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.