This time, "Cuisine of the World" features Persian cuisine. We visited the Persian (Iranian) restaurant, "Zakuro," with Naoki Izumi, who was posted in Tehran for 3 years for Marubeni, and Mrs. Izumi, and found out how to make "Kabab Koobideh," using a mixture of lamb and beef mince, at home.
Mr. Izumi spent 3 years posted in Iran for Marubeni, while his family stayed in Japan. When asked if he had any trouble in terms of food, he says "I mainly cooked for myself, but there was plenty of meat, vegetables and fruit available, so I did not have any problem at all." He says he also used to often visit a kabab store (selling lamb kababs on skewers) and restaurants in town.
Mr. Izumi, who was learning Persian language in his free time, became good friends with his Persian teacher and his family, and this led to him getting to know about Persian culture in far greater depth. "The landlord of the apartment block where I was living was also really kind, and I ended up going backwards and forwards visiting both of their families quite frequently. In terms of my private interactions with Iranian people, you could say that I was luckier than the people around me," he says.
Mrs. Izumi also brought their son and daughter with her to stay in Iran for about two weeks in the summer vacation. "My husband's Persian language teacher took us all to visit his holiday home in the suburbs. He was very kind to us." Their daughter also became a fan of Iran and fell in love with the country, saying, "I want to get married to a Persian man and go and live there!"
"When we first told friends we were going to Tehran, their reaction was ‘Really? Is it safe?' and they were worried about us, but actually it was very peaceful and safe there. There were lots of women out and about, even in the evenings," says Mrs. Izumi. Her husband agrees, "One gets the impression that the position of men is stronger than that of women over there, but in fact, it was the opposite. In the evenings, the Persian men would get phone calls from their wives telling them to come home quickly"–he laughs–"After all, it is the women who support households everywhere," he says.
The everyday, natural face of Iran that the Izumis told us about seems to be a lively country where wonderful people live.
|Mixed lamb and beef mince||1,000g|
Mix together the lamb and beef mince (the proportion of each can be adjusted according to your preferences). Add the chopped onions and the seasoning and mix all the ingredients together so that they are well mixed. Continue to knead them for 10 to 15 minutes so that the texture becomes sticky.
Once it is well mixed, take an appropriate amount in your hand, and put it onto a broad, flat, metal skewer. It is best if the skewer is made of metal. (Skewers made of materials other than metal may catch fire and can be dangerous, so their use should be avoided. Metal skewers are available for purchase at the cooperating restaurant in this feature, "Zakuro").
Spread out the meat along the skewer. If the meat is loose, it may fall off the skewer so take care to ensure it is well attached. (See the Chef's Tips below for a hint as to what to do when the meat is loose).
Press the meat down with your fingers to finish the shape. A shape like Japanese "tsukune" chicken meatballs (slender barrel shape) is also fine.
After finishing the shape, grill the meat. When making these in a home kitchen, it is possible to use the fish grill instead. The cooking time is 5 to 7 minutes. They are also great for eating outside at a barbeque. When grilled over a coal flame, an even better flavor will be produced.
A "Kabab Koobideh" that is ready to eat. It tastes good with rice and is also delicious wrapped in naan bread with grilled tomatoes.
* The main thing is to ensure that the meat is well mixed together. Knead it until it starts to become sticky.
* If the meat becomes too firm, add minced chicken thigh meat, and if the meat becomes too loose and soft, add minced chicken breast meat, to adjust the texture.
* For people who do not like the smell of meat, we recommend that you grate a small amount of garlic and mix it in.
* If the flavor seems to need something else to finish it off, sometimes it helps to add a little bit of consommé to make it better. Try various ways of making these. They will get better every time!
In Iran, the basic principle of food is "eating food that you know exactly what it is made from." Therefore, home cooking is thought of as important and considered to be the best, and eating out is not necessarily seen as desirable. However, "kababs" alone are an exception to the rule, and not only do people eat them when they are out, but it is also not considered rude to share "kababs" which you bought in a shop with guests. "Kababs" are almost always served at parties such as weddings. Moreover, for some reason, it is usually men who make them. People bring "kababs" that the men have prepared with them when they go on a picnic, and they grill them outside, and eat them while chatting and having fun. You see this sort of scene a lot. Nobody really considers whether or not they like "kababs." They are a special kind of food, above all that.
From: “Shareholder’s guide Marubeni,” Vol.98 (published in June 2005)