November 15, 2014

All about Food and Love

I just finished watching a lovely lovely film about cooking,  scents, flavors, texture,  friendships, race, culture, love and most importantly Spices. A salad of culinary delights.

I highly recommend you watch it  -- The Hundred Foot Journey. A Masala for your senses. May they be awakened by simple beauty to the wondrous musical composition of A.Rahman.

November 5, 2014

Ethiopian Chicken Recipe - Doro Wat made Easy.

Hello everyone, been kind of lazy but have not forgotten you or my pledge. My pledge is : every time you try a new recipe of mine, you are to feed one (or more) hungry person. Read the welcome note ---> over there - first.

So my recipe for today is Doro Wat - a lovely Ethiopian dish made easy. I say made easy because there are so many variants to this succulent chicken recipe, and it can get quite complicated for busy and important people like yourselves.

So here I am to make it easy for you. Tested in my own kitchen more than once...and not only tasted by this humble self, but also by others and if two or more (unrelated) individuals tell me it's very good then it is.

Let's start-  Doro Wat made Quick and Easy.

You will need for two :

-  250 grams of boneless/skinless chicken cut in chunks.
- 2 medium red onions chopped (preferably red but don't sweat the small stuff).
- 3 cloves of garlic - crushed
- half of your index finger worth of fresh ginger - grated
- 2 tbs of butter (I don't usually use butter in cooking but for this dish it is preferable)
- 2 tbs of olive oil
- the following spices. This is the important's all in the spices. If you don't have all the spices mentioned below, you may have a little problem, because trust me, I have simplified it for you, the original recipe is way more complicated. So I say invest in a little spices and you can go a long way.

- ground cumin  1/2 tsp
- ground nutmeg 1/4 tsp
- all spice 1/4 tsp
- ground cardamom 1/2 tsp
- turmeric  1/2 tsp
- powdered cloves 1/2 tsp
- dry coriander 1/4 tsp
- sweet paprika 1/4 tsp
- chili powder 1/4 tsp
- black pepper 1/4 tsp
- ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp
- dried basil about 1 tsp
- salt to taste


- 1  cup of chicken stock enough to cover all your chicken
- less than 1/4 cup of red wine or red vinegar
- a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice.

Bear in mind that this is not an exact science, so you may add a little more or a little less..go by flair and sense of smell.

Preparation :

- wash the chunks of chicken - leave to drain.
- in a non stick deep pan on medium fire mix the following : butter, olive oil, onions, garlic, ginger, all the spices mentioned above and is important for the mix to emanate that wonderful smell before you put the chicken in. Add a little water if you see that the mix is drying out.
- put your chicken in, mix well, and leave it on medium fire until the pieces of chicken absorb all the spice mix
- once your chicken is half cooked (look at color, flesh should turn white on the outside), add the chicken stock plus red wine or red vinegar, bring to boil cover  and leave it to simmer on a low fire, adding a squeeze of the lime or lemon juice, until the sauce thickens. It should look like a thick brown sauce .

Rule of thumb it is always better to start with little water and add more than have too much water. So if you feel/see that you need to add more water, do so, but remember this is not a soup. So the law of parsimony is applicable here.

You can serve it with boiled potatoes, hot flat bread or sauteed spinach in olive oil plus nutmeg or my favorite - rice.

If you plan on serving it with rice, I personally use small grain rice for this recipe as opposed to basmati rice (never processed ie. half boiled rice whether short or long grain)

For the short grain rice recipe 

1 cup of rice, thoroughly washed until water is clear
1 tbs of cooking oil (not olive oil any other oil is fine)
1 1/2 cup of boiling water.
salt to taste

In cooking pot,  heat oil well, drain rice, add it to pot, mix it, add salt...then pour boiling water, bring to boil once and then leave on a very low fire till all water is absorbed and rice is tender.

Bon appétit and enjoy.

March 8, 2014

Grilled Turkey and a Polenta Spinach Gratin.

If you are new to my blog  --- please read the introductory welcome note on the right hand side of this page.

I feel terrible for not updating this blog in a long, long time. It's not that I stopped cooking, far from it ...but it's just not sure why...anyways, what does it matter? am back and hope to be regular in my contributions, again.

So let's start with something simple and very easy to prepare in less than 30mn with a cooking time of about 20mn max.

For 2 you will need the following :

2 largish pieces of Turkey slices thinly sliced.

Let's start with marinating the turkey first.

1 tbs of olive oil,
1 smallish tsp of ground powder ginger
1 smallish tsp of garlic powder
1 tbs of non salty soya sauce (salt makes the meat hard),
1 flat tbs of dried basilicum
1flat tsp of 7 spices (a spice mix of rose petals, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon) if you don't have this in your country, just use an all spice mix.

Mix everything together and pour over raw turkey - make sure that the pieces of poultry are well imbued with the mix. Set aside.

Now for the polenta and spinach gratin. 

2 largish cups of frozen spinach
1 cup of polenta (non Genetically modified cornmeal)
1 spring onion chopped
1 flat tbs of mixed dried herbs
1 flat tsp of ground cumin
1 flat tsp of nutmeg
1 tsp of olive oil
1/2 tbs of mixed dried herbs
1 small onion sliced in thin rings
1/2 cup of grated cheese.

Spinach preparation.

in a saucepan, put oil, add chopped spring onion, add spinach still frozen, mix well, let it all thaw, add a tiny bit of water so it will not dry up, add nutmeg and salt if you wish until the spinach is tender but not overcooked. Make sure it is not soggy. So easy on the water as spinach gives its own water.

Polenta preparation

Follow directions on your pack for one cup of polenta. I personally use a mixture of half water and half full milk -- bring it to boil, pour in the polenta gently stirring on a low heat (polenta cooks quickly like 3 mn), then add while stirring the cumin, dried herbs and salt to taste. Polenta must be thickish in texture not soggy.

Once both spinach and polenta are ready, get a deep oven dish, place the spinach then cover with the polenta, addonion rings, top it with the grated cheese and sprinkle a little nutmeg on top.
Place in oven at about 150 temp for 15 mn or so until cheese melts and you see onions turning golden.

Now grilling the Turkey filet   Heat a grill pan FIRST then lower heat, and grill your turkey slices until cooked to your liking.

Serve with a salad - I made one with sliced carrots, walnuts, rocca, and tomatoes in a vinaigrette made of : olive oil,  balsamic honey vinegar, 1 tsp of mayo, a squeeze of mustard, mixed herbs, salt, and pepper, shake it all in a jar and pour over your salad mix.

Fig mustard goes very nicely with the Turkey slices.

Enjoy and don't forget to feed someone if you try this recipe.

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 !