile.
Try: Use the same ways as Aleppo pepper.
Instead of the fresh herb, try dried for its deeper, more intense flavor.
Get: In your supermarket spice aisle, or open a bag of peppermint tea.
Try: Mix with ground meat for kebabs, blend with pomegranate molasses in a vinaigrette, or combine with toasted sesame and sumac for a table seasoning.