All posts tagged middle eastern

  • roasted cauliflower with lentils and tahini sauce

    Roasted cauliflower with lentils and tahini sauce >> avocadobravado.net

    Roasted cauliflower is an old standby from my early days of learning how to cook. I was in college at the time and had a job at a book store. The store would receive advanced copies of books the staff could keep. FOR FREE. As a student working part-time for minimum wage, free books were a dream come true. One of the books I snagged at the end of a shift was Olives & Oranges by Sara Jenkins. The book store has gone the way of the dodo and the my copy of Olives & Oranges was donated long ago, but I still have fond memories of procrastinating homework to pore over recipes, making lists of how I should stock my humble pantry, and dog-earing just about every other page or so for recipes to try on my own or to make for Cory when we moved in together.

    The main dish I took away from the book was cauliflower with tahini sauce. I don’t remember the exact recipe from the book, so I’m sure mine deviates a bit. The cauliflower is roasted which brings out its natural sugars, then drizzled with a creamy lemon and garlic tahini sauce. It’s perfect as is, but also great served over lentils like I did here, or with bulghur or couscous, or stuffed in a pita or wrap.

    Oh! I have a backlog of recipes to post here! That hasn’t happened in uh… 3 1/2 years. After a particularly miserable winter, I want to devour every vegetable in sight. That’s a good thing, right?

    Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Lentils
    (adapted from Olives & Oranges by Sara Jenkins)

    Cauliflower:
    1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
    enough olive oil to coat the cauliflower
    salt and pepper, to taste
    1/3 cup parsley, chopped

    Tahini sauce:
    2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
    2/3 cup tahini
    2-4 tablespoons water (depending on
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    1/4 teaspoon cumin
    1/4 teaspoon coriander
    salt and pepper, to taste

    Lentils:
    2 cups lentils
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    salt & pepper, to taste

    Garnishing (optional):
    Chopped parsley
    Lemon wedges

    Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

    Wash cauliflower and cut into florets. Pat dry with a towel and place the cauliflower in a large foil-lined roasting pan. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil over the cauliflower and use your hands to make sure the cauliflower is thoroughly coated in oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the cauliflower and place the roasting pan in the oven. Set your timer for 20 minutes.

    Fill up a large pot with water. When boiling, add lentils and cook according to package directions. Once done, drain, transfer back to the large pot, and set aside.

    After the 20 minutes are up, remove the cauliflower from the oven and turn the pieces over. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes.

    Now, prepare the sauce. Chop up garlic cloves, toss in a large bowl, add tahini, water, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and mix thoroughly. Give the sauce a taste test and adjust salt, spices, and lemon, if necessary. Add more water for a thicker sauce. Add about 2 tablespoons of both the tahini sauce and olive oil to your pot full of lentils and mix. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

    Check on the cauliflower and if most pieces are a dark golden color, they’re ready. If not, check on them again in another 5 minutes. When ready, remove from oven, toss in the chopped parsley. Serve the cauliflower over a bed of lentils. Top the cauliflower with tahini sauce and drizzle a little olive oil over the dish just before serving. Garnish with lemon wedges and more parsley.

    Serves 4-6 as a main or side

  • karkady / egyptian hibiscus tea / كركديه

    karkady egyptian hibiscus tea karkade

    The first time I had karkady was in Cairo in 2006. Ramadan was in full swing and the October heat was relentless. My roommate and I were in a taxi on our way to al-Husayn Mosque, which we would visit a few times a week. She would go to the mosque to pray, then we’d hit up nearby Khan al-Khalili to shop for giant gaudy earrings and eat tameyya sandwiches. On the last stretch of the trip, the call to prayer rippled through the city. It was iftar — time to break the day’s fast. Drivers had a new sense of urgency, most pedestrians vanished from the street to fill their bellies, and our cab driver broke his fast with a cigarette.

    As our taxi inched forward in bumper to bumper traffic, I noticed a man going from car to car and handing people bags with some sort of deep red liquid. When he got to our taxi, he handed me a bag and said something I didn’t understand. I had just enough time to thank him, but not enough to ask him what it was before he went on his merry way. I asked the cab driver if he knew what the drink was and he said, “karkady”. Well, OK! I didn’t know what that was but when a jovial toothless man hands you mystery drink in a plastic bag, what do you do? My roommate wasn’t interested, so I drank it in the most graceful way one can drink from a plastic bag (which is not at all).

    As a fan of all things sour, it was love at first sip. Sweet but not overly so, with a tart flavor reminiscent of cranberry juice. After doing some investigating later on (aka googling), I learned karkady was made from made an infusion of hibiscus flowers. Serve it cold in the hot months and hot when fighting off those winter shivers. It wasn’t for another few years after leaving Egypt that I would revisit karkady, but now you’ll find a pitcher (or bottle) of it in my fridge about once a month.

    To make karkady, you need dried red hibiscus flowers, which can be found at Middle Eastern and Latin American groceries (look for Flor de Jamaica), tea shops, and the bustling spice markets of Cairo. If none are available in your neck of the woods, there’s always Amazon, the Wal*Mart of the internet.

    Unrelated, but here are some things I’ve been cooking lately:

    Pulled Pork – I made about 5 pounds of pulled pork for Father’s Day. It had been so long since I cooked several pounds of pork that and I overcooked it a little bit, sadly. Dad came down for a visit and we feasted on pulled pork sandwiches and potato salad. I sent dad home with a big container of meat, then Cory and I used the remaining pork for sandwiches and tacos.

    Black Bean, Cilantro and Apricot Salad – When we ran out of pulled pork, we still had several corn tortillas. I made a mango and black bean salad based off an apricot and black bean salad from the taste space. The recipe has been a regular in our kitchen for about 3 years now.

    Quick Pickled Onions – from the Kitchn. I’ve quick pickled (and consumed) 4 jars of carrots in the last month and now I’m onto onions for salads and sandwiches.

    Falafels – The last of my chickpeas are currently soaking as I type this. Falafels served over a bed of lettuce will be tomorrow’s dinner. Maybe I’ll buy more chickpeas before we move, but first I have to go through a pound of pinto beans, cranberry beans, and great northern beans. Anyone have any ideas what to do with those?

    Tahini – ok, I haven’t made this yet. But I’m making it tomorrow! Again, from The Kitchn. I’ve never made tahini from scratch before, but I have a lot of sesame seeds I’ve been meaning to use up. I’m knee deep in Operation: Clear Out the Pantry.

    Zucchini – zucchini everything. Chopped up raw and in salads, zucchini noodles, zucchini soups, and mastering mom’s zucchini bread.

    Corn – with everything. Mostly corn on the cob, sometimes soup, and I made a corn, basil, and pesto pizza on Friday.

    Popsicles – currently, mango lassi popsicles. But I’m really craving Vietnamese iced coffee and I think they’d make for some delicious popsicles.

    Now, on with the show.

    Karkady / Egyptian Hibiscus Drink

    3/4 cup hibiscus petals
    8 cups water
    sugar, to taste (I recommend starting with 1/4 cup and taste testing from there)

    Optional:
    dried orange peel
    grated ginger
    a few squeezes of lime or lemon
    a cinnamon stick

    In a large pot, add hibiscus petals and water (add orange peel, ginger, and/or cinnamon stick, if using) and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in sugar and give the drink a taste test and add more sugar, if necessary. You can skip this part, but I usually cover the pot and let it steep for another 1-3 hours. If adding lime or lemon, squeeze a bit of juice in and stir. Strain the mixture into a pitcher, discard the petals, and refrigerate the drink for several hours.

    Serves 8-10

  • pearl couscous with sweet potatoes, pistachios, and herbs

    pearl couscous with sweet potato herbs and pistachios 2

    Several weeks ago when one of my favorite food bloggers, Faith of An Edible Mosaic, announced that she was co-hosting a Food Blogger Cookbook Swap with Alyssa from Everyday Maven, I jumped on board right away. I sent The Turkish Kitchen over to Karen of Kitchen Treaty, a cookbook I picked up in a bookstore off the winding streets of Cihangir, Istanbul back in 2012.

    I received The Meat Free Monday cookbook from Cher of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler. The cookbook was edited by Stella, Paul, and Mary McCartney. I knew that Paul McCartney was a vegetarian, which of course I learned from The Simpsons. Although I’ve seen mention of meat free Mondays/meatless Mondays on food blogs over the years, I had no idea that they were the ones who launched the campaign back in 2009. Even though I’ll chant “you don’t win friends with salad” until the end of my days, that’s really only because it’s catchy and doesn’t necessarily reflect the way I eat. I was excited to dive into the cookbook.

    meat free monday cookbook and izzy goo in her sunny seatBonus Izzy shot

    I grew up in a typical steak and potatoes American household, where a meal without meat is not a meal at all. To this day, my dad’s preferred dinner includes a giant slab of meat, with a side of potatoes or rice, and some vegetables. I was such a picky eater as a kid and hated most meat. My mom bought chicken nuggets for me over and over again until I learned to like them, since she was worried I didn’t eat enough meat. I’m still a picky meat eater, I only buy about 5-6 pounds of meat a month for the two of us, mostly ground beef and lamb. I prefer meat as an enhancement to a dish rather taking center stage, like slipping ground meat into sauces, sprinkling a little bit of sausage over a pizza, and adding chicken stock to a soup. If you serve me a giant slab of chicken breast, I’ll take a couple bites and dump it onto Cory’s plate when he’s not looking. Or when he’s looking. It just ain’t my thing, so many of the recipes in the Meat Free Monday cookbook are right up my alley. The cookbook is divided into 52 chapters, with meal plans for every Monday of the year — meatless breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts.

    One recipe in particular that caught my eye was a pearl couscous and sweet potato dish. Surprise, I found a recipe with a Middle Eastern-inspired slant and had to make it. You start off by sauteing the pearl couscous until lightly browned. I hadn’t prepared couscous that way before and was delighted to discover that it gave the couscous a slightly nutty taste. Pistachios give this dish a nice crunch and raisins are added for a pleasant burst of sweetness. The recipe calls for a tablespoon of za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mix that consists of thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds. Sumac can be found at any Middle Eastern grocery, but if you don’t want to run out and buy some just for one recipe, just add a little more lemon to this dish, since sumac is sour. Cory and I have been eating this for lunch and loving it. If you love leftovers as much as I do, double the recipe and lunch is covered for the week. Thanks for the sweet new cookbook, Cher!

    pearl couscous with sweet potato herbs and pistachios

    Other news:
    – Happy birthday, mom! I can’t believe you’re 39 again!
    – Big batch of new save the dates are available in the shop, with more coming this weekend. Since you read the blog, feel free to use the coupon code BLOGLOVE10 to receive 10% off your order.

    Pearl Couscous with Sweet Potatoes, Pistachios, and Herbs
    Adapted from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook

    3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
    1 tablespoon maple syrup
    6 tablespoons olive oil (2 for the sweet potatoes, 2 for sauteing the couscous, and 2 for just before serving)
    1 1 3/4 cups pearl (Israeli) couscous
    2 cups vegetable stock or water
    1/4 cup raisins
    1 tablespoon za’atar (1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon sumac, 1 teaspoon sesame seeds)
    1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
    1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
    salt and pepper, to taste
    1/3 cup freshly chopped parsley
    1/3 cup freshly chopped cilantro

    Preheat oven to 400F.

    Add the sweet potatoes to a roasting pan, coat them with olive oil, a little bit of salt and pepper, and maple syrup. Mix thoroughly. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, check on the sweet potatoes to see if they’re cooked through. Once the potatoes are tender and caramelized around the edges, they’re ready. If they need more time, put them back in the oven for another 7-10 minutes.

    While the sweet potatoes are roasting, get the couscous ready. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan or stock pot over low-medium heat. When hot, add the couscous and stir frequently. Keep the couscous cooking until it begins to brown, or about 5-7 minutes. Add half of the stock or water and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often until the couscous is tender and has absorbed the liquid. Continue adding the liquid until absorbed, stirring frequently. Taste test the couscous for doneness. When cooked through, lower the heat to very low and stir in the raisins, chopped up pistachios, za’atar, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add one tablespoon of lemon juice, mix, and give a taste test. Add more lemon juice, if necessary. Mix in the parsley and cilantro.

    By now, the sweet potatoes should be ready. Mix them into the pot. Ladle into bowls and serve.

    Serves 4

    Want to see more from the Food Blogger Cookbook swap? Here is the list of all the participants. Yay, food!

    A Baker’s House
    An Edible Mosaic
    Blue Kale Road
    Blueberries And Blessings
    Cheap Recipe Blog
    Confessions of a Culinary Diva
    Create Amazing Meals
    Cucina Kristina
    Culinary Adventures with Camilla
    Cupcake Project
    Dinner is Served 1972
    Done With Corn
    Eats Well With Others
    Everyday Maven
    Flour Me With Love 
    From My Sweet Heart 
    girlichef 
    Great Food 360° 
    Healthy. Delicious. 
    I’m Gonna Cook That! 
    Je Mange la Ville 
    Karen’s Kitchen Stories 
    Kitchen Treaty 
    Olive and Herb
    OnTheMove-In The Galley 
    Our Best Bites 
    Paleo Gone Sassy
    poet in the pantry 
    Rhubarb and Honey 
    Rocky Mountain Cooking
    Shikha la mode 
    Shockingly Delicious
    Sifting Focus 
    Spiceroots
    Spoonful of Flavor 
    Tara’s Multicultural Table 
    The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler 
    The Suburban Soapbox 
    The Whole Family’s Food 

  • aushak (afghan dumplings with meat sauce and yogurt)

    aushak_afghan_dumplings_02

    I’ve been on a bit of an Afghan kick.

    Truth is, when I made kaddo bourani last week, what I really wanted was aushak, Afghan dumplings filled with scallions and leeks, served with a tomato-based meat sauce and garlic yogurt. I love both dishes and they’re both quite similar, but a hankering for dumplings just doesn’t go away. Living in a small college town without a car is its own kind of food desert, like why can’t I find any broccoli this week? Why is this small jar of tahini $10? And why oh why can’t I find wonton wrappers so I can make aushak? I was almost desperate enough to make the wrappers myself. It took some searching, but we did find an Asian market and stocked up on a variety of things, including wonton wrappers. To the kitchen we go!

    aushak_afghan_dumplings_01

    They’re dumplings, so the assembly is time consuming. I used to buy tiny wonton wrappers and it’d take over an hour to assemble them all. Audiobooks and kitchen helpers are welcome companions when reaching this step, but I’ve taken to buying larger wonton wrappers (4″ by 4″) to reduce preparation time. Also, although it’s not traditional I like to slip in some spinach into the dumplings. Never hurts to add some greens, right?

    Confession time: I took these photos about three years ago, just before starting a job that involved a four hour commute. Soon after, I stopped blogging for wayyy too long, but I’ve wanted to share this recipe ever since and I still like these photos!

    aushak_afghan_dumplings_03

    Aushak (Afghan dumplings with meat sauce and yogurt)
    Adapted from Khyber Pass Cafe

    For the meat:
    – 1 pound ground beef or lamb (I like using a mixture of both)
    – 1 yellow onion, chopped
    – 4 tablespoons tomato paste
    – 4 cloves garlic, diced
    – 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, diced
    – 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    – cayenne pepper, to taste
    – salt & pepper to taste
    – 1 cup water

    For the dumplings:
    – wonton wrappers, the amount you need depends on the size of your wrappers. 18-24 wrappers are needed if you’re using 4″ by 4″ wrappers.
    – 1 bunch scallions, diced
    – 3 leeks, diced
    – 12 ounces baby spinach
    – salt & pepper, to taste

    For the yogurt sauce:
    – 1 cup plain yogurt
    – 2 cloves garlic, diced
    – 1 teaspoon dried mint
    – salt & pepper, to taste

    For serving:
    – garnish with fresh or dried mint or cilantro
    warm naan

    Prepare the yogurt:
    Add garlic to a large bowl, mix in garlic, dried mint, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside unrefrigerated until the aushak is ready to serve.

    Prepare the meat:
    Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, stir for another 30 seconds or so. Add the ground meat, stirring frequently. When most traces of pink are gone, add coriander, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Add the tomato paste and water. Let simmer on low heat and stir occasionally until the dumplings are ready.

    Prepare the dumplings:
    Heat oil in another skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the scallions and leeks. Stir frequently and let them cook down for a few minutes. Add the spinach and let it cook down, about a minute or so. Add some salt and pepper, to taste.

    Heat a pot of water over medium heat, and get ready to assemble your wrappers.

    Set up your workstation. My set up is: cutting board directly in front of me, bowl of water next to the cutting board, skillet (containing the scallions and leeks) and wonton wrappers at my sides, and a floured baking sheet in front of the cutting board to place the assembled dumplings. Dollop a small amount of the fixins onto the center of the wrapper. Dip your fingers into the bowl of water (or use a pastry brush) and line the edges of your wrapper with water. If using round wrappers, fold them in half and seal them tightly with your fingers. If using square wrappers, fold them diagonally. Don’t fuss too much about folding them a certain way, just make sure they’re properly sealed.

    By the time your dumplings are assembled, the water should be boiling. Working in batches (3-5, depending on the size of your pot), boil the dumplings for about 3 minutes. I usually put a colander into the pot, as this prevents the dumplings to getting stuck on the bottom of the pan. Drain, and add to a plate. Serve with yogurt, meat sauce, and a side of warm naan to clean every last morsel off your plate. Garnish with dried or fresh mint or cilantro.

    Serves 4-6

  • kaddo bourani

    kaddo_bourani_afghan_pumpkin_dish

    There’s an Afghan restaurant on Van Ness in San Francisco called Helmand Palace. The decor is painfully outdated, the service is spotty, but it is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. Not to mention it is owned by brother of Hamid Karzai, you know, the corrupt and ever so stylish president of Afghanistan. Helmand Palace was a bit out of the way for us, so whenever we’d go we’d load up on appetizers and dessert. One of my must-eats was Kaddo Bourani, a dish with candied pumpkin, spicy ground meat, and garlicky yogurt. It may sound a little weird, but it is incredibly flavorful and a wonderful balance of sweet and savory. If you’re in the Boston area, they’re also behind Helmand Restaurant in Cambridge.

    Kaddo Bourani is traditionally made with pumpkin, you can also use butternut squash as I did here. Warning to my fellow procrastinators: don’t make this when you’re hungry, it takes about 2 1/2 hours to roast the pumpkin/butternut squash. The original recipe calls for 3 cups (!) of sugar, but I just can’t bring myself to use that much sugar for anything except jam. The end result is still plenty sweet.

    Kaddo Bourani (Afghan pumpkin dish with meat sauce and yogurt)

    Adapted from SFGate and Habeas Brulee

    For the pumpkin:
    1 3lb sugar pie pumpkin or butternut squash
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 cup sugar

    For the meat:
    1 onion, diced
    1-2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon fresh ginger, diced
    1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
    1 1/2 pounds of ground meat, beef or lamb
    1 tablespoon turmeric
    1 teaspoon coriander
    salt & pepper to taste
    3 tablespoons tomato paste
    1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth or water

    For the yogurt:
    1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon dried mint
    salt & pepper, to taste

    For serving:
    warm naan or pita bread

    Directions:

    Pumpkin:
    Pre-heat oven to 300F.

    Wash, peel, and seed the squash. Remove all of the rind. Cut the squash into halves and cut into slices that are about 3/4″ to 1″ thick. Layer the baking sheet with the squash slices, coat with the olive oil and spread the sugar evenly over the slices. Cover with aluminum foil for 2 hours. After 2 hours have passed, baste the pieces with the juices from the pan, cover it up again, and return to the oven for another half hour.

    Yogurt sauce:
    Mix the garlic, mint, salt, and pepper into the yogurt. Store in the fridge until just before serving.

    Meat:
    Add oil to a saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, jalapeno peppers, stirring until fragrant, or about 30 seconds. Add the meat, stir until it is broken into small pieces and most traces of pink are gone. Add the spices and let it cook for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and broth (or water), lower the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is ready.

    Serve with warm naan or pita.

    Serves 4