Star Cooking: Killer Spiced Kebabs

I cooked up Aarti's street food-worthy winning dish from the last episode while I waited it out for Sunday night.
By: Liz Gray
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Aarti's Lamb Kebobs

The sizzle of the finalists' lunch trucks dishes in the preview for Sunday's Star episode made me hungry for street food, (alas, no Smell-O-Vision) so I cooked up Aarti's street food-inspired winning dish from the last episode while I waited it out for Sunday night. Her take on Jonathan Waxman's favorite dish -- lamb and potatoes -- had the "Obi-Wan Kenobi" of the food world singing her praises, so I figured that the Ground Lamb Kebabs with Pomegranate Glaze, Bengali-Spiced Potatoes and Cucumber Raita would be a sure-fire hit at my dinner table.

The cucumber raita was simple, crisp and refreshing with just five ingredients: cucumber, mint, Greek yogurt, salt and pepper. Aarti used Persian cucumbers, which are small and seedless, but I used some small cucumbers I had on hand. The salad was the perfect foil for the spicy potatoes and kebabs.

Star-Cooking-Week-3-Cucumber-Salad

Aarti packed lots of flavor into the lamb kebabs by mixing fresh parsley and mint, chopped shallot, lemon zest and garlic into the ground lamb.  She also used a surprise ingredient: baking soda.  I had never used baking soda in meat, but adding it tenderized the kebabs and created a smooth, silky texture.

The Kebabs, Waiting For The Grill

Aarti impressed Bobby by making her own pomegranate molasses for the kebab glaze, but Bobby Flay wasn't in my kitchen, so I used some I had in the cabinet.  I found it at a Middle Eastern market and (when I'm not glazing lamb kebobs) love to use it as a sweet-tart topping  for Greek yogurt.

Star-Cooking-Week-4-Pomegranate-Sauce-Resized

The potatoes were the sleeper hit of the recipe.  Toasting the spices in oil brings out their flavor and and gives off an incredible aroma -- when I added the spices, my boyfriend wandered into the kitchen to see what smelled so good. (Aarti used a Bengali five-spice blend, but the technique would work with your favorite Indian spice blend.) Sauteing the onions in the spices adds even more flavor, and cooking the mashed potatoes in a single layer gives the potatoes a great mix of crunchy/creamy textures.  I'll definitely be making these again!

Cooking the Potatoes

My finished dish didn't look quite as nice as Aarti's, but it was certainly an impressive weeknight meal and a great change from my usual fare. Here's what my finished plate looked like:

Star-Cooking-Week-4-Finished-Plate-2

Whose food-truck fare do you think we'll be cooking up next week? Watch the next episode of The Next Food Network Star to see who's cooking up winners...and who's going home.

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