Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Middle Eastern Madness

Well, it was an ambitious attempt of eight dishes in two hours but we pulled it off! We're halfway on this trip around the world and we're getting into the swing of things. The kitchen was busy but this meal was declared the favourite so far, yet again!
An amazing range of flavours and textures from around the Middle East.

Three dips: creamy HOMMUS, smokey BABA GANOUSH and soothing CACIK.

With some warm Lebanese bread and gorgeous fresh FALAFEL, this was a real feast.

We didn't really need the DATE & WALNUT PASTRIES, but we had them anyway. They were yum!

An Arabic chick pea (hummus) dish perfect for vegetarians.

Serves: 6 (as part of a meal)
Preparation: 20 minutes
Refrigeration: 30 minutes (minimum)

knife, garlic press, measuring cup, food processor, medium bowl, juicer.


1 ½ cup chickpeas, canned or soaked and cooked chickpeas
1 clove garlic, crushed
50ml olive Oil
1tablespoon tahini (sesame paste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon water
Salt and pepper to taste

Virgin olive oil
Sweet paprika

1. Blend the chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, tahini, cumin and lemon juice in the food processor till just combined
2. Whilst the motor is running add the water till the desired consistency is reached.
3. Add more water for dressing a salad or serving with falafel etc
4. Cover and chill till required

To serve:
Scoop into a dish, make a small well in the center and pour in a little olive oil.
Sprinkle with the sweet paprika.

A smoky eggplant dip, sometimes known as “eggplant caviar”

Serves: 6 (as part of a meal)
Preparation: 20 minutes
Refrigeration: 30 minutes (minimum)

knife, garlic press, measuring cup, large bowl, tongs, juicer, whisk.

Oven: set oven to 180C to roast eggplants.
A gas flame is required or alternatively, use a char grill or BBQ for best results.


1 eggplants (large) washed and dried
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)
½ lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

A sprinkle of chopped parsley, sumac, toasted sesame seeds or cumin,

1. With a sharp knife cut skin of each eggplant about 4 times and place directly over a flame with tongs or skewered on a fork
2. Turn till charred on all sides. This gives the eggplant smoky flavor
3. Place eggplants on a baking tray and bake for 20 to 30 minutes till soft
4. Set aside to cool
5. Once cool peel away the skin
6. Place flesh in a large bowl with the garlic, tahini and the lemon juice and oil
7. Using a whisk beat until the eggplant is mashed and ingredients are combined
8. Taste and season with salt and pepper

To serve:
Scoop into a bowl and sprinkle with garnish.

LUBYI BI ZAYT: Green Beans in Olive Oil & Tomato
A classic Lebanese recipe that can be eaten hot or cold.
Serves: 6 (as part of a meal)
Preparation time: 10 minutes.
Cooking time: 30 – 40 minutes

Equipment: chopping board, knife, boiling pot of water, saucepan with lid, measuring cup

1 kilo green beans, washed, topped and tailed and cut into 5cm lengths
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled* and sliced
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon paprika
Hot water to cover

1. Heat the olive oil in a pot and sauté the onion for 2 minutes till softened
2. Stir in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds
3. Add the green beans, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes
4. Add the paprika, tomato paste and the tomatoes.
5. Stir and cover with hot water
6. Reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 30-40 minutes till beans are tender
7. Sauce should have also thickened.

To serve:
Serve as a side dish with Lebanese pitta bread.

* To peel tomatoes cut a cross into the base and plunge for 30 seconds into boiling water. Remove, cool slightly and peel away the skin. Cut tomatoes over a bowl to reserve the juices. Incorporate the juices into the dish.


Serves: 6 (as part of a meal)
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time 45 minutes

Equipment: knife, cutting board, baking tray lined with baking paper, oven, large bowl, blender

Oven: 200 C (hot)

1 large head cauliflower, broken into florets
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons medium-coarse sea salt
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
¼ cup tahini paste
¼ cup water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (approximately 1 lemon)
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1. Heat oven to 200C degrees.
2. Line a baking sheet with baking paper
3. In a mixing bowl, toss cauliflower with oil, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper until well coated.
4. Spread in a single layer on 2 baking sheets and roast, stirring and turning once or twice
5. Roast until cauliflower is tender and crispy brown in spots, about 45 minutes.
6. Puree tahini paste, water, lemon juice, garlic and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth.
7. Remove cauliflower from oven and immediately transfer to a serving bowl.
8. Pour tahini sauce over the cauliflower, toss to combine.
9. Serve warm or let stand at room temperature.

This variation of roast eggplant is flavoured with warm spices and a hint of lemon.

Serves: 6 (as part of a meal)
Preparation: 30 minutes
Chilling time: 30 minutes +

Equipment: knife, cutting board, colander, kitchen paper, baking tray lined with foil, oven, tongs, wooden spoon, large frypan, serving plate

Oven: 200 C (hot)

500 grams carrot, coarsely grated (about 4 cups)
¼ cup olive oil
4 tablespoons orange juice or lemon juice, freshly squeezed
¼ cup parsley leaf, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon harissa paste (or chopped fresh green chilli to taste)

1. In a large bowl combine all ingredients and taste
2. Adjust salt, spice and juice as required and cover
3. Chill and marinate at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.

To serve:
Serve chilled or at room temperature as a side dish.

For a more substantial dish add toasted slivered almonds, raisins or toasted coconut.
Add slices of peeled orange segments for a sweeter salad.
Delicious chick pea “fritters” perfect for snacks, rolls or as part of a mezze meal

Serves: 6 (as part of a meal)
Preparation: 30 minutes (not including soaking time)
Cooking time 20 minutes

knife, garlic press, measuring cup, large bowl, small bowl for rubbish, food processor, saucepan, absorbent paper, slotted spoon, frypan, wooden spoon


1 cup chick peas soaked overnight
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, ground
2 teaspoons coriander seed, ground
½ cup sesame seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
½ bunch parsley leaves, washed and chopped
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons self raising flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
1 litre oil for frying

Pita bread to serve.

1. Dry chick peas well and place in the food processor.
2. In a frypan fry the onion, garlic, spices and sesame seeds in a little oil for 2 minutes
3. Add to the food processor with the parsley baking powder and chilli if using.
4. Pulse till mixture is well combined and green!
5. Tip into a large bowl and mix through baking powder and self raising flour.
6. Roll walnut sized balls of the mix and place on a tray till ready to cook.
7. Heat oil so that when a falafel ball is dipped it begins to bubble straight away.
8. Place enough falafel balls in oil leaving enough room to turn them, do not crowd.
9. Using a slotted spoon, move them to colour lightly.
10. Lift them and set aside whilst you par cook the remaining falafels * see note
11. Place the first batch back in the hot oil to finish cooking, repeat till all are golden brown
12. Drain onto plenty of paper towels.
13. Keep them warm in the oven or microwave before serving.

Serving suggestions: Falafel are great in rolls with tabbouleh/ salad and hummus.
They can be served with couscous and vegetables as part of a main meal and make great snacks.
* NB par cooking ensures they do not burn on the outside before the insides are cooked!

These sweet, cigar shaped pastries are perfect with coffee or as a dessert.
Serves: 8 (as a dessert)
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Equipment: chopping board, knife, food processor, pastry brush, paper lined baking tray.
Oven 180C to toast walnuts and bake pastries

1 cup Medjool (fresh) dates, pitted
1 cup walnuts, toasted in the oven
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon orange peel, finely grated
½ teaspoon ground cardamom seeds

8 sheets filo pastry
50 g unsalted butter, melted

1. Combine dates, walnuts, orange peel, cardamom and 1 tablespoon of honey in food processor
2. Blend until a rough paste forms
3. Divide the mixture into 8 and form into even cigar shapes, set aside
4. Cut the stack of filo pastry in 2 lengthwise (making two long rectangle stacks)
5. Cover filo stack with a tea towel to stop it drying out
6. Take one piece of filo, brush with melted butter and top with a second sheet. Brush with butter.
7. Place a cigar shaped log of filling 2 cm away from the edge and roll into a log
8. Place on tray and brush with butter
9. Repeat till you have completed 8 logs
10. Bake until golden (about 20-25 minutes)
11. Cool on baking sheet before serving

To serve:
Serve each log with a dollop of yoghurt drizzled with honey for dipping. (optional)

Roll bananas cut in half with crushed macadamias, sugar and cardamom

No comments:

Post a Comment