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Steak with "Baghdad Café" butter

Updated: Oct 15, 2022

Baharat spice is a mixture of sweet spices that is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and found in almost every home. Baharat literally means spices, and it is a staple across the Arabian peninsula and North Africa. The recipes vary from home-to-home,and are kept very secret, being only passed down within families. The spice is used through out the region, it adds a nice soft spice to the dishes, seasoning them perfectly and delicately. It is used extensively with red or heavy meats, either on the grill or in stews and braises.

I have included a version of the recipe in this post, however, it is a spice that is very commonly available in Middle eastern or Mediterranean stores ready made.

This recipe is derived from the French style of cooking, the meat is seasoned with salt and pepper, and grilled to perfection over coals or broiled in the oven. The charred meat is loaded with the spiced butter that infuses the meat with the beautiful spices. I like to serve this dish with a light salad that is loaded with fresh lettuces and some tang to balance the greasy meat.

Greg and Lucy Malouf have traveled across the Middle East extensively, publishing a number of specialized cookbooks along their journey. This cookbook is one of my favorites, a thick volume filled with amazing recipes, like this one, and photographs. This cookbook will make you want to get out to the closest Mediterranean store (or on Amazon) and order a pantry full of new ingredients for this cuisine. I have cooked a few, definitely not enough, recipes from this book and each is spectacular. I need to complete the collection of their cookbooks, oh I wish I had a larger cookbook budget. This book is for those who are looking for spectacular Middle Eastern cuisine.

For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.

For the steaks:

4X 250 gm steaks with good marbling, mutton or beef

Salt, to taste

Pepper, a generous sprinkling

Olive oil

For the butter

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1 shallot, finely minced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 red or green chilies, minced finely

3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted and crushed in a mortar and pestle

1 teaspoon Baharat spice mix

Salt, to taste

White pepper, to taste

For the Baharat spice mix:

4 tablespoons black peppercorns

3 tablespoons cumin seeds

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

1 tablespoon cloves

1 tablespoon green cardamom

5 petals star anise

5 tablespoons sweet paprika

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

To make the Baharat spice mix:

Heat a dry frying pan on low heat and gently toast the whole spices individually till lightly toasted and aromatic. Cool completely, add to a coffee mill and grind to a fine powder. Mix in all the other ingredients. Store in a dark place in an airtight container.

To make the butter:

Add 1 teaspoon of butter, from the batch, and heat on a low flame in a frying pan. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for 1 minute till the shallot is cooked and soft, but not colored. Add the Baharat spice mix and fry for 20 seconds. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.

Mix the fried shallots, pine nuts, salt, and pepper to the remaining butter and mix in well. Cool the butter slightly in the fridge, about 10-15 minutes. Remove and shape into a cylinder and wrap in cling wrap. Keep in the fridge till needed.

To cook the meat: the steaks need to be marinated with the salt and pepper for at least 1 hour, longer is always better. Heat the oven to 400 F.

Add the oil to a frying pan and sear the meat on a high flame for about 4 minutes per side till it has a nice color. Place the meat on a lined baking sheet and broil for an additional 7-10 minutes depending on how well you like your meat cooked.

Alternatively, you can sear the meat on a charcoal grill till cooked, about 4 minutes per side.

Remove and serve topped with a thick slice of the butter and a few slices of shallots.

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