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Everything posted by nolafoodie

  1. I had once heard that bourma was fried, but then I heard that it's just baked in copious amounts of fat (clarified butter/ghee) that is drained after baking, prior to application of syrup. From what I can see, it would be quite difficult to achieve professional-looking results (that nice, tight roll with parallel strands of dough) using store-bought dough, which is typically tangled and messy. In the professional/commercial bakeries, they make their own dough, so the strands can be handled with a bit more care to remain straight. You can still try with the store-bought dough, but your rolls will probably have a bit of a looser, more "frizzy" look to them. As for the rolling, I know it's a sort of diagonal rolling technique around the filling. The best example I've found is here: .Good luck! ETA: Oh, wow. I've been watching some of the linked videos. It appears the shorter ones made more loosely are fried and then topped with syrup. The tight rolls formed into logs, though, are baked -- using a scary amount of grease. Watch some of these videos. They're really fascinating!
  2. I had a hunch as to what it is, and Googling mostly confirmed it. According to http://humus101.com/EN/category/anecdotes/: Ahhhhh-ha! There are a couple Arabic restaurants around here that serve hummus with such a sauce. It's a delicious accompaniment, but I never knew the name of it until now and just used to call it "dressing." The sauce has the consistency of salad dressing and, as far as I can tell, it just contains green chiles and garlic, pureed in a base of lemon juice and olive oil. I don't know whether olive oil is supposed to be in the sauce, or the restaurants just mix the sauce and oil together for ease of service (or, dare I say, to get away with using cheap oil). Now, the restaurant versions I've had definitely used fresh chiles, most likely jalapeños. However, shifka chiles are pickled. Specifically, according to this forum thread, they appear to be pickled hot Hungarian wax peppers. The sauce is easy enough to make at home, and I often like to make a very basic hummus (only chickpeas, tahini, salt, and a little lemon juice) to be dressed with this sauce. Hummus without garlic sounds like blasphemy, but it's really good and everyone ought to try it. Cheers!
  3. Oooooooohhhhhhh, green chickpeas. They're one of my favorite snacks. Clean them, and place them on a sheet pan in a hot oven. Roast, turning occasionally, until charred on the edges/sides. Munch to your heart's content (just pop them out of the pods and eat -- they should be partially browned and kind of chewy). Enjoy!
  4. ...Or village bread, ya3ni, rgheef? :-) Great story -- a bread sandwich. That sounds like something my family would do. :-) My sister once told me about a foreign exchange student who was shocked to learn that many New Orleanians eat red beans and rice with bread. She was incredulous: "you eat the bread with the rice? How can you eat the bread with the rice?" I told my sister not to say anything to the poor girl about mansaf. ;-) Anyway, back to fatteh, I hadn't heard of it either until I tried it in Jordan. In our community (West Bank village), "fatt" is a generic term for torn pieces of bread topped with a liquid-based food (soup, stew, "tabikh," or "yakhni" type of thing), such that the bread becomes mushy. (It's also, at least in my extended family, the term we use for leftover mansaf.) Fatt is very popular with babies and the elderly. :-) It really is interesting how different places have different takes on dishes, not just from region to region, but also state to state, and whatever smaller divisions (cities, villages, etc.) exist within states -- not to mention differences from family to family within the same town! That's what I like so much about this forum -- we can compare notes and try all the variations on these dishes. Cheers!
  5. That looks delicious -- but it's completely different from the fatteh I had in Amman. I always get a kick out of comparing regional interpretations of our Middle Eastern cuisine. The Jordanian version was something like a soft hummus bread pudding, if you can imagine that. It was served piping hot, and seemed to be a thick puree of hummus, yogurt, and bread, with small chunks of bread interspersed within that mixture. The dish was topped with chickpeas and olive oil, and, according to the cousin who introduced me to the dish, was to be eaten with additional bread. A carb-lover's dream, to be sure. ETA: It was tangy and garlicky too, so my guess is it's made a lot like the recipe Elie posted, but with chickpeas and some bread blended into the yogurt mixture. The dish with meat, though, looks great, and I will definitely try it this way. And with fried pita strips, what more could a person desire?
  6. Interesting post -- this will make me look at kishk (or in my Palestinian villager "falla7i" accent, chishich -- try saying that 5x fast!) in a different light. To be honest, the chishich I know is a bit different from your kishk. The stuff we used to get came in the form of grapefruit-sized balls that could be pulverized to a powdery consistency. I was always under the impression that they were 100% yogurt rather than yogurt blended with bulgur. Do you know if these kishk balls are the same as your kishk powder, or are they cousins bearing a familial resemblance? In my community (people from a village near Ramallah and Jerusalem, many still living in the village and many living here in the U.S.), kishk is used not so much for eating straight, but rather in the soup/sauce for mansaf. To be honest, my family has never been fond of kishk, finding it too funky and too goaty for their tastes, but I don't mind mansaf made with a little of the stuff (I'm not a fan of goat milk and cheese consumed alone, but consider them nice additions in small doses). So, now I wonder whether your results, "not as funky and blue cheesy," may have had to do with using cow's milk for your yogurt. I wonder what would happen if you used sheep's milk, goat's milk, or some combination.
  7. I've made many a mansaf, but not a traditional Bedouin one. Bedouin mansaf tends to be a little too heavy for my taste. Plus, I prefer chicken mansaf to lamb mansaf -- a preference the Bedouins might consider blasphemous. Anyway, I don't have a recipe, but here's the general procedure. Since this is a dish that can be made to serve few or many, I'm not going to give proportions. However, if you've ever eaten mansaf, then you'll have a good idea of how much of each component to use. 1. Simmer lamb (shoulder is best, cut into cubes of 3" or so) or chicken (bone-in) pieces with onions (halved or quartered -- it doesn't matter) and garlic (smashed -- no need to chop) in enough water to cover by a few inches. You can add packaged "mansaf seasoning" or add whatever Middle Eastern seasonings you like (cumin, coriander, etc.). If using chicken (or at least the plumped-up American chickens to which I'm accustomed), I like the Chinese poaching method, which is to bring to a boil, cover, remove from heat, and let it sit, covered and undisturbed, for an hour. This method keeps the chicken tender and succulent. If using lamb, simmer on low heat for roughly 2 hours, until meat is fork-tender (you may need more time if your lamb is tough -- use your judgment). Skim any foam that comes to the surface as the lamb simmers. Also skim off any fat that rises to the top (the dairy you add later will provide additional fat), unless you prefer the Bedouin style and/or really like grease. 1a. While chicken/lamb simmers, prepare some yellow rice. Also chop some parsley and toast some almonds/pine nuts. 2. Remove lamb/chicken from pot and set aside. Strain cooking liquid and return to pot, discarding onion and garlic solids. 3. Add dairy (and maybe acid) to broth to make yogurt sauce/soup. I prefer labneh, or you can use dried yogurt (kishk, jameed, etc.), or plain yogurt and/or sour cream (not as rich, though you can augment it with cream cheese). Adjust salt/pepper and add garlic if desired. If your yogurt/labneh/jameed is not tangy, you will probably need to add acid to make it tangy -- you can use lemon juice or citric acid. However, there is a chance that the acid might curdle the dairy, so either add it at the end, or use a stick blender to smooth it. Also, you may or may not want to thicken the sauce with a small amount of starch or flour slurry. Overall, it should be the consistency of a very thin gravy. 4. Return meat/chicken to pot with yogurt sauce, and let it simmer briefly, while you complete the rest of the dish, in order to absorb some of the yogurt flavor. 5. Prepare your platter(s). Use a large, deep platter -- those round melamine platters, about 2-3" deep, are ubiquitous in the Middle East and perfect for mansaf. Put down a layer of bread. Traditional Bedouin mansaf is made traditional thin Bedouin bread (shrak). Alternatively, you can use cut or torn pieces of any flat or pita bread. Ladle some of the yogurt sauce from the pot onto the bread and allow it to soak. 6. Top bread layer with rice. Arrange meat/chicken pieces on top of rice. Sprinkle parsley and nuts over top. Serve with yogurt sauce/soup -- I like to set out a bowl for each diner. The Bedouin way of eating mansaf is to gather around the platter and dig in with the clean fingers of the diner's right hand. That's a very messy way of eating! So, another traditional method is for diners to gather around the platter and eat with spoons (etiquette dictates that each diner sticks to his/her own section). But, these days, most people just use individual plates/place settings for each diner. You end up with more dishes to wash afterward, but the dining experience is more hygienic. Enjoy!
  8. New Orleans. Oh, you mean my family? Near Ramallah. Scubadoo, cutting the meat sounds like a good idea, but so does Judiu's idea of using vegetation. Personally, whenever I make kafta/kebab, I use lots of chopped onions, so it doesn't usually come out dense. Another trick is not to handle the meat too roughly. You don't want to squeeze, compress, or knead ground meat, but just gently mix it with your fingers until everything is combined. In other words, try to keep it fluffy. Of course, you do need to press it a bit in order to shape it, but again, this should be done gently.
  9. That's interesting. Come to think of it, I don't think I recall seeing any in Amman either. But I know for certain that they're ubiquitous in the West Bank.
  10. I'm stumped as well. Cakes are just not traditional Middle Eastern fare. However, I will say that there are plenty of bakeries in the Middle East, and they make and sell Western-style cakes that are very popular. Having said that, I honestly have no idea why they're so popular. They tend to be, at best, barely edible. The layers are made with a genoise (chocolate or white are the standard varieties). Filling is typically some sort of buttercream -- again, white or chocolate are the standards. To the credit of these bakers, it's a good buttercream -- very light and fluffy consistency, not too sweet, and not at all grainy. I wonder if it might actually be combined with whipped cream. Sometimes there is a fruit filling between the layers, but more often than not, the cake is topped with the fruit filling. This doesn't sound too bad, except for a couple flaws in execution. Typically, cakes based on genoise are soaked in a syrup that provides moisture without making the cake soggy. Genoise is quite dry if it's not soaked. Of the cakes I've had, some are not soaked at all (which seems to be the norm in Amman) and very, very dry, while others are soaked in runny liquids (usually soda/cola or maraschino cherry juice) and end up very soggy. But then again, thanks to the French influence on Lebanon, I wouldn't be surprised that their French pastries -- including cakes -- would be quite good. Unfortunately, I have no idea what kind of cake it actually is. The word you described seems to come from the same root as "dough," so depending on regional dialect, that might have been a generic term for "cake." Still, given that French influence, my guess is that the cake was based on an almond genoise, properly soaked (perhaps with an apricot syrup?), filled with fruit and buttercream, and iced with that buttercream. Sorry for the vague description, but look to some French cake recipes for direction. Good luck!
  11. You're both very welcome. Ce'nedra, about 15 minutes should do. But before you soak them, you will want to pick through them to remove any rocks, stems, or leaves that might accompany them. Rinse them several times, and then if you use a strainer or colander to hold the barberries during soaking, the last of the dirt should settle below the colander. As for availability, I've never seen barberries sold anywhere other than Middle Eastern grocery stores and international supermarkets with large Middle Eastern sections. BTW, they should be red when you purchase them. You might even find them frozen to preserve their color. If stored too long, they turn an unappetizing dark brown. Melamed, you should have no problem at all finding this pot. In the Arab areas, every kitchen store has many of these pots in stock, in varying sizes. But honestly, you don't need a maqlouba pot, because you don't even have to use the molded assembly method. But if you want to, you can use a large mixing bowl, a regular shallow pot, or even, as I mentioned previously, the lid from a roasting pan.
  12. Well, if you don't feel like making it at home, or have trouble getting the right consistency, there might yet be hope. Apparently, many supermarkets now carry Frieda's Garlic Delight, which is exactly the sauce/dip/spread in question. There are other flavors available, but the "original" flavor is thoumiyya.
  13. Wow, thanks for all the compliments! I learned the recipe from some acquaintances of mixed Iraqi and Iranian extraction. As for a maqlouba pot, I tried looking for a picture online, but can't seem to find one, so I'll just describe it as best I can. The pot is round, with slightly flared sides, and made of aluminum (sometimes Teflon-coated on the inside and painted red on the outside). It has a fairly prominent rim (about 1"), but no handles. As for the recipe, goodness, I don't even use a recipe anymore (I've never been one to use recipes in cooking anyway). Let me see if I can recreate the process. Mind you, the amounts I list below yield a large amount of food. Ingredients: 2.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken pieces, cubed (or about 4 lbs. bone-in, cut up) 4 lbs. basmati rice, rinsed well to remove excess starch 6 oz. dried zereshk/barberries (rinsed very well, several times, then soaked in hot water) or up to 12 oz. dried cranberries 3 large onions, diced 6-12 oz. slivered or chopped pistachios Salt, to taste Middle Eastern seasoning mix, to taste (I like "mixed spices" or "kabseh seasoning," but any blend of allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, etc. will do -- as long as it has little or no cumin) Generous pinch saffron Butter/ghee/oil for sauteing Water, for boiling rice Directions: 1. In a large skillet, sweat one diced onion in 2 tablespoons oil/ghee/butter. Add chicken and salt and seasoning mix to taste. Saute until chicken is lightly brown and cooked through. Meanwhile, steep saffron in about one cup boiling water. 2. In a separate skillet, saute nuts in 1 tablespoon fat, until barely fragrant. Remove to plate and wipe skillet clean. Then saute berries in about 2 tablespoons fat, until oil is absorbed and berries become glossy. Again, remove to plate and wipe skillet. Finally, saute onions in several tablespoons of fat until light brown and crisp. (These items can be prepared ahead.) 3. Fill a large (at least 12-quart) pot 2/3 with water and bring to a boil. Salt the water as appropriate, and add the rice. Boil until barely "al dente," or about 3/4 cooked. Drain immediately, but do not rinse. Work quickly from this point forward, to preserve the heat of the rice and ensure that it comes out fluffy. 4. In a separate bowl, combine 1/4-1/3 of the rice with 1/2 cup of the saffron water. Cover with a clean towel (or a few paper towels) and aluminum foil. 5. In the same pot in which the rice was cooked, spoon in about 1/4 of the remaining rice. Sprinkle lightly with saffron water (over only one side), then sprinkle with some of the onions, nuts, and berries. Repeat for a few more layers, building the rice into a mound rather than smoothing or flattening it. Be sure to leave enough onions, nuts, and berries for topping. Cover with a clean towel and place the lid on the pot tightly. Let it steam over low heat on the stove, for about 15 minutes. 6. To serve: (a) spoon 1/2 of the rice/berry/nut/onion mixture into a serving platter or dish. Top with chicken, and then remaining rice mixture. Top with the rice that was steamed in saffron water (should be very yellow) and reserved berries, nuts, and onions, arranged in a pretty design. Alternatively, (b) create a design using reserved berries, nuts, and onions, along the bottom of a well-oiled pot, large bowl, or roasting pan lid large enough to fit all the rice and chicken. Anchor the design with yellow rice. Top yellow rice with 1/2 of the rice mixture, then the chicken, then remaining rice mixture. Pack slightly and smooth, then cover and allow to rest until serving time. To serve, invert onto a large platter. This dish sounds like a lot more work than it actually is. If you skip some of the molding/presentation techniques, it can even be a reasonably quick weeknight meal. Enjoy!
  14. Oh, I like to do that with Arabic curses, insults, and derogatory exclamations. Sure, I get blank stares, but it entertains me immensely. "Damn the father of your beard!" "May God ruin your art!" "And later with you?" Fun times -- for me, at least. Oh, back on topic. As for "zankha," I think it has different translations depending on context. If you're talking about lamb or goat, then it's "gaminess," while for cooking oil, it's "rancidity." However, for chicken, it's just "that chickeny smell."
  15. Oh, that looks like what (at least some) Arabs call "'awameh" (and Greeks call "loukoumades." Frankly, I've never made it, because it's just not something for which I'd go out of my way (fried dough balls soaked in syrup -- at least fill them with cheese or nuts and call them qatayef, right?). However, my mother makes them, often during Ramadan. And I happen to know her recipe definitely uses yeast. I had a little trouble finding a 'awameh recipe online, but here's a loukoumades recipe from About.com. Note that the Greek and Arabic versions of syrup differ -- Greeks tend to use honey and Arabs don't. If you have a favorite recipe for syrup, then use that instead. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Loukoumades, a Greek pastry, is their version of a doughnut. Prep Time: 25 minutes Cook Time: 05 minutes Ingredients: * 1 tablespoon yeast * 1 cup lukewarm water (for yeast) * 5-1/2 cups flour * 1 teaspoon salt * warm water * 2 cups sugar * 1 cup honey * 1 cup water * cinnamon * oil for frying Preparation: Dissolve yeast in water and let set for 10 to 15 minutes. Sift flour and salt together. Make a hole in flour and pour in yeast mixture. Mix gently while continuously adding warm water until a soft, sticky dough is formed. Cover dough with clean, damp dishtowel. Let dough double in size. Bring sugar, honey and water to a boil. Boil for 6 minutes. Remove from high heat, but keep warm. Heat oil in deep fryer. Use a tablespoon to drop batter into hot oil. When batter floats and is golden and puffy, remove to drain on paper towel. Pour syrup over hot doughnuts and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  16. My pick would have to be zereshk polo ba morgh, with chicken, barberries (though I've usually substituted cranberries, which my family seems to prefer anyway) and pistachios. I know the traditional preparation calls for bone-in chicken pieces, but I find that at parties and potlucks (which are typically the occasions at which I serve the dish), boneless cubes of chicken make for easier eating. Also, in a completely unnecessary step, I like to mold the dish and then unmold it right before serving. It seems to stay warm longer, and looks very pretty. I also like to vary the design every time I serve it. As for molds, I've used everything from maqlouba pots to roasting pan lids. Here's a picture I snapped with my cell phone of the dish I took to my parents' house for Eid al Fitr. Unfortunately, the colors look rather dark, but you get the idea of how it's structured.
  17. Some people in my community have prepared grape leaves stuffed with a meat-only filling -- something like kafta/kebab rolled up in grape leaves. As I understand it, these grape leaves are baked rather than boiled/steamed. I've tried them on several occasions, and they are quite tasty. Has anyone ever prepared grape leaves this way? Do you add liquid to the baking dish/pan, or just cover the dish and let the moisture from the meat steam the leaves? Or do you do something else entirely? Many thanks for your help!
  18. Thanks again, Melamed! ChefCrash, just last week I made a big pot of stuffed silq with meat in the stuffing, just like I've always used for grape leaves. Oops! Also, unfortunately, most of them burst. I think chard is thinner and less slippery than grape leaves, so the leaves don't unravel to accommodate expanding rice. They were certainly tasty, though. But next time, I'll have to (a) soak the rice well or even par-cook it, and/or (b) wrap the leaves fairly loosely.
  19. Ah! Thank you very, very much!
  20. AFAIK, the recipe for those date balls doesn't call for semolina, but rather regular flour. However, I suppose you can substitute semolina.... Here's the recipe I was given. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, make a sort of roux using a stick of butter and a cup of flour. You'll want the flour to end up blond in color. Add two firmly-packed cups chopped soft dates (I like Medjool for this) and stir to combine. Remove from heat and add your choice of spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and/or anise (also, if you want to, add honey to taste), and stir well. (Alternatively, pulse mixture in food processor if you prefer it smooth.) Once cool enough to handle, roll into balls and coat in dried coconut, chopped nuts, sesame seeds, or powdered sugar.
  21. My guess is that the leaves are acidic enough to stave off most untoward growth. I have a few bottles like that in my own pantry, and it's how my friends and family have transported grape leaves from the Middle East since I was a child.
  22. nolafoodie

    Fresh fava beans

    Hi, there. My family prepares fava stew in yogurt sauce all the time. It's one of my favorites! There's one caveat, though. In the U.S., people like to find the largest pods, which would contain the largest beans, which are what everyone seems to want. If you're making fava stew, though, you want to find the immature "baby" pods (about half an inch or less in diameter, and fuzzy rather than smooth/shiny), which are young enough to remain edible. It's a good thing, because the pods you seek are the ones all the other shoppers will cast aside. So, to prepare your beans, rinse them well. Remove the stem ends and try to get rid of the strings on the sides (just like you would with other beans). Chop the pods into 1" pieces. Saute an onion in some olive oil until translucent. Add the fava bean pods and saute until soft. Do not salt until they have softened (otherwise, they'll remain tough). The beans will start to slip out of the pods, and the pods will be soft and floppy. Meanwhile, make your yogurt sauce. Start with broth or stock (some make the dish with meat, so if you braised or simmered some stew meat/oxtails/shanks, just use the simmering liquid from that and add the meat later). Add your choice of the following (either individually or in combination): yogurt, yogurt cheese/labne/kefir, sour cream, buttermilk, milk, cream cheese, "jameed"/keshk (my favorite is either labne or sour cream, or cream cheese + yogurt). Season to taste -- don't forget the garlic. Add lemon juice to taste for yogurt-y flavor. Thicken with corn starch, if needed (if you used cream cheese, sour cream, or labne, you shouldn't need to thicken it). Smooth with a hand blender. Add the sauce to the fava beans. If you've prepared meat, add it now. Simmer a little while longer. Serve with rice. Enjoy! P.S. I know some like to add chopped cilantro to the dish, but my family doesn't, and I've never tried adding cilantro. I'm sure it's good, but it's just not the way we make it. P.P.S. DO NOT EAT this dish if you are taking an MAO inhibitor!!! (The pods -- and beans, to a lesser degree -- contain high amounts of levodopa, which can interact with MAOIs to cause excitability, nausea, psychosis, and a dangerously high fever.)
  23. The fuzzy pods are what make young green almonds so special. IIRC, green almonds don't freeze well (or at least, they don't thaw well). However, they will keep for a while in your carry-on bag. Just make sure you get them as fresh as possible, as soon as possible before your departure. Wrap them in paper towels and place them in a plastic bag. Good luck!
  24. This has stumped me for years, and I hope you fine folks will be able to help me with this question as well. My grandparents and many others in the West Bank village from which my parents hail enjoy tea infused with an herb called "ze'tmana." I've only seen the dried version, but from what I can tell, it's got small leaves (somewhere between oregano and thyme) and is slightly fuzzy. The aroma and flavor are close to that of mint, but stronger (like, "clear your sinuses" strong). I actually don't drink it myself, because it tends to give me a headache, but others in my family love it, and I'd like to try to buy or grow some locally. Again, TIA for your help!
  25. Hello. I'm a longtime lurker and first-time poster. On a recent trip overseas, where she stayed at my grandparents' house in a West Bank village near Jerusalem, my mother was introduced to a leafy green called "lsayyen" (the word seems to come from the same root as "tongue"). The leaves were stuffed with rice and ground meat, much like grape leaves, and my mother described them as even tastier than grape leaves. Does anyone have any idea what this might be in English? I know in the Middle East, there are many regional variations in the terms that are used for foods, but I'm hoping someone here might be able to help. TIA!
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