November 3, 2012

Lentils & Vegetables Potée

Hi Everyone, I know, I know, been away for some time. But am back with a new recipe, both extremely easy to prepare, very tasty and very nourishing.
It's a Potée of Lentils and vegetables. Potée is just the French word for a lentils/beans stew
So let's start but first, please read my welcome note if you are new to this blog, and yes it is an order.

For 2 people you will need the following ingredients :

- 1 cup of rinsed, soaked in cold water BROWN lentils (not green not black not orange but brown)
- 2 cups of BOILING water
- 1/2 cube of beef/ chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 medium Carrot, washed, peeled, and cut in smallish cubes (cut carrot down the middle vertically and then chop)
- 1 medium size onion chopped
- 1 medium potato peeled and cut in medium chunks
- 1 turnip, washed and cut into chunks
- 4  florets of broccoli 
- half a leek , washed and cut into round slices (not too thin)
- 2 gloves of garlic squashed
-  4  whole leaves of fresh sage ( you can use dry but fresh is better)
- 5 branches of fresh parsley, just tear them with your hand, discard stalks
- 1/2 tsp of fresh grated ginger ( you can use dry but fresh is better)
- 1 1/2 tbs of olive oil

Now for the spices, as you know spices are most important for me : you will need the following
- 1 flat small tsp of  Dhal masala ( special mix spice for lentils and other beans, if you can't find it in your indian store just use mixed spices)
- 1 flat  tsp of ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp of turmeric
- 1/2 tsp of MILD curry (optional)
* mixed spices are usually "spicy" so you don't need pepper but if you like it extra hot add some pepper
* vegetable or beef stock cubes are usually salty, so don't add salt before you taste

In a LARGISH  (lentils need space) saucepan, on medium heat
- fry the chopped onions in the olive oil until translucent
- add the ginger and garlic and fry one more minute
- drain the lentils and add them
- cover with 2 cups of boiling water ( you can always add a little more HOT  water later)
- now we will add the hard vegetables as they take longer to cook : so add the sliced carrots and turnips
- add all of the spices and the vegetable or beef/chicken stock cube
- mix well and let it cook for about 5-7 minutes on medium heat
- there should be enough water left for you to add the rest of the vegetables - potatoes, leek, broccoli
- mix the rest of vegetables in, add the sage and the parsley
- if need be add a little more hot water,
- cover and leave it to simmer until all is tender and liquid is absorbed but not too dry
- total cooking time should not take more than 30 mn
- just before serving squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top

Serve hot with some Arabic bread

Enjoy and Sahtain ! 

September 30, 2012

Chards & Potatoes Are Never Bland.

Mea Culpa - been nearly a month since I have updated this blog. Well that's about to change right now!
Today's recipe is not only very healthy but dead easy to prepare. And no it's not bland, because you need to infuse it with that extra special something ...and am going to give you that extra special something in the following preparation :

But first, you know what to do by now ----please read my welcome note. and if you have forgotten what my welcome note is all about - I shall remind you - for every recipe of mine that you try out, you are to feed one (or more) hungry persons. Your friends don't count as hungry persons unless they are down and out.

OK now that's settled, let's get going.

So for this recipe you will need the following for 2.

- 3 large whole chards with their stalk  (also called Swiss chard or silver beet, spinach beet, crab beet etc)
- 2 medium potatoes
- 2 tbs olive
- 1/2 fresh lemon juice
- ground cumin, turmeric, black pepper - a generous pinch of each.
- 2 cloves garlic minced in slices
- half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- some smoked salmon, that you will cut in longish shreds.
- dried/or fresh dill 1 flat tbs
- NO salt as cheese and smoked salmon are salty enough, but if you insist...

Preparation :

- wash chard and cut into coarse pieces
- peel potatoes and cut into medium chunks
- STEAM chard and potatoes with the garlic slices (if you don't have a steamer, use a daisy -it's a metal thing with holes that fits into a saucepan  to which you add a little water for steaming purpose)
- your vegetables should be 3/4 cooked i.e not too mushy nor too crunchy.. Once cooked place them in an oven dish
- on the side mix the olive oil plus spices and lemon juice, and pour over your vegetables, cover with grated cheese and put in a preheated oven on medium heat until the cheese melt. Turn off heat and add your shredded smoked salmon so that it warms a little.
- Sprinkle some dill on top and serve hot.

the recipe for the salad in picture is

- grated carrots
- sliced radish
- lettuce leaves
- avocado cut in pieces
- walnuts

all tossed in the following dressing  a mix of olive oil, mayonnaise, mustard, ground cumin, apple cider vinegar, pepper, salt, herbes de Provence. Mix well.

Sahtain ! Bon appétit. 

August 26, 2012

Beef in Cumin with Rice cooked in Milk

Am a little behind in updating this blog, so here I am with today's recipe. This is a typical Saeedi Dish,
a rural dish, from Egypt, where the aroma of Cumin is prevalent - hence the name Kamooniya from Kamoon i.e Cumin. I will also add another rice recipe, again typical of rural Egypt, that of Rice cooked in Milk - nope it's not rice pudding, rice pudding is sweet, this is quite different and goes well with the Kamooniya. Cumin and milk mix well.

But before I get started, you know what to do. Every time you try out one of my recipes, feed someone else. And read my welcome note. Thanks.

Dish no.1 : Beef in Cumin or Kamooniya 

You can use either beef or veal. I used beef so this recipe will be with Beef. I also added some green beans, but you don't really have to. You can have it by itself.But I will give it to you with beans the way it is in the picture.

Ingredients for 2 :

- 300 grams of emincé de boeuf --- I think it's called shredded beef (not minced), otherwise just get a thin piece of beef (no fat, lean) and cut it in medium size shreds
- 1 medium size onion finely chopped
- 2 gloves of garlic crushed
- 1 flat tbs of ground cumin
- 1 cup of rinsed frozen green beans
- 2 tbs of cooking oil
- salt and pepper to taste

First prepare the beef. : When cooking meat, especially beef I like to boil it for a few minutes in a mixture of spices first and that for several reasons.
- because I can't stand the smell of rancidity however lean the beef is
- because it cooks faster and nothing is worse than chewy rubbery beef
- and in this case because am going to use the broth as you shall see later.

So in a saucepan, put your shredded beef with the following :
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 4 cloves
- 3 grains of cardamom
- half a cinnamon stick
- a couple of pepper corns (if available)
- cover with enough quantity of hot water and leave it to boil for about 7mn on medium heat
- while it's boiling, remove any grey/brown froth.and discard it.
-  after 7mn or so remove the pieces of beef and set aside
- pass the broth in a sieve and keep the broth on the side, throw away spices/herbs.

In a non stick saucepan

- fry the onions and garlic until tender
- mix in the beef
- add 2 tbs of cumin
- add your beans
- plus salt and pepper
- stir fry it for a couple of minutes on medium heat. By now you should be able to smell the scent of cumin
- add the broth to the mixture and leave it to cook on medium to low heat until the sauce thickens and the beans are tender. If it dries out, add a little hot water, and leave it to cook for a few more minutes

Dish no2. Rice cooked in Milk

I usually recommend Basmati rice but for this particular rice dish you will need short grain rice, we call it roz Masree (Egyptian rice) which is akin to Risotto rice.

So for 2 you will need :

- about 1 1/2 cup of small grain rice, washed and soaked in cold water
- 2 cups of medium fat milk (half skimmed)
- 1 tbs of cooking oil
- a dash or 2 of ground cinnamon
- salt to your liking

In a non stick saucepan

- heat the oil
- pour the milk on top and bring it to boil ONCE only
- add the cinnamon and salt, mix well
- drain your rice and pour it , mix well
- leave it to cook on low heat until the milk is absorbed and the rice is well cooked
- if the rice is still al dente, and all the milk absorbed, add a little hot water until the rice is completely tender.
- when serving decorate rice with a little ground cinnamon.

Serve it with the Beef Kamooniya 

Enjoy, Sahtain 

Oh and I dedicate this to an Egyptian Tweep by name of @rachidH whom I promised this recipe to

August 18, 2012

What to do with Potatoes : 2 Recipes

I feel sorry for Potatoes, Batata in Arabic. All the slurs against these poor potatoes - potato head, couch potato, fat as a Arabic we have them too when we say kulo batata - meaning empty cheap stuff.

Well potatoes are cheap, true..but they are not meaningless. It all depends on your perception of them.
If you are used to mashing them (boring), boiling them (boring) or just frying  (again boring and lethal to health), then obviously you would look down upon a potato.

In today's 2 recipes - not one but two!, this erroneous perception of a potato is about to change.
These 2 recipes will also be my own ritual to bid goodbye to my strict 30 vegetarian diet during Ramadan. And what better way to do with but with the underrated potato.

I suppose by now you know what you are supposed to do  --- if you are new to my blog, read my welcome note first. Thanks.

Recipe No. 1  - Batata bil Zeit - Potatoes in OLIVE OIL.

There are several recipes for Batata bil Zeit, this is an Iraqi one given to me by my grandmother and mother, may Allah bless them both. I have expanded upon it a little bit so please don't tell them as they may get offended that am messing about with their cooking.

So let's get started with Recipe No.1

For 2 people you will need the following :

- a non stick largish saucepan - I use a DEEP pan with a lid.
- 6 medium size potatoes, washed, peeled and cut in medium thick round slices (too thin they crumble and too thick they take longer to cook)
- 1 medium size onion sliced into thin rings
- 1 RED pepper bell, sliced into thin rings then cut in half
- 4 generous TBS of pure virgin olive oil (no other oil will do sorry)
- 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp of  sweet paprika
- a dash of Turmeric (optional)
- salt and pepper to your liking

Preparation :

- salt your sliced potatoes and leave on side
- on medium heat, put oil in saucepan, and fry the onion rings and bell pepper rings until tender
- add the spices : cumin plus paprika plus a little pepper and a dash of turmeric
- mix well and leave to simmer a minute or two
- add potato slices, mix well, leave to simmer a couple of minutes more
- now add enough water to just cover the potatoes you don't want a soup, just enough water to cover the mix
- turn heat to medium low and cook until the potatoes are tender. The sauce should look thick
- if you have put too much water, do not cover pan, leave it to evaporate by itself.

You can serve this hot or cold as an appetizer or a side dish. Decorate with some Fresh Parsley.

Recipe No.2  Potato Tart.

For two you will need the following:

- a 20 cm round baking tray (8 inches)
- 100 grams of unsweetened ready made puff pastry
- a knob of butter
- 3 medium size potatoes 3/4 boiled (meaning not totally boiled, they should still be a little raw)
- sweet paprika
- ground cumin
-salt, pepper
- a dash of olive oil
- 3-4 branches of FRESH  dill (leaves) chopped
- fine grated Parmesan cheese


- preheat your oven to max
- roll out your puff pastry using a little flour and rolling pin, enough to fit the tray, the pastry should not be too thick,
- peel and cut the 3/4 boiled potatoes into slices
- butter the tray, sprinkle a little flour on top
- place your puff pastry in tray  if excess on sides, just roll them in
- put your potatoes on top of pastry, sprinkle with salt, paprika, cumin, and cover with  grated cheese (not too much cheese, just enough to give it that extra flavor),
- pour a dash of olive oil on top
- finally sprinkle your fresh chopped dill
- put your tray in oven, turn down heat to medium and leave it to bake until the pastry puffs up and the potatoes become golden on top. It should not take more than 15 mn.

Enjoy,  Sahtain . And to my Muslim readers - Happy Eid !

August 9, 2012

Green Beans in Olive Oil - Lubieh bil Zeit.

Whatever I eat, I share with you...if I cook something, I rush to share it...I am a cook with a motive you know by now : for every recipe of mine that you try out, you are asked to feed one NEEDY person (or more) . If you are new to my blog, please read my welcome note first ---> over there.

Today's recipe is.simple to make and very tasty.

 Lubieh bil Zeit - Lubieh also called Fasuliyah Khadra is basically Green Beans also called Runner Beans, String Beans or French Beans. There is a different variety of Green Beans, just stick to what you find in your supermarket, which is the standard one. You can use Fresh or Frozen. Depending on that - bear in mind the cooking time will be different, as fresh ones will take slightly longer to cook. Zeit means oil.

This recipe can be eaten HOT or COLD, since it is prepared with VIRGIN OLIVE OIL.
If you opt to eat it hot, serve it with Rice (I do)  or Hot bread or you can eat it cold as an appetizer.

Let's get started:

For 2 you will need the following :

- 2 medium size onions, finely chopped
- 3 large cloves of garlic cut into thin slices (not crushed, not minced)
- 3 to 4 tbs of Olive oil.
- 2 standard mugs of fresh or frozen green beans.
* if you opt for fresh, trim both ends, and cut in half
* if you opt for frozen rinse them in cold water first and go for cut ones ie. not whole
- 2 medium size fresh tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 tbs of tomato paste
-  a dash of ground cumin (my version - so optional)
- a dash of ground sweet paprika (my version so optional)
- a dash of red cayenne pepper (my version  so optional)
- I also use 1 cube of vegetable stock (my version so optional)
- salt to taste (if not using ready made vegetable stock)
- juice of HALF of a FRESH lemon

I find the extra ingredients that I have added in "my version" to give it more taste - otherwise I find it rather bland but that's me. I don't like bland.


- In a deep non stick frying  pan or ordinary non stick saucepan, and on medium heat, fry the onions with olive oil until tender  (do NOT heat the olive oil)
- add the sliced garlic
- add the chopped tomatoes
- add the tomato paste
- add the green beans
- add the spices and vegetable cube if you opt for that version
- mix well
- cover with boiling water (not soak but cover) and let it cook on a gentle fire, stirring every now and then,
- if you opt for fresh beans , the quantity of water must be a little more than for frozen ones as the former take longer to cook (logic)
- wait until mixture looks thick but NOT DRY (if it dries - you can always add a little hot water)
-toward the end, once the beans are tender to your liking, add the squeezed lemon juice, mix it in and leave for one more minute on heat.

This recipe because based on olive oil can be kept in fridge for 48hrs.
As I said you can serve it hot with rice or bread or at room temperature as side dish or an appetizer.

Enjoy - Sahtain.

August 5, 2012

Layla's aromatic Tarte au Fromage - Cheese Tart

I know, I know, I promised you a recipe that would go with my previous post, am not backing's just that I experimented today with this cheese tart and it is so good I can't not share it.

The basic principles of this tart (yeah even tarts have principles) are derived from Burak or Beurek in Turkish which is basically puffed pastry filled with cheese. Since I have no time to fill individual puffed pastries with cheese I opted for the easy, oh so easy, open puffed pastry tart topped with cheese, adding a few ingredients that are not found in Burak.

But before I share my recipe, the main intent of this blog, is that you share food with others, what I mean by that is that you feed the needy hungry. So you know the rules by now - for every recipe you try out from my blog, you are to feed one (or more) hungry needy person either by offering them food or giving them money for one meal (or more)  -- Inviting your friends over does not count - sorry.

For a round oven baking tray of 20cm, (8 inches) you will need :

- ready made UNSWEETENED puff pastry
- 150 grams of FETA cheese ( enough to well cover you dough)
- 1 small teaspoon of dried mint
- 1 small teaspoon of dried thyme
- a dash of ground cumin
- a dash of ground pepper
- 1 medium size tomato finely chopped
- 1 tbs of olive oil
(NO SALT as Feta is already salty)

Preparation :

- preheat you oven to maximum
- unroll the puff pastry on a board covered with flour, use a rolling pin if necessary. The dough should not be too thick, thin enough to become fluffy.
- butter your baking tray first -
- place your puff pastry and roll the edges inwards if you have used too much pastry
- in a separate bowl you mix the feta by crumbling it with your fingers first, add the aromatic herbs, tomato, olive oil and mix well.
- place the mix all over the puff pastry
- put in the oven and turn the heat down to medium
- leave it to bake for about 7mn (each oven is different, mine is an antique piece, so check that your pastry is not burning on the edges - the cheese does not have to completely melt either)
- Decorate with fresh mint and black olives
-Serve hot

Best served with Baladi salad i.e cucumber, tomatoes, spring onions, green pepper bell, radish -- all chopped small to which you will add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper and ground cumin and a few black olives

All the above is delicious with a glass of black tea

To finish --  chilled melon for dessert

Sahtein, Enjoy !

August 3, 2012

Rice cooked in Debs Al Ruman.

I can't begin to tell you how tasty this rice is. It's very easy to prepare, but will require that you get Debs al Ruman. 

So what is Debs al-Ruman ? It's simply pomegranate molasses (not syrup but molasses). You can find them in liquid bottled form in any Middle Eastern grocery store. So yes, if you want something original and tasty you need to go that extra mile.

As usual, please read my welcome note first ----> over there, after all you did say "sharing is caring" no?

Let's get started.

For 2 you will need :

1 medium size onion finely chopped
1 cup of BASMATI rice that you wash well, and soak for about 10mn or more in cold water
2 tbs flat of Pomegranate molasses
1 tbs flat of Tomato paste
1 medium size tomato finely chopped (optional)
a dash of ground cinnamon
1 tbs of cooking oil
1 and a bit cup of boiling water
1 tbs of non salty no skin almonds (optional)
1 tbs of non salty pine nuts (optional)

Preparation :

- in a non stick saucepan, heat the oil and fry the onions until tender medium heat should do
- add the tomato paste (and fresh chopped tomato if you opt for that extra flavor)
- stir well, and add the pomegranate molasses
- add a little boiling water, keep stirring, do not let it dry out
- now add one cup of boiling water and let it boil ONCE
- drain your rice, and add it to the mix plus salt and cinnamon, mix well avoid stirring as rice will become gluey
- turn the heat to very low and leave it to cook until all the liquid is absorbed.
- once your rice is cooked, in a small non stick frying pan, put a small spoon of cooking oil, and fry your almonds first until light golden brown, then add the pine nuts (pine nut fries very quickly) Both almond and pine need to be a golden brown
- serve your rice and decorate with the nuts.

Stay tuned -  for in my next post, I shall be giving you another recipe that goes nicely with this rice. Insha'Allah

Enjoy !

July 31, 2012

Layla's Light Pizza - A No Hassle Pizza

Am not a big pizza fan, even though I indulge in one every now and then. I thought about my lukewarm attitude towards pizza, and I realized it was all this dripping saturated fat from the melting cheese that really got to me. Besides, I have a confession, I don't make them myself, I have a problem with dough in general...but NOT today.

So am about to proudly share with you MY version of what a light pizza is and I will add to today's recipe, an extra special bonus - a salad mix recipe. Hope you enjoy both.

But first you know what to do -----> please read my welcome note.

So let's get started with my first ever home made pizza, with a particular twist to it.

For 2 you will need the following : 

- a 25cm oven tray the ones you would use for pies.
- ready made pizza dough (if you can make your own all the better)
- half a green pepper bell diced
- 2 medium size tomatoes diced
- 1 medium size onion cut in thin rings
- 2 small zucchinis diced
- 2 gloves of garlic very finely minced
- a tiny bit of fresh red chili pepper minced with the garlic
- salt (a little to your liking don't forget feta cheese is salty)
- cayenne red chili pepper (a dash or two, I like it hot)
- paprika (a dash)
- dry Thyme (2 generous pinches)
- Feta cheese
- 1tbs of virgin olive oil

1) pre-heat your oven to max
2) follow instructions on your pizza dough pack. I spread it thin with a rolling pin on a large wooden board adding some flour and leave it to rest in the tray for a couple of minutes  (you can opt for a thick cut)
3) cover the dough with onion rings
4) in a separate bowl mix :  diced tomatoes, pepper bell, zucchinis, garlic, chili pepper, thyme, paprika and the olive oil. Mix well.
5) spread evenly over the onion rings
6) put in oven and turn heat to medium (important because you don't want your dough to cook before your veggies)
7) once your vegetables are cooked (they will be giving some of their juices) turn the oven heat up so all the juices are dry and the dough becomes somewhat crispy.
8) switch off the oven
8) pull your tray out and generously crumble some feta cheese on top, and put back in oven for a minute or so-  the point is to have the cheese warm but not melting.

Now for the salad :

- 1 largish cup of fresh grated carrots
- 1 apple diced
- 1 avocado peeled and cut in chunks
- 5 branches of fresh parsley, chopped (leaves only)
- a handful of walnuts
- a handful of Alfafa sprouts (optional but oh so good)

Salad dressing consists of :

- 11/2 tbs of mayonnaise
- about 2 tbs of virgin olive oil
- juice of 1/2 a lemon (fresh lemon please no squeezy thing)
- 1 generous pinch of ground cumin
- a dash of ground cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste

whisk the above very well, taste it you may need to add some more lemon juice mayo or spices, this is not an exact science. Pour over your salad and serve with the pizza.

Sahtein  - Bon appétit  

July 24, 2012

Ramadan Special - Fatet Hummus

It's about time that I update this blog. I have a slight problem though, choosing adequate recipes since I have promised to go vegetarian for the whole month of Ramadan, meaning no meat, no chicken...( I may cheat with canned Tuna and Sardines but please don't tell anyone.)

Will not go into the exact reasons behind this decision of mine, but to put it briefly, I felt since Ramadan is a month of Mercy, let me be merciful towards animals. No need to spill their blood during this holy month, and let's give them a break for 30 days or so...Not that am a big meat eater, but chicken once a week and red meat once every two weeks were welcomed...well am giving those up. 

So my forthcoming recipes will be strictly vegetarian for this Holy month.

Tonight, I will share with you a traditional Ramadan dish, from Lebanon, Syria, also prepared in Jordan and Palestine called Fatet Hummus. In Syria they call it Tass'ieh.

But before I start, and specially during this month of Sharing, please make sure to feed one person or more, if you do try out my recipe. You can either give money for one meal or more, or give cooked food. It's up to you, but do it...what you give will return to you seven fold plus. Thanks.

Now let's get started.

Hummus means Chickpeas, also called Garbanzo Beans and 7'500 years old remains of this bean was found in the Middle East. So it is an ancient bean.

Hummus is very high in protein, and has sedative properties, contains Tryptophan, a precursor to Serotonin. In other words, it's a mood enhancer. You will see, when eating Hummus, you will really feel "chilled out". If you have difficulty sleeping Hummus does the trick..seriously.

Fatet Hummus is not to be confused with Hummus be Tahine. In other words it is NOT Hummus paste.
Fatet Hummus is usually served in Ramadan, after the Soup, it is VERY filling, so take it easy, in portions. It is not a main meal, but if you opt to have it as the only meal, be warned, you will not be able to move later...yeah it has this effect...well on me it does.

So for 2-3 people as an entrée /starter you will need :

Ingredients :

- 300gr of chickpeas - either in tin or dried. 
*If you opt for dried chickpeas,rinse them then soak them at least 12 hours in double their volume of cold water, adding a small tsp of sodium bicarbonate. 
*if tinned, (I prefer dried but when in a hurry I use tinned). Rinse them under cold water first.

- 1 medium size Lebanese bread (Arabic bread) a MUST
- 2 large Tsp of Cumin powder (a Must)
- 2 standard cans of Yogurt  about 150 grs each.
-1 tbs of Tahine or Sesame paste (if you don't have that, don't fret, you can also do without it but BETTER with it.
- 1 clove of garlic crushed
- 2 full tbs of not salted, not roasted pine nuts (if you can't find those, don't fret, it's okay, but preferable with pine nuts)
- 2 branches of parsley, leaves only, coarsely chopped 
- salt

Preparation :

- if using dried chickpeas, rinse after soaking overnight. In a large saucepan, cover with boiling water, adding 11/2 tsp of cumin (important), salt and leave it to cook until very tender. Make sure to have some liquid in there, don't let it dry.

- if using tinned chickpeas, rinse them well, place in saucepan, cover with boiling water plus 11/2 tsp of cumin plus salt and let it boil for 3 mn only.

- meanwhile grill your bread in the oven until Crispy (not burnt) just well crispy.

- in a deep dish, break the bread with your hands until they are like medium size crumbs, leave a little bread on side, don't use all the bread, just enough to cover bottom of dish

- take a little of the chickpeas WATER (only) and humidify the bread with it...not soak the bread, just dampen it, so you can see it moist

- drain chickpeas  and cover the bread with the chickpeas like a second layer.

- now add remaining crispy bread on top

- in a separate bowl, pour the 2 cans of yogurt, in which you would crush the garlic, add 1/2tsp cumin, salt and a tbs of Tahine paste (sesame seeds paste), as I said if you don't have Tahiné you can skip that part.

- if you are using Tahiné add  JUST a squeeze of FRESH lemon juice to the Yogurt Tahine mix. 

- mix it real well

- cover your dish with the yogurt mix

- in a non stick frying pan, heat the olive oil, (it should not smoke, just heat it well), to which you will add the pine nuts, fry them until golden (careful pine nuts burn quickly, you need them golden brown not black)

- pour the nuts WITH  the olive oil on top of your dish

- decorate with chopped parsley

- Serve HOT

Ramadan Kareem ! And a prayer for Syria !

P.S: I decline all responsibility for excessive flatulence, (a possible side effect, hence I stress on the cumin, it absorbs) I also recommend you don't drink cold stuff with this meal, stick to warm drinks, tea with mint is an excellent choice. Trust me you will love it, flatulence and all. x

July 10, 2012

Chaï in Arabic, Tea in English.

I am a coffee addict but also a tea addict, and nothing gives me more pleasure than concocting my own mix.
Tea is a wonderful drink. and is a powerful anti-oxydant.
I noticed something when in the desert, Bedouins, drink hot tea in the desert heat! I was then told that drinking something ice cold in the heat will actually make you thirstier...besides in traditional Chinese and Arabic medicine,a body suffering from heat, should not be given something very cold to drink but something hot or lukewarm.

Anyways this is my two cents worth regarding the benefits of tea. As usual if you are new to my blog I will ask you to read my welcome note first, but since today it is not an edible recipe but a drinking one, I do not expect you to feed one (or more persons) in return but will encourage you to offer a drink of something (preferably non alcoholic) to one or more...

Now for my tea concoction. Yes it is absolutely delicious, very scented, aromatic and a bit of an aphrodisiac.

Let's get started.

Drinking tea is an art, choose your favorite cup/glass, teapot for the full experience. Sit back, relax and sip,   let your senses do all the tasting...

In a small non stick saucepan mix the following :

- 3 whole grains of cardamom (crack them a little)
- 1/4 stick of Cinnamon
- 4 cloves
- a generous pinch of dried rose petals (the edible ones - can be found in any herbal shop)
- a small pinch of Saffron threads
- good quality BLACK tea ( Ceylon, Lipton etc won't do it - you need real Black tea preferably loose or one tea bag like Tetley / PG tips or English Breakfast by Twinnings)

Mix all your spices and add boiling water - bring it to boil once and leave it to simmer on a medium low heat for a few minutes, until all the aroma is out. Your water by now should be looking kind of brownish.
Add your black tea and leave it to simmer one or two minutes, you need it strong.

Using a sieve, drain it, add some milk and sugar and enjoy.

If you have any of the mixture left, you can guard it in a flask for 24 hours or for another cuppa.

Enjoy !

June 30, 2012

Layla's Ratatouille.

Summer is here, with an abundance of wonderful vegetables.
I suppose you have all heard of the French ratatouille - which basically consists of aubergines (eggplants) courgettes (zucchinis) and fresh tomatoes.
Well I got news, ratatouille is not really French since eggplants were introduced to Mediterranean Europe in the Middle Ages by the Arabs and go by the name of al -badinjan  batlinjan in Turkish  alberchijo in Spanish hence aubergine in French.
And since am planning to re-appropriate Ratatouille, I shall give you an easy, healthy, fat free recipe, with an Arabic twist to it.
In Iraq we have a very similar dish to Ratatouille which we call mtabaq badinjan but with meat. Tonight's recipe will have no meat and I will add a few more ingredients to the traditional "French" ratatouille.
But before I do any of the above, if you are already familiar with my blog, you know what my one and only condition is, if new to the blog, please read my welcome note first ---> over there on right hand corner.

So let's get started.

For 2 to 3 people you will need :

1 large aubergine/eggplant
1 long courgette - if the courgettes are small in your country get 3 small ones.
1 large ripe tomato
1/2 yellow pepper bell
2 gloves of garlic crushed
a small handful of fresh coriander /cilantro coarsely chopped (leaves only)
1 to 2 tbs of Virgin OLIVE oil.
2 tbs of peeled diced canned tomatoes ** see below
a pinch of dried thyme (optional)
a pinch of sweet paprika
a dash of turmeric
a good pinch of ground cumin
salt and pepper to your liking
a deep non stick pan with cover.

- wash eggplant dry it and cut in medium size chunks
- wash courgettes and cut in medium size chunks
- wash tomato and chop coarsely
- wash 1/2 pepper bell and dice
- chop cilantro leaves and crush garlic.
- in deep non stick pan and on high heat mix well all the above plus the olive oil and the spices. Leave it to  boil ONCE, takes about 1 minute, then turn the heat to medium - low, give it another good stir and leave it to simmer, covered until all the vegetables are cooked to your liking.

** If you feel the mix lacks tomato, then add the 2 tbs of peeled diced canned tomatoes, check for the color, you need a nice bright red

** If you see the mix drying out it's because your heat is too high, lower it and add a little hot water.

**Avoid stirring because all the vegetables will get squashed and you will end up with a soup, just leave it to cook gently, nice and easy like a summer breeze.

You can either serve it hot or cold. I like it hot with rice or hot bread.


May 16, 2012

Easy Sardines Salad

I love Salads but I hardly touch salads that I haven't prepared myself.  So the only salads I eat are the home made ones.  Period. And yes am finicky when it comes to food preparation.

This simple recipe came by itself. I didn't have much to start with but had a pack of frozen green beans, a couple of potatoes,  one hot red chili, garlic and found two cans of sardines in spicy oil. Enough to make a  lovely salad which am about to share with you.

But first you must know by now what you need to do ----> read my welcome note.

For two you will need the following

- 2 medium sized boiled potatoes. Wash potatoes (obviously) and boil them WITH skin.
-  about 300 grs of frozen green beans (you can use fresh ones naturally if you do, split them in two and remove both head and tail of bean use scissors)
- 2 cloves of garlic minced (not crushed)
- half a red chili minced
- 2 cans of sardines - discard the oil. Opting for sardines in spicy oil will complement the taste.
- a dash of paprika
- salt to taste
- a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- a handful of fresh chopped parsley
- a generous pinch of dried mint.
- 1 tbs of olive oil


- once potatoes boiled, rinse them in cold water, and wait till they cool down. Do not peel and cut into pieces while hot because they will break. Do that once the potatoes are cold
- boil beans adding salt, minced garlic, minced  chili , once cooked drain them and leave them to cool.
- in a large bowl, mix the beans and cut potatoes, add the paprika, parsley, dried mint, olive oil, lemon juice and mix gently.
-- top it with the sardines and you can mix it once more or just leave the sardines on top.
And voilà

It's delicious.

Bon appétit

May 11, 2012

Arabeca : The Arabian-Brazilian Moqueca.

I am very excited to share this new recipe with you tonight. I just tried it and it is succulent. Let me first give you a little background story to it.

One day on Twitter, I asked if anyone can suggest to me an "un-bland" vegetarian recipe. A gentleman by the name of @KurtCoolBlue gave me this recipe from Bahia Brazil.  That was over 15 days ago. I kept stalling because I couldn't find all the ingredients in the original recipe.  I finally came round to it, and  said to myself, I shall give the recipe my own twist and let's see what happens.

I was most pleased with the results. It is not exactly as the original Brazilian Moqueca but close enough. That same gentleman named it Arabeca - so the credit for original recipe and new name goes to him and the cooking goes to me.

But before I share my recipe with know what to do. If you are new to my blog, these are my only conditions. Every time you try out one of my recipes, you are to feed one (or more) hungry person. I leave it to you how you wish to do that - you can either cook for them, offer them a meal or give them money for a meal.

So let's start with Arabeca  - the Arabian Moqueca. The link for the original recipe will be at the end of this post.

For two people you will need the following :

-  about 250 ml or half a can of coconut milk.
-  half a can of red kidney beans, rinsed.
- half an index finger of grated fresh ginger
- 1 onion spring minced
- 1/2 an onion chopped
- 1/2  red pepper bell chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 medium size tomato chopped
- 1 medium size potato cut in chunks
- 1 medium size carrot cut in round slices
- 3 full  tbs of frozen peas rinsed
- 3 full tbs of frozen green/french beans rinsed
- 2 full tbs of frozen okras - rinsed
- 3 to 4  smallish fresh cauliflower florets
- half a (small) cup of minced parsley
- half a (small) cup of minced cilantro /fresh coriander
- 2 dried limes (smash the limes and soak them in half of a (small) cup of boiling water- throw away the coarse skin and keep the rest with the water
- freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 lemon or 1 lime  - better if you can find green lime but lemon will do.
- 1/4  (small) tsp of ground nutmeg
- a dash of turmeric
- a dash of ground red chili
- 1 and half tbs of  olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste.

Preparation :

- In a deep non stick pan, mix the coconut milk + parsley + cilantro + red pepper + ginger + tomato + garlic + spring onion + onion + nutmeg + chili+ turmeric + dried limes soaked in water + half of the lemon/lime juice. Bring to boil once then lower heat and leave to simmer for about 3 mn.

- To make sure that my vegetables are all fairly cooked since am using different kinds, I opted for the easy way out. I HALF boiled in slightly salted water the following first: potato + carrot  + green beans + peas + cauliflower.

- Drain the above vegetables and add them to coconut mix  plus the kidney beans THEN add your okra.
( okras cook very quickly you don't want them mushy)  plus salt and pepper to taste, mix well but gently and let it cook for another 10 mn or so on a medium heat or until your vegetables are tender ( not mushy but tender). Make sure the heat is not too high because you don't want the coconut sauce to dry-  (if it does, add a little more).

- once cooked pour the olive oil and the rest of the lemon juice on top and give it a last stir.

- Serve hot.

I prepared Saffron rice to accompany the Arabeca  and the aroma of Saffron and vegetables in coconut  sauce was simply delicious.

And as promised this is the original Moqueca recipe 

Bon appétit.

May 5, 2012

Chicken in Gingery Fruit Sauce

I am so excited to share this new recipe with you.  As usual, I am going to take the easy simple way...for a tangy aromatic dish. But before doing so, you know what you need to do ----> read my welcome note FIRST. 

Tonight's recipe goes nicely with the Bukhari Rice dish in my previous post. But you need not limit yourself to this combination. I will give you other tips at the end of this  recipe.

Tonight's recipe is Chicken in Gingery Fruit Sauce from Morocco.

As a rule of thumb I never share a recipe unless I try it out myself...and if am not pleased with the results, I don't share. And today I was more than pleased with the result. It is an exotic dish with a slight fruity tinge to it.

So let's start. And please follow my instructions carefully. I am presenting this  recipe in stages to simplify it for you.

For 2 persons you will need the following :

Stage 1 - boiling the chicken to cut time in half.

- 2 pieces of chicken breasts preferably with skin and bone.
- the following spices :
* 1/2 a cinnamon stick
* 1/2 onion cut in quarters
* 3 bay leaves
* 3 cardamom grains
* 4 cloves
* a pinch of caraway seeds (optional)

- Wash the chicken and put in saucepan
- cover well with boiling water and add the spices above
- leave it to cook on medium heat until cooked.
- make sure to add enough water because we will need the broth later on.
- once cooked remove the chicken and drain the broth from spices. Keep Chicken and broth separately.

Stage 2 - preparing the chicken 

-  3 spring onions OR one medium size onion minced
-  1 tbs of finely grated ginger
-  2 cloves of garlic crushed
- 1 tbs of cooking oil
- salt and pepper
- a deep frying pan

- Heat oil, and add your onions, ginger and garlic, salt and pepper on a medium heat until the mix is tender. ADD a little chicken broth every time you see the mixture drying out. You don't want it to burn but to become tender. So do not fear adding a LITTLE broth to wet the mix whenever needed.

Once mix is tender, put your chicken breasts and fry them with the ginger/garlic/onion until the chicken breasts are  brownish. Again add a LITTLE broth if you see it drying out. It needs to remain moist but NOT liquid.

Stage 3 - Preparing the Ginger Fruity Sauce

- 1/2 tbs of olive oil
- 1 spring onion finely minced
- 1 Flat Tbs of finely grated ginger
- 1 full TBS of either Cherry Jam or Blackberry Jam. I used Cherry.
- Small non stick frying pan

Mix the olive oil, onion and ginger, cook gently on a medium to low heat, until the onions are translucent, add the Cherry Jam stirring it in by adding some of the chicken broth...until it becomes a thickish sauce. Do not turn it into a soup. Taste, if you feel it needs more jam add more jam but 1 TBS is enough for the tangy taste. Leave it to cook for a couple of minutes, adding broth if necessary so as not to dry.

Once your sauce is right, pour it on top of the chicken preparation, mix well and heat the whole thing, again if you feel it drying out, wet it with a little of the chicken broth.

Serve hot and generously decorate with fresh coriander/ cilantro leaves - about 5 cilantro branches.

To be served with either the Bukhari rice - previous post or with white rice (check blog for cooking rice)

If serving with Bukhari rice - Skip raisins and onion in rice recipe.
If serving with White rice - follow instructions on how to cook Basmati rice in previous posts.
Tip 1 : in both cases, instead of using water, use the remaining chicken broth to cook rice
Tip 2: if cooking white rice, add a pinch of Turmeric and a pinch of ground Cardamom

Finish off with chilled Melon and Green Tea with Fresh mint.

Bon appétit !

April 27, 2012

Bukhari Rice

Hi again, am back in my active cooking mode and am about to share a new recipe with you. Bukhari rice is a Saudi Arabian speciality but also cooked in the UAE, and Pakistan. But before I do so, you know what to do ---> read my welcome note.

There are several versions to the Bukhari rice, and as usual am going to give you the simpler one. But the spices are a must, because this is what makes Bukhari rice. The Bukhari spice mix can be found in any Middle Eastern or Indian shop, otherwise you will have to make your own and you shall not regret it. It keeps for 2 years in a tight jar.

Bukhari mix spices basically consists of the following : Fennel, cloves, cardamon, Anise, Cinnamon all grounded. If you are going to prepare your own, use equal parts of each spice and grind until powder like. Or you can buy the ground spices individually and mix them into equal parts (which is easier)

Ingredients for  Bukhari Rice.

for 2 persons you will need

- 1 and half standard cup of BASMATI rice (para boiled is FORBIDDEN)
- 1 full tbs of tomato paste
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- about 2 flat tbs of sultanas (dried raisins) optional but necessary if you are to serve the rice with something spicy
- 1 and half cup of boiling water
- 1 tbs of vegetable oil
- 1 and half FLAT tsp of bukhari spice mix
- 1/2 cube of chicken stock if you are serving with chicken or beef stock if serving with meat or vegetable stock if you are a vegetarian but the cube stock does give it extra flavor.
- salt to taste ( I don't use salt as the chicken stock is quite salty as is)
- extra option --- some people add some cooked about 2 tbs (tinned, washed and drained) chickpeas, I don't. but you can if you want to.


- wash thoroughly the rice and let is soak for about 10 mn in cold water.
- in a  medium saucepan (rice needs to breathe) (preferably non stick), heat oil
- add chopped onions and stir fry them until tender and light brown
- add the Bukhari mix, the tomato paste, the sultanas and mix well, on a medium fire for a 2 minutes
- drain your rice and add to the paste mixing it well
- now pour the boiling water on top, give it one last mix, let it boil once and then leave it to simmer on a very low heat until all liquid is fully absorbed.

Serve with meat or chicken. Stay tuned as my next recipe will go perfectly well with the Bukhari Rice.

Enjoy !

April 23, 2012

Pickles in a hot Sandwich

Been so lazy with cooking lately, but that did not stop me from eating. I believe you can still manage a tasty meal without too much elaborate cooking during lazy times. But, but, but, before I give you today's real simple recipes (plural because am giving 2), you are to read my Welcome Note, for those of you who are new to my blog and for those who are cheating on the blog's condition.

Recipe Number 1.

Am not so sure you can call that a recipe because it's a sandwich. It is in fact an Iraqi type of sandwich that we call "abiad wi bedh". The sandwich basically consists of :

- Iraqi samoon - the closet equivalent  to Samoon is Italian Ciabatta bread. If you can't find Ciabatta use French baguette
- hard boiled eggs
- boiled potatoes
- watercress or chopped fresh parsley (if you can't find watercress)
- the special extra which is ESSENTIAL - Spicy or mild mango pickles which we call in Iraq "Amba". Can be found in any Indian or large surface supermarket.

Preparation :

Slice boiled eggs, potatoes add the watercress and the mango pickles (I like the spicy type) place in a HOT Ciabatta or Baguette and's delicious and filling.

Recipe no.2

This one is slightly more elaborate, but still qualifies as a lazy recipe.

For 2 persons you will need :

- 4 to 5 eggs
- 1 spring onion finely chopped
- 1 red pepper bell cut in small pieces
- a large handful of chopped fresh parsley - if you are too lazy to chop parsley use dried mixed herbs, but fresh parsley is much nicer.
- salt
- pepper
- a good pinch of sweet paprika
- 1/2 small tsp of ground cumin
- 1/2 small tsp of turmeric.
- 1tbs of vegetable oil.
- Arabic/ Lebanese bread or pitta - must be HOT

Heat oil in a large frying pan, add the chopped spring onion, pepper bell, parsley, plus spices and salt, stir fry for 3 minutes on medium fire.

Add your eggs and scramble them until cooked.

Slice the arabic/pitta bread down the middle (the bread should be hot), place your scrambled egg mix inside the bread to which you will add your mango pickles.

Bon appétit

March 18, 2012

Chana Dhal or Yellow Split Peas

Please read welcome note first over there, on your right hand side ----->

As you may have noticed, as of late I've been sharing with you some vegetarian recipes. It is Lent and it is also good to come off meat every once in a while.

Tonight's recipe is from India and it is Dhal. Dhal basically means lentils. But tonight it's Chana Dhal which is yellow split peas .

I read over 20 recipes for Chana Dhal and each one gives you a different version. Some are soupy like, some are porridge like, some had certain spices, the others did was a bit of a headache, I must admit.

And since I had bought that bag of split peas a few months ago, I decided I was going to use them and do it my way.

Now online recipes have a tendency to lie a little in particular when it comes to cooking time. Some recipes said 30mn, others said 10mn...all Bullshit. If you are going to use Yellow Split Peas - Chana, you will need at least 1h.30 cooking time.

Wait, wait, you say over one hour?! Yes, a minimum of 1h30mn cooking time not preparation time. Preparation time is 10mn.

So on a Sunday, while you're sitting behind your computer, and you fancy something fragrant, tasty and spicy, indulge in Chana Dhal.

I followed the family tradition when it comes to grains. I soaked them overnight and it still took 1.h30mn and a bit. Maybe it was the kind of split peas I got and since I don't know what kind you have, let's play it safe. SOAK THEM in generous amount of water OVERNIGHT.

Let's get going shall we ?

For 2 you will need

- 200grams of Yellow Split peas or one cup of rinsed and soaked overnight in cold water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 medium size onion finely chopped
- 2 cm of FRESH ginger
- 3 cloves of Garlic
- 1/2 green small chili pepper (if you don't like it too hot, use a quarter)
- 2 tsp of Turmeric
- 1 tsp of Cumin SEEDS
- 1/2 tsp of Garam Marsala
- 1/2 tsp of red chili flakes (optional)
- 1/2 to 1 tsp of salt
- 5 branches of FRESH coriander /cilantro, leaves only.
- 1 Tbs of cooking oil (I use sunflower)
- 1 Flat Tbs of butter  (the traditional recipe uses Ghee which I hate)

*** If you don't want to use butter, use 2 Tbs of cooking oil. But Butter does give it a special flavor. And if you're not anti Butter in cooking, then discard cooking oil and use 2 TBS of Butter (which is too rancid for me) So I opted for the mix of cooking oil and butter.


- drain your soaked peas, rinse them again, place them in saucepan and add ONE liter of cold water
- bring to boil on high heat, while it is boiling, remove the white froth (important)
- then add the cinnamon stick (do not break it, you will find out why later), plus bay leaves plus GRATED ginger.
- let it boil for a couple of minutes, turn down heat to medium, partially cover, and leave it to cook until real tender. Patience because this is the time consuming bit. You can always add a little more water if you feel it's drying out, hence importance of keeping it on medium to low fire.
-  keep an eye and stir occasionally

Once your peas are cooked or about to be totally cooked start your Tarka. Tarka is basically the spice mix, we call it in Arabic Tatbileh, in India it's called Tarka.

- In a non stick frying pan, heat the cooking oil plus butter (or whatever option you settled for ***) and fry your chopped onions until soft and slightly golden, keep heat medium
- add your crushed garlic, chopped green chili and fry for one more minute
- add your turmeric, cumin seeds, red chili flakes, garam marsala  and salt and stir until you smell the fragrance of the spices. It will look like a thick paste
- remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves from peas.
- add your Tarka paste to the peas (you can always add a little more water if necessary)
- stir well and leave it to cook for a few minutes so the peas can absorb all the flavor.
- Serve hot and top with chopped cilantro leaves.

Serve with Naan, Chapatis or Rice.

Since I had no Naan or Chapatis I used Arabic bread and gave it a Naan Twist.

Brush Arabic bread with a mix of olive oil and black cumin seeds and heat in oven. If you have some of the olive oil/black seeds mix left, add it to a cucumber yogurt salad - it goes well with the Dhal and is delicious.
Cucumber yogurt salad is basically small diced cucumber in yogurt.

Et voilà .

Enjoy !

March 14, 2012

Carrot & Ginger Soup.

Please read my welcome note first, if you are new to this blog.

If you're into different, you will love this very tasty and easy  to make soup. If you're not into Carrots or Ginger, then obviously this is not for you.

So let's get started.

For two you will need

- 4 medium size carrots, peeled, washed, and cut into small pieces
- 1 medium size potato, peeled, washed and cut into small pieces
- 1 small onion, chopped
- FRESH ginger half size of your thumb., peeled and grated.
- 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
-  the Juice of two medium size oranges. It must be FRESH orange juice
-  about 2 cups of water
- 1 cube of vegetable stock
- fresh cream ( I use half  fat) if you are a die-hard vegetarian use Soy cream
- 4 branches of cilantro, leaves only washed and chopped
- salt and pepper to taste.

- In a large saucepan, mix carrots, potato, onion, ginger and cover with water in which you would have diluted your vegetable cube.
- Add HALF of the orange juice and the cinnamon . Stir well.
- Let it boil a few minutes and then let it simmer on a medium heat, covered until all the vegetables are tender. You can add a little water so it does not dry out.
- once vegetables are cooked, put the whole thing in a blender ( I don't have a blender so I use an electrical hand blender)
- once everything is well blended put again on LOW heat, to keep it hot -  adding the rest of the orange juice, and stir well.
-add pepper and salt to your liking.

Serve it hot, by topping it with some fresh cream and minced cilantro leaves

Enjoy !

March 12, 2012

Tofu & Lentils with Curry & Coconut sauce

Hi there, been quite some time since I updated this blog. If you're new, please read my welcome note first, which basically says- every time you try out one of my recipes you are to feed one (or more) hungry person. I leave it to you how you wish to do that, either cook for them, buy them food or give them money for a meal.

Today's recipe is a vegetarian one which I prepared for dinner. As it was simmering, I was perusing some  articles and by "coincidence", I stumbled upon  a new medical study that has just been published linking the regular consumption of red meat to cancer and heart disease. So all the more reason to go at least partially vegetarian.

Now I know some of you would love to ban Tofu, in particular men. They hate Tofu. But Tofu does not need to be like rubber, you can prepare it in such a way that it could taste as good as meat.

For those who are absolutely anti-Tofu, you can skip the Tofu part and stick to the lentils.

So let's get started. Preparation time is 15mn - cooking time is about 50mn or so.

For 2 you will need :

- 100 grams of Green Lentils (rinse and soak them in cold water for at least 15mn, they will cook faster)
- 1 medium size onion
- 1 large carrot
- 2 celery sticks
- 1 tsp of ground cumin
- 1 tsp of curry (I use hot Madras, you can go for mild if you can't take spicy)
- 1 tsp of Sambal Oelek (Thai pimento sauce found in any Asian shop. Otherwise use Harissa, which is North African pimento sauce. Short of that use Red Tabasco, but it's not as nice and short of that just use ground red Chili)
- 1/2 tsp of Turmeric
- 1 tsp of fresh grated ginger (otherwise use powder)
- 1 cube of vegetable stock
- 2 cloves of garlic crushed
- 5 branches of cilantro leaves chopped
- 3 cups of water
- 1 tbs of cooking oil.
- 2 cups of coconut milk

For the Tofu if you do decide to eat Tofu. You will need :

- 200 grams of Tofu cut like pieces of mini steaks and fairly thick. (so not in chunks)
- 1 tbs of cooking oil
- 1 tsp of mixed dried herbs like Herbes de Provence.


- peel, wash carrot and dice it (the smaller the quicker it cooks)
- wash celery and cut in small pieces
- finely chop onion
- crush garlic and mince cilantro leaves.
- grate ginger

- In a non stick saucepan, heat oil, then stir fry the onions, garlic, cilantro and ginger for 1 minute
- Add drained lentils and stir for about 2 mn
- Now add your spices i.e cumin, sambal oelek, curry, turmeric and stir for another 1mn
- Add your water in which you have diluted the vegetable cube. Mix well
- Let it boil a few minutes, cover, lower heat and leave it to cook well for about 40 mn. Stirring it occasionally and make sure it does not dry out completely, hence necessity of lowering heat.


- marinate pieces of Tofu in oil and mixed herbs and leave on side.

After 40mn your lentils and vegetables should be cooked by then. Add your coconut milk and some salt to taste , stir it and leave it to cook for another 10 mn uncovered until liquid is absorbed - keep it on medium to low heat.

While the lentils in coconut milk are simmering -  in a non stick frying pan, fry your marinated Tofu, until golden. Tofu cooks very quickly.

Serve lentils hot and put the Tofu on top, decorate with some Cilantro or Parsley and a squeeze of FRESH Lemon Juice.

Bon appétit.

January 26, 2012

Freeket Djaj

Hello, long time I haven't been here.  I tell you something ; am on twitter, and I threw a question haphazardly - asking what should I write  about --  poetry or a recipe...

The overwhelming majority opted for a recipe

So recipe it is, am a democrat by the way, just in case you haven't noticed...but I still have that dictatorial streak in me...I will request you to read my introductory welcome...and if you're too lazy let me sum it up for you --- for any recipe you try out, you are to feed one (or more hungry person). That is the main reason why I started this you can feed others, but also because I love cooking and would love  to share my recipes with you.

I like things simple and easy..I don't like complications in love and in cooking...somehow they seem to be related. Anyways let's stick to cooking for now.

Freekeh : what does it mean ?  It's the Arabic word for coarse roasted (smoked) green wheat.

Djaj  : means chicken.

So far so good.

A little history about Freekeh. You can actually google it, it's wheat that was first used in 13 century Baghdad, and basically consists of GREEN wheat that is roasted. It has a smokey taste to it.  Freekeh is the Middle Eastern equivalent of Quinoa. It is rich in fibers and very nutritious. It looks like  cracked coarse wheat - known as Bulgur. But it is not's green wheat that's roasted and gives a distinctive smokey taste.

You can find Freeqeh in almost all Middle Easter grocery shops.  There are two kinds - grounded for soup and coarse. You need coarse for this recipe.
As for the Djaj - here again I like it simple and easy. I usually go for boneless, skinless, chicken breasts...but you can opt for a full chicken instead.


for two people you will need :

- 1 cup to 1.1/2 cup of Freekeh 
- 2 large chicken breasts (skinless boneless in my case - but you can opt for whole chicken)
- 3 cardamom grains
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 onion cut in quarters
- 4-5 grains of cloves
-  2 cloves of garlic minced
-  1 cube of chicken stock if you use chicken filet (disregard if you are using chicken with skin and bones)
-  spices (all the secret is in the spices by the way ) following is approx because I don't use measurements but work with flair /taste.
 *1 small tsp of ground ground caraway 
* 1small  tsp  of ground cinnamon 
* 1small tsp of ground cumin
* 1 tsp of Kabsah Spices  (ready made in any middle eastern grocery shop or in equal parts a mix of black pepper , ground fennel, turmeric/curcuma, all spices, cardamon, ground coriander)
--- don't kill the smoky taste of the freekeh with spices --enough to enhance it but not obliterate it.
* 1tbs full of skinless almonds
* 1 tbs full of pine nuts
* 1 tbs of cooking oil

Make it simple and easy...

Preparation :

- Wash thoroughly your Freekeh and soak in cold water for about an 30 mn to 1 hour
- remember for EVERY CUP of FREEKEH you will need 2 CUPS of CHICKEN STOCK

- in a large saucepan, place your washed chicken with onion quarters, cloves, garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamon grains, cover with generous amount of boiling water, you will be using that stock for the freekeh and  leave to cook until tender and well done. If you are using boneless skinless chicken add a cube of chicken stock for extra flavor.

If you are using a whole or half a chicken, cut it in quarters and  make sure to remove the "grey froth" when boiling. Don't keep it as it gives a rancid taste to food.

in the meantime 

- drain your soaked  Freekeh and use one tablespoon of cooking oil, fry your wheat in it, keep stirring it on a medium fire...
- add your chicken stock, for every cup of Freekeh, you add 2 cups of the chicken stock 
- mix well, add your Kabsah spices, caraway, cinnamon, cumin and keep on a low fire until all liquid is absorbed. about 30-35mn.

- right before it dries up, drain your boiled chicken from the remaining stock (if any left) and put it on top of your cooking Freekeh so it can absorb all the spicy flavors


in a small frying pan ...with a little cooking oil

- fry the almonds until NEARLY golden brown
- add your pine nuts (pine nuts cook much faster than almonds)
- make sure both almonds and pine nuts are golden

serve your Freekeh and chicken and decorate with pine and can accompany this with a bowl of yogurt mixed with fresh/dried mint.

 Bon appétit or Sahtein in Arabic and don't forget those who have nothing.