Tag Archives: Arabic

Lentil soup




  • 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


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. 🙄


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!


Ghribiya are light shortbread cookies with a single almond pressed into the centre before baking. A very simple and easy recipe.


5 cups all purpose flour

1 cup icing sugar

1.5 cups melted butter or margarine

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)

whole almonds


Combine all the ingredients (except the almonds) together in a large bowl. Between your hands, roll balls the size of a large walnut and place onto lightly greased baking trays. Push a whole almond into the top of each cookies, it doesn’t matter if the cookie cracks, in fact they look a little more attractive when cracked. Bake at gas 4/180C/350F for 15-20 mins. Don’t allow the cookies to brown, they are traditionally enjoyed pale.


Ramadan is the time of year for brushing off the cookbooks and baking all those desserts that require soaking in sugary sweet syrup; those desserts that seem far too ‘sinful’ the rest of the year. One of the most well known of these desserts in the Arab world is Basbousa – a dense cake made with semolina and soaked with syrup after baking. I love to eat it straight from the oven as it reminds me of the English syrup pudding.


200g sugar

225g butter or margarine

6 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

110g all-purpose flour

175g semolina (medium coarseness)

3 teaspoons baking powder

110g ground almonds


500g sugar

1litre water

2 tablespoons orange flower water

juice of half a lemon

  • Cream together the margarine and sugar and then one by one beat in the eggs and add the vanilla.
  • Fold in the sifted flour, semolina, baking powder and almonds.
  • Turn out into a greased baking dish and bake at 350F/180C/Gas4 for about 40 mins – until golden brown and springy on top. (I put some almonds on the cake before baking but they sunk!)

  • Prepare the syrup by adding all ingredients to a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer on a medium heat for 15-20 mins.
  • Carefully mark out into square or diamond portions and pour on the prepared, slightly cooled syrup.

Saudi Brioche

I found this recipe for Brioche saoudienne or Khaliyat an-Nahl on Soulafa’s blog. She posted a Ramadan version of Khaliyat an-Nahl with a filling of Nutella rather than the usual Kiri cheese – with either filling it makes a lovely breakfast snack.  Since the recipe is in French, I will translate here.

Saudi Brioche (Khaliyat un-Nahal)


180ml warm water

3 tablespoons milk powder

2 tablespoons orange flower water

100g melted and cooled butter

3 eggs beaten

3 tablespoons sugar

500g all purpose flour

1 tablespoon instant yeast

Kiri portions or Nutella

1 egg beaten with 3 tablespoons milk for glazing

honey to pour over after baking

Soulafa’s method: Sift the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the centre and add the eggs, yeast, sugar, milk powder and salt, add the water little by little and mix until a ball forms. Knead well for a couple of minutes and then add the butter. Knead until all the oil is absorbed. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to double in volume.

Knock back and then divide into little balls about the size of a walnut. Fill each walnut with a quarter of a portion of Kiri or half a teaspoonful of Nutella then seal the dough around the filling.

Grease a baking dish and place the balls into the dish so they are touching each other. Leave to rise for a few minutes. Heat the oven to gas 4/180 deg C/350deg F. Glaze the brioche with 1 egg yolk beaten with 3 tablespoons milk and then sprinkle with nigella seeds or sesame.

When the brioche comes out of the oven glaze with heated honey.

My bread machine method: I don’t buy milk powder and I don’t want the flavour of orange flower water in this brioche so instead of the first three ingredients (180ml warm water, 3 tablespoons milk powder, 2 tablespoons orange flower water) I just use 190ml  slightly warmed semi-skimmed milk.

Place the ingredients into the breadpan in the order listed and set to the pizza or dough cycle. When the cycle is completed remove dough from the pan and proceed to roll into small walnut sized balls; flatten out each ball and place a blob of about 1/3 teaspoon of Nutella into the middle and carefully seal the edges to form a ball. You may find this easier if the Nutella is refrigerated and slightly hardened or you could just as easily use a few chocolate chips.

Place the balls into a greased, round baking dish so they are all touching, glaze with a little of the beaten egg and leave to rise for 20 minutes.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-30mins (180C/350F/Gas4) Drizzle about 3 tablespoons of hot honey over the brioche as soon as it comes out of the oven.

This mixture was enough for me to make one large and one small batch.

NB: Make sure the yeast you are using is INSTANT yeast, it will say so on the box/tub and comes in the form of tiny strands, usually in 11 g sachets. If you are using non-instant yeast (looks ike tiny balls) you will need to follow the box instructions and mix with some warm water/milk and sugar and leave to froth for 10 minutes before using.

Cous cous ~ Algerian Style



This is the typical cous cous with stew from my husband’s region of Algeria which is the capital and surrounding area. The sauce is ‘white’ (contains no tomato or harissa). I use courgettes, turnip and carrots although it is common to find this stew with meat/chicken and turnip (mouli/luft) only. I occasionally add one medium potato cut into 4-6 pieces also. The stew is easy to cook in a regular saucepan and the cous cous can be cooked in the traditional couscousiere or in the microwave.


  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 chicken cut into pieces
  • 5 small courgettes (zucchini) topped and tailed
  • 5 medium carrots halved vertically
  • 2 small turnips, in 4 chunks
  • 1/2 tin chickpeas, drained
  • 1 medium potato if desired
  • salt, pepper and a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1.5 litres water

Saute the onions until soft then add the chicken pieces and spices and fry until sealed. Add the carrots, turnips, chickpeas and water and cook with pressure until almost done. Add the potato and courgette and cook further until all ingredients are cooked through.

To cook the cous cous, best results will be obtained by steaming not soaking.

Wash your cous cous, drain and leave to soak up whatever water remains. Rub grains together to separate them and then place in the top part of a steamer or couscousiere and cook until the steam breaks through the grains. Empty out into a large tray, break up the grains with a spoon and sprinkle on half a small glass of salted water and then return to the steamer. Steam a second time until the steam breaks through, turn out into a tray and with a spoon or fork rub through some butter, margarine or vegetable ghee (smen).

An alternative method of cooking the cous cous that also uses steam is to cook it in the microwave.  Wash the cous cous and leave to absorb excess fluid. Place in a large microwavable plastic bowl and cover with cling film. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir through a half a glass of salted water making sure to break up the cous cous grains. Cover with cling film and return to microwave for a further two minutes and then rub through some butter, margarine or vegetable ghee as above.

I find this method less messy as you use only one large bowl to cook the cous cous in and the cling film keeps the steam build up aroud the cous cous so the cooking principle remains the same. You end up with nice fluffy grains as with steaming.

Arrange the chicken and vegetables over the cous cous and serve.


Above: Cous cous after having been rinsed – leave it to absorb residual water


Above: Cous cous 10 mins later. Grains have been rubbed to separate them.


Above: Cous cous after 2 steamings in the microwave. Knob of margarine/butter melting into the hot grains.


Above: Cous cous with chicken and vegetables arranged over the top; sauce from the pot served in a separate jug.

Saudi Shorba with Oats

A perfect shorba to serve up during the month of Ramadan since soups are gentle on the digestive system and are a good dish to prepare for the breaking of the fast. I enjoy making a range soups from simple cream of vegetable (leek and potato, celery, tomato, mushroom etc) to more substantial soups such as Saudi shorba with oats.

Saudi Shorba really has to be the simplest and easiest soup in the world to make! It uses minimal ingredients and no blending is required. The secret is in cooking the soup long enough for the meat to become very tender and the oats to disintegrate somewhat and become very soft so they melt in your mouth.

You need:

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic

2 or 3 pieces of lamb on the bone

1/2 tin chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon ground cummin

salt and pepper

1 dried black lemon

1/2 cup fast cooking oats OR barley (remember that barley will take longer to cook)


Gently saute the onions and garlic in a pressure cooker, when softened add the meat and fry until sealed. Add all the other ingredients and 3/4 litre water. Stir well and bring to the boil and then cover the pan and reduce heat to a simmer. Keep checking the water level and stir regularly to stop the oats from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add more water if you want the soup thinner.

Soup is ready when the meat is tender and oats are mushy. Remove the black lemon before serving.