I wanted to try and get at least one Ramadan post written before the month ends, especially because it’s been a long time since I last updated! During Ramadan in Jordan, my aunts and grandmother make several special Ramadan drinks that are both refreshing and healthy, including tamarind, sous (licorice root), khushaf (an apricot juice with nuts and dried fruits), and karkadeh (hibiscus). When I was in Jordan this summer for a few weeks, I made sure to buy some hibiscus flowers with which to make hibiscus drink for when I came back to Turkey.
These are what the hibiscus flower petals look like dried…
Often referred to as “hibiscus tea,” the drink itself is very easy to make, and is known to have various health benefits. Its antioxidant properties, for example, help strengthen the immune system. It also helps your body flush out toxins, and is beneficial for lower blood pressure and diabetes.
I know a lot of people who like to boil the hibiscus petals in water, but simply letting the petals steep in hot water preserves the health benefits of the flower, and renders a fresher tasting drink. This is how we make karkadeh:
Put two cups of karkadeh petals in a teapot or heat resistant container.
Boil 4 cups of water, then pour boiling water over the petals.
Let steep until it cools, then strain, discarding the petals and keeping the liquid. This is your karkadeh concentrate.
Chill the concentrate, and then dilute with cold water to taste. I prefer it a bit more concentrated, but some people like it much more diluted. It is very sour, so add sugar or honey as desired.
You can also drink it hot, which is especially nice during the winter. Unfortunately, my family only makes karkadeh during Ramadan, but I think it should be made all the time :D
I thought I would post a few simple salad recipes today. They are refreshing, and a great complement to any meal.
Palestinian Cucumber-Mint Yogurt Salad
2 cucumbers, chopped finely or grated
1 tub of plain yogurt
3-4 cloves of garlic, mashed
1-2 heaping tablespoons of dried mint
salt to taste
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl except for the mint. Then, put the mint between your palms and rub your hands together briskly over the bowl, letting the mint fall in. This releases the oils in it and makes sure it gets ground up finely.
Turkish Carrot Yogurt Salad
5 large carrots, grated
4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed (you can also use garlic salt instead, but I prefer fresh garlic)
3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil for sauteeing
aprox 2 tubs of plain yogurt
salt to taste
In a frying pan, heat the oil. Add the crushed garlic and sautee it until just golden.
Then, add the carrots to the frying pan and sautee them until they get tender and turn a dark orange color. Take them off the fire and let them cool off.
In a mixing bowl, empty the tubs of yogurt. Add the carrots, scooping all the oil out of the pan into the yogurt. Add salt to taste.
Fasulya b Zeit, or Turkish Green Bean Salad
aprox 1 kilo of fresh green beans, washed, with the ends taken off, and cut in half
1 large tomato, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
aprox 1/3 cup of olive oil, more if you want
salt to taste
pinch of sugar
In a cooking pot or wok, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and sautee until tender. Then add the green beans.
Sautee the green beans gently for a couple minutes, then add the chopped tomato.
Stir, then add water to the pot, until just a few centimeters below the level of the beans. Add salt to taste and a sprinkle of sugar. Cover the pot and let the beans cook on a low flame. Keep covered. Check every fifteen minutes if they need more water. The dish is ready when the beans are tender. Serve chilled (although my Arab relatives preferred to eat this dish hot, with a squeeze of lemon juice, using bread to scoop up the beans!).
My aunt makes fettoush that turns out perfectly every time (like most of her cooking!). Fettoush is a salad that is famous in Lebanon and Syria, but Palestinians make it too. It gets its unique flavor from the combination of garlic and dried mint. Her special ingredient that always makes her fettoush foolproof is apple cider vinegar. Another tip is to use a smaller quantity of tomatoes relative to the “greens.” When she makes it , my cousins and I usually end up gobbling up the fettoush and forgetting about the main dish. I hope you enjoy her recipe for this simple, delicious salad!
2 ripe tomatoes, medium diced
4 large leaves of romaine lettuce, medium chop
Half a small onion, very finely chopped
Half a small red cabbage, julienned
3 stalks of green onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and grated or julienned
1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 small cucumbers, diced
1 small bunch of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of good quality sumac (optional)
1 small bunch of dill, finely chopped (optional)
2 1/2 heaping tablespoons of dried mint
Combine all of the vegetables and herbs (up until the dried mint) in a large salad bowl.
Then take the dried mint and rub it in your hands, letting it fall into the salad bowl. If you don’t crush it like this, the leaves and stalks might get stuck in your teeth or irritate you as you chew your salad.
For the dressing:
4-5 cloves of crushed garlic
6-7 tablespoons each of olive oil and apple cider vinegar
Salt to taste
Mix these ingredients and drizzle over the salad. Mix well! You want the garlic evenly distributed throughout the salad.
Do this step right before serving the salad! Separate the two layers of a loaf of pita bread. Tear both layers into medium-sized pieces. Fry them lightly in some hot vegetable oil till light brown and crispy! Then mix three quarters of the bread chips into the salad. Use the remaining chips as decoration on top!
Sa7tain w hana :)