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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