A Mezze platter

Go for the light and healthy Mediterranean lunch on a summer afternoon 

Mezze, as everyone knows, is a platter of Mediterranean appetisers tasty, light and healthy at the same time. Itís very tempting to make a light lunch out of the mezze platter on lazy summer afternoons. What is more, contrary to popular misconception, the Arabs and the Greeks who dwell on the shores of this cosmopolitan sea arenít all champion carnivores but prefer to dine sensibly on a balanced diet that puts equal emphasis on seasonal vegetables cooked gently, yoghurt and cheeses, cereals and recognise the value of a cooking medium that is heart friendly. You may not believe that it is only extra virgin olive oil that accounts for the exceptional resistance of the people who eat this food to all kinds of heart diseases but certainly there is something in the Mediterranean cuisine that has set the cardiologists all over the world thinking.

Interestingly, most of the vegetables that are consumed in this food zone are the favourites of Indians ó tomatoes, brinjals, courgettes/zucchini etc and the seasoning is simplicity itself ó salt and pepper, parsley and a dash of lime. Fennel and garlic, spring onions too are quite common. This isnít all. The platter can be enjoyed hot or at room temperature and takes very little time to prepare. When it reaches the table, the appearance isnít very different form a well-arranged thali replete with an assortment of breads accompanied by raita and chutney.

Thanks to globalised liberalisation of Indian economy today, it is possible to buy off-the-shelf good quality olive oil, ready to eat pita or Lebanese breads, thick preset yoghurt. All that remains to be done is to grind your own hummus and baba gannoz, fry the kibbe and start drooling. If you are very health conscious you may grill or bake the kibbe. You donít have to be a purist ó in the Indian Ocean region the recipes can change according to the local palate and assume a totally shakahari avatar and can be spiced up a little.

Kibbe  and  Baba  Gannoz


For kibbeh

Daliya (boiled and drained of all water) 200gm

Potatoes (boiled, peeled and mashed) 100gm

Pine nuts 10gm

A small sprig each of fresh coriander and mint

Salt and pepper to taste

For Baba Gannoz

Brinjal (round, medium-sized) one

Dahi (thick) 100 ml

Salt and pepper to taste

Oil to fry

Mix the daliya and the potatoes together, along with salt and pepper, and shape into round balls. Flatten a little and place equal portions of pine nuts, and chopped coriander and mint. Reshape into small cones. Heat oil in a pan and deep fry the kibbe. Then drain excess oil on kitchen towels. Char-grill the brinjal over open flame. Peel, discard the stem and seeds and mash well. Season with salt and pepper and blend with dahi and mash to a smooth paste. Squeeze a little limejuice over it. Use any flat platter to have a mezze lunch of kibbe and desi baba gannoz with pita or Lebanese bread or homemade phulka (without ghee).