Star Cooking: Killer Spiced Kebabs

by in Food Network Star, Recipes, July 9, 2010
Aarti's Lamb Kebobs
Aarti Sequeira's Ground Lamb Kebabs, Bengali-Spiced Potatoes and Persian Cucumber Raita

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.

Aarti's Cucumber Raita

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
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.


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
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:

The Finished Lamb Kebabs

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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Comments (44)

  1. Rosemarie says:

    Please don't tell me that Brianna won this thing! I know that she is the least favorite among the viewers and I've noticed in the Jacksonville area when they do ads for the program they are showing just her. Is this the Food Networks attempt to make her more likable to the viewers? If it is, it isn't working for me. She still comes across and phony and frankly I don't care how good her food is. She maybe a DIVA in her own mind, but to the camera she comes off as spoiled and full of herself. Sorry, Food Network, if you chose her I wouldn't watch her show.

  2. Nikki says:

    I want Aarti and Brianna to have their own shows, they have interesting dishes and personalities. The only thing is Brianna should tone down the "Diva", however I love them both. The reason I love watching/reading Food Network is to learn new great recipes because I love food, especially cooking it! I want to continually re-create their dishes in my home.

  3. GLM says:

    Sorry to say but if you cook great food and you have no personality or your personality sucks, the majority of people are not going to want to eat it or be interested in anything about you or your food.

    As for the lunch truck challenge, the only way the ladies won was because of Serena. She was able to see past Brianna's "I think I'm all that and a bag of chips" attitude, keep focused on the big picture, the challenge at hand and, perform to perfection! Maybe if Brianna would act close to how she did on the lunch truck challenge and mean it, she would have more people voting for her and liking her. I love Serena. She is real, genuine and I bet she would be a great, loyal friend and willing to help anyone out. I feel her background helps her in dealing with people and it clearly shows. She works well with everyone. Brianna needs to take a class in how to treat people and deal with people. I would NEVER watch her and have no interest in her food. If her food were the last food on earth, I'd eat dirt! FN needs to wake up and look at the votes! After all, people are what keep your show on tv so it isn't cancelled.

  4. sunil says:

    I am definately supporting network needs to have a more diversified range of chef's..aarti has the personality and can definately cook..

  5. Tina says:

    I really hope Aarti wins. I enjoy watching her on "The Next Food Network Star". I love her dishes and the she would really introduce Middle eastern and Asian style dishes on the Food Network, they do not have any chefs that do so this far.. Also Indian fares have lots of Veggitarian dishes, so she would be very helpful in showing great veggie dishes.

    Kudos Aarti! You are a pleasure to watch..

  6. savino says:

    Food network needs an Indian chef w/o a doubt. And clearly aartie cooks amazing food . Even all four super tough iron chefs liked her food. Love her accent too.

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