Thursday, February 25, 2010

Khoresht Anjaar-aveej (Persian Chicken Walnut & Pomegranate Stew)

Photo courtesy of Steve Brown at

Yield:6 Servings
1 medium 6-8 lbs. chicken, rinsed and cut into 8 pieces
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 medium onions,peeled and thinly chopped
6 1/2 c water
2 1/4 c mix of fresh herbs (parsley, mint, cilantro, and scallions)
2 garlic cloves , peeled and crushed
salt, to taste
1 lb. ground walnuts
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 c fresh pomegranate juice or 1/4 c pomegranate molasses
1 tsp.walnuts, halved, to garnish
basmati rice, to serve

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan.Add the onions and cook until translucent.Add the chicken and cook for about 8 minutes.Add the water and bring to a boil.Reduce the heat and simmer slowly for about 10 minutes.
2.Rinse and finely chop the herbs.In a separate pan, saute the herbs with the garlic in 1 tbsp. vegetable oil until tender, about 3-4 minutes.Transfer the herb and garlic mix to the chicken saucepan and add salt, ground walnuts,sugar, pomegranate juice or molasses (if using) and simmer for 1 hour or until sauce starts to thicken.
3.Once the sauce has thickened, remove chicken from pan and put on a serving dish and pour walnut sauce over it.Garnish with the halved walnuts .Serve hot with basmati rice.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kabees Left (Pickled Turnips)

I have to admit that I am not a big fan of pickled foods but since they are an important staple of the Middle Eastern kitchen, I decided no discussion of Middle Eastern/Arabic cuisine would be complete without them.Pickling foods is one of the oldest methods of food preparation.It was introduced to the Arabs by the early Romans, Greeks, and Persians and considering the time period and location was the perfect solution for preserving foods for consumption at a later date.

All manner of fruits and vegetables can be pickled in the Middle East and to a lesser extent meat and fish.Some of the most popular are turnips,peppers, onions, olives, lemons, cabbage,cauliflower, and eggplants.Today, there is no longer a necessity to pickle foods at home because they are available from street vendors and neighborhood grocers throughout the Middle East but the practice still remains.

Pickled vegetables are usually served as part of a mezze or to accompany main dishes.They are fairly easy to prepare but require some time to be ready(a minimum of two weeks).The following recipe ,Kabees Left is one of the most popular Arab pickled vegetables. This recipe is from Claudia Roden's,The new book of Middle Eastern Food and takes just 6 days to be ready.

Yield:2 quarts
2 lbs. small white turnips
1 raw or 2 cooked beets, peeled and cut into slices
3 3/4 c water
3 Tbsp. salt
3-4 Tbsp. red or white wine vinegar

1. Peel the turnips and cut them in half or quarters.Pack the pieces in a clean 2-quart jar interspersed with slices of beets.
2.Boil the water with the salt and vinegar, and let it cool a little before pouring over the turnips and closing the jar.
3.Store in a warm place or at room temperature for 6 days, until mellowed, then keep in the refrigerator.
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Samak Tarator (Fish with Pine Nut Sauce)

Tarator is a sharp, garlicky pine nut sauce that is popular in Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt.It is usually served with grilled fish and seafood but can also serve as a dip or as a dressing for cooked vegetables.

For the Tarator Sauce:
Yield:1/2 c
1 c pine nuts
1 slice stale bread, crust removed, soaked in water, then water squeezed out
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
1/2 c vegetable oil or olive oil

1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until it has a mayonnaise-like consistency.

For the Fish:
Yield:6 Servings
6 fish fillets (red snapper, swordfish,cod, halibut,or sole)
olive oil, for brushing
salt and pepper

1. Prepare a grill.Brush the fish with olive oil on both sides and drizzle with salt and pepper.

2.Grill fish on both sides till it begins to flake easily.Place on a serving dish and pour the tarator sauce on top or serve on the side.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Samak bi Chermoula (Mackerel with Chermoula Paste)

Photo courtesy of Laura Holmes

Because of it's proximity to both the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean,the following recipe is a common way of preparing fish in the coastal regions of Morocco with chermoula, a spicy coriander garlic paste that is widely used in Moroccan and North African cooking.

Yeild:4 Servings


4 whole mackerel, cleaned ,gutted, and rinsed

3-4 Tbsp. chermoula (recipe on prevoius post)

3 tbsp. olive oil

salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Oil a baking dish. Place mackerel in it and rub chermoula allover including the inside of fish.Season with salt and pepper.

2.Place fish in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes.Remove from oven and serve warm with couscous and vegetables.

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Moroccan Chermoula Paste

Chermoula also spelled charmoula is a spicy garlicky spice paste from Morocco.There are several variations of the recipe as it is made differently by different cooks and by the area of the country in which they reside but it generally includes varying amounts of cilantro, garlic, and chili.This Moroccan spice paste can be used in all different kinds of dishes but is generally uses as a marinade for grilled fish or chicken.

Yeild:4 oz.


2/3 c fresh cilantro, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground paprika

1/4-1/2 tsp. ground chili pepper

6 Tbsp. olive oil or vegetable oil

3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1. In a food processor or blender, process all the ingredients together until they form a smooth paste.Store in an airtight glass jar and refigerate until ready for use.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kharouf bi Laban (Lamb with Yogurt Sauce)

The following recipe comes from Saudi Arabia where it calls for a whole leg of lamb to be used but lamb chops can also be used in its place.

Yeild:6 Servings
4-4 1/2 lbs. lamb chops
4 garlic cloves, minced
2-2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
2c yogurt
1/2 c tomatoe sauce
1/2 tsp.ground turmeric or saffron
1 tsp. Baharat Spice
salt & pepper

1.Wash and dry the lamb chops.In a small bowl, mix together the minced garlic and olive oil and rub allover the lamb chops.Set aside.
2.In another bowl, combine the yogurt, tomatoe sauce, turmeric or saffron, baharat, and salt and pepper and mix till thoroughly combined.
3.Pour the yogurt marinade over the lamb chops and refigerate for 2-4 hours.
4.Preheat oven at 350F and cook for 1 hour.Basting occassionally.Serve with basmati rice.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Nan-e Barbari (Persian Bread)

Barbari or nan-e barbari is the second most common type of flatbread consumed in Iran followed by sangak, lavash, and taftun.It is believed to have been introduced by the Barbars,a group of people living in Afghanistan on the eastern border of Iran.Nan-e barbari is made with either white or whole wheat flour and can be topped with or without black sesame seeds.Barbari is characterized by a long, oblong shape with long grooves running down the center. and is traditionally baked in a domed oven.Nan-e barbari is most often eaten at breakfast by itself or with tabriz cheese.

Servings:3 Barbari flatbreads


1/4 oz. dry yeast

1 tsp. sugar

1 3/4 c warm water

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

4 1/2 c all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds

1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in 4 Tbsp. of the water and set aside until it begins to froth (about 5-7 minutes).Stir in the oil.

2.Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and pour yeast mixture in the middle and add water and mix together till you form a ball.

3. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it and knead dough for about 10-15 minutes till smooth and elastic.Then set aside , cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for about 2 hours.

4.Preheat oven to 450F.After 2 hours, divide dough into 3 equal-sized portions.Lightly, flour a work surface and shape each one into a long , oval shape flatbread , about 1/4"thick.With your forrefinger press 4 ridges on the surface of the dough.Brush the surface of each dough with the melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

5. Put doughs on greased baking sheets and bake them for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sabzi Khordan (Persian Herb Platter)

Photo courtesy of LA Times

Sabzi Khordan is a kind of Persian mezze that is offered to guests before or during a meal. It consists of a platter of the freshest herbs,vegetables , and regional cheeses served with pita bread.The platter would include any of the following in no set amount.

radishes, thinly sliced
mint sprigs
flat-leaf parsley
onions, thinly chopped
fresh dill sprigs
scallions or spring onions,thinly cut
garlic chives
romaine lettuce leaves
feta cheese, goat cheese, or any type of regional cheese
pita bread or lavash, to serve

1. Wash and dry the herbs and vegetables.Remove any the have slight browning or are wilted.
2. Arrange the herbs, vegetables, and cheeses decoratively on the platter.Serve with the pita bread or lavash on the side.
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Bizar a' Shuwa (Omani Spice Rub)

Located on the Southeastern tip of the Arabian peninsula, the food of Oman is a blend of several flavors and countries.Like neighboring Arab countries, Oman also makes use of a wide range of spices and combines them beautifully to create spice blends that are unique to Omani cuisine.Among those is Bizar a' Shuwa, a spice blend that is commonly used in slow-cooked dishes or as a rub for meats.Below is the recipe for this spice rub.It's easy to make and doesn't require any special ingredients as you probably have most of these available in your kitchen.

Yield:1/4 c
1 Tbsp. cumin seeds
1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
1 Tbsp. cardamon seeds
2 tsp. ground red chili or can substitute cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. turmeric,ground
2-3 Tbsp. vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed

1. In a mortar and pestle, crush the first three ingredients together until pulverized.
2. Add the chili and turmeric and combine thoroughly.
3.Add the vinegar and garlic and stir to a paste-like consistency.
4. Put paste in a glass container with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate. Will keep for 2 weeks.
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Loubia Tripoli (Tripoli Black-Eyed Peas )

A neighbor of mine recently gave me several cans of black-eyed peas so I was wondering what to do with them.Then I remembered I had this recipe in my collection called Tripoli Black-Eyed Peas.I've had this recipe for several years but could never get around to making it so I figured now was as good a time as any.I don't know much about this recipe as I have it written down and there is no mention of it's source.I don't know if it comes from Tripoli in Libya or Tripoli in Lebanon.I'm not sure if it's even Middle Eastern as I've always associated black-eyed peas with the cuisine of the Southern USA.If anyone knows anything behind the history of this particular recipe and its origins, please let me know.
1/2 small onion, thinly chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3c black eyed-peas(canned),drained and rinsed
1-1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 celery stalks,chopped
1/2c fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. salt
black pepper
lemon wedges, to serve

1.In a large serving bowl, combine all the ingredients together and mix till evenly combined.
2.Serve with lemon wedges.
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Friday, February 5, 2010

Alya (Sheep Tail Fat)

A staple of the Arab kitchen since 3000B.C. , alya also known as aliya or roghan-e donbeh in Farsi is the rendered fat from the tail of the Awassi sheep, an Asian breed of sheep that are commonly found in parts of Africa, the Middle East,Northern India,Mongolia, and Western China.Just like the camel, these sheep hold most of their energy reserves in their tail which can weigh upwards of up to 25+lbs. and are able to survive in hot, arid climates.

Alya is hardly used anymore except in rural areas because of the widespread availability of other more convenient cooking fats and oils but it was used extensively in Medieval Arab recipes.Most Medieval Arab cookbooks refer to it's method of employment as "melt tail" or "fry in tail".Nowadays,certain rural areas of Lebanon and Syria have been known to use it where it is a common ingredient in the Lebanese dish qawarma, pieces of meat that are fried in alya , then preserved for later consumption.
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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Filfil Hilu bi Halloumi wal Snubar (Broiled Bellpeppers with Halloumi Cheese & Pine Nuts)

The following recipe isn't particular to any Middle-Eastern country but is a combination of foods that are commonly found throughout the Mediterranean.It's very easy to prepare and can be put together in a few minutes and is done in under 30 minutes.This recipe is perfect for when your looking for something quick and different to prepare but don't have all day to spend in the kitchen.

4 red bell peppers,seeded and cut in half
2 yellow bell peppers,, seeded and cut into small pieces
3 Tbsp. olive oil
9 oz. halloumi cheese, cubed
2 oz. pine nuts

1.Preheat the broiler.Rub some of the olive oil allover the red bell pepper.
2.In a small mixing bowl, combine the yellow bell pepper, halloumi cheese and pine nuts and mix to combine.Then equally stuff the mixture into the red bell peppers.
3. Drizzle the top of the bell peppers with the remaining olive oil and broil for 20 minutes.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dejaj bi Kammun wal Filfil Aleppo (Baked Chicken with Cumin and Aleppo Pepper)

5-5 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts, rinsed, visible fat removed
1 1/2 large garlic clove, mashed
3/4 tsp. salt, to taste
black pepper
olive oil, for greasing baking dish
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. Aleppo pepper
1/2 c water

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease baking dish with olive oil.Place chicken in baking dish and rub mashed garlic allover it.Then sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.Scatter chopped onions on top of chicken breasts.

2. In a small bowl, mix together cumin and Aleppo pepper and sprinkle evenly throughout dish.

3. Add 1/2 water to baking dish and place in oven and bake for 1 hour.
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