Category Archives: Cooking middle eastern

Baba ghanouj with pomegranate molasses

Typically baba ghanouj in the western world is the wrong kind or rather wrongly named..what the world calls Baba ghanouj is actually called Muttabel in the levantine region .I know this because I was taught by the master Jedi of Lebanese food when I worked in Dubai. While that is great in itself , it is not Baba ghanouj..which we will try to make today .

so this forms part of Mezze which are different kinds of appetizers/dips/fritters /baked stuff and so on .

  • Eggplant 🍆- look for a plump one not too large mind U as those sometimes contain lots of seeds , let’s say -1 medium sized one about 300-400 g it’s not an exact science like bread making more like alchemy..add a drib of this or that. You need to stab this several times with a small paring knife ..think evil thoughts and let it out. The reason to puncture the skin is to make the cooking easier and let the steam escape. Then you roast this over an open flame, gas or charcoal, U could roast in the oven but doesn’t get the smoky aroma then. You need to turn it during the cooking process so the skin gets completely black and burnt, but don’t fear have some faith. Once this is done put it in a steel bowl and cool down.then you peel all the black burnt bits off and discard the stalk as well. wash and drain so we don’t get bits of carbonized eggplant skin in out diet.The burnt bits are great for your worm farm or in your garden.Then you take your favourite knife and again with the evil thoughts chop it up for 1 min and 28 seconds ( not really, but it’s good to put random times to see if the people are really reading). We need it roughly chopped and in a mixing bowl
  • Capsicum red is nice-1/4 /50 g chopped evenly please this time .. everything can’t be rustic
  • spring onion green and white -2 / 40-50 g washed well and chopped
  • Parsley flat leaf/ Italian the curly stuff has no flavour- 1-2 sprigs chopped doesn’t have to be very fine but not very chunky ..
  • lemon juice – to give a hint of tartness ..U figure out how much you like
  • Extra virgin olive oil which has a good taste and aroma -2 T roughly
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garlic cloves -2 peeled and crushed really fine this time – this is good to do with the salt and the flat of your knife .
  • Cumin powder – 1 g / large pinch

Mix everything in a bowl , taste to see if you like it..arrange it neatly in a nice ceramic bowl and garnish / drizzle with some pomegranate molasses just a little because this can be quite acidic/ tart and some more Ev olive oil. No irritating foams and gels here , this is food which is heart warming not just fancy pants impress the Jones kind.

eat with bread of some kind, pita bread triangles to scoop it up ,or foccacia or khubz Afghani / which is like pide bread topped with sesame seeds.You can find bread recipes here or make one which you have used before..

All of mine do work .They might not be the prettiest buttons in the box but they certainly work .No filters, no Dramas or pretty faces in the background.

I can prove it , got evidence..😆😀

Baba ghanouj with some focaccia

Falafel with tahina sauce

chick peas dry- soak overnight with a pinch of baking soda- 200 gms

fresh parsley- few sprigs – enough to make the mixture nice and green and give it a burst of flavour

fresh peeled garlic cloves – 4 nos.

lemon juce- from 1 lemon

salt – to taste

white onion peeled- 1 no

sesame seeds- about 2 tsp/10 gms

now drain the chickpeas, and grind to a semi smooth paste, without any water,(ok maybe 20 ml or so)  but with the onion, parsley, and the garlic. add in the lemon juice, the sesame seeds and season with salt.

form into about 20 gm patties and deep fry till browned and cooekd through.

serve with tahina sauce (tahina thinned down with some natural yoghurt ) called taratoor sauce in lebanon/syria

good as a snack or in a bun as vege filling.

Oriental rice.

This is the one served with ouzi or the arabic styled roasted lamb.its really aromatic and flavourful.

Our lebanese chef Ibrahim Hadla, would make this really well and i learnt how to do it by watching him.After that i would usually make this for 900 odd people on New years eve buffet.!! in a huge 300 ltrs tilting braising pan.Now i know you might not have that at home  so this is modified to suit your home kitchen.

you will need

  1. lamb mince- 200 gms

  2. onion chopped- 1 no / 150 gms

  3. garlic- 2-3 cloves chopped

  4. bayleaf-1 no

  5. baharat powder- 1/2 teaspoon ( you can make this one at home and use for shawarma etc, needs cinnamon, cloves, some green cardamom  and some pepper, quite strong on the cloves)

  6. cinnamon powder as well again -1//4 tsp

  7. black pepper powder-1/4 tsp

  8. Gum arabic/ gundar/ gond/mistika – 1/4 tsp- pounded with some rock salt to a fine powder

  9. Basmati rice- 250 gms soaked in cold water and washed well.

  10. Saffron strands- 1/4 gm or less- toast in microwave for 15 seconds and soak with water first

  11. oil+Butter mix-25 ml

Process

  • heat oil and add onions and garlic, lightly brown and then add the mince, which has to be really well browned and caramelised.

  • then add the spice powders and stir fry even more. add bayleaf and the rice and continue to stir fry till the rice is well coated with the mince and the oil . that will make the rice grains quite separate and nice when the mix has cooked.add in the gum arabic powder.

  • Add in enough hot stock or water (you can add some chicken stock powder to cheat) to cover the rice and a little more still.

  • Top with the saffron which you must have soaked in a little water.(what you dint know that?.Then get out of here).

  • cover with a lid for about 10-12 minutes on a low heat .

  • Serve with roasted lamb as an accompaniment.you can top the rice with fried almonds, cashew, pistachio ..

 

Hummus – by Petit Fleur De liban Ibrahim hadla

For this delicious and sometimes gassy levantine dip you need chick peas, tahina(sesame seed paste),garlic, lemon juice or citric acid.and olive oil to top it off.

  • chick peas-
  • Tahina –
  • garlic-
  • lemon juice
  • soda bicarb
  • salt- to taste.

method.

  1. soak the chickpeas overnight with soda bicarb and plenty of water. the next day the soaking and soda will have softened the skins of the chickpeas.
  2. These then should be drained and washed very thoroughly. Put it with some fresh water and cook, for really very long. Chef ibrahim hadla, would famously take one chickpea and throw it on the wall. it should be cooked so much that it will stick to the wall.
  3. after they are cooked till really soft and mushy. drain and wash these very well in water.let them soak in a bowl of cold water and let the skins float on top.take these skins off and discard.
  4. Then you need a good food processor.like a food chopper, moulinex or any similar ones. at work we used one called robot coupe, which is the Mercedes Benz of food processors. start to blend .also add a few crushed ice cubes to the mix or really chilled water about 20 mls or so..
  5. this will make the mixture very light and airy and fluffy.add in the tahina and garlic,salt and lemon juice.it should be slightly garlickly , and lemony, but most importantly very very creamy and smooth.
  6. arrange in a flat- ish sort of dish nd then top it with some fruity good quality olive oil, and enjoy with pita bread.
  7. this can be topped with toasted pine nuts or small cubes of lamb/ beef sauteed with onions garlic and some lemon juice as well.
  8. Sahten as they say in arabic, or Bon appetit.
  9. Dedicated to le petit fleur de liban!!!! god how much we laughed when chef ibrahim used to say that.