White Bean & Pomegranate “Hummus”

I found half a bag of dried white beans in the pantry and thought to myself what I could do with them; making a wholesome and warming white bean stew was out of the question as we are well and truly in summer weather (urgh it’s so hot and it’s not even August yet…) so I decided to experiment and see if white beans would work well in a hummus instead of using chickpeas.

As hummus in Arabic literally means chickpeas this dish is not really a hummus per se but I have no other name for it; puree just doesn’t sound all that exciting. Also white bean on its own was also quite bland so I pimped it up with pomegranate molasses and sumac. I sometimes use pomegranate molasses in proper hummus too; give it a go if you haven’t tried it before. In fact, pomegranate in anything is always a welcomed addition.

Ingredients

2 cups dried white beans

1 cup white bean stock

2 garlic cloves

1 Tbsp. tahini

3 ½ Tbsp. pomegranate molasses

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. sumac

Salt, to taste

Method

1 Soak dried white beans in plenty cold water and leave to soak overnight on a countertop. After time has elapsed, wash in cold water and rinse. Cook in a pressure cooker for 25 minutes.
White Bean & Pomegranate Hummus 1
2 Blitz 3 cups of cooked white beans along with garlic, tahini, sumac and salt. Then gradually add the liquids (stock, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses) according to your own taste and desired consistency.
White Bean & Pomegranate Hummus 2
3 Refrigerate for a couple hours or even overnight as it tastes better cold. To serve, swirl over some more pomegranate molasses and sprinkle with extra sumac and then devour with Lebanese bread.
White Bean & Pomegranate Hummus

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Pomegranate & Sumac Pork Ribs

Pomegranate molasses and sumac are two of my favourite Middle Eastern ingredients. I was first introduced to pomegranate molasses via Khoresh Fesenjan, an iconic Persian dish featuring pomegranate molasses, and ever since I have been smitten with its contrasting sweet and sour taste. I discovered sumac when making a Lebanese salad known as Fattoush and realised that it never tasted quite authentic until I was instructed by a Lebanese friend to add sumac; what a revelation! If you’ve never heard of sumac, give it a go as it is very versatile and doesn’t need to be limited just to Middle Eastern recipes. I can only describe its taste as tart and lemony.

This recipe was born out of my desire to eat sweet and sticky ribs but instead of making my usual Chinese Style ribs, I turned to my pomegranate molasses and thought that it must be perfect for sweet and sticky ribs and then I saw my sumac and knew that both ingredients were a match made in heaven.

As this recipe is Middle Eastern inspired, the pork element is rather out of place and haram for those of the Muslim and Jewish faiths, so you could just as easily swap it for beef or lamb ribs instead if you are entertaining for people of those faiths.  But, I love pork and pork is cheap in my country…

Ingredients

½ rack pork ribs

3 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses

1 Tbsp. sumac

2 tsp. cinnamon powder

Handful dried cranberries (optional)

5 garlic cloves; 2 chopped, 3 whole

1 tsp. sugar

Salt, to taste

10 baby potatoes (optional)

1 knob butter

Glaze:

2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses

2 tsp. sumac

Method

1 Place ribs, pomegranate molasses, sumac, cinnamon, cranberries, garlic, sugar, salt and potatoes in a pressure cooker. Add enough cold water to slightly cover everything. Close the pressure cooker and cook on high until the pressure starts to whistle (around 5 minutes) and then lower the heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes.Pomegranate & Sumac Ribs 12 When the cooking time has elapsed, remove from the stove and release the pressure (refer to your pressure cooker instruction manual as each is slightly different). Carefully remove the lid and transfer ribs and potatoes to an ovenproof dish.

3 Mix together the glaze ingredients and brush ribs and potatoes with this glaze. Cook in a preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, basting regularly with the glaze, making sure it doesn’t dry out.Pomegranate & Sumac Ribs 24 Meanwhile, sieve the cooking liquid and transfer back into the pressure cooker. Cook on a high heat, uncovered, for around 20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to your desired consistency. Once reduced add a knob of butter and whisk into the sauce.Pomegranate & Sumac Ribs 3Transfer ribs and potatoes to a serving dish and spoon over with the pomegranate and sumac sauce.Pomegranate & Sumac Ribs 4

Shawarma ad-dajaj شاورما الدجاج (Lebanese Chicken Shawarma)

Surprisingly, I was first introduced to shawarma when I lived in Granada, Spain. It was a staple of many student nights after a night of partying. Most kebab places in Spain sell shawarma rather than “normal” kebab, most probably because of the influence of its Arab community; we were after all an Islamic country for centuries.

The meat is normally stacked onto a skewer and cooked on a rotating spit hence the etymology of the word: from the Turkish word çevirme meaning “turning”. It is similar to Turkish Döner and Greek Gyro. Thankfully you don’t need a spit at home to recreate this dish.

The meat is traditionally wrapped in Khubz Lubnaani (Lebanese bread similar to Mexican tortilla or pita) and stuffed with pickles, salad, toum and/or hummus.

Ingredients

8 pieces of chicken (you can use any but I prefer thighs and drumsticks)

2 cups plain yogurt

1 cup vinegar

½ cup lemon juice

1 Tbsp. oil

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. baharat 7 lubnaniya

1 tsp. ground cardamom

1 tsp. hot pimenton (or paprika)

Salt & pepper, to taste

To serve:

Toum

Salad (of your choice)

Mint leaves or other herbs (optional)

Method

1 Marinade the chicken in all the ingredients and leave overnight to marinade. If you are short on time you could cook it straight away or leave for a few hours instead.

2 Place in a oven-proof dish and cover with aluminium foil. Bake for 30 minutes.

3 Remove the aluminium foil and bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until the chicken has browned.Shawarma dajaj14 Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.

To assemble:

1 Toast some Khubz lubnaani (Lebanese bread) over an open flame (optional)Shawarma Dajaj22 Spread some toum on the bread and place some of the chicken on top. Add some salad and mint leaves. Roll and dig in!DSC05251

Toum ثوم (Lebanese Garlic Sauce)

In Arabic, toum, is the word for garlic and surprisingly (NOT) this sauce’s main ingredient is just that.

This Lebanese garlic sauce is similar to Ajoaceite (Spanish Garlic Mayonnaise) but is even more intense. I am always partial to garlic in large amounts but even I need a good rinse of mouthwash after eating this sauce before socialising with other people who haven’t dined on the same.  You can slather it on Lebanese bread to make chicken shawarma but it is just as good for dipping bread-but that may be a step too far for most.

Ingredients

4 garlic cloves

1 pinch coarse sea salt

1 egg white

Few drops of lemon juice

¼ cup of vegetable oil

Method

1 Add garlic and salt into a pestle and mortar and pound into a paste. Apart from taste, the salt also acts as an abrasive and draws out the moisture from the garlic and thus making the process much simpler.

2 In a food processor add the egg white and blitz until it has turned white. Add the garlic paste and blitz again.DSC05225_Fotor_Collage3 Add a steady stream of oil while blitzing until the sauce has thickened.ToumNote: If you have the patience, you can skip the food processor and make it in the pestle and mortar, which is the traditional way after all, but it’s hard work…

 

Tabbouleh طبولة

This Middle Eastern salad takes on many forms. In the West, we are more than likely to find this salad loaded with bulgur (sometimes, even with couscous! arghh) but it should actually be more about the parsley than the bulgur. In most Middle Eastern recipes, the bulgar tends to be little specks here and there whereas the parsley is bountiful.

In it’s simplest forms it just loads of parsley, a bit of mint, tomatoes, specks of bulgar drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. My version, however, is slightly different but as the saying goes “there is more than one way to skin a cat”.

Ingredients

1-2 handfuls fine bulgur

1 large bunch fresh parsley, chopped

A handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped

2 tomatoes, finely diced

½ cucumber, finely diced

1 red pepper, finely diced

1 onion, finely diced

2 tsp. sweet pimenton (or paprika)

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Salt, to taste

½ lemon, juiced

Olive oil, as desired (I tend to go overboard, like a good Mediterranean…)

Method

1 Make the bulgur by rinsing in cold water a few times and letting it soak for 20 minutes. Squeeze as much liquid out as possible.

2 Place bulgur in a bowl and add the parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper and onion.

3 Season with paprika, cinnamon and salt. Dress with lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well.

tabbouleh

Moroccan-Style Baked Lamb

This dish was invented with whatever I had left in the house which wasn’t much but I always have spices (you should see my spice cupboard…) at hand so this is what the end result was. It’s Moroccan inspired but I wouldn’t say it is a traditional Moroccan dish that has been enjoyed for centuries…

Ingredients

4 lamb leg steaks (or chops)

2 tsp. cumin powder

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp Ras el hanout powder

1 tsp. curry powder

2 tsp. chilli powder

1 tsp sweet pimenton (or paprika)

2cm fresh ginger, minced

1 preserved lemon, diced

4 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled

Handful olives

Handful cranberries

1 potato, sliced

1 glass white wine

Method

1 Marinade the lamb with cumin, turmeric, ras el hanout, curry, chilli, pimenton, ginger, preserved lemon and white wine. Add the garlic, olives and cranberries.

2 In an ovenproof dish, layer potato slices on the bottom and top with the marinated lamb. Add water until the lamb is just about covered.

3 Cover with aluminium foil and bake in a hot oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Moroccan Style Lamb

Muttabel al-badanjan متبل الباذنجان (Aubergine “dip”)

Muttabel al-badanjan in Arabic literally means spiced aubergine and is similar to Baba Ghanoush. There are numerous recipes some which use yogurt and others which do not; I personally prefer it with yogurt but each to his own. It is also one of those dishes that transcends many borders such as Iran where it is known as Kashk-e bademjan or Greece where it is known as Melitzanosalata.

Anyways, this is my recipe which is based on a few different muttabels my Arab friends have made.

Ingredients

2 large aubergines (eggplants)

1 clove garlic

4 Tbsp. tahinah

4 Tbsp. plain greek yogurt

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Salt, to taste

1 ½ Tbsp. pomegranate molasses (optional)

Cinnamon powder, to taste

Method

1 Grill the aubergines over an open flame (such as kitchen stove) until the skin has blackened. Make sure to turn them over so they get evenly cooked. Alternatively you can bake them in the oven but you will loose that smoky flavour which is essential in good muttabel.

2 Once they aubergines have blackened, plunge in ice cold water and remove the skins.

3 Using a large pestle and mortar, pound the garlic into a paste and add the aubergine and also pound but make sure not to over pound the aubergines as a bit of texture is always good.

4 Add the rest of the ingredients one by one starting with the tahinah, then the yoghurt, lemon juice, salt and finish off with the pomegranate molasses. Combine well.

5 Serve in a dish and sprinkle generously with cinnamon powder. Muttabel al-badajaan