March 29, 2010

Let's Go Green...

Please read my Welcome Note first....

I don't know about you, but I love beans - all sorts of beans. Green and dried beans, red, brown, yellow...people don't eat enough beans, even though beans are a good source of protein and fiber.

Today's recipe is Green Beans. Now there are many kinds of Green Beans, but for today it's Broad beans also called Fava Beans.

In Arabic Broad beans are called Ful Akhdar  -- In Iraqi it's called Bagella. Bagella can also be dried and Iraqis love Bagella - bagella stew, bagella tashreeb or fatta (can't explain that now), and bagella with rice and dill. The Persians call it baghalli.

For this recipe I will use Green fresh broad beans with their skin. The picture above shows the skin and the bean inside. You will use both. If you can't find the whole bean in your market, just use the inside. I believe you can also find it frozen. If you use frozen, bear in mind that the cooking time is lessened.

So for about 500grs of fresh broad beans you will need the following

1 onion finely chopped
1 tbs of vegetable oil
2 tbs of olive oil
4 gloves of garlic
half a bouquet of fresh coriander -chopped
1 tbs (more or less) of fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
a dash of cayenne pepper - optional.

I first cut the edges of the bean (I call it the head and tail) then slice each bean in 3 to 4 parts depending on how long it is. What you need is the whole beans in chunks.

fry the onion in  vegetable oil until tender
crush your garlic on top and fry a little more
add your cut beans and stir a little more until the whole thing sizzles
add enough hot water to cover the beans but do not drown them. You can always add more water later...
let it boil for about 3mn
now add your 2 tbs of  olive oil and chopped fresh coriander, salt and pepper
lower the heat and let it cook gently until tender.

Once cooked squeeze some lemon juice on top...Can be served hot or cold.

March 26, 2010


Please read Welcome Note first

Nothing makes me more nervous than news from Iraq, and American reactions to it...I am not sure really what is worse, the Iraqi circus or the endemic, genetic, structural, constitutional ignorance of the Americans -- I think it's the latter that is worse...

Anyways it literally makes my stomach tummy aches, I can't eat, I feel like an elephant has lodged itself on my diaphragm, I feel fire shooting out of my gut as in acidity and I tried all kind of over the counter stuff, none of it works with me...but this old medicinal plant recipe does.

It's powerful, instantaneous and magical...

For 3-4 cups of herbal tea you need the following

1 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon of anis seeds
2 good size zests of orange peel/skin - like strips

add boiling water and let it boil for about 3 -4 mn.

Strain and drink at least 2 cups, use white sugar to sweeten, white sugar helps ease stomach colic.

If you feel sleepy afterward, that's normal...and much welcomed...

To enhance effect you can add 1 tsp of chamomile.

Of course if you can find all the above in teabags format then use teabags,  I prefer the real thing myself...except for American ignorance and Iraqi clowns.

March 22, 2010

A Flower in a Hot Pot...

If you are new to my blog, please read my Welcome Note first.

Today's recipe is a Palestinian one, called Makloubeh. Makloubeh is basically a rice and vegetable mould. I said it's a Palestinian one, which means -- avoid sharing it with any Israeli, because in no time they will appropriate it too and turn it into a Jewish dish...As if there's something called a Jewish dish...but let's leave aside politics for  now...before my appetite and my cooking skills get spoiled at the mention of this despicable entity called the Jewish State.

Makloubeh can be prepared with aubergines/eggplants or cauliflower or both...I will be giving you the cauliflower version...

Cauliflower in Arabic is Qirnabeet in Iraqi, or Irnabeet as Ze oh la la Lebanese call it, they don't like pronouncing the Q, the Palestinians call it Zahra.

Zahra also means a flower...

For 2 persons you will need (more or less)

1 large onion chopped
1-2 tbs of cooking oil
250 grs of lamb or beef cubed (I prefer beef)
salt and pepper
1 small to medium cauliflower
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp powder cinnamon
1/4 cup of pine seeds (optional)
1 to 1.1/2 cup of rice (NOT PARABOILED - opt for long grain- WASHED and soaked in cold water)
1 medium sized saucepan

Now to work :

Fry chopped onion in oil until soft
add meat cubes until brown all over
cover with water (enough for the meat to cook - I also add 1-2 dried bay leaves that I remove later)
add your all spice and pepper (do not add salt because salt turns the meat HARD)
let it cook for about 1/2 hour to 1 hour depending on the meat you use, meat must be tender
separate the cauliflower into florets and fry them separately until golden
by now your meat is cooked
add your fried cauliflower, laying it on top of the meat
add your washed strained rice sprinkled with cinnamon and salt on top of cauliflower
add about 1 to 1.1/2 cups of boiling water
let is boil ONCE
then turn down the heat to a MINIMUM until all the liquid is absorbed.

now when you serve it it should come out as a mould. You need to grab that saucepan, place it on a cold cloth first, so you can get the mould intact. Place your serving plate on top of the saucepan, hold firmly and then flip it upside down - the Makloubeh should come out as a mould - if it does not, it's ok and it's not the end of the's still as tasty...

I decorate the plate with pine nuts that I quickly roast in a small frying pan and then sprinkle them over the Makloubeh...

And while you're preparing this wonderful Palestinian dish, what can be better than listening to a Palestine Dabkeh - folk song. Again don't share this one with the Israelis - they steal everything...

March 16, 2010

From a Fisherman's Daughter....

If you are new to this blog, please read my Welcome Note first...

Food recipes are like the people who share it with you...they each have a story...and some stories are way more touching than others...hence some of the recipes stick to my head...

And every time I cook this I remember Fatima...Fatima was a Tunisian woman I met ages ago in some mosque in Paris...she had an incredibly beautiful smile, she was kind, stood by my side when the world - the Dunya overtook me - and she also taught me this simple recipe...

She came from a very poor family from Tunisia, a family of Fishermen. Her dad was a fisherman, and she told me that on the days he did not manage to catch any fish, which were often, he'd just ask his wife to open a can of tuna and pretend their dad caught one for dinner...

Fatima knew all along that it was just a can of tuna...but she nonetheless congratulated her father for his great catch...

Fatima taught me this recipe...and I remember her telling me -- when you don't have anything to eat, make sure you have at least some pasta and a can of tuna...

Many years have passed since I met Fatima...I am not sure what happened to her...I heard that she got married to a fisherman and maybe she's still smiling that incredibly beautiful smile of hers and pretending like she used to...

This is Fatima's recipe.

Pasta in Tuna Fish sauce.

For 2 persons:

- about 250 - 300 grs of macaroni
- a big can of tuna fish, in salted water (preferable)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbs of tomato paste
- 1 tbs of olive oil
- 1 small onion
- 1/2 tsp of origano /Italian thyme (optional but preferable)
- 1/2 cube of vegetable stock

Tuna Fish sauce

- slice onions and crushed garlic and stir in olive oil
- add tomato paste, salt and pepper (if you use vegetable stock do not add salt)
- add about 1/3 cup of vegetable stock diluted in hot water and let it boil once until the sauce thickens
-strain your canned tuna and add it to your sauce, let it heat up to point of boiling ONCE.
- add your Origano herb. I like aroma, so I am generous with the Origano


- boil your macaroni, I usually add a cube of vegetable stock to the water and some olive oil

once macaroni are cooked to your liking, strain and add your tuna fish sauce on top...mix well.

Decorate with some chopped parsley.

March 5, 2010

From Beautiful Morocco...

If you are new to my blog, please read my Welcome Note first.

I love Morocco and love Moroccan is one of the finest from Al-Maghreb Al-Arabi -the Arabic Maghreb also known as North Africa...

Moroccan food is delicate and I love the sweet and sour mix that you find in some of their recipes like beef tajine with dried plums and almonds...

But tonight's recipe is much simpler and very easy to's chicken with vermicelli presented like a dome...

For those who don't know what vermicelli is - it's a short hair like - pasta.

I have slightly modified the recipe for convenience's sake and instead of using a whole chicken, I prepare it with shredded chicken, also called emincé in French. Am not sure what the equivalent in English is. This is easier to cook and takes much less time.

So for 2 persons you will need the following :

- about 300-350 grms of shredded chicken strips (boneless and skinless obviously)
- 2 1/2 cups of vermicelli, the point is to have enough vermicelli to cover all the chicken...and am not so great with measurements as I hardly use them add more vermicelli if you think the quantity is not sufficient enough to cover your chicken.
- 1 medium size onion
- 1/4 tsp of saffron powder
- 1/4 tsp ginger powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- 2 tbs of olive oil
- fresh grated ginger (optional)
- salt
- pepper
- a knob of butter
- 1 cube of chicken stock
- caster sugar/powder sugar the one used for pastries (as far as I know it's not the same as icing sugar and regular white sugar WILL NOT DO you will see why, later..)

You will need a deep pan for the chicken

- chop onions finely and stir fry it in the olive oil until tender
- add your chicken strips, your cinnamon, saffron, and ginger, salt and pepper...I also grate some fresh ginger because I love ginger and the mix of saffron and ginger is just stupendous...
- the heat must be high, and your chicken must be brown and well cooked.

in the meantime you need to prepare the vermiccelli.

- boiling water with 1 cube of chicken stock and a drop of olive oil. Vermicelli cooks very fast, max 3 mn, but it should not be al dente, it must be soft but not gooey. so keep heat medium.
- this dish must be served HOT, so you need to heat your chicken, and use a tbs of your vermicelli water and sprinkle it on the chicken so it will not dry up.
- strain your vermicelli adding a knob of butter, use a fork
- place half of your pasta in a deep dish, add your chicken, then cover it with more pasta to make it look like a dome...

Sprinkle cinnamon powder and then some caster sugar on top of your dome...and that's it !

Best accompanied with a carrot salad, Moroccan style and I will give you the recipe for it.

Again for 2 persons.

- shredded carrots
- about 10 black olives
- half an orange
- half a lime or lemon
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/2 tbs sesame seeds (optional but preferable)
- a touch of ground cumin
- olive oil (1/2 tbs to 1 tbs)

squeeze half an orange, squeeze half a lemon or lime (I prefer lime)
grate a bit of lime /lemon -- zest to add flavor
mix your orange juice and lemon juice and zest with the olive oil, add the cinnamon, a bit of cumin, salt and pepper and pour the dressing over your carrots and black olives. mix well

Black olives here are very salty so I hardly add salt myself.

Meanwhile roast in small frying pan till light brown your sesame seeds and then sprinkle them pver the salad mix.

Finish off with a nice glass of Moroccan tea (green tea plus lots of fresh mint)

And while preparing this very tasty dish, it is recommended to listen to some lovely music, like this traditional Moroccan song...

March 3, 2010

If it's Cracked it must be Bulgur

If you are new to my blog, please read my Welcome Note first.

I have decided to resume my cooking activities, hence this blog is open again. Now ain't I nice ?!

Bulgur or Borghol in Arabic, or Cracked Weat in English or Coarse Wheat Semolina, usually found in most Arabic and Turkish shops.

This is a very easy recipe to prepare, it's healthy and filling and not expensive.

For 2 persons you will need :

1 cup of Bulgur
1/2 to 2 cups of hot water
1/4 cup of frozen peas or half an eggplant
1/2 red pepper bell
1 onion
1/2 medium size tomato
1 clove of garlic
2 branches of parsley
2 branches of fresh coriander/cilantro
1 cube of beef stock
1/4 small tsp of paprika
1/4 small tsp of curcuma (optional - don't fret if you don't have it)
1/4 small tsp of ground cumin
1/4 small tsp of cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tsp of tomato paste
2 to 2 1/2 tbs of olive oil
a saucepan or a fairly deep frying pan

bear in mind the above spices are to enhance the flavor not kill it -- so easy does it.

First things first

1) rinse the bulgur and let it soak in cold water...that will make it fluffy when cooked

2) rinse frozen peas and soak them in cold salted water

3) if you're using aubergine/eggplant, chop into small dices

4) chop tomato into dices

5) chop coriander leaves

6) finely chop the onion

7) chop red pepper into small dices

mix onions and olive oil on medium fire, grate your glove of garlic and stir fry for a couple of minutes, then add your chopped pepper and again stir fry for a couple of minutes, then add your peas /or your aubergines and chopped coriander and tomato

let it all simmer on a medium fire for about 10 mn until half tender, if it dries out, just sprinkle a LIITLE water

add tomato paste, add spices and the beef stock... (I don't use salt as the beef stock cube is already salty) stir gently for a couple of minutes then add your Bulgur and the hot water..let it boil once then lower temperature and let it cook gently..if the water dries up and you feel the Bulgur is not well cooked yet (it should NOT be al dente) then just add a little more water...

Avoid stirring too much so as not to turn into a mash.

Use chopped parsley to decorate

Best served with grilled lamb chops or grilled spicy sausages. Yum!