Middle Eastern Halloumi Kebabs with Fragrant Yellow Rice & Tahini Dressing
Halloumi is a firm cheese made from a mixture of goats and sheep’s milk that originates from Cyprus, it does not melt when cooked like regular cheese and it has a great almost “meaty” flavor which makes it perfect for grilling. In this recipe the halloumi is marinated much like you would do with meat before grilling which helps the flavors to penetrate the cheese. Look out for halloumi at larger supermarkets or Middle Eastern & Arabic grocery stores
Yield (serves): 6
Prep time: 15 minutes (plus one hour marinating time)
Cooking time: 10 minutes
1 pound (450 g) Halloumi cheese
3 Red peppers
2 green peppers
2 Large zucchini/courgettes
¾ cup (200 ml) Natural/plain yogurt
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Tablespoons cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic
½ red chill
½ bunch fresh mint
Juice from one lemon
Seasoning to taste
For the tahini dressing
1/3 cup (80 g) well-stirred tahini (Middle Eastern sesame paste)
1/3 cup (80 ml) water
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
½ tablespoons sugar
For the rice
1 cup (200 g) White rice
1 small onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro/coriander
1. Cut the halloumi cheese into 1 inch cubes and place into a large mixing bowl
2. Slice the peppers and courgettes/zucchini into similar sized pieces and add to the bowl.
3. Grind all of the spices in a pestle and mortar and add to the mixing bowl along with the yogurt, lemon juice and seasoning.
4. Leave the halloumi and vegetables to marinate for 1 hour
5. To make the tahini sauce mix all of the ingredients together, season well and place into the refrigerator to chill
6. Cook the kebabs on a hot barbecue for approximately 10 minutes turning occasionally until golden brown and all of the vegetables are cooked through. Alternatively grill/broil using a conventional oven for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown
7. Serve the kebabs over the rice with a generous serving of the tahini sauce.
For the rice
1. Add 2 cups/480 ml of cold water to the rice and cook on a medium heat for approximately 10 to 15 minutes until almost cooked through but making sure it still has a slight bite, remove from the heat and drain well under cold running water to stop the cooking process.
2. Meanwhile cook the diced onion and garlic in a large frying pan on a low heat in a little olive oil until tender, add the turmeric, mustard seeds, and seasoning. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes further to release all of the flavors.
3. Add the cooled rice to the frying pan and mix well to incorporate all of the spices, heat the rice for 5 to 10 minutes making sure to stir constantly. Add the chopped cilantro just before serving, season well and serve alongside the skewers.
For best results always use authentic tahini paste for the tahini dressing, there is no substitute for this delicious ingredient
For a non vegetarian alternative you could replace the halloumi cheese with diced chicken breasts or lean diced lamb.
Try this classic wine: A fantastic and exotic white wine from Santorini Island (Greece) called Assyrtiko, it is a dry wine with lovely mineral tones which make it ideal for this exotic dish
Try these new world wines: Sauvignon Blanc from Leyda Valley which is the latest spot founded in the coolest areas in Chile or a dry wine from New Zealand such as a Pinot Gris