Middle Eastern Mezze
September 06th 2016
Small plate dining has been in growing demand for some time now - and there is no doubt more restaurateurs are catching on to the trend.
Middle Eastern Mezze is one of the eight flavour trends McCormick have identified as being on the rise as part of its Flavour Forecast 2015. These distinctive dips and spreads, packed with zesty herbs and seasonings, offer an approachable and delicious introduction to a vibrant global cuisine.
Mezze is often served to accompany alcoholic beverages in Middle Eastern cuisine - or at the start of large meals - and could be ideal for those who are looking to offer their clients something a little different. Given that it is such a broad term, there is a lot of scope for chefs to be highly creative when it comes to what they serve up.
Hummus is just one example of a popular dish that can be included in a mezze platter. It is prepared by blending chickpeas with tahini paste and lemon juice - as well as any herb or spice flavourings the caterer wishes to add to give the dish their own unique flourish. Paprika, parsley and olive oil are good examples, while garlic and salt can also be added to taste.
A chilli and herb dip is another strong option, and this can be used as either a dip or a spread for sandwiches. With this in mind, it could be worth offering restaurant guests some pita bread, so they can make their own small sandwiches with any combination of mezze offerings, should they choose to do so.
Red or green chillies can be used for the dip - but the best results are often created from a combination of both mild and hot peppers, to ensure the final result is not too fiery. Cumin, cardamom, coriander, parsley and garlic can be blended with the peppers - and some olive oil - to create a lightly textured paste with subtly nuanced flavours.
Another popular feature of contemporary mezzes, eggplant can be prepared in a variety of ways. A grilled dip is one of the most popular options - and various versions of this dish are referred to by different names, depending on the country of origin.
Babaghanoush is one of the more common names for it in salad form, while it is typically referred to as mutabbal in Syria. Chargrilling or barbecuing the eggplant is an effective means of ensuring the vegetable is given a smoky flavour. It is also well worth putting the effort in to mash the eggplants by hand, as it will give the dish a richer texture than they would get if the ingredients were blended in a food processor.