Category Archives: Middle Eastern

Lentil soup

Basmala

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 tbsp fresh, chopped coriander
  • 100g orange lentil
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cummin
  • 1.5 litres water

Saut the onion until soft and then add the garlic and cook for a further minute or two. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to boil then simmer for about 45 minutes.

I like to blend the soup quickly for a smoother consistency.

Ramadan Day 4

Basmala

Felt rather tired today but personally I find keeping busy in the kitchen helps the time to pass quicker so I am happy to stay there making a few things.

Today there was Algerian shorba again, vegetarian as it was last time but this time with tiny Orzo pasta (or Tli-tli as the Algerians call it) instead of burghul or vermicelli. There were some leftovers as well as mini pizzas that came out soft as little pillows, vegetable samosas as I made a double batch yesterday and cheese and potato Borek. A tip for the potato borek that I picked up from my dear sister-in-law is to use instant potato! Yes… the powdered stuff in boxes – remember the adverts for Smash in the 1970’s or early 1980’s??! “For mash get Smash!” So, I used about 120g of Tesco instant potato and about 550ml of boiling water, stirred well with a wooden spoon and then added a knob of butter and about 150g grated cheddar. I used this to fill the spring roll pastry and folded into logs. I slightly over-cooked them as you can see in the photo. 🙄

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Dessert was Eve’s pudding but made with strawberries and raspberries instead of apples – this was served with rich chocolate ganache. It didn’t turn out quite as planned because I took a shortcut and used a supermarket cake packet mixture which was a bit too runny for this recipe. It was very tasty though with the tart, tanginess of the raspberries and the soft, sweetness of the cake. I didn’t think it really needed the rich chocolate sauce but my 15 yr old and 13 yr old daughters disagreed. Nice to have pleased someone!

Ramadan Day 2 – Couscous Salad, Tuna Rolls

Basmala

Day 2 of Ramadan went well alhamdu Lillah with four of my children fasting: 15, 13, 10 and 7 year olds. My 4 year old decided at 11:30 to fast and she held out for two whole hours!  I opted for a finger foods theme today.  There was shorba already prepared that just needed to be reheated and to accompany, there were shop bought veggie samosas and shop bought onion bhajis (wasn’t able to buy samosa pastry to make my own samosa and borek until this afternoon), tuna rolls and cheese rolls, chicken nuggets and cous cous salad. No dessert today but there is always plenty of ice cream in the freezer for whoever has a sweet tooth!

For the cous cous salad, I cooked 1 cup of cous cous according to the microwave method mentioned here but omiting the final stage of adding ghee or butter.  I left to cool and then added a good glug of Hellman’s French salad dressing then added chopped cherry tomatoes, olives, diced cucumber and 1 package of  Apetina feta with garlic and green olives. (I normally add chopped sundried tomatoes too but have run out.) I mixed well and refrigerated.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry cous cous
  • 2 tbsp salad dressing
  • 2 inches cucumber, diced
  • 1 small tomato, diced or a few cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • sundried tomatoes if you have them
  • a few olives, sliced
  • 1 package Apetina feta cubes or similar

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For the little tuna rolls and cheese rolls – I drained 1 can of tuna in brine and set aside; beat 2 eggs with a splash of milk and set aside.

Next I took 10 slices of white bread, removed the crusts and rolled out flat with a rolling pin. I sprinkled the tuna over the bread, rolled up tightly and then dipped in the egg. The egg dipped rolls were then shallow fried in a few spoons of hot oil until crispy and golden. I made a further 4 slices of bread filled with cubed cheddar.

Ingredients:

  • 10 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 1 tin tuna chunks
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk

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Fatayer – Arabic pastries

Basmala

The best fatayer I ever had were in England years and years ago and they were baked by a Saudi lady. The bread was very soft and light with a delicious, slightly sour spinach filling.

Since then, I have had them many times here in Saudi Arabia with various fillings but often the bread is a little dry or just ordinary. I have been wanting to try making ftayer myself but needed just the right dough recipe. It was when I found Ree Drummond’s Cinnamon Rolls recipe recently that I thought I might be onto something.

For these savoury pastries, I used a quarter of her stated amounts and also reduced the sugar content from 1/4 cup to 1 teaspoon.

 

Ingredients:

  • 280 ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 cups (plus 1/4 cup extra, separated) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (scant) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat the milk, oil and sugar in the microwave until lukewarm.

Sprinkle the yeast over this mixture and leave for a few minutes.

Sift 2 cups of flour into the milk/oil mix and stir until well combined. Leave in a warm place for 1 hour.

Add the extra 1/4 cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix well. If the dough seems too wet you may need to add another 1/4 cup of flour. What you should have is a very soft dough which remains a little sticky. You will need to flour the worktop well when working with this dough.

With this dough I was able to make 11 spinach fatayir, 7 feta cheese fatayir and 3 mini pizzas. I used a small ball of the dough weighing 25-30g  for each one.

For 11 spinach fatayir I used:


  • 1 small onion grated
  • 150g cooked and chopped spinach
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon sumac (depending on your taste)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (again, to your taste)
  • 1/2 tsp pomegranate molasses

NB: If you can’t get sumac or pomegrante molasses (you can use one or the other if you only have one of them) use lemon juice instead. Squeeze lemon juice over the cooked spinach and onion, mix well and stop when the taste is sour to your liking.

Fry the onion in a tbsp of oil until soft and then add the cooked spinach, salt, sumac and pomegranate molasses and combine well. My spinach was cooked and cooled straight from the fridge so I was able to use it to fill the pastries immediately. If you have just cooked the spinach you will need to cool the mixture before using it.

Take a 25-30g ball of the dough and place onto a well floured worktop. Using your fingers push it out to form a circle about 3 inches in diameter.

Place a teaspoonful of the spinach filling in the middle.

Bring two edges of the dough together to form the top of a triangle and then bring the lower portion of the dough up, squeeze gently with your fingers to seal. Since the dough is a little sticky you shouldn’t need any egg to seal the edges.

Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 400F until golden

For the feta fatayir:

Take a 25-30g piece of the dough and gently flatten into an oblong about 2″x4″, use a well floured rolling pin if necessary.

Take a teaspoon of feta and roll it into a small log and place in the middle of the dough.

Bring the top portion of the dough forward, keeping the filling revealed, bring up the lower portion and pinch at the edges to make a kind of boat shape.

Still pinching the edges, lift and place on the greased baking sheet.

Bake at 400F until golden.

For the mini pizzas:

Take a 25-30g ball of the dough, flatten into a small disc and spread with a little pizza sauce and some grated cheddar. You could also add chopped olives.

Bake as above.

Variation:

For jubna (cheese) fatayir, take a 25-30g ball of dough, flatten into a disc of around 3″ diameter. Place a teaspoon of grated cheddar into the centre and fold into a semi-circle.

Bake as above.

Hummus

Basmala

 

Like the mutabbel in the previous post this hummus was fantastically easy to make and there really is no excuse for buying it ready bought! I followed this recipe as a guide and will certainly make this again and again… and again! It’s delicious with almost anything dipped in it; bread, pizza, carrot sticks or other crudites, even french fries!

I used:

1 tin chick peas, drained
75ml Tahina
1/2 teaspoon or so of minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon of salt (to taste)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Juice of half a lemon

Throw all the ingredients into the food processor and WHIZZZ!

I garnished mine with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sumac.

Mutabbel

Basmala

We like to eat Syrian/Lebanese style food quite often but it’s something we always eat out at restaurants. I was really happy when I found this Syrian food blog recently and challenged myself to make some of the mezze we most enjoy. I chose to make Mutabbel, Hummus, Baba Ghanoush, Waraq Inab, and Fatayir. Apart from the Baba Ghanoush, everything was a roaring success and we actually preferred my mezze to those which we normally eat out.

I’ll start with the mutabbel today which was unbelievably easy and took less than 5 minutes to make. We had a barbeque a couple of days beforehand so I had already prepared the aubergines (eggplant) by grilling them on the barbeque for about 15 minutes and placing in a plastic tub with a lid until cooled and peeling off the blackened skin.

I used:

Aubergine x2
2 tablespoons Tahina
1 pot yogurt (approx 1 cup)
1 level teaspoon minced garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
Olive oil to drizzle over the mutabbel if desired

I started by roughly chopping 2 aubergines and then placing into a bowl with the tahina, yogurt, garlic paste and salt which I then mixed together well with a metal spoon. I then used the handheld stick blender to blend the ingredients roughly. The mutabbel should remain a little lumpy and rustic looking, it shouldn’t be smooth like hummus. Taste, and add more tahina, yogurt, garlic or salt as desired – it’s all down to personal taste, we personally don’t like the mutabbel to have too much tahina and we prefer not to drizzle olive oil over the top as is traditional.