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More ethnic food tastes worth acquiring: Chee kufta

A parsley-laden dish of chee kufta
A parsley-laden dish of chee kufta
Photo by anitasarkeesian/Flickr (Creative Commons)

This week, Multi-American is again exploring the unsung ethnic delicacies that may not sound or look like much, but are worth a try. And for whatever reason, people are suggesting meat dishes this time around.

Today's suggestion comes from blog contributor Lory Tatoulian, and it's not for the faint-hearted. Chee kufta, a raw meat dish, is what she describes as something that "sounds risky but tastes delicious."

The dish is popular in Armenian and Turkish cuisines as an appetizer and consists of ground beef or lamb that is mixed with fine wheat bulghur and seasonings, which in the typical Armenian preparation consist of red and black pepper, water and salt. It is then garnished with scallions, parsley and a generous amount of olive oil.

Here's how Lory describes a good chee kufta:

The redder the meat, the more delectable. It is best to use zero percent fat meat, and there should absolutely be no fat or no tendons in the patty. Chee kufta can be eaten with Akh Makh cracker bread, but it is best eaten when your mom is preparing it in the kitchen and hands you a small sample to ask if more or less salt is needed.

The dish is to be prepared and served quickly. Here are a couple of tips from one recipe, which calls for V8 juice among the seasonings:

Always grind Chee Kufta meat yourself.

Keep very cold while preparing and serve right away.

Leftovers should be refrigerated and may be fried or baked later.

I'll confess here that I'm a recovering onetime vegetarian, so while I am perfectly content to nosh on things like Hawaiian Spam musubi - yesterday's entry - I'm leaving it up to Lory and other dedicated carnivores to rave about raw delicacies like chee kufta, which like other global relatives of steak tartare (such as Lebanese kibbeh nayyeh or the spicy, beloved Ethiopian kifto) has legions of fans who have either grown up with it or discovered it along the way.

Know of an ethnic dish worth discovering that gets a bad rap? Share your suggestions in the comments below.