Neighborhood Eats: Albanian food at Çka Ka Qellu

BELMONT, Bronx (WABC) -- Cka Ka Qellu is more than a restaurant, and customers see a museum, artifacts and a history.

Located on 2321 Hughes Ave. in the Belmont section of the Bronx - an experience to learn about Albanian culture and food is why Ramiz Kukaj opened it.

"The Albanians who came 20-30 years back for whatever reason, they thought an Albanian restaurant wouldn't work and didn't take pride," said Kukaj.

Kukaj certainly takes pride - and he opened in the Belmont neighborhood because he knows it is a destination for food. At Cka Ka Qellu you will find Albanian breads and salads, a savory layered crepe that is made in a huge pan, and plenty of meat dishes like veal dumplings.

A popular dish is the Skanderbeg, named for a military hero from the 1400s. Chef Afrim Kalgini first pounds veal, the layers it with a strip of flavored soft cheese and smoked meat. He rolls it up, dredges it in flour, egg and breadcrumbs, and it's into the deep fryer. It is then layered in creamy dressing.

Kukaj collected the artifacts for ten years, and he is thrilled to show off his native culture and give fellow Albanians a place to feel at home.

"I love to see Albanians come here, that makes me very happy - it has been very rewarding," he said.

Skanderbeg

Ingredients:
2 Veal cutlets
3 Tbs. cream cheese or your favorite soft cheese (you can also look for soft Albanian cheese)
4 oz smoked beef, cut very thin
1 cup flour
1 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 oz milk
Salt
Pepper

Directions:

Pound each veal very thin and cut off edge to make into a large rectangle. Season with salt and pepper on each side. Spread a strip of the soft cheese along one long end of the rectangle.
Top the cheese with several slices of the smoked meat, it should be evenly distributed. Holding the meat in place, gently roll the veal, into a long cigar shape. Repeat with other cutlet.

Dredge each veal roll in flour, dip into egg and milk mixture, let excess drip off and then run through breadcrumbs. Fry in deep dryer

Serve with pickled vegetable.

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