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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