Thursday, December 31, 2009

Saudi Champagne

Just in time for the New Years celebrations, Saudi Champagne is the perfect drink for any get together.Served on special occassions in KSA and at upscale saudi restaurants, this non-alcoholic carbonated drink is very easy to make and perfect for any celebration.

Yeild:8 Servings


4 c Perrier or other sparkling water, chilled

4 c apple juice, chilled

1. Pour the Perrier then the apple juice in a serving pitcher and serve immediately.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dajaj bil Zhoug (Yemeni Chicken with Zhoug)

Here's another simple, easy to make chicken dish from Yemen.Sorry I don't have a picture for it as I was in a hurry to prepare it because my family was hungry and they couldn't wait but I'll try to post one in the future.You can also try this dish without the zhoug but if you're brave enough to try the recipe for it is in the Condiments section.Enjoy!

1 large onion, chopped finely
3 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
3 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. zhoug
6 lbs. chicken breast without skin, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 c seedless raisins or black currants

  1. In a large pan, add the butter, onions, and garlic and saute on medium -high heat until they are slightly browned.Bring down the heat a little.Add the salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, and zhoug and continue sauteing.
  2. Add the chicken pieces and saute until it is cooked (15-20 minutes).
  3. Remove from heat and add the raisins or black currants and mix to combine.
  4. Serve warm with basmati rice.
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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Salatat Yemeni (Yemeni Salad)

Looking for a simple mezze dish with a Yemeni twist?Try the following simple salad with zhoug, the Yemeni spice relish for your next gathering or when your in the mood for something different.The recipe for zhoug is in the Condiments section.

1 lb. eggplant, split in half
1c tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. zhoug

  1. Preheat oven to 400F .Brush eggplant slices with a little bit of olive oil and bake until soft, about 35 minutes.Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Once cooled, remove purple skin from eggplant and dice into small pieces.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add the eggplants and tomatoes and the remaining ingredients and mix well until thoroughly combined.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Siliq bi Tahina (Swiss Chard with Tahina)

I was told this recipe is from the UAE.I don't know if this is true, if anyone knows , please let me know.This swiss chard dish is good paired with either chicken or fish.

2 1/2 lbs. swiss chard, stems removed, cut into med. sized pieces
4c water
2 large garlic cloves, mashed
2 oz. tahini
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 oz. lemon juice
1/4 c fresh mint, chopped

1.Rinse the swiss chard under cold water and add them to salted water pot and cook until tender, maybe 20 minutes.

2.In the meantime, in a small bowl add the garlic, tahina, olive oil, and lemon juice and combine.It should have a salad dressing-like consistency.If not, add a little bit of water to thin it out.

3.Once swiss chard is cooked,remove from water and drain and put in a serving bow.Add the tahina dressing and mix thoroughly.Garnish with the fresh mint and serve immediately.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Salatat Jarjeer ( Arugula Salad)

Here's a simple salad that is perfect for mezze or you can add additional vegetables and make a complete meal.

Yeild:6-8 servings
1 lb. arugula, rinsed and dried, torn into shreds
a handful of frisee (optional)
a handful of radicchio (optional)
1 medium red onion, sliced in rings

1/4 c lemon juice
1/3 c olive oil
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1.Place arugula , frisee(if using), radicchio (if using)and onions in a serving bowl and mix to combine.

2.Combine all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl or in a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid and mix together and /or shake vigorously.

3.Drizzle dressing on salad just before serving.Serve immediately.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Samak bi Tahina (Fish with Tahina Sauce)

Photo courtesy of

Tahina aka tahini is an oily, nutty sesame-flavored paste. It's color ranges from a light, pale beige to a dark beige with a texture ranging from smooth to slightly course with light/smooth being the most superior.Tahina is an essential flavoring in Middle Eastern cuisine as well as those of Israel and the Meditteranean.Tahina is used in a wide range of Middle Eastern dishes from dips, sauces for fish, dressings to vegetables and desserts.One of the most well known dishes to use tahina is the mezze dish hummus bi tahina.Below is a simple Arab recipe using this Middle Eastern flavoring.

Yeild:6 Servings
2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. ground cumin
1/2 c lemon juice
2 lbs. cod fillets or other firm, white fish
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 c tahini
1/3 c pine nuts
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
lemon wedges , for garnish

1.Preheat oven at 350F. Grease oven proof dish with olive oil.

2.In a bowl, combine salt, pepper,cumin, and lemon juice and mix to combine.Coat cod fillets with mixture and set in baking dish.

3.Sprinkle top of fish with onion,red pepper flakes, and pine nuts.Drizzle with tahini and garnish with parsley.

4.Bake for 45 minutes.Serve with basmati rice.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Karkady (Egyptian Iced Hibiscus Drink)

Photo courtesy of

Karkady(Karkade) is an iced hibiscus drink that is very popular throughout Egypt.It is characterized by a beautiful ruby-red color and a tart,citrus cranberry-like flavor. Karkady is also enjoyed hot during the winter months.Hibiscus is high in Vitamin C and the Egyptians believe that consuming it is very beneficial to one's health.

Yeild:4 servings
1c hibiscus petals
5c water
sugar, to serve

1.Put the hibiscus in a pan with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5-7 minutes.

2.Strain infusion into a serving pither and chill in refrigerator.Discard hibiscus petals.

3.Serve chilled with sugar on the side.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Murabba al-ward (Rose Petal Preserves)

This exquisitely scented preserve is popular allover the Middle East where it is enjoyed spooned over bread or with ataif (Arab pancakes).

Yeild:3 cups


1 lb. fresh or dried organic rose petals

1 1/4 c water

2 c sugar

juice of 1 lemon

  1. Rinse rose petals gently then drain.

  2. Fill a saucepan with water and add the rose petals and bring to a boil.Remove rose petals from pan and set aside.

  3. Add the sugar to the saucepan and bring to a boil all the while stirring it.

  4. After boiling , reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

  5. Stir in the lemon juice and the rose petals and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes until it thickens.

  6. Remove from heat and let the preserve cool then spoon it into a glass jar.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Koshary (Egyptian Lentil, Pasta, Rice Dish)

Koshary comes from the Hindi kishri meaning an "unlikely mixture".It is a popular traditional Egyptian dish consisting of a layer of rice, brown lentils, chickpeas, elbow pasta toppped with garlic, vinegar and spicy hot sauce garnished with caramelized onions.It is a very poopular and inexpensive dish consumed throughout Egypt at any time of day.It is sold by street vendors and restaurants that sell koshary only.

6 Servings


2 c white rice, cooked

1 lb. elbow macaroni pasta, cooked

2 c brown lentils, cooked

2 c chickpeas, cooked

For the Salsa:

2 onions, sliced thinly

4 Tbsp. vegetable oil

4 Tbsp. white vinegar

2c tomatoe puree

1 tsp. cumin

pinch of salt

pinch of cumin

pinch of black pepper

For the caramelized onions:

3 onions, roughly chopped

2 c vegetable oil

For the garlic & vinegar Sauce:

1 Tbsp. garlic, crushed

pinch of salt

4 Tbsp. white vinegar

1/2 c water

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. cumin

For the hot Sauce:

1 tsp. garlic, crushed

pinch of salt

1/2 c vegetable oil

1/2 tsp. chili flakes

1 chili pepper, finely chopped

  1. Cook the rice, pasta, lentils , and chickpeas according to instructions on package. Set aside individually.

  2. For the salsa, add the chopped onions to the hot oil and saute until golden, stirring frequently. Add the vinegar and continue cooking for another minute. Add the tomatoe puree, cumin, salt, and black pepper.Cook until the tomatoe sauce thickens.Then set aside and keep warm.

  3. For the caramelized onions.Heat the oil on a pan and add the onions and saute , stirring frequently until golden brown and crispy.Set aside on a paper towel to drain.Keep warm.

  4. For the garlic and vinegar sauce, add vinegar, water, lemon juice,and cumin to garlic and mix well.Set aside.

  5. For the hot sauce, mix garlic with salt, set aside.Heat vegetable oil and add chili flakes and stir.Add chili pepper and garlic mixture and stir till well combined.Remove from heat and set aside.

  6. In a large dish, layer the rice, pasta,lentils, chickpeas, salsa, and caramelized onions on top of eachother.Serve with the garlic/vinegar and hot sauce on the side.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Morgh Shekumpour Advieh (Advieh Stuffed Chicken)

Here's a simple chicken recipe using the persian spice mix, advieh. A recipe for advieh is available in the preceding post.You can serve this recipe with some steamed vegetables like carrots.

4 Servings


1 large 7-8lb. chicken

2 tsp. salt

1/2 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, mashed

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 c rice, rinsed

1 Tbsp. advieh

salt and pepper

1 c chicken broth or water

3 Tbsp. pistachio pieces

3 Tbsp. raisins

1/2 c chicken stock or water

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.

  2. Clean and wash chicken and rub allover with salt.

  3. In a skillet, add the olive oil , then add the onions and garlic and stir till transluscent.Add rice, advieh,salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  4. Add chicken broth or water and simmer for 20 minutes.Add pistachios and raisins and remove from heat.

  5. Stuff chicken with advieh stuffing.Place in an oven-proof dish.Add chicken stock or water and cover with aluminum foil.

  6. Bake for 1 1/2 hours , basting occasionally.

  7. Serve hot with steamed vegetables of your choice.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Advieh (Persian Spice Mix)

Advieh is a persian spice mixture that is used in Persian cuisine. It is used in rice dishes as well as in stews such as advieh-e khoresh. It is hard to get an exact amount of spices that go into each mixture as they vary from region to region.But a general consensus is equal amounts of ground cinnamon, ground cardamon,ground coriander,ground cumin, and ground rose petals.Of course there are those that prefer a more "fragrant" or "spicier" advieh.

For more "fragrant" add saffron and ground pistachios. And for the "spicier", add black pepper, ground cloves, and ground turmeric as to your taste.Below is a recipe for a basic advieh.Feel free to adjust the amount of spices to suit your taste but always included dried rose petals as this is a necessary ingredient of this spice mix.

Yeild:2 oz.
1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground cardamon

1 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. cinammon

1 Tbsp. ground dried rose petal

  1. Combine all ingredients together and mix well.

  2. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Shorba Dajaj bil Loz (Chicken Soup with Rice)

Soups aren't regularly eaten in the Middle East except during the holy month of Ramadan where they are part of the breaking of the fast.Here is a simple Middle Eastern recipe for chicken soup which uses leftover rice.

4 Servings


2 1/2 lbs. skinless chicken strips

1/2 onion, finely chopped

2-3" cinnamon sticks

1 Tbsp. cardamom, ground

2 tsp. salt, more if needed

1/2 tsp. white pepper

2 bay leaves

1 c leftover basmati rice , or any rice

fresh cilantro,finely chopped, for garnish

  1. Combine chicken, onions,cinnamon sticks,cardamom, salt, pepper, and bay leaves with 9 cups water in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

  2. Reduce heat to medium and cover the pot and keep cooking for another 40 minutes.

  3. Remove pot from heat.Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and set it aside until cool enough to handle.

  4. Strain soup into another pot using a mesh strainer.Discard spices and onion mixture.

  5. Once chicken has cooled, gently tear into shreds and add to soup pot along with the leftover rice.

  6. Keep cooking for another 15 minutes.

  7. Remove from heat. Season with more salt, if desired and garnish with chopped cilantro.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tibsi Samak bi Loomi (Red Snapper with Lime)

Here's a simple fish recipe from the Iraq using loomi (dried limes). If you cannot get a hold of any loomi , feel free to substitue with lime juice.

6 Servings


1 Tbsp. salt

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

4 lbs. cod or red snapper, fillets

4 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 onion, finely chopped

3 loomi or substitute 1 Tbsp. lime juice

2 large cloves garlic, mashed

4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp. pomegranate syrup

handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.

  2. Combine salt, cumin, pepper flakes in a small bowl and mix. Rub allover fish.

  3. Oil a baking dish.Arrange chopped onions on baking dish.Lay the fish on top of onions.Spread garlic on top.Add loomi.Scatter tomatoes on top of fish.

  4. Mix pomegranate syrup with 1/2 c water and pour this over fish.Garnish with cilantro.

  5. Bake for 55 minutes.Serve with Basmati rice.
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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Loomi (Dried Limes)

A specialty of Iran, Iraq, and the Gulf States where they are known as limoo omani,noomi basra, and loomi respectively, loomi is a common ingredient in many of these countries main dishes.Loomi are used in stews and in fish dishes of the Gulf.They are used to lend a citrusy, tart flavor to these foods.Sometimes, loomi are ground to a powder where they are added to soups and stuffings. Loomi are usually sold in the spice section of most Middle Eastern markets or if there isn't one in your city, you may try making them yourself.

Loomi are easy to prepare but unfortunately require some time for them to be ready and of course the weather must be in your favor.To prepare loomi, just get a handful (5-6)limes and put them out in direct sunlight to dry.They will be ready when they are brown, feel light, and sound hollow inside. Loomi will keep for about a year in a cool, dark place.When ready to use them, just use them according to recipe instructions or if your pressed for time and don't have time to prepare them just substitute lime zest instead.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mahmous Rubyan (Shrimp with Garlic and Cilantro)

This dish is popular all over the Arab Gulf States.It is usually served with rice and Arab flatbread.It is the perfect dish for when you are in a rush because it takes about 30 minutes to put together and prepare.

4 Servings


3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

5 garlic cloves, mashed

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

1 tsp.Baharat spice

handful fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 Tbsp.salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 1/2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled & deveined

basmati rice, to serve

Arab flatbread, to serve

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.Add the onions and stir for about 5 minutes.Add the garlic, cardamom,Baharat,cilantro, salt, and pepper.Keep stirring for another 8 minutes.

  2. Add shrimp and continue stirring untill all the shrimp turn pink, 8-10 minutes.Remove from heat.

  3. Serve with basmati rice and Arab flatbread.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dibis Kharoub (Carob Molasses)

Carob aka Locust Bean is the pod of a fruit from an evergreen tree, Ceratonia Siliqua, that is native to countries of the Eastern Meditteranean.When these pods ripen, thier insides become filled with a sweet syrup(molasses) which is removed by manually.Carob molasses has a taste that is a cross between caramel and chocolate.There are many culinary uses for carob in the Middle East.Carob is sometimes mixed with a little tahina and enjoyed as a spread on Arab bread for breakfast or snack.In some places, the pods are chewed as a snack.

After the syrup is removed, the pod does not go to waste either.They are broken into pieces, then roasted, and ground to a fine powder where it is sold as carob powder.This powder is used as a flavoring for cookies, cakes, and sweetmeats.Here in the U.S., carob pods are extremely difficult to find, but carob powder which is often marketed as "chocolate substitute"can be found in many major health-food stores.Carob molasses can usually be found in most Middle Eastern markets.Carob molasses is a perfect no fat food.One tablespoon contains only 60 calories.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pomegranate Sorbet

A member of the berry family and long considered a symbol of fertility and abundance in many cultures, a few years ago pomegranates were virtually unknown.But with all the interest in anti-aging, superfoods, and exotic ingredients, they have become a common addition to many food products.There are two kinds of pomegranates available.There is the "sour"kind that is used in many middle eastern products like pomegranate syrup to add a souring element to foods.Then there is the "sweet"or "eating" kind which is the one that is most readily available in the produce section.

Pomegranates mature in the fall which is about the time that you start seeing them in stores.They are extremely rich in antioxidants especially Vitamin C, pantothenic acid,and potassium.A lot of cultures believe that they help cool and cleanse the system and as such are eaten in a variety of ways throughout the world, particularly the Middle East.Pomegranates are eaten just as-is or they are used in salads,rice dishes, stews, stuffings,or in desserts.Below is a simple ice cream recipe using the juice from this extremely versatile fruit.Hope you enjoy it.
3 c pomegranate juice
1/2 c sugar
2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
2 tsp.fresh lemon juice
  1. Put all ingredients into a large saucepan, set over medium heat, and warm, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and refrigerate till very cold (takes maybe about an hour).
  3. Transfer the mixture to your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturers instructions.
  4. Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container in the freezer.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jazar bil kamoun wal qirfa (Carrots with Cumin and Cinnamon)

This is a simple carrot dish I was told is from Morocco.Serve it as an accompaniment to any roasted meat, fish , or chicken.

2 Servings


1 1/2 lbs. carrots

4 c water

1/8 tsp. ground cinammon

1/8 tsp. ground cardamon

1/8 tsp. ground cumin


  1. Bring the water to a boil.Meanwhile, wash and peel the carrots and cut them into disks.

  2. Add ground spices to water.

  3. When water is boiling ,add salt, then carrots.

  4. Cook for 20 minutes or until tender.

  5. Drain then serve immediately.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ayran (Yogurt Drink)

Ayran is a drink that is made of yogurt, water, salt and garnished with fresh mint leaves that is found all over the Middle East, Turkey, and Central Asia.It is known as doogh and abdoogh in Iran and Afghanistan, respectively.It is usually made from sheep or cows milk.Traditionally it is drunk as an accompaniament to meat dishes, especially kabobs, but of course it is good anytime of day especially during the summer months.In the Middle East, ayran is available in most restaurants and by some street vendors.In the U.S. , ayran is available in most Middle Eastern markets and Armenian markets as well.If you don't live anywhere near any Middle Eastern markets, ayran can be easily made at home.Below is the recipe for it.Hope you enjoy it.
4 Servings
1 c plain yogurt
2 1/2 c cold water
salt, to taste
pieces of fresh mint leaves, to garnish
  1. Combine the yogurt with the water and salt in a blender.Blend.
  2. Pour ayran into tall serving glasses and garnish with mint leaves.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Ahwah Baida (Lebanese White Coffee)

Photo courtesy of

Looking for an alternative to Arabic coffee?Ahwah Baida is one of the choices on offer at many of Beirut's cafes.Ahwah Baida also known as cafe blanc but it is not to be confused to be confused with cafe au lait.In fact,ahwah baida is not coffee at all but a cup of hot water lightly scented with orange-blossom water.This coffee is said to aid in digestion and promote a good nights sleep which is why it is such a popular choice after a late night dinner.

Servings: 4

1c water
1 water
sugar, to taste

1.Bring the water to a boil.Add the orange-blossom water.

2.Serve ahwah baida in demitasse cups with sugar on the side.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Raw Felafel Patties

Felafels aka Ta'amia in Egypt are spicy meatballs or patties made with either fava beans or chickpeas.They are popular all over the Middle East particularly in Egypt,Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan where they are eaten any time of day.For breakfast, they are usually eaten with yogurt .For lunch, they can be drizzled with tahina and served with chopped vegetables wrapped in pita bread.Another variation is to serve them with either hummus or baba ghanoush.

I love felafels but unfortunately do not like the fact that they are fried and it seems every recipe I have come across involves this method of preparation.So, I've been intrigued by this recipe I came across.It contains neither chickpeas nor fava beans.Its a raw food recipe in that it requires no cooking and involves soaking.You would need a dehydrator but instead I just set my oven at the lowest temperature with the door slightly ajar.I tweaked it a little bit and finally got around to preparing it this week.

After making these raw felafels, I was surprised by how similar in taste and texture they are to the real ones.If you are looking for a healthier alternative to regular felafels, this recipe is the answer.

6 Servings


3/4 c almonds, soaked overnight, then rinsed

3/4 c pecans, soaked overnight, then rinsed

3/4 c cashews, soaked overnight, then rinsed

1/2 c sesame seeds

1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped

1/4 tsp.pepper

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

1/4 c water

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree.

  2. Shape puree into equal size patties.

  3. If using dehydrator, dehydrate patties for 8 hours until crispy.If using oven method, heat patties at the lowest setting on your oven for 3 hours, turning patties over every hour until crispy.

  4. Serve wth pita bread drizzled with tahina dressing.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Samak Kamounieh (Baked Fish with Cumin)

I was told this recipe comes from Egypt. It is simple, easy to prepare , and doesn't require any special ingredients as you probably have all the necessary ingredients on hand. Samak Kamounieh is traditionally served with plain basmati rice and vegetables as a side dish.



4Tbsp. olive oil

3 onions, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp. cumin

2Tbsp.tomatoe paste

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 1/4 c water

2 lb. cod or other firm white fish fillets

3 tomatoes, thinly sliced

  1. Heat half the oil in a pan then add the onions, garlic, and cumin.Saute until brown.

  2. Stir in the tomatoe puree,half the salt,pepper,and water and cook until most of the water has evaporated and the mixture has thickened.

  3. Place fish in a greased ovenproof dish.

  4. Sprinkle the remaining salt and tomato/cumin sauce over fish.

  5. Arrange the tomatoe slices over the top of the fish and sprinkle with remaining oil.

  6. Cover fish with foil and bake at 350F for 20 minutes.Check liquid if too dry add a little more.

  7. Remove foil cover and cook for 20 minutes more.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Syrian Aleppo Pepper

Photo courtesy of

Located 310km Northwest of Damascus, Aleppo is Syria's second largest city.It is here where Aleppo pepper is exclusively produced.Aleppo pepper is a mild member of the chile pepper family.Many of the dishes of this area are characterized by the use of this aromatic.Aleppo pepper is known for imparting a wide range of tastes to many dishes.Among those are from a distinctly sweet to a subtle yet lingering heat.It is because of this, that many Aleppian cooks make wide use of this pepper from sprinkling on salads to marinades for meats.Aleppo pepper is a beautiful crimson red and is available ground with salt added as a preservative.It is usually available in well-stocked Middle Eastern markets.If you cannot find it, as a substitute you can blend 3parts paprika & 1 part cayenne or 1/2 tsp.crushed red pepper for every tsp. of Aleppo pepper.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rosewater and Watermelon Ice

Like all fruits in the Middle East, watermelons are most often enjoyed fresh as a snack or as part of a dessert fruit plate.The best watermelons are reputed to be grown in Iran although, they have have also been known to be cultivated in Egypt before 2000 B.C. The following recipe is often served during the summer months in Iran as a chilled dessert.It is quick to make and doesn't require any special equipment but you can use a food processor if you prefer.



1-5lb. watermelon

2 tbsp. rosewater

1-2 tbsp. sugar

2 pinches fresh rose petals, to garnish

  1. Halve and seed the watermelon and cut the flesh into small cubes, reserving the juice.

  2. Crush the watermelon pieces with back of a fork or process in a food processor with the reserved juice in batches till it turns into a granita-like consistency.

  3. Put in a bowl and then stir in the rosewater and sugar

  4. Chill in the refrigerator and serve ice-cold garnished with rose petals.
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Musakhan (Palestinian Bread with Chicken & Sumac)

Photograph courtesy of

Musakhan is a traditional Palestinian country dish of chicken flavored with sumac and other aromatic spices served on taboon bread. It is also very popular in Jordan where there is a very large Palestinian population.Taboon is a type of flatbread that is baked in a taboon, an outdoor oven made of mud-brick and clay.But as this bread is not commonly available you may also substitute lavash or regular pita bread.

4 servings, as a meal

8 servings, as a snack


3 tbsp. olive oil

3-4 onions, chopped

1 lb. boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces

2tsp. ground sumac

1 tsp. ground cinammon

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper

2 oz. pine nuts (optional)

4 pita pockets

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.

  2. Heat oil in a pan and stir in onions and cook until transluscent.

  3. Add chicken and sumac.Cook for a few minutes to sear the chicken, then reduce the heat and stir in the spices and lime juice.Cook for about 10 minutes until chicken is tender.

  4. Arrange chicken evenly on top of pita bread.Sprinkle with pine nuts, if using . Put pita on top of baking sheet and pop them in the oven for 10 minutes.

  5. Remove from oven and serve immediately.Can be accompanied with strained yougurt spooned on top.
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Paloodeh Garmak (Iced Watermelon with Rosewater)

Like all fruits in the Middle East, watermelons are most often enjoyed fresh as a snack or part of a desert fruit plate.The best watermelons are reputed to be grown in Iran although they have also been known to be cultivated in Egypt before 2000BC. The following recipe is often served during the summer months in Iran as a chilled desert lightly scented with rosewater.It's quick to make and doesn't require any special equipment but you can use a ice cream maker if you prefer.

Yield:2-4 Servings
1 medium sized watermelon, cubed seeds removed
2 Tbsp. rosewater
1-2 tsp. sugar
rose petals, for garnish

1. Put the watermelon pieces in a medium ceramic bowl and crush it lightly with a fork till it has a granita-like consistency.
2. Add the rosewater and sugar and mix and then continue crushing till sugar and rosewater are evenly distributed throughout.
3.Put watermelon mixture in freezer and freeze for few(3-4)hours.Every half hour with fork break up ice crystals to create granita-like consistency.
4.When ready to serve,garnish with rose petals.
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Sumac Spice

Sumac is a popular spice commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking.The spice comes from the dark, red berries of the sumac shrub which commonly grows wild in Middle East and Mediterranean countries where it is dried before later use.Sumac can be used whole, crushed, or ground but it is normally found in ground form.Sumac has a lemony, tart taste and provides a souring element to recipes.It is used in a wide range of dishes from salads, flat breads to grilled fish and meats.It is one of the key flavorings for the Palestinian dish Musakhan(chicken sprinkled with sumac served on toasted Arabic flat bread with onions and olive oil) and is one of the main spices in the zaa'tar spice mixture.
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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chai Za'faran (Saffron Tea)

Right next to coffee, tea is considered the next most popular drink consumed througghout the Middle East.Tea is considered a traditional sign of hospitality.It is often the first drink offered to guests when visiting a home or while conducting business, whether in an office or souk.Teas are also drunk in the Middle East for medicinal purposes as people believe they can relieve or cure a number of common ailments.Unlike in the West, tea in the Middle East is prepared using loose, dried leaves and/or spices and served in small glasses and presented on a silver tray.Sugar lumps are offered with tea, but instead of stirring them in, it is cutomary to place them on the tongue and sip tea through it.The following is an unusual recipe of saffron tea , I have been told it's from somewhere in the Arab Gulf States, possibly Kuwait.Please let me know if this is correct.

4 c water
1 tsp. saffron
lump sugar, for serving

1.Boil the water.When water is boiling add the saffron.Turn heat off.Allow to infuse for 10-15 minutes.

2.Pour tea into small glasses and serve with lump of sugar.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Baharat ( Arab Gulf Spice Blend)

Baharat is a popular spice mixture used in Arab Gulf cooking. It varies from region to region but with the addition with 1-2 spices. For example, the kuwaiti mixture includes ground ginger and cayenne pepper while the Saudi version includes loumi (dried limes). Baharat is used in rice, soups, poultry, fish, and meat dishes to give them that distinctive character.Like most middle-eastern spice mixtures, Baharat does not require any hard to find ingredients as most of them you most likely have on hand in your spice cupboard.Belw is a recipe from the United Arab Emirates UAE.

Yeild: 1 1/2 c


4 Tbsp. ground black pepper

2 Tbsp. coriander seeds

2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

2 Tbsp. ground cloves

3 Tbsp.ground cumin

1 tsp. cardamon

4 tsp. ground nutmeg

4 tsp. paprika

  1. Combine thoroughly all ingredients in a bowl and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

  2. Will keep for 6 months.
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Samak Quwarmah (Fish Curry)

This is a recipe for a very popular dish from the Arab Gulf countries.It uses the spice blend Baharat which is very common to this region.In the next blog, I will include the recipe for this arab gulf spice .Dont worry, it uses some spices for which you probably most likely already have on hand.As for the fish, a common feature of Middle-Eastern cooking is that the fish in the recipes are never really specified.As a general rule, people tend to use whatever fish is available in their particular region so like most middle -eastern recipes, just feel free to experiment with what you have on hand and enjoy an authentic arabian gulf meal.

6 Servings


1 1/2 lbs. any white firm flesh fish fillets


2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped

1 tsp. ground ginger

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp. red chili

1 tsp.Baharat

1 tsp. turmeric

1 c tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 loomi (dried limes)or zest of 1/2 lemon

1/2 c water

  1. Preheat oven 350F.Oil a baking dish with the olive oil.Rinse fish and pat dry. Place on baking dish and sprinkle with salt.

  2. Add remaining ingredients one by one in order. Cover and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  3. Serve hot with rice.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rose-Scented Dessert Fruit Salad

Fresh and dried fruits are part of the conclusion of a typical Middle-Eastern meal.Typical Middle-Eastern desert salads usually contain a combination of 5-6 different kinds of fresh fruits or a mix of 50-50 fresh/dried. They are commonly flavored with either a rose or orange-blossom scented infused water, a common ingredient of the Arab pantry and garnished with nuts or pomegranate seeds. Some cooks make a simple rose water syrup to coat the fruits, but I prefer not to add any additional sugar as luscious, ripe fruits don't need any further flavor enhancement.In the recipe, are some of the common fruits that make up a traditional Middle-Eastern desert fruit salad but feel free to substitute any with your favorites.

4 Servings


1/2 medium cantaloupe, peeled & cut into 1/2"cubes

2 large oranges, peeled & sectioned;sections cut in half

2 bananas, sliced diagaonally

1/2 grapefruit, peeled & cut into 1/2"cubes

seeds from 1/2 pomegranate

1 c fresh or dried pitted dates, chopped (optional)

1 c fresh or dried figs, chopped in half (optional)

juice of 1 lime

2 oz. rose water essence

6 Tbsp. unsalted pistacios, to garnish

  1. Put all the peices of fruit into a large bowl.In anaother bowl, mix together the lime juice and rosewater together.Pour limejuice and rosewater mixture over fruits and turn gently until well combined.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until ready to serve.Garnish on top with pistacios.
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La Kama Seasoning

La Kama is an exotic spice blend that is very popular in Moroccan cuisine.It is used to give an aromatic and warm flavor to a great variety of foods like soups, tagines, and poultry.Luckily, it is very easy to prepare and chances are you have all the spices on hand to make it.This spice mix is great if your short on time and want to add something a litle bit special and exotic not just to a middle-eastern dish but any regular food.
Yeild:3 oz
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 Tbsp.freshlly ground black pepper
1 1/2 Tsp. ground turmeric
1 1/2 Tsp. ground cinammon
1 Tsp. ground nutmeg
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir together to blend.
  2. Store the spice blend in an airtight container, in a cool dark place.Will keep for 6 months.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Za'atar (Thyme & Sumac Seasoning)

Za'atar is the Arab name for wild thyme and an Arab spice mix.It is a mixture of thyme, oregano, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, and salt.It is very popular in the cuisines of Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan where it is used as a flavoring in both cooked and raw dishes and as a dry dip for pita bread drizzled with olive oil.You can find it in most well-stocked Middle Eastern markets or you can make your own. But, the sumac may be a little hard to come by in a regular market, so I always by mine ready made which comes directly imported from Syria.It cost me $3.99 for a 1lb. bag but if your intrested in making your own, here's the recipe for it.
Yeild:2 1/2 c
1/4 c sesame seeds
1 c dried oregano
5 oz dried thyme leaves
3 tbsp. ground sumac
2 1/2 tbsp. salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a spice or coffee grinderand grind until well combined and powderlike.
  2. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Will keep for 1 year.
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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Red Snapper with Zaatar and Chickpeas

Once again I've changed my mind on what I wanted to prepare for dinner tonight. I had some chickpeas sitting on the countertop soaking for several hours with the original intention of making a lamb tajine but now I'm in the mood for a lighter dish. So, I came up with this recipe.You can substitute another fish if you like as well as canned chickpeas for dried if your pressed for time but thier texture would not be the same.
6 Servings
1 c dried chickpeas, soaked 8 hours or substitute 1 can , rinsed
5 c cold water
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic
5 basil leaves
1 tbsp. fresh oregano
handful of fresh parsley
1 tbsp. thyme
6 red snapper fillets
4 slices of red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 tbsp. zaatar
3 oz water
  1. Drain chickpeas, rinse,and transfer to a large pot. Add the water and bring to a boil over high heat.Reduce to low and cook uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, or until the chickpeas are soft.When they are ready, remove from heat, drain, and set aside.If using canned , rinse under cold running water to remove salt and set aside.
  2. In a food processor or blender, place the olive oil, salt, pepper,garlic, basil, oregano, parsley,and thyme and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour the olive oil paste over the warm chickpeas and mix well and set aside.If using the canned chickpeas, heat in the microwave for 2 minutes , then add paste.
  4. Preheat oven 350F.Oil a baking dish.Place the fish fillet in it and season both sides with salt and pepper and place the bell pepper on top, then scatter the sliced garlic cloves throughout.Add zaatar.Add 3 oz water to baking dish to retain moisture.
  5. Place fish fillets in oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.
  6. Serve with basmati rice
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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Shorba Libiya (Libyan Soup)

Libyan cuisine is well known for excelling in two things-soups and desserts. Here's a nice soup recipe from Libya which is always served at the start of virtually every meal.It is not only very easy to make but it is very nourishing.

4 Servings


2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

8 oz boneless beef or lamb, cut into small pieces

1 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 c water

1 tsp. tomatoe paste


1/2 c pearl barley(or can subs. 7 oz.can chickpeas, rinsed& drained)

1 tbsp.fresh lemon juice

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.Saute the onion and meat for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned.Add the parsley and cinnamon.

  2. Pour in the water. Add tomatoe paste and salt.Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.Add the barley or chickpeas, if using.Lower the heat and cook for another 45 minutes, or until the barley is tender.Add lemon juice and serve.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Zhug (Yemeni Hot Paste)

Yemeni cooking is characterized by its extremely hot & fiery dishes and nothing exemplifies this more than zhug(zhough), a green chilli-cardamom paste.Zhug is found on every Yemeni table.It is used as a condiment in all kinds of dishes from soups, stews,meat dishes, and as a dip for bread.No Yemeni meal is complete without the addition of this paste.The following recipe yields enough for a small jar which considering the amount of chillies it has,only a small amount is required.

Yield:1 1/2 c


4-6 fresh green chillies, chopped

6 cloves of garlic, peeled & roughly chopped

1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

a handful fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. olive oil

  1. In a blender or food processor,puree the chillies.Add the garlic , cardamom and puree again.Add the remaining ingredients.Blend well.

  2. Put the zhug in a glass jar and keep it in the refrigerator until rready to use.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Tabbouleh is a popular Middle-Eastern salad from Lebanon made of bulgur with fresh mint and parsley.It is usually served as a mezze dish or as a side with grilled meats or fish.The quantities of its ingredients vary from country to country but a traditional tabbouleh is usually made with copious amounts of parsley.

4-6 servings


1 1/2 c bulger

3 c water

2 c firm,ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

1 small yellow onion, peeled & finely chopped

1/3 c fresh mint,finely chopped

4 c fresh parsley, finely chopped

1/2 c olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

salt & pepper

  1. Soak the bulgur in water for about 30 minutes until soft & chewy.Drain and squeeze out any excess moisture.Put in a mixing bowl.

  2. Mix in the tomatoes, onion, mint, parsley thoroughly.

  3. Pour in the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.Mix.Adjust seasonings if necessary.

  4. Serve
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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Moroccan Bessara

Bessara is a popular fava bean soup from Morocco delicately flavored with cumin and usually finished of with Argan oil. It is a fairly easy soup to put together as it uses some basic ingredients.Though there may be some very slight variations in its ingredients from other recipes because some cooks may substitute it with whatever is on hand like dried green peas for the fava beans and extra-virgin olive oil for the argan oil.Argan oil is made from the nuts of the argan tree which is indigenous to Morocco.This oil is not easy to find here in markets but if by chance you see it , it is a worthwhile investment as it gives the soup a more complex, nutty flavor.

4 Servings


4 1/2 c water

9 oz dried fava beans or green peas,soaked overnight, drained and rinsed

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tsp. ground cumin

1/4-1/2 crumbled dried red chili (optional)

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil or argan oil

sea salt and black pepper

  1. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan, add the beans, garlic, and salt.Reduce the heat and simmer till the beans are soft, maybe 45 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a blender and blend with the remaining ingredients.Adjust seasonings if necessary.
  3. Serve with a drizzle of oil.
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Friday, May 29, 2009

Cardamom Scented Chicken with Mushroom Rice Pilaf

This is the dish that I turn to when its almost approaching dinner time and I can't really make up my mind on what to eat.Luckily, I always have these ingredients on hand , so it just takes me 15 minutes to throw all these things together and its ready within the hour.This is one of my favorite dishes because its so easy to put together so I end up having it 1-2 times a week.
Serves 4
4 boneless,skinless chicken breasts
1Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped(can subs. with red)
1/2 brown onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 Tbsp. cardamom
3 oz. cold water
2 c water
1/8 tbsp. of the following spices:ground cloves,ground cinammon
1 bay leaf
1 c uncooked brown rice
1c white mushrooms, sliced
knob of butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a baking dish and place chicken breasts in it.
  2. Combine tomatoes,bell pepper,onion, and garlic in a mixing bowl and mix to combine.Spread mixture on top and all around chicken breasts.
  3. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and cardamom throughout. And add the water to baking dish to keep chicken moist.
  4. Bake for 1 hour.
  5. For the rice pilaf, in a medium saucepan, combine the water with the spices and bay leaf.Bring to a boil;add the rice.Reduce heat;simmer, covered, for 20 minutes until rice is tender.
  6. While rice is cooking,coat a nonstick pan with the butter and saute mushrooms until soft and fragrant.Remove from heat and set aside.When rice is ready, stir into rice mixture.

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