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Tv chef john gregory-smith’s simple bbq ideas

Give your outdoor dining a delicious new taste thanks to TV chef John Gregory-Smith’s

From Lebanese food to Turkish cuisine, TV chef and author John Gregory-Smith knows his Middle Eastern cooking. And with barbecue season in full swing, we thought we’d ask him for his best simple BBQ ideas if you want to give your grill a Middle Eastern twist. Read on for all his outdoor dining ideas and get ready to drool… What are some of the most popular Middle Eastern dishes right now? Hummus, fattoush, tabbouleh and shawarma – they’re all lovely big Middle Eastern dishes.  Lebanese food is pretty hot at the moment and Palestinian food is quite niche, but it’s definitely having a bit of an emergence. They’ve got wonderful dishes like giant couscous served with chicken or musakhan, which is like bread with sumac and roast chicken. It’s an amazing sharing dish.  Do you have a particular favourite?  I love Lebanese food and Turkish food as well. I think Turkish food is so delicious. All the kebabs are amazing and the pastries like the gozleme, which are savoury Turkish flatbreads; the pide, which are boat-shaped pizzas; and the lahmacun, which is a round flatbread topped with meat and squeeze of lemon.  What ingredients are often used in Middle Eastern cuisines?  Sumac is a red berry, which has got a lovely tartness and it’s bashed up into a vibrant powder. You can add it to salad dressings like a vinaigrette or sprinkle it onto a roast chicken and you’ll get this lovely extra layer of flavour. Saffron is huge in places like Iran and further south in the Middle East. Za’atar is so good! In Lebanon, they’ll mix the herb with sesame seeds and serve with bread and olive oil, or they’ll put it into flatbread. Over here, we don’t really get that herb so substitute it for oregano, thyme and sumac. It’s great on any sort of grilled meat, fish or salad. 

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Middle Eastern food is all about the sour tang of pomegranate. Pomegranate molasses, which is the juice cooked down to a sticky hot mess, adds this perfumed flavour. Use it as a salad dressing – instead of lemon juice and olive oil, use olive oil and pomegranate molasses to give things a twist. Then there’s pomegranate seeds, which make everything pop and look gorgeous.  Tahini is the key ingredient in hummus and is made with sesame seeds. You get this creamy, rich paste – throw that on everything, from toast to salad and cooked meat. It’s really good with grilled halloumi, too. In Lebanon, they’ll fry bread and butter in a pan and drizzle tahini over it with a squeeze of honey.  How can you give your BBQ a Middle Eastern twist? You can use harissa, which is a North African chilli paste, to make a marinade by mixing it with orange or lemon and some olive oil. You can put that on meat, fish or chicken. Or use the seasonings: baharat, which is a woody Middle Eastern spice mix made with things like cinnamon and cloves, and it just gives this incredible background flavour, or Moroccan ras el hanout. Mix them with olive oil, rub them over everything and shove it on the barbecue for next-level flavour.  Or cook what you would normally, like grilled chicken pieces or fish, and then mix harissa with some yoghurt for a dip – so very simple.  I love meat with hummus. Cook up some chicken, steak or lamb and serve it alfresco style with flatbread, hummus and salad so you can make a kebab yourself – that’s just delicious. Put everything o