December 13, 2011

Engage Your Senses - Chicken Curry in Coconut Sauce

This is one of my absolute favorites. Before I give you this very simple recipe, if you're familiar with this blog, you know what my only condition is - if you're a new reader - all I ask of you is to feed one hungry person (or more), every time you try out one of my recipes.

As some of you may know by now, I like it simple, quick and easy...I love cooking but I don't like spending much time in the kitchen. So the following recipe is guaranteed to give you flavor, tastiness, aroma, exoticism, and you can really impress your guests, in less than 30mn.

For 2 you will need the following ingredients :

- 2 pieces of boneless, skinless, chicken filet cut in small chunks. (boneless/skinless means less cooking time and less fat)

- 1 to 2 Celery sticks chopped in smallish pieces

- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut in small pieces (not tiny just small)

- 1/2 cup of frozen peas

- 2 small potatoes peeled and cut in smallish chunks

- 3 cloves of garlic - crushed

- 10 branches of fresh cilantro/coriander - mince the leaves

- 1 tablespoon of cooking oil

- 1 cube of chicken stock

- about 3 to 4 (flat/small)teaspoons of medium/hot curry (you can always opt for mild curry if you're not into spicy)

- 1 teaspoon of turmeric/curcuma

- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

- 2 to 3 tbs of yogurt

- salt

- garlic powder (optional)

- coconut milk or grated dried coconut (you can find both ready made)

- 1/2 tsp of grated fresh ginger /otherwise use powder ginger

Preparation :

- cut the chicken filet (you can also use turkey) in small chunks and marinate them in the yogurt + 1 tsp of curry + 1 tsp of turmeric + 1 tsp of garlic powder and some salt - best overnight in the fridge or at least for a couple of hours.

- steam all the above vegetables (peas, carrot, potatoes, celery) until half cooked. If you don't have a steamer, just boil them until half cooked (it's quicker if you do so, since you're using chicken filet and chicken filet cooks real fast unlike raw vegetables - you don't want the chicken to cook before the vegetables - logic!)

- meanwhile : in 1 tbs of cooking oil, fry the minced garlic and the fresh coriander for about 2 mn, add your marinated chicken, stir it in and let it cook until a little golden on medium fire

- add your steamed/half boiled vegetables, and cook for another 2 mn.

- add enough coconut milk to cover your stew in which you will dissolve 1 cube of chicken stock for extra flavor + add a little water so it does not become too thick.

- add the remaining 2 tsp of curry, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of fresh ginger. Mix well and let it simmer for another 7 to 10 mn on medium fire. If sauce gets too thick, add some water. (you will know when it's cooked - when the vegetables are)

- if you opt for dried coconut instead of coconut milk- use about 3 Tablespoons and add more water, as dried coconut makes the sauce thicker -

- extra tip : if you are using coconut milk add one flat Tbs of dried coconut for extra flavor.

- Decorate with a few cilantro leaves and serve with saffron rice.

As a rule of thumb : Always check for taste, texture and aroma - you don't want it too liquid nor too thick - nor do you want to suffocate it with spices or coconut. I taste often while cooking because the measurements are not always exact - not even in applied Sciences!

Saffron rice :

For two

- 1 large cup of Basmati rice, well washed and drained
- 1 to 1 1/2 cup of BOILING water
- 1/2 tsp of saffron powder or a large pinch of saffron threads
- 1 flat tbs of cooking oil
- 2 tbs of sultanas (dried raisins)
- 3 tbs of shredded skinless (unsalted) almonds (you can also use whole skinless almonds)
- salt to taste


- heat the oil, add the washed drained rice, salt, sultanas and mix well
- add the saffron powder diluted in boiling water, mix again and lower heat to minimum until all liquid is absorbed.
- in a separate small non stick frying pan, put a little oil, and fry your almonds till golden
- decorate the rice with almonds and serve with the chicken.

NB : If you can't find Saffron, just proceed as above without it. So it will be white rice with sultanas and almonds.

Enjoy !

October 18, 2011

Linguine with Pears & Sage

If you're new to my blog, this is my only condition - of course I have no way of checking - but if you do try out one of my recipes, you are to feed one (or more) hungry person. Let it circulate.

Tonight's recipe was suggested by a friend. Actually she suggested Raviolis with pears, which I had never tried before. So that got me curious, and I searched around and came up with my own version. I say my own version because I have no time to make raviolis, so I settled for linguine instead. Linguine is spaghetti like but flat. If you don't have linguine use Tagliatelle.

You might say - what ? pasta with pears ? don't judge before you try it out. It is one of the most succulent combinations I have had in my life. Besides it's the pears season, so why not get a little imaginative ?! And it is so EASY to prepare.

For two you will need :

- 250 grams of linguine pasta

- 2 preferably hard pears

- about 4 branches of FRESH Sage. leaves only.

- half a cup of fresh cream (I use half cream because otherwise it would get a little too heavy with all the cheese)

- a tablespoon of olive oil (the traditional recipe suggests butter -again that would make it way too heavy and you don't want clogged arteries)

- about half a cup of Gorgonzola cheese ( I found a ready mix of Gorgonzola and Mascarpone which was delicious - so if you can find that mix opt for that one otherwise stick with Gorgonzola alone)

- about half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

- a small handful of Walnuts

- pepper and salt to taste (remember the cheese is already salty so you may want to take it easy with the salt)


- peel pears and cut them in vertical slices, and then again in two - like small thick sticks. (this is not a lesson in geometry so don't fret OK ?)

- in a large deep non stick pan, put the olive oil and the slices of pears, until the pears are GOLDEN.

- once done, remove pears and keep aside

- in that same pan, add sage leaves (if they are large - cut in two) and cook them for one minute.

- add cream, pieces of Gorgonzola plus Parmesan cheese and let it cook/simmer for another 5 to 7 mn or so, on a gentle fire, you don't want that to boil. Keep stirring gently until the cheese melts into the cream.

- now put your pears with its juice (if any) into that lovely creamy sauce and let it cook for one more minute.

TIP: Check amount of sauce, you can always add more cream and cheese if you feel it will not be enough to cover your whole pasta

Meanwhile - Pasta preparation.

- place linguine in boiling water with salt and a drop of olive oil, until cooked.
- drain them
- add them to your sage and pear sauce
- throw in your hand crushed walnuts
- mix well so that all the pasta is covered with the sauce. Covered in sauce NOT drowning in sauce
- leave to simmer for a couple of minutes.

Serve hot and decorate with a sage leaf and a couple of walnuts - and pray for me because you will LOVE it!

And here's a little Italian music to accompany you.

October 1, 2011

White Beans Stew with Vermicelli Rice.

As usual, you need the conditions here - if you try one of my recipes, you are to feed one (or more) hungry persons. Let the Goodness circulate !

Tonight's recipe is very easy to prepare. White Beans Stew or "Fasulia Bayda bil lahmeh" in Arabic - roughly the equivalent of a chili con carne or your regular baked beans except it has meat and does not have this sweet tinge to it. Some people use pieces of lamb or beef when preparing the bean stew, I use neither. I opt for lean minced beef as it is much faster to cook and I find it tastier.

Traditionally one uses dried white beans as opposed to canned. If you do opt for that, you need to soak them overnight and boil them till tender. I chose canned - again because it's faster.

So for two people you will need the following :

- 250 grms of lean minced beef (you can always buy your regular mince but I like lean)
- about 500 grms = 2 medium tins of canned white beans (NOT in any sauce)
- 6/7 stalks of fresh coriander/cilantro or parsley - minced
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic minced.
- 1 large ripe tomato cut in small pieces
- 1 tbs of cooking oil
- 1 beef stock cube
- 2 flat tbs of tomato paste (see below for color check)
- about 1 to 1 1/2 standard cup (not mug) of boiled water
- and the following spices for the Keema i.e for the minced meat preparation:
* 1/4 tsp mixed spices (allspice)
* 1/4 tsp of ground cumin
* 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
* a dash of sweet paprika
* a dash of Curcuma/ Turmeric
* pepper and salt (if you're using beef cube stock it's probably salty already)

the secret of this bean stew is in the Keema - ie the minced meat mix.

- heat the oil and fry your garlic and onion until tender brown
- add your minced meat (I wash mine and leave it to drain)
- add all the spices above
- leave to cook well until the meat is brownish. This is important otherwise minced meat tastes like gum and is chewy. You need to cook it well first before adding the rest.
- once the meat is cooked, add the pieces of fresh tomato + cilantro or parsley
- leave it to simmer for a about 5 mn on a medium heat
- rinse your canned beans in cold water, drain well and add to the keema mix it and leave for a few more minutes
- finally dilute tomato paste and beef stock in boiling water, pour over the beans and meat, mix well and let it boil once, covered and let it cook gently over a low fire until all the flavors are absorbed. Should not take more than 7 to 10 mn.
- make sure the stew is not too liquid nor too thick. And its color should be a healthy red, not burgundy (too much tomato paste) and not orange (too little tomato paste)

If you're a vegetarian - skip the meat part, add the beans then the spices and substitute beef stock with vegetable stock

This cooks fairly fast so you need to have your vermicelli rice "riz bil sha'riya" ready.

Vermicelli rice preparation :

- 1 1/2 cup of Basmati rice, thoroughly washed in cold water
- one big handful of vermicelli pasta
- approx one tbs of cooking oil
- salt to taste
- 1 1/2 cup of boiling water.

Heat the oil well and put the vermicelli until they are golden brown. Be careful because vermicellis burn quickly.
add your drained rice and salt
mix well
add the boiling water.

Let it boil once only and leave to simmer covered on a VERY LOW fire until all liquid is absorbed.

Serve with the hot beans stew.

Bon appétit or Sahtein in Arabic.

September 22, 2011

Fish Brochette in Green Curry Sauce.

I suppose you know the rules by now - please read my welcome note. In sum, for every recipe of mine that you try, you are too fed one hungry (or more) person (s). Let God's Energy of Abundance circulate and touch as many people as possible through your contribution.

I had in mind a mix of dried beans for dinner. I soaked them overnight, boiled them for over 4 hours and they remained hard. The grocer tricked me. He said they were fresh, I believe he has been hoarding them since the days of when beans were first discovered. So there goes the beans.

Fortunately, I had bought a small piece of salmon filet and small piece of cod filet. Was planning to cook them tomorrow - Friday.

It's an old habit that I have kept from my Catholic school days which thankfully are OVER. The food and everything else was awful, but on Fridays, the nuns insisted on feeding us fish, for religious reasons. They argued that Fridays are for fish as per Jesus recommendations. Thank God for Jesus recommendations, that was the only thing I was able to swallow in that school. So I guess unconsciously I kept that rule - Fish on Fridays.

So with my beans being hard as stone, I had to cook something. What better than fish on wood skewers. Am sure you've seen those small wooden skewers in your supermarket. Get them you can do wonders with them. If you don't have them, don't worry, just follow...end result is the same.

I delved into my spice cabinet, that looks like a small spice bazaar, and found a jar of green curry paste. I also had a can of coconut milk. Et voilà, the recipe manifested itself.

Needless to say if you don't like Spicy, then this is not a recipe for you.

So for two you will need double of what I had.

- 2 small pieces of salmon plus two small pieces of cod filets, or any fish of your choice, skinless and boneless.
- a jar of green curry paste - readily available in all foodstores
- a small onion finely chopped
- 2 gloves of garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger or some ginger powder (green curry paste already contains ginger but I like ginger - so if you're not too much into ginger, skip that bit)
- fresh cilantro, 5 branches, leaves only - minced
- coconut milk
- Thai fish sauce or Soy sauce, otherwise just use salt
- half a sweet green pepper bell cut in squarish pieces
- 2 wooden skewers - if not skip that part.

Preparation :

- wash fish and pat dry (I wash everything so yes, fish included)
- cut in equal thick chunks
- put them on wood skewers with pieces of sweet pepper bell in between - for example, 2 pieces of fish, one piece of green pepper and so on...
- in a deep non stick frying pan with a tiny bit of cooking oil, put the fish skewers until golden cooked, it is important because fish breaks easily - turn them occasionally so you can have them golden like all over.
- in a small frying pan - with a tiny bit of oil, fry your onions, ginger and garlic mix.
- pour over the fish, make sure to gently mix well
- dilute your green curry paste into the coconut milk (read instructions on your jar for measurements), mix well.
- pour over fish and add the fresh cilantro. Make sure to cover the fish with the coconut milk /green curry mix. Let it boil once and turn heat to low, occasionally turning the skewers so all the fish gets the flavor.

As I said this is a HOT dish. You need to balance out with something sweetish.
Here comes the art my dears. White rice cooked with desiccated coconut, dried raisins, and milk. Wait, don't frown--- read on. It is so tasty. You will thank me for it.

Rice preparation : You can't have shortcuts here, follow as indicated.

For two you need :

- 1 cup of Basmati rice
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon of desiccated dried unsweetened coconut
- about 3/4 of a cup of boiling water
- half a cup of regular cold milk (skip skimmed milk)
- a tablespoon of dried raisins
- salt to taste.

- Wash rice thoroughly
- fry onion in hot oil until tender
- add rice, coconut and salt
- mix well
- add boiling water then cold milk. mix well.
- let it boil once and lower heat to minimum until all liquid absorbed. If you feel your rice is still hard just sprinkle some more boiling water.

Serve with the spicy fish.

P.S: if your curry paste is really tooo spicy, you can add to the coconut milk 1 to 2 small teaspoons of sugar (preferably brown) that will even out the hotness that is oh so good!

Enjoy !

September 20, 2011

Couscous Royal

I have to go through the motions again - if you are new to my blog, you are asked the following - every time you try one of my recipes - you are to feed one (or more) hungry person(s). Keep the Energy circulating. You've been given, you give back and you get back 10 fold. Simple no ?

Now for tonight's recipe - it's Couscous Royal - will make you feel like royalty, trust me. But made easy...I love easy and simple.

Now if you are a vegetarian - you do exactly same but skip the meat. Read on, I will tell you how **

If you're not a vegetarian, know that Couscous Royal consists of Meat, Chicken and Merguez.
For the sake of convenience, am skipping the meat bit. Contend yourselves with Chicken and Merguez. If you can't find Merguez, keep it to chicken.

What is Merguez ? it's basically a lamb/beef spicy sausage, found in North Africa, in particular Tunisia and Algeria. If you can't find Merguez in your local shop, don't fret, just settle with Chicken.

Assuming you do find Merguez where you live

You will need for 2 the following :

- 3 Merguez cut in equal pieces (I like to cut them because I like things thoroughly cooked)
- 2 large pieces of Chicken (up to you - drumsticks or chicken breasts, if drumsticks make it 4 pieces), with skin and bone.
- 1 large onion
- half a cinnamon stick
- 3 bays leaves
- 3 whole cardamom grains
- 4-5 cloves
- a few pepper corns (whole pepper)

For the vegetables you will need :

- 2 small carrots
- 1 and half cup of shredded cabbage
- 2 leeks chopped
- 1 turnip cut in chunks
- 1 courgette - stripped like a "zebra", then cut vertically then in two like thick sticks
- 1 celery stick - cut in equal pieces
- 4 branches of parsley, chopped
- 2-3 branches of fresh coriander/cilantro chopped

For the sauce you will need :

- the chicken stock which you will save (see later)
- about 1/4 spoon of Couscous spices also called Ras al Hanoot (which you can find in any North African shop and consists of ground: black pepper, dried chili, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic powder, ginger, mustard seeds, cloves)
- an added dash of ginger powder
- an added dash of paprika
- an added dash of cinnamon
- and 1/4 tsp of HARISSA - Harissa is a Spicy Hot Tunisian paste, (found in all North African shops) if you can't find Harissa just use red cayenne pepper.
- about 1 1/2 tbs of tomato paste. (keep in mind - not too light red, not too burgundy red for color)
- 1 can of canned chickpeas, rinsed and soaked in warm water with CUMIN.
- salt to taste.

Of course if you like it lukewarm skip the extra spices and just stick to the Couscous spices ready made mix.

For the actual semolina - i.e the Couscous itself :
you can find easy to prepare couscous, that takes about 5-7 mn. you don't need a couscousier (special pot for couscous)

So for 2 :

- 1 cup of couscous (read directions on pack but usually it is 1 cup and a bit of salted boiling water for one cup of couscous)
- a handful of sultanas or dried raisins
- a tsp of cumin seeds or powder
- one knob of butter or about 1 1/2 tsp of olive oil
- and a handful of the tinned soaked and drained chickpeas (see above).

Be patient, I know it looks like a long recipe but it's really very simple. We are going to take it one step at a time :

First the chicken :

- wash your chicken thoroughly and boil it with: the bay leaves, cloves, onion cut in 2, cinnamon stick, cardamom grains and pepper corn. Cover with enough water, bring to boil and let it cook gently until tender.

IF you are going to use Merguez sausages :

- wash them, cut them in pieces and in a non stick pan with NO oil, fry them until cooked. Set aside.

Meanwhile the Vegetables :

I always take the easy way - I cut them all in pieces as described above and steam them for about 15mn in electrical steamer . If you don't have a steamer, just boil them until HALF cooked

Once your chicken and merguez are ready...

- use the chicken broth drained and put in a deep non stick pan, dilute the tomato paste, the harissa, the spices, the chopped herbs (parsley plus coriander), add your chicken, your sausages, your half cooked veggies and a handful of drained chickpeas - they must be covered with the chicken broth, otherwise add a little water. Mix well, let it boil once and let it simmer on a slow low heat until all the flavors are absorbed.

Now for the semolina or couscous itself.

- follow the directions on your couscous pack, choose the easy couscous that takes 7 mn max.
- in a large deep pan, put your couscous grains, a handful of drained chickpeas (the ones you soaked before), some sultanas or dried raisins, add the cumin, plus a knob of butter or olive oil. Using a fork, mix well and separate the grains occasionally until they are all fluffed...

Serve with the chicken and merguez sauce.

** For Vegetarians, skip the chicken and merguez, just use boiling water with 1 vegetable stock plus your half cooked veggies, chickpeas, spices, and herbs...and proceed as above

Sahtein in Arabic or Bon Appétit.

September 17, 2011

Kashmiri Chicken Curry.

If you are new to my blog, please read my welcome note first - basically put - if you try one of my recipes, you are to feed one hungry person. Keep the Energy flowing.

The other day a friend who knows how much I relish spices, gave me a little box of Kashmiri curry. It looked different from the other curry mixes I've seen. Kind of darker and oh, the smell.
So of course I had to use it ASAP. I started digging around for a typical recipe from Kashmir, and most were quite complicated and time consuming. Finally stumbled on one, that is easy to prepare, takes about 45mn max, and is sooo will just love me for it (I hope) :-)

But first, you will need some Kashmiri curry mix. If you are into spices like I am, am sure you know places where you can buy those delicate mixes. If not, and that's quite unfortunate you will have to prepare your own mix, or just settle for your regular curry which is quite a shame really.

If you want to prepare your own because you can't find it ready made, here are the following spices you need to use in equal measures.

Ground : Coriander, cardamom, caraway, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, pepper, nutmeg, fennel, aniseed, turmeric, all spice. Have fun mixing. Trust me, settle for already made.

So let's get to the Kashmiri chicken curry, with perfumed rice and yogurt salad.

Chicken Curry for 2 :

- 300 grams of boneless, skinless WASHED chicken filet, cut in small chunks
- 1 cm of FRESH ginger finely minced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic finely minced
- 2 small onions finely chopped
- 2 tsp of Kashmiri curry
- 5-6 branches of fresh cilantro/coriander leaves only - minced
- about 80--100 grams of yogurt (full fat forget skimmed for now)
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- a pinch of saffron threads (not powder)
- 2 tsp of minced bleached almonds
- 2 tsp of unsalted minced pistachios (without the outer skin of course)
- 1 tbs of cooking oil
- salt to taste if your chicken cube stock is not salty enough.

Preparation :

- stir fry finely chopped onions in hot oil, until tender
- mix in your garlic and ginger paste plus the curry and stir for 2 mn or so
- add your chicken cubes, mix well and leave until they are golden (ish), use medium heat
- add chopped fresh cilantro.
- meanwhile grill pistachios and almonds with a tiny bit of oil, until almonds go light gold
- dilute 1 cube chicken stock in 1 cup of boiling water, add to the chicken, stir and leave it
COVERED on medium heat for about 10mn or so.
- after 10mn, add HALF of the almonds and pistachios, the yogurt and threads of saffron
- MIX well and leave covered on medium heat for another 15mn or so
- look for texture and consistency. Not too liquid, not too thick.

Rice preparation for 2.

- you can take the easy way out and just prepare BASMATI rice (paraboiled rice is FORBIDDEN in my kitchen) or go for something a little more interesting and oh so tasty.

In either case :

1 cup of rice for two is usually sufficient.
WASH rice thoroughly until the water comes out clear of any starch
heat a little oil add your rice, plus salt, mix well
add ONE cup of boiling water, let it boil once and leave on VERY LOW heat until water is completely absorbed

Now for the interesting bit :

Prepare rice as above, but add some ground cardamom and some EDIBLE dried rose petals, just a pinch. If you don't have edible rose petals, use a bit of rosewater.

Serve with the curry and decorate rice with the rest of almonds and pistachios and sprinkle some rose petals on top.

A cool refreshing salad that goes with this meal is Cucumber yogurt salad.

- cut cucumber in small pieces
- add yogurt, enough to cover the cucumber
- add salt
- add cumin
- add dried mint.
- add a dash of pepper
- Mix well and serve cold.

Serve all the above with MANGO chutney and finish off with a refreshing, mango sorbet with pieces of fresh mango mixed inside topped with fresh mint leaves.

And don't forget KASHMIR nor those who don't have the luxury of food.

Bon appétit.

September 11, 2011

Veal, Prunes and Almonds Tajine.

This is a non lucrative site, every time you try one of my recipes, all am asking you is to feed one hungry person in whichever way you choose, in return. Let the Energy circulate.

Tonight's recipe comes from Morocco, a Tajine of Veal, dried Prunes and Almonds and a Moroccan Carrot salad.

A Tajine is cooking bowl with a cover, made of earth, which can only be used in an oven. I don't have a Tajine, but that will not prevent me from enjoying the exquisite Moroccan cuisine. Hence I found a way around the Tajine bowl.

Every country has its sweet and sour recipe, Morocco is no exception. We have a similar dish in Iraq but instead of Prunes we use dried Apricots.

For this Tajine dish and for two persons you will need the following (rough measures)

- 250 grams of pieces of veal cut in smallish chunks for stewing. I use veal with no fat, no skin, no grease, no nothing. Veal cooks faster than beef. Alternatively you can always get beef.

- 50 grams of finely shredded FRESH Ginger.
- 2 medium size onions finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic finely minced
- 2 Tbs of cooking oil
-1/2 cup of finely chopped FRESH Coriander/Cilantro and Parsley
- Saffron in powder or threads - a generous pinch.
- 12-14 dried prunes
- 1 tsp of honey
- 2 Tbs of Sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup of bleached Almonds (i.e no skin)
- salt to taste.


- soak your dried prunes in cold water for about 10mn
- heat the oil and stir fry the chopped onions and garlic until golden brown.
- add the grated ginger, minced parsley and coriander, and the saffron
- mix well and let it cook for a couple of minutes on a medium fire
- now put your chunks of veal and mix well, leave for a few minutes until the veal takes in all the flavor of the mix and COVER
- pour in some hot water just enough to cover the veal. mix well
- leave it to cook on a medium fire until tender. Keep it covered, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile :

- get a small frying pan and grill your sesame seeds until golden - be careful sesame seeds burn quickly you don't want them to taste bitter. So grill them lightly and put on the side

- in a little oil, fry your almonds until golden, set aside.

By now your veal is cooked, and tender.

- pour in the prunes, and the honey into your stew, mix well and let it cook for a few more minutes.
- heat your oven to medium, pour the whole content of saucepan into a glass dish, cover it with the fried almonds and put in the oven for about about 10 mn or so. Make sure it does not dry out. So keep checking. You must have enough sauce left.

- Upon serving, sprinkle half the quantity of your grilled sesame seeds on top. Serve with rice.

Carrot Salad.

This is a delicious salad, that goes well with this Tajine.

Preparation :

- Shredded carrots
- black olives
- dash cinnamon powder
- dash cumin
- salt, pepper
- freshly squeezed lemon juice
- freshly squeeze orange juice
- sesame seeds grilled
- olive oil.

Prepare the salad sauce by mixing equal amounts of lemon and orange juice, add the salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon and olive oil and mix well.

Pour on top of the shredded carrots and black olives mix, decorate with rest of grilled sesame seeds.

To finish ...

Serve some Green Tea with resh Mint and add some Pine nuts to it. Best served in glasses not cups.

Bon appétit.

September 10, 2011

Fish Yassa - Senegal

Please read Welcome Note first----it's over there, yes there on the right hand corner of the blog.

Tonight I ended up cooking something I had no intention of cooking. I thought I took out the meat to defrost, turns out I took out the fish instead. So I found myself with a lovely filet, waiting to be cooked.

I must say I was disappointed because I really wanted to prepare that other recipe which I will share with you tomorrow insha'Allah but since it was Fish, so be it.

Just as it so happens, a Senegalese friend of mine, told me of a fish recipe. He was a little drunk when he gave me the measures, so I researched it and simplified it.

Fish Yassa.

I used cod filet because this is what I had, am told you can use any fish. Personally I like it easy and quick. So filet is perfectly fine.

For two people you will need

- 2 pieces of Fish filet about 300grs.
- 2-3 onions finely chopped
- 2 gloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1/4 to 1/2 tbs of DIJON Mustard
- 2 tbs of FRESH lemon Juice
- 2-3 tbs of cooking oil - I use sunflower
- red chili /cayenne - I like it hot so 1/4 tsp or a little more for me
- black pepper - a dash
- 2 flat tbs of Tamarind syrup - if you don't have tamarind use Soya Sauce, but Tamarind is much nicer.
- 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1 vegetable stock (cube)
- 1 cup of boiling water.
- vegetables: I used frozen peas and carrots (about half a cup) and 2 potatoes peeled and sliced in cubes, or you can opt for one potato and some Brussels sprouts (sliced in 2) or regular finely chopped cabbage - about a handful.

Preparation made easy :

- heat oil and put the minced onions and garlic until tender and golden brown.
- add your chili, pepper, cinnamon, Dijon mustard, Tamarind or Soya sauce, lemon juice and stir well on a medium heat, mixture should look like a paste.
- now add your cube/stock diluted in 1 cup of boiling water, stir well
- put in your vegetables, let it boil once and then lower heat until all your vegetables are cooked and the sauce thickens, but make sure it's not too thick. So add a little water if necessary (remember it's not a soup)


- In a separate non stick frying pan - heat a good quantity of cooking oil, I stress on that bit, the oil must be really hot because you will be frying the fish in it. If the oil is not hot enough, the fish will break into pieces. We don't want that to happen. So be patient and heat your oil well before putting in the fish. If you don't like it fried you can grill it instead. I prefer fried because the fish stays hard.

- the fish must be fried until GOLDEN BROWN and a little crispy.

- remove the fish, put it on a kitchen towel paper to absorb the oil and leave aside.

- once your sauce is ready, put the fish inside the sauce and cover it well with your mix so it can absorb all the flavors.

- prepare rice and serve Fish Yassa on top of rice.

Enjoy and see you tomorrow Insha'Allah for a new recipe.

September 3, 2011

Chicken Mafé - Senegal.

If new to blog, please read my Welcome Note first - if you're too lazy I'll sum it up for you : if you try any one of my recipes, you are to feed one (or more) hungry person in return.

Tonight we are heading to Africa. West Africa in particular, Senegal to be more precise.
The following dish Chicken Mafé is also cooked in Gambia, Mali and the Ivory Coast.

You can use any meat you like, lamb, beef goat or chicken. I use chicken because I don't like lamb, never tasted goat and beef takes too long to cook.

So for 2 you will need the following :

- 2 pieces of boneless, skinless chicken filet cut in medium chunks or 250 grms
- 1 cup of cut potatoes in medium size chunks
- 1/2 cup of sliced carrots
- 1 tbs of cooking oil
- 1 tbs of tomato paste
- 1 cup of fresh tomatoes cut in small pieces
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 3 gloves of garlic minced
- 1/2 tbs of fresh ginger minced (optional- for me it's a must)
- 1 cup of hot chicken stock or 1 cup of hot water
- 1/2 cup of unsalted peanut butter
- salt and pepper to taste.

Preparation :

- heat the oil and saute until golden brown the chicken pieces. Boneless skinless chicken is best as peanut butter is already full of calories, you don't need to add with more animal fat.

- remove the chicken and put aside

- using same pot, put the onions and stir fry them for about 4 mn,

- add the minced garlic and ginger and saute for another 2 mn

- add the tomato paste and the peanut butter and mix well

- add chopped tomatoes and mix well

- add the chicken pieces, and the potatos and carrots and mix well on a medium fire

- leave to simmer for a couple of minutes until the vegetables give some of their juices.

- now add your water or chicken stock, with salt and pepper to taste.

leave to cook for about 20-30mn or until your vegetables are tender. Make sure to add a little water and occasionally stir. You need a stew like not a paste like mix.

Serve with rice or with couscous on the side.

- if you are going to prepare rice, add a handful of dried raisins and some powder cinnamon.
- if you are opting for couscous, add raisins and ground cumin.

Best suited salad to accompany is a salad made of avocados, tomatoes, spring onions, radish, all sliced covered with fresh mint with an olive oil and fresh lemon juice dressing.

Enjoy and a thought or more for Africa - in particular Libya - the gate to Africa.

PS: If you are a vegetarian, proceed as above, skip meat but add more vegetables of your choice such as cabbage, eggplant, squash. okra.

August 21, 2011

Red Lentil Soup.

If you are new to my cooking blog - please read my Welcome Note first. Thanks.

During Ramadan when breaking the fast, the first meal, is usually a soup. So today I will give you a simple recipe for a lentil soup.

There are different types of lentils (red, brown and green), the one today is red Lentils.
Some red lentils depending on how long you've had them, cook faster than others. The fresher the faster.

For 4 people you will need the following

- 2 cups of red lentils
- 2 small onions finely chopped
- 10 branches of fresh parsley - leaves only - alternatively you can use dried parsley but it won't taste as good.
- chicken or beef or vegetable stock one and half cube (optional)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- salt and pepper
- 3/4 tbs of tomato paste


- Rinse and soak your lentils for 30mn in cold water - you don't have to but it is preferable.
- in a large saucepan, put the drained lentils and cover them with boiling water, do not drown them, just cover enough.
- let it boil until very very tender. add water as it boils, so it doesn't dry up
- depending on the type of red lentils you use, if they are very fresh, they will looked mashed when totally cooked.
- If they don't look mashed, use a blender. ie. put your lentils in the blender until they are soup like.
- always check for texture - not too thick, not too liquid. you can always add a little more boiled water.


- with a little oil, fry your chopped onions WITH the tomato paste, until they are red.
- pour the onion mixture on top of the mashed lentils back in a saucepan
- add your cube stock (optional)
- add salt, pepper and ground cumin
- mix well and let it boil, adding a little hot water if necessary. check texture
- TIP - you can also add a handful of Vermicelli to the boil, but that is optional.
- leave to simmer for a few minutes, stirring frequently.
- right towards the end before serving, put the parsley leaves and a squeeze of fresh Lemon juice.
- stir again and leave one more minute.

Ready to serve.

Sahtein, Bon appétit.

August 9, 2011

From Iraq - Tabsee Bentijan.

Please --- Welcome Note first.

Tabsee Bentijan is an old Mesopotamian recipe and has its variations in the rest of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. We exported recipes too.

There are many ways to make Tabsee Bentijan but first a definition of terms.

Tabsee = a concave round tray - I use glass Pyrex.
Bentijan = Aubergines - Eggplants.
Tabsee Bentijan = Aubergines in a tray.

I have already given an eggplant recipe as a starter with yogurt and garlic, and since eggplant is a summer vegetable, and now is the season, this will delight your palate.

As I said earlier there are many ways to prepare it, I opt for the easy, healthy (minimal grease), tastiest way.

For 2 to 3 persons you will need the following :

- 2 medium size eggplants
- 1 medium onion
- 250 grams of lean minced beef (you can also use lamb but I prefer beef)
- 2 gloves garlic
- 1 large tomatoe
- 1 large green pepper bell
- 2 tsps of all spices also known as mixed spices
- 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
- salt, pepper
- tomato paste
- 1 fresh pomegranate fruit
- 1 bouquet of parsley
- pomegranate molasse syrup also called Deebs al Ruman (can be found in any Middle Eastern store)
* some use Tamarind molass ( I don't, because I have none for the moment so this recipe is made with pomegranate)
* some use no molasses at all which is a shame.

Preparation :

- mince the onion and fry in a little cooking oil until tender
- chop finely 5 - 6 branches (leaves only) of parsley
- add minced meat and parsley to onion
- add mixed spices, salt and pepper
- let it cook well, stir every now and then, meet should not be left rosy colored.

The above is called Keema.


- wash your eggplants first, then peel them in large stripes (zebra looking)
- slice them in medium rounds not too thick not too thin
- salt them
- some deep fry the eggplants, I don't because that's way too much frying. I simply place them in a large tray, dab them with cooking oil and put them in a hot oven until they are golden brown - not dry, just golden brown.

While your aubergines are being suntanned.

- slice the green pepper bell in rounds
- fresh tomato in rounds
- chop the remaining parsley coarse
- slice 2 gloves of garlic

Now get your tabsee - concave tray or glass Pyrex

- place the eggplants at the bottom
- cover with the cooked minced meat
- add your bell pepper rounds
- add your tomatoe rounds
- add your sliced gloves of garlic
- and throw in a handful of chopped parsley
- sprinkle more salt if necessary

Now the sauce to cover the tray

- boiled water about a cup and a half
- tomato paste and pomegranate molass
- dilute the paste in boiling water, the color should be a crimson red, not too light not too dark add about 1 to 1/2 tbs of pomegranate molass
- mix well
- pour the sauce over the eggplants mix
- Do not drown the tray with sauce, just cover it enough.

Put tray in oven at very hot and cover with an aluminium foil so the vegetables don't dry,
time is about 15 to 20 mn max. You will know when the green pepper rounds have wilted, means it's cooked. Lower heat completely and uncover so the top of the tray takes a little golden color.

Meanwhile :

- cut the fresh pomegranate and take the seeds out
- mix the seeds wit the remaining chopped parsley
- decorate your tray with the mix before serving.

The above goes very well with White Rice.

I have already given you how to prepare white rice. So will not go through it again.
Just a tip this time though, add half a stick of cinnamon in the rice when it's cooking, this will give it a lovely aroma that goes well with the eggplants.

Will try to upload a picture once mine is done cooking

Sahtein, Bon appétit.

July 27, 2011

When a Hamburger is not a Hamburger

As usual -if you're new please read my ---> welcome note first.

I think I've mentioned it on many occasions, I like it simple and easy. I have no time for too complicated, elaborate cooking, specially these days as am busy as hell.
But I like style, flavors, aromas and scents and will never settle for a bland meal. I hate blandness both in cooking and in life.
So I try to make the most original out of the ordinary. That's my philosophy in life.

You're hungry, you have no time to cook, you have unexpected visitors, whatever it is...hamburgers are fine. Not your regular hamburgers in a bun though. Oh no, this is different.
If you are so inclined to make them yourselves, by all means do so, I don't have the time, personally.

So am going to give a simple recipe, a 3 course if you can call that.

For 2 you will need :

* 2 - 4 (depends on how big of a eater you are) big size lean meat pure beef hamburgers frozen or fresh up to you, I prefer fresh.
* 1/2 to 1 flat tbsp of cooking oil I use sunflower
* 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of hamburger spices - I found the mix in a supermarket (mix is black pepper, ginger, cardamon , cinnamon, all spices, coriander)
* 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
* salt to taste.
* a dash of Maggi liquid condiment

Mix all the above well and marinate your (thawed if frozen) burgers.

Meanwhile preparation for salad : You figure out how much you need to make for 2.

- iceberg lettuce chopped
- shredded carrots
- tomatoes
- cucumber
- fresh parsley leaves
- shredded cooked beetroot if available
- 1 spring onion finely chopped
- walnuts

Salad sauce is made of

- olive oil
- salt
- pepper
- apple vinegar
- ground cumin

Now for the side dish to accompany your extraordinary burgers

SPINACH - another underrated vegetable.

I use frozen, no cream, no spices. Just plain spinach.

* For 2 you will need around 400 grms of frozen spinach.
* 1 medium size onion finely chopped
* 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
* 1 tbs of OLIVE OIL
* 1/4 tsp of mixed dried herbs - like Herbes de Provence
* salt and pepper to taste.

Gently fry onion in olive oil until tender, add your frozen spinach and let it thaw on a gentle fire, add nutmeg, dried herbs and leave it to cook, not more than 5 to 7 mn.

Grill your hamburgers, make sure to heat your frying pan well before.

Serve hamburgers with side salad and the hot spinach, TIP: sprinkle spinach with grated Parmigiano cheese .

I use these ready made sauces that go very well with the hamburgers, apart from Dijon Mustard, I also use Smoky BBQ sauce and a spicy Abricot sauce. Of course you can choose whatever ready made sauce you fancy.

Bon appétit.

July 25, 2011

Sauteed Courgettes

You know what to do first - right ? read welcome note. Thanks.

Summer is the courgette season, I believe you also call them zucchinis, even though zucchinis are a little smaller in size.

I don't know why, but I have a feeling the courgette is a very misunderstood vegetable. We shall remedy that now. So today's simple recipe, is a lovely side dish that goes very well with any grilled meat or fish.

For 2 you need about 3 medium size courgettes
2 large gloves of garlic
1 1/2 tablespoon of OLIVE oil
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
5 to 6 branches of Cilantro aka Fresh coriander
salt and pepper.

Preparation :

-wash courgettes (obviously)
- Peel like a Zebra. OK that means you don't peel it completely. I don't know how you say that in English, but imagine a Zebra.
-slice vertically then divide into two or three parts.
-crush garlic and use cilantro leaves only.
-in a deep medium size frying pan, put olive oil, garlic and cilantro and fry a little. By the way olive oil should never be heated alone.
-add your courgettes slices, nutmeg, salt and pepper
-leave it to cook on medium fire until tender.

Et voilà. Bon appétit

July 21, 2011

Shells in a Pot.

They look like Sea Shells and come in two sizes, small and big - They are called Conchiglie and Conchiglioni i.e Jumbo Shells. And now that Ramadan is approaching and I am hoping you feed as many people as you can, I shall give you a simple, simple, recipe using Pasta Shells, the smaller ones. But first you will read my welcome note.

This what the pasta shells look like

In Iraq, we call them "kathee mathee". Don't ask me why, I don't know. But the way we cook them for convenience sake is very much like a Turkish dish made of stuffed meat raviolis with yogurt. So basically this is the easy quick version of it.

For 2-3 persons you will need the following :

- 250 grams of minced beef (I use lean)
- about 250 grams of pasta shells
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- about 1.1/2 tsp of mixed spices
- salt and pepper to your liking
- 1 flat teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 cube of beef stock (optional)
- 1 tbs of olive oil
- 1 tbs of vegetable oil
- 2 small cans of yogurt
- 1 large clove of garlic.

Preparation :

finely chop onions and stir fry until brownish in vegetable oil, add your minced meat, and spices plus cinnamon plus a dash of salt and pepper, until the mix is well cooked.

Meanwhile in a saucepan

- fill saucepan with boiling water, add olive oil, and beef stock (optional) and your pasta shells until cooked to your liking. Strain.

- mix pasta shells with cooked minced beef, add a little of the pasta water to it so it will not dry and leave for a few minutes on a low fire.

- crush garlic in yogurt, mix well, add salt if necessary.

Serve hot with garlic/yogurt mix on side, latter will be used like a sauce on top of the pasta shells.

Bon Appétit.

July 18, 2011

Biryani Rice with Marinated Chicken.

Gosh, have not updated this blog in ages. To make up for this long absence, am about to give you a whole menu - Biryani Rice, Marinated Chicken and a surprise easy to prepare dessert.

But before doing so, you are to read my Welcome Note if you are new to my blog. Am afraid you have no choice here. You MUST read it first.

When Cooking, I like things simple, easy, quick, tasty and original.

You will probably find many Biryani and marinated chicken recipes. This one is mine.

For the Chicken - you may also use Turkey. For expediency I use filet of either. 4 medium sizes pieces for two is ample.

- marinate the chicken or turkey filet for a minimum of 1 hour (longer is preferable)in following mix :

* 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt
* a pinch of sweet paprika
* a pinch of curcuma
* a pinch of pepper
* 1 clove of crushed garlic
* teaspoon of olive oil
* 1/2 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger (you can also use ginger powder if you're too lazy)
* salt to taste
* a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 tsp of honey (optional)

Mix the whole thing well, and keep refrigerated.

Now for the rice

Biryani for 2.

- 1 cup Basmati rice or long grain (paraboiled is FORBIDDEN)
- 2 eggs - Hard boiled
- 1 medium size potato
- 1 medium size carrot
- 1 cup of frozen peas
- 1 medium size onion
- 1 cube chicken stock (since am serving with marinated chicken)
- 2 tsp Biryani spices (can be found in any Indian/Pakistani shop)
- 4 whole cardamons
- a pinch of curcuma
- a pinch of ground cinnamon
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon of rosewater (optional but preferable)
- 1 tbs of cooking oil - I use sunflower

Wash rice thoroughly and leave to soak in cold water
finely chop onion
peel potato and cut in small cubes
peel carrot and cut in small cubes
rinse frozen peas and leave on side

In a largish pot (rice needs to BREATHE), heat cooking oil, and fry onions until tender, add carrots first, and stir fry a little more, then add potatoes. Medium fire, add pinch of cinnamon and curcuma, fry a little more, then add 1/2 cup of BOILING WATER plus bay leaves and your chicken stock cube.

Leave it to HALF COOK, then add your frozen peas (you can always add a little more water if needed) plus 2 teaspoons of Biryani spices, let it cook just a FEW minutes, you want the vegetables to be impregnated with the spices, add another 1/2 cup of BOILING WATER then add strained rice. Let it boil ONCE and then turn on a LOW heat,until all the water is absorbed and rice cooked (not mushy). If you are to add water, always make sure it is BOILING WATER. Once the rice is cooked, put your hard boiled eggs in the Biryani mix and sprinkle the rosewater on top and turn heat off - just leave it there for a few minutes so the eggs can take in the spices as well.

Meanwhile, while your rice is cooking, you have preheated your oven - just lay your chicken or turkey filet with that lovely aromatic sauce in a non stick tray, cover with aluminium foil and let it cook, once cooked you can uncover and let the filet take a golden hue. Thin pieces of filet usually needs no more than 7 mn max in oven.

To serve : You can either serve the filet next to the Biryani rice or place it on top.
Of course, you can always have the filet by itself and the Biryani rice by itself. It's up to your fancy.

I like to serve it with a side bowl of yogurt with dried mint.

As for the dessert - very refreshing after all those lovely spices.

for 2 :

- 2 medium size mangoes, peeled and cut in cubes
- about 10 fresh mint leaves
- a squeeze of LIME juice

Place mango cubes in bowl, add mint, add lime juice - keep refrigerated.

Serve either by itself or with a scoop of Lime sorbet.

Bon Appétit

April 10, 2011

Tortellinis or Venus's Belly Button...

If you are new to my blog, please read the Welcome Note FIRST

Good grief, I have not blogged about cooking in ages. But take heart because am about to give you one of the most refined recipes for tortellinis.

I researched the word. I love researching words by the way...Tortellinis, the pasta shaped like a belly button originally referred to Venus's navel.

Now, I don't really know how accurate this bit of information is, but who cares ? Tortellinis, when viewed as Venus's belly button make all the difference.

I don't find fresh pasta that easily, and truth be told, I don't make it myself...but when Venus smiles at me, lo and behold, her belly button is right there in front of me.

So while shopping today, I found some freshly made tortellinis, filled with ricotta and spinach. I am sure that you can find those, ready made.

So here is a simple, simple, divine recipe :

For about 300 grms of tortellinis you will need the following :

- about 250 grams of ricotta cheese
- 1 fairly large size crushed garlic. (if you can't be bothered to crush garlic, please settle for a frozen tv dinner which you can shove into your microwave and stop reading my blog)
- 1 lemon, preferably organic, you'll understand why later...
- 3 branches of fresh cilantro - leaves only.
- walnuts
- salt and pepper to taste.

How to :

- put your tortellinis (pre filled with spinach and ricotta) into some boiling water, add a few drops of olive oil, and I personally add a cube of beef stock for the taste. Bring to boil once and leave to simmer until al dente or more, depending on how you like it.

Meanwhile :

- pour your ricotta cheese into a bowl
- grate the zest of a lemon into it, be generous, it must taste lemony
- add some of the fresh lemon juice until the ricotta is kind of liquid but not too much
- add your crushed garlic
- add your fresh cilantro leaves
- crush some walnuts into the mix
- add salt and pepper. I use lemon pepper to add flavor.
- mix well.

Once your tortellinis are to your liking, strain, and pour your ricotta mix on top. Serve hot.

I found this dish best served with avocado (sliced), yellow bell pepper (diced) and cherry tomatoes (sliced) salad...

Salad dressing consists of :

- apple vinegar
- olive oil (always)
- oregano
- ground cumin, salt and pepper to give extra flavor.

Venus after all, was a simple Goddess, no ?