middle eastern food

All posts tagged middle eastern food

Maneesh Mania: Delicious Middle Eastern Flatbread

Published April 13, 2014 by The Feminist

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Some use a knife and fork, some use a spoon and some use chopsticks, but the best way by far to enjoy a dish, is if you can eat it with an edible spoon. This awesome Middle Eastern Flatbread is one of those edible eating utensils that make any other type of cutlery seem superfluous. Maneesh is a super easy, deliciously comforting flat bread topped with Za’atar (or other seeds and dried herbs you like) and is the perfect accompaniment to a mezze. Whether you’ve made some hummus, baba ganoush or a spicy harissa-yoghurt dip, everything will taste divine on this homemade bread.

I’m not an expert in the art of baking bread, but I can honestly say that this Maneesh recipe (adapted from baking God Paul Hollywood) is absolutely foolproof. The dough doesn’t need too long to proof, baking it into the oven requires only 15 minutes but transforms the house into a Middle Eastern Walhalla and eating it is even more gratifying. Soft in the middle, crunchy on the outside and the aroma of spice as the ultimate cherry on the cake. (Or in this case “the topping on the bread”)

So gather around some delicious dips, salted olives, refreshing salads, crumbly cheese and some friends to share it with, and start dunking your Maneesh!

You don’t even have to sit at a table. The only thing you need to start your dinner party are your fingers and your maneesh (and maybe possibly some napkins 😉 )

Ingredients (makes 4 flatbreads)

  • 500gr strong white flour
  • 10gr salt
  • 25gr caster sugar
  • 10gr instant yeast
  • 20ml olive oil
  • 360ml tepid water

For the topping:

  • 2 tbsp za’atar
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp oregano

Method:

  1. Mix together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the olive oil and 250ml of water. Mix the ingredients together with your fingers. Gradually add the remaining water until all the flour has come away from the sides of the bowl and you have a soft dough.
  2. Pour a little oil onto your work top. Place the dough on top and knead for 5-10 minutes. The dough will be wet in the beginning (that’s completely normal so don’t panic!) but will form a smooth dough once kneaded.
  3. Place into a clean oiled bowl, cover and leave to double in size. (This will take approx.. 1-2 hours.)
  4. Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.
  5. Tip the dough onto an oiled work top. Knock the dough back until all the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth. Split the dough into four and roll into large circles/ squares/ whatever shape seems suitable.
  6. Mix the topping ingredients with a little olive oil until you have a thick paste and spread the topping over each of the breads.
  7. Place onto the lined baking trays and leave to rest for another 20 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 230°C.
  8. Bake in the oven for approx. 15 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

 

March Madness, Falafel Folly and Carrot Craziness

Published March 23, 2014 by The Feminist

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That’s March for you. One week you’re enjoying the heat of the sun, eating ice cream and drinking cocktails. The next you’re wearing your winter coat and seeking shelter from the rain. But I will not let March’s fickle weather get to me. Because I have my falafel. And my Middle Eastern carrots. And with both of these beauties on my plate, I can handle anything!

Yes, even March weather madness.

These homemade falafels are dead-easy to make and super delicious. The key to making them shine is proper seasoning, so don’t be afraid with the salt and the tandoori spice!

These dainty patties were served with scrummy Middle Eastern carrots. The delicate spices, the sharp barberries and the sweetness of the honeyed carrots transport you to exotic places and the feta cheese crumbled on top will truly make your taste buds sing. It is a flavour sensation par excellence!

But this is not where this delicious story ends, for I made a zingy fragrant mint and coriander sauce and drizzled it all over the falafel, the carrots and the couscous.

The end result? A vegetarian dish that will blow your mind: sweet, savoury, spicy, fragrant, delicate, sharp,… This dish has everything to make you forget March Madness and succumb to some delicious Falafel Folly!

Ingredients:

Middle Eastern carrots:

  • 1kg carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • Handful of dried barberries
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

Falafels:

  • 400gr dried chickpeas,
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp tandoori powder
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp coriander stems

Mint and Coriander sauce:

  • Lots and lots of mint
  • Lots and lots of coriander
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon juice

To finish:

  • Couscous
  • 300gr Feta cheese

Method:

  1. Start one day ahead and put your dried chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water. Leave them to soak overnight.
  2. Drain the chickpeas and mix them together in an electric blender with all the other ingredients for the falafels. Season well with salt and pepper. Put the mixture in the fridge for half an hour to rest.
  3. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan and form small patties from the chickpeas mixture. Cook them on each side for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Since you are using dried chickpeas, you need to cook them further in a preheated oven at 180°C for another 15-20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile make your Moroccan carrots. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot or tagine and fry the carrots with the spices for a couple of minutes. Stir in the honey and barberries and add a little splash of water (approx. 100ml) to make sure your carrots don’t burn. Cover with a lid and let the carrots simmer for 15 minutes or until soft.
  5. Make your fragrant mint and coriander sauce by mixing the herbs and garlic together in a blender with approx. 4 tbsp olive oil and lemon juice. Put in the fridge so that the flavours can intensify.
  6. To serve, spoon a mountain of steamy couscous onto your plate ,followed by a generous serving of the sweet and sticky carrots. Add your falafels to the plate and crumble some feta cheese over the top. Finish by drizzling some of the mint and coriander sauce on top. Bon Appétit!

 

Emptying the spice bazaar: Zingy Za’atar and Sexy Sumac

Published September 2, 2013 by The Feminist

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Food is like life: it needs spice to make it exciting, otherwise it’s just…dull. It is a truth so simple that we often tend to take the incredible power of seasoning for granted and seem to forget the wide range of possibilities spices have to offer.

In my humble- but quite expertise- opinion, spices aren’t just a great way to unveil your inner culinary alchemist, it is also –and foremost!- a beautiful and delicious way to explore unfamiliar cultures that would normally be too expensive to travel to. (definitely if you’ve only got a student budget to fall back on, like myself.) I have never been to India but thanks to my fast expanding spice cupboard, I can now replicate (or at least try to replicate) the flavours, colours and incredibly tasty dishes this country has to offer in my own small kitchen.

Like an artist can’t paint without colours, I simply cannot cook without spices: they tantalize your taste-buds, they make everything look and taste mouth-wateringly delicious and they have the extraordinary quality of turning a snooze fest into a true Wake Up Call!

Two of my favourite spices at the moment (although one is technically a spice mix) are za’atar and sumac. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend which comes in many different varieties- every country has its own version, from Lebanon over Syria to Saudi Arabia – and its unique aroma embodies the multicultural soul of Jerusalem. Za’atar (Don’t you just love that name? I should probably google what it means!) is generally prepared using dried thyme, toasted sesame seeds, salt and other spices such as sumac. You can use it to season meat, fish, veg or sprinkle it on top of some pita bread or your favourite hummus. It is vibrant, it is fragrant and once you’ve tried it, you will never want to go without.

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Another one of my favourite spices is one of the components of za’atar: sumac. This ruby red powder is made from berries of the sumac plant, which grows all over the Middle East and North Africa, and gives a very tart and fruity boost of flavour. I love it sprinkled on top of hummus, barbecued meats and fish or in a fresh yoghurt dip. It is the perfect substitute for lemon juice without being overpoweringly acidic and it just looks stunning in all its red glory as a garnish!

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This dish was an homage to these spices. A fragrant maftoul couscous with za’atar carrots, Apricot and almond roasted red onion, topped with a zesty sumac Greek yoghurt. It may sound like an intricate dish, but it is super easy to make and the taste is simply sensational!

For the za’atar carrots:
• 1kg carrots, chopped into big chunks
• 3 tbsp z a’atar
• ½ tbsp sugar

Method:
1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and sautee the carrots with the sugar and some salt and pepper for a couple of minutes. Add a splash of water and cover with a lid. Let it simmer on a low heat for about 15-20 minutes, or until the carrots are soft but not mushy.
2. Stir through the za’atar
3. Done!

For the couscous

• 250gr maftoul
• 4 spring onions, finely chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
• Handful of dried apricots, finely chopped
• ½ tsp nigella seeds
• ½ tsp mustard seeds
• ½ tbsp cumin seeds
• ½ tsp chilli flakes
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon
• ½ tsp ground ginger
• 0,5l vegetable stock

Method:
1. Dry roast the spices in a non-stick frying pan until they begin to release their scent. Add the maftoul couscous and stir until all the grains are coated in the spices.
2. Add the vegetable stock and garlic and let it simmer on low heat until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid.
3. Stir through the apricots, spring onion and mint.
4. Done!

For the onions:
• 4 red onions, cut in half
• Handful of chopped dried apricots
• Handful of almond flakes
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• ½ tsp harissa

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Put the onions in an oven-proof dish and sprinkle some olive oil and salt and pepper over the top. Put in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the onions are soft.
2. Mix the other ingredients for the topping together in a bowl . Remove the onions from the oven and spoon a generous portion of the topping onto each onion half.
3. Put in the oven for a further 5 minutes until the crumble topping is golden brown.
4. Done!

For the sumac Greek yoghurt:
• 125ml Greek yoghurt
• 1 clove of garlic
• Salt
• 2 tbsp sumac

Method:
1. Mix all the ingredients together.
2. Done!

He who eats alone chokes alone. Or how there’s always enough food in my house

Published June 13, 2013 by The Feminist

“Are you cooking for an entire army?” , “Are there some distant family members visiting I don’t know about?” ,or my ultimate favourite “Gosh, your imaginary friends have quite the appetite!”. Yes, every time I cook for my family at home, which is for 4 people most of the time, I’ll always end up cooking way too much food! Better too much than too little, that’s what my mother always says. And it seems her tendency to cook gigantic portions has infected me as well. Which often leads to oh so incredibly funny remarks from my brother and father (do note the hint of sarcasm there). I know that they just like pulling my leg and that the “imaginary friends” retort is just to provoke a sarcastic response, but I can’t help but feel guilty every time I see all those leftovers lying around in the fridge. They’re staring at me. Like all those hungry little African kids with bloated tummies you see on the news. Millions of people are starving and here I am, overindulging my family with food.

I’m trying to do something about my food-portion-miscalculation, however. For the first time I managed to cook two meals in a row that didn’t result in an over-stuffed fridge! Well,how about that?! 😉

I’m sure I’m not the only one suffering from food-portion-miscalculation. (At least I hope I’m not.) So if you have the same condition, take it from me: if I can get over it, so can you!

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Middle-Eastern trout with maftoul

This recipe is truly one you will cook again and again and again! The fragrant rub makes the trout incredibly tasty and moist and I just love the oversized Palestinian couscous!

Ingredients (serves 4)

• 4 trouts, scaled, gutted, cleaned
• 1 green courgette
• 1 yellow courgette
• 4 spring onions
• Fresh coriander, chopped
• 250gr maftoul
• 375 ml vegetable stock
For the rub:
• 1 red pepper
• 2 cloves of garlic
• ½ tbsp harissa
• 15gr confied lemon peel
• Coriander stalks
• ½ tsp ground cumin

Method:
1. Mix all the ingredients for the rub together in a blender until you get a thick paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Chop the courgette into 0.5 cm sliced and grill them for one minute on each side.
3. Score the skin of the fish several times. Stuff courgette slices in the body cavity of each trout. (Use the remaining courgette slices for the couscous later) Spread the sweet and spicy rub over the top of each trout and in the body cavity.
4. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for 15 minutes.
5. For the maftoul, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the couscous and lightly toast them for a couple of minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock and let it simmer for 5 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
6. Chop the remaining courgette slices in fine chunks and add them to the maftoul. Season with salt, pepper, lemon zest and ground cumin.
7. Finely chop the fresh coriander and spring onion and stir them through the maftoul.
8. Get ready to dig in!

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Risotto Quattro Tomato with pesto and goats’ cheese stuffed chicken

Not one, not two, not three but FOUR types of tomatoes went into this risotto! Needless to say it was an absolute flavour bomb. The stuffed chicken breasts are so easy to make and the goats’ cheese mixture guarantees you won’t end up with dry bits of chicken but with a flavoursome and moist piece of heaven! This will definitely become a family’s favourite!

Ingredients(serves 4)

For the chicken
• 4 skinned chicken breast
• 25gr fresh goat’s cheese
• 25gr home-made pesto
• 5 sundried tomatoes( in oil ), finely chopped
• Zest of half a lemon
For the risotto
• 300gr risotto rice
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 1 can of chopped tomatoes
• 200gr cherry tomatoes
• 5 yellow vine tomatoes, quartered
• 10 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 50gr parmesan cheese
• Dried oregano
• Pinch of chili powder
• Small glass of semi-dry Madeira wine
• Vegetable stock

Method:
1. Using a sharp knife, make a deep incision down one side of each chicken breast to form a pocket in each
2. In a bowl, mix together the goats’ cheese, pesto, chopped sundried tomatoes and lemon zest then stuff the chicken breasts with this mixture. Skewer the chicken with toothpicks so the filling doesn’t seep out.
3. Fry the chicken breasts in a large frying pan for 2 minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the chicken breasts to a preheated oven at 180°C and bake for a further 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, put all the different types of tomatoes in an oven-proof dish (except the canned tomatoes) and season with salt, pepper and dried oregano. Sprinkle a generous amount of olive oil over the top and put in the oven together with the chicken. Once your chicken is cooked, the tomatoes will be ready as well.
5. For the risotto, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and sauté the garlic and onion for a couple of minutes. Add the risotto rice and fry for a further 30 seconds.
6. Add the Madeira and cook until the volume of the liquid has reduced to almost nothing.
7. Add the canned tomatoes and chilli powder.
8. Add the warm vegetable stock a ladleful at a time, stirring between each addition to allow the liquid to be completely absorbed, until the rice is cooked and all the stock has been absorbed.
9. Stir in the parmesan cheese and add the roasted tomatoes from the oven.
10. Buon appetito!