Rich Fruit cake- boiled syrup style

makes one medium sized cake about 8 inch round cooking time about 45-50 mins , preparation around 15 , depends on how organised you are

  • Flour-90
  • Almond powder 10 g( I’ve said 10 but you could higher and reduce the flour a bit )
  • cornflour-10 g
  • cinnamon powder- 2g
  • dry ground ginger- 2 g
  • Allspice- 1 g
  • Nutmeg- pinch
  • Baking soda- 4 g
  • salt- 1 g
  • mixed nuts- 125 g(Almond, walnuts, cashews)

Ive separated the dry from the wet ingredients. so as to create a demarcation.

  • water-90 ml
  • mixed dry fruit(raisins, dates, apricots, dont buy a ready mix)-200 g
  • brown/ raw sugar- 110 g
  • oil- 45 g( yes by weight)
  • butter -45 g
  • eggs -2
  • vanilla extract- a little
  • brandy or dark rum- 45 ml+ a bit more to brush on or baste after baking
  • Ok now to begin the process.First preheat oven to 170 Cand prepare your cake tin( this you always do first, REMEMBER THIS)
  • Heat the water with the oil, butter and fruits. Take off the heat and add brandy and vanilla. ( you can also put grated orage zest if you like.
  • Add the eggs , mix well and fold in the dry ingredients, and combine well.
  • Pour into your prepared tin and tap on the bech to make it even.
  • bake for about 45-50 mins till it is cooked but not dry.
  • when it comes out of the oven , hold in the tin for a few mins then demld and brush with some more alcohol.(its worth it, Truly.)

Cheesecake like no other ..baked not set.

makes about 4 x 8 inch springform tins

We used to make this cheesecake which was like manna from heaven, created by our pastry chef Noel . He was a master craftsman and I wish I had worked more with him, but usually I would be getting hammered with 900 odd people for breakfast day in day out ..followed by 400-500 in our beachside restaurant which was meant to test our staying power .. literally..but that’s a story for another time we need to get moving on the cheesecake which is a 24 hr process in itself,

You mix and make the cheesecake today and then keep it overnight to set slowly. Do NOT BE TEMPTED TO DEMOLD ON DAY you make it..it will be ruined beyond your wildest imagination..I know because I’ve tried it.

  • Cream cheese , Philadelphia is the best , but a good alternative can work too- 2.2 kg( I know it’s a lot so it’s a good idea to make a quarter of the recipe to give you one medium sized cake tin( springform please or else gets difficult to demold)
  • egg whole-6 ea
  • egg yolk-12 ea
  • sugar-690 g( what-this makes about 36 -portions)
  • corn flour/ custard powder-80 g
  • sour cream-180g
  • vanilla essence- to your liking don’t put too little because then will smell eggy- 10-15 ml depending on strength
  • blueberries frozen to put inside.( Makes it look like a blue veined cheese but tastes a 100 times better and doesn’t smell at all..win win for all–150 g
  • mixed berries to make into sauce to serve on the side—i ill put on a separate post this bit
  • biscuit crumbs- use your favourite ones – about 150 g per tin
  • butter – makes it better helps to bind the biscuit crumbs– 50 g per tin
  1. First thing s take ut the cream cheese about an hou before you start, makes it nice and soft and easy to mix.
  2. then preheat your oven to 125 C., thats very low heat , becaue what are making is really delicate thing.
  3. then line the spring form mold base with baking paper, and mix the biscuit crumbs and butter and cover the base of the mold.press down on the base to make it a bit more compcat and pop in the fridge to set
  4. cream the cheese, with sugar and corn starch and slowly incorporate those eggs..one at a time..
  5. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix one last time to get it all well blended but smooth not grainy.
  6. pour over your prepared 1 tin or 4 depending on how much qty you made.
  7. Bake at that very low heat , in a water bath, remember i said this is a delicate, this baby needs TLC
  8. we need to go for 80 minutes of baking and midway through check if the top is getting too brown then cover it with piecef foil.
  9. once its done the top might look a bit cracked and so on, thats fine its an artisan product not factor made with lots of stablisers and starches to make it shiny.
  10. cool down and keep overnight to set.

Step 5 3/4- is to add your blueberries if you fancy them, if not make plain. I also at times spike this with baileys irish cream or amarula to make it even more divine.

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

Dal makhani aka coronary heart disease in a bowl

Dal makhani means lentils with butter literally, what it is really is these black lentils traditionally cooked overnight slowly on a tandoor oven.

i know at this stage some of you are going to walk away because it’s not everyone who has a tandoori oven tucked away in their garden or worse Kitchen..So I’ve come with a sort of compromise which will work for most homes sans monster clay oven. We will require however a thick bottomed pot or the quintessential staple of an Indian kitchen ,the pressure cooker, which should be used the world over really. Saves time and gas /power which means a cleaner earth for future generations.

We also will make modified recipe because the traditional one would be cooked with lentil 1 kg+ butter 1 kg+cream 1 kg. Since we don’t want to kill you so quickly..and lose on potential ad revenue from Google, we make a lighter version ,which is just as tasty but lighter .Having said that this is still a rich winter food and you should stop at one bowl.

time to take a break and go do more important stuff.

ok back after a bit so what we need is

  • Black urad dal whole- 250 g( that’s plenty for about 10 people, but the time spent on making it makes it easier to make a large batch and then freeze. Wash really well and soak overnight , do actually is a 48 hr process.dont worry we have a short cut.so 24 hrs later bring it to a boil and skim the scum till no black / brown stuff is floating on top. From here on gets interesting , U could slow cook if you have a tandoor or wood burner in your house. Otherwise put the lentil/ dal in a pressure cooker with adequate water about 20 ml oil/ 1T .Add 2 T /30 g ginger and garlic paste ,1/2 T coriander pdr, pinch cumin powder and 1/2 t of bright red chilli powder,not very hot one. Then cook till it gets really mushy/4-5 whistles on low heat.
  • Then in a separate pot , take 1 T oil heat ,add 1/4 t cumin seeds and then about 2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced.Add also about half an onion very finely chopped and saute till lightly translucent.then add about 1T of good tomato paste or about 3T of tomato puree. Add the cooked lentil/dal and slowly simmer .
  • Add a largeish pinch of kasoori methi( these are fenugreek leaves dried ,which I toast and grind to a powder, makes them easier to blend). It’s not exact but you put too much it gets too bitter but gives a nice flavour for want of better words( no smoky peaty , chalky undertones here , most of that takes years to understand and comprehend quite a bit is just pretentious BS)
  • I also add some Julienne of ginger ( gives a bit of texture and also healthy).
  • Now important part , when this thing is simmering U cannot do too much multi tasking , otherwise it’s going to stick and burn. Pop in about 25 g if butter and cream about 100 ml.
  • Eat in miniscule quantities( have a heart ) because it’s quite rich remember though we have put in only a 1/3 Rd of the butter and half the cream of what can go in.

Shawarma like Habibi Ibrahim Hadla..well almost

I first ate shawarma or kebab/ doner as it is also called in Dubai ,in 2000 when I’d moved from Madras ( yeah was still called Madras then).There were a few places which used to sell Shawarma and the better amongst them was the Lebanese village / bistro , which unfortunately no longer exists . So for those who don’t know the Shawarma has come from the Ottoman Empire and each country from the Levant region proclaims that their version makes the bestest version.

So we have lots of chicken / layered with the skin on on a vertical spit/ thick skewer which either slowly rotates or is rotated by hand so each side gets heated and then is sliced of so you get thin slices of cripsy ( no it’s not a typo)chicken and some soft bits ..which then goes in a warm pita bread/ khaboos which is like a wrap but better tasting , a smear of garlic sauce( toom), sliced tomato( panadura in Arabic ), some mint( Nana), some pickled cucumber or pink turnips( don’t ask me why pink, they use beets apparently), and soggy french fries,

Chicken boneless skin on 1kg..this is important, we need the fat from the skin to melt out and keep the meat juicy.if you can get only legs that’s even better, they can stay better with the intense heat..

White vinegar 50ml

Orange juice from 1orange

Allspice powder-1tsp

Clove powder Pinch.

Cinnamon powder -1tsp

Chopped garlic/paste-25gm

Salt-8gm

Sliced raw onion 100gm

Green cardamom 2-3

Chicken stock powder 2gm

Olive oil-20mlSh

  • Mix all marinade ingredients and bash the chicken a bit to make all the ingredients penetrate better . In any case it needs to sit for a few days to to make it better..the vinegar almost half cooks the chicken..in most of the levantine countries they use a spice mix called Baharat shawarma, but you are better off making your own.
  • Next keep in the fridge well covered otherwise everything is going to smell of the spices and stuff.
  • Fast forward to day 3.. if you are stressed for time , atleast keep it overnight . Cook in the oven with a roasting pan lined with baking paper ( listen to me, it makes clean up simpler). Temp 200 C for 20-.move it around after about 15 mins ..and allow to rest in oven after turning it off.
  • then shred it up when cooler and roll up in the pita ( you can make your own, if you are slightly cuckoo like me), or go help your brother in need buy buying his pita bread in the packet , with all the paraphernalia i mentioned before..

stories of foods from the world over, laced with a hint of sarcasm and some black humour, its not for everyone, but then never was meant to be..