If you like Baba Ghannoush or Mtabbal, you should definitely try Mtawwamit Kusa. The concept is similar, using zucchini instead of roasted eggplant, and it can work as a salad, a sandwich spread, a side to grilled meats, or a dip for a chips/veggie platter. To keep it as basic as possible, you can omit the walnuts and dill if you want, although they add a nice touch. All the ingredients can be adjusted to your own particular liking.
2 medium sized zucchini, grated (you can also use the leftover “insides” of the zucchini if you recently made mahshi!)
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large lemon, juiced
4-5 tablespoons of tahini paste
2 tablespoons of cold water
2/3 cup of thick Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
1/3 cup of finely crushed walnuts (optional)
1 tablespoon of finely chopped dill (optional)
olive oil for garnishing
salt and pepper to taste
Saute the grated zucchini with two cloves of crushed garlic in a couple tablespoons of oil until the zucchini gets soft. Add a bit of water, turn the heat down and cover, letting it cook while checking it every few minutes, until the zucchini completely softens. Turn off heat and let cool.
In a bowl, whisk the tahini paste with half of the lemon juice until the tahini turns white. You will need to gradually add the cold water in while you’re whisking to keep the consistency creamy. Add the yogurt, the remaining two garlic cloves, and the parsley. Add the walnuts and dill at this point if you’re using them. Mix well.
Mash the cooked zucchini – you can make it as smooth as you want, but I like to leave it a bit chunky. Add the zucchini into the tahini+yogurt mixture. Add remaining lemon juice, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, then chill. Serve drizzled with olive oil.
Even though spring is nearing and the weather is starting to warm up a bit, there are still some very cold days that pop up once in a while, and that’s when I want a simple and warming dinner that doesn’t require buying or preparing a lot of ingredients. This easy lentil dish is perfect, and can be altered to your specific dietary requirements (substitute gluten-free pasta, use vegetable broth instead of chicken, and so on). Admittedly, the end product may not look like much, but it tastes fantastic!
Traditionally, rushtayeh is made with homemade noodles. Since that can be quite time-consuming, I substitute regular packaged pasta and it works excellently. However, I’m including the recipe for the noodles at the bottom of the post, in case you’d prefer to make them yourself :) And again, most of the quantities here are approximations; I always eyeball all the ingredients when I make it.
Rushtayeh (serves 2)
2 handfuls of brown lentils, washed and picked over
1 medium onion, thinly sliced in half-circles
1 chicken or beef bouillon cube or stock base
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp each of allspice, black pepper, cumin powder
3-4 tbsp of sumac (substitutes: pomegranate molasses or tamarind)
2 handfuls of wide egg noodles
salt to taste
Put the lentils in a pot and add water to cover them by about three inches. Let the water come to a boil, turn the heat down and cover the pot, and cook till the lentils become tender.
As the lentils are cooking, fry the onions till they start to get golden and crispy, then add them along with all of their oil to the pot of lentils.
To the pot, add half the chopped garlic, the bouillon cube, the cumin powder, allspice, and black pepper, then check the salt. Finally, add the sumac; you can increase this to your desired sourness.
Once the lentils are cooked, put in a couple handfuls of noodles. I use these wide egg noodles, called erişte in Turkish (coincidence? I think not!).
Add some water to the pot if needed so it’s not too thick. Let the noodles cook, stirring frequently so they don’t stick to the bottom. Once cooked, the texture of the dish should resemble a thick, soupy porridge. You can keep it thick, or thin it out with water if you prefer.
Finish it all off with the typical ‘ad7ah: fry the remaining garlic in some oil until it starts to turn golden, then pour it with all the oil into the pot of lentils and give it a stir. Garnish with fried onions and chopped cilantro or parsley. I like to serve this dish with a simple salad and fresh yogurt.
To make the noodles yourself: measure out two cups of flour, and mix in a teaspoon of salt. Gently add in water and mix until the dough comes together and can be rolled out. Roll it out as thinly as possible, then cut lengthwise into four or five sections, each about three inches wide. Sprinkle with flour, then stack the sections on top of each other, and slice across the width so you have a lot of shorter noodles :) Add them in according to the recipe above.
Oh, and the lovely salad bowl in the photo is handcrafted by my cousin-in-law Humna Mustafa, Creative Director at Diya Studio. Check out her website and Etsy page to see and purchase her beautiful pieces!
I love bulgur; it has great flavor and texture, is extremely easy to cook, and is very filling. Today’s recipe is for a Lebanese dish called Safsouf, that makes a delicious and healthy vegetarian pilaf to serve hot, or a great salad that can easily be packed for lunch.
The method of preparation varies from family to family, as well as regionally; the recipe below is how I prepare it. You can easily alter the spices to your tastes. Also, the quantities are very flexible.
Note: bulgur generally comes in three grades of coarseness. The medium or coarse bulgur works best for this recipe.
Saute crushed garlic, thinly-sliced onions, and cabbage in olive oil until soft. Add a handful of slightly-chopped walnuts or pecans, plus a teaspoon of tomato paste (optional). Add chopped parsley. Add equal amounts of allspice, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon to taste.
Add coarse bulgur, stir until well-incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour in enough water or stock to just cover the bulgur. Let come to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Cook until bulgur is tender.
It’s been almost a year since I posted a recipe on this blog, during which I got engaged, then married – much sooner than was initially planned! -, and moved to Turkey to pursue a masters degree in Turkish Studies. It’s been a hectic but rewarding chapter of my life, and I’ve really missed posting new recipes throughout.
I finally decided to make the commitment to try and update the blog regularly again, even if the interval between posts is longer than I would like. I’ve received comments and feedback from family, friends, and readers, who have both asked for more recipes, and have given me useful suggestions on how to improve my posts!
To start off, I’m sharing a very simple recipe for mtabbal (sometimes spelled mutabbal), a creamy roasted eggplant dip that makes a great appetizer or a side to grilled meat dishes. A lot of non-Arabic speakers might be familiar with the term Baba ghannouj, which is basically very similar. I hope you enjoy it!
Poke a few holes with a fork into two whole eggplants and roast in oven until the skins start to blacken. Peel them, discard skins, then mash up the insides in a bowl.
Add a spoonful of crushed garlic, some chopped parsley, three spoonfuls of tahini paste, the juice of two lemons, a bit of cold water, olive oil, and salt to taste. Mix well until all incorporated. Mix in some diced tomatoes if desired.
(If you don’t want to turn on your oven, you can roast the eggplants over a gas stove by placing the eggplant directly on the burner, and turning it every few minutes until cooked through.)
I love pasta, and was really excited when I first had pasta the way a lot of Palestinians make it: with yogurt and nuts! It might seem strange to a lot of people for a pasta sauce to be made using just plain yogurt, but it makes for a really light dish. We especially like it in the summer because it is served cold. It’s also super easy, and my brother and I had fun whipping it up quickly.
Note: everyone I have seen uses spaghetti for this dish, but we didn’t have any, so I just used penne pasta. It worked just fine :)
1 package of pasta (any kind you like)
half a kilo of ground meat
vegetable oil to brown the meat
1 tablespoon each of pepper, cinnamon, allspice + salt to taste
1 large onion, finely chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, finely crushed
1 large container of yogurt (more if you like the pasta more yogurt-y!)
half a bunch of parsley, finely chopped
3/4 cup of almonds (halved and skinned or slivered) and 1/4 cup of whole pine nuts
oil for browning the nuts
salt to taste
Boil the pasta in well-salted water. When it’s cooked, drain off the water.
In a big bowl, mix all of the yogurt and garlic. Add salt to taste. Stir in the cooked pasta. Combine till the pasta is well coated. If you like more yogurt or garlic, add more!
Lay the pasta with yogurt in a casserole/baking dish. It needs to be somewhat deep, so you can layer the ground meat, nuts, and parsley on top. Chill the dish of yogurt+pasta in the refrigerator.
When you’re ready to eat, heat some oil in a pan, then add the chopped onion, cooking until it becomes very soft and just barely starts to turn golden. Add the ground meat, and break it up with your spatula as it cooks. Cook it thoroughly, adding the pepper, cinnamon, allspice, and salt to taste. After it cooks, turn up the heat just a bit and let it brown till it gets a bit crispy, if you like. Spread the layer of cooked meat on top of the chilled pasta+yogurt. In the picture below, I had already started layering on the nuts..
In another frying pan, heat some oil and brown the pine nuts, then the almonds. You want them to be a nice golden color. Stir them constantly as they brown, because they burn easily. If you don’t have pine nuts, just use more almonds. That’s what we did! Layer the browned nuts on top of the layer of meat.
Finally, spread the chopped parsley in a layer on top of the nuts. This is the final step, and makes the dish look so pretty!
Bonus Recipe: Another way some Palestinians make pasta is by mixing crushed, dried mint, crushed garlic, and salt to taste in a small bowl. Then mix about a quarter cup of buttermilk into a large container of plain yogurt till you get a thick, saucy consistency (use less buttermilk if you like it thicker). Add the mint+garlic mixture to the yogurt sauce. Heat this sauce in a saucepan if you’d like to serve it hot; otherwise, it’s great cold too. They serve the sauce by spooning it over spaghetti, then sprinkling each serving with browned pine nuts. It’s fantastic and great if you don’t like meat!
I had mentioned the various yakhani, or stews, that Palestinians like to make. One easy yekhen is made using potatoes and parsley. It’s very simple and tastes delicious. My aunts usually don’t make it as a meal alone; they like to serve it next to something like stuffed chicken, but I think it’s perfectly fine served as a main course. I think it does the potatoes justice, since there are no heavy spices to cover up the light flavor of the potato. This is my aunt Hanan’s recipe for yekhen batata.
Potatoes, peeled and cubed
Vegetable oil for frying
Good quality chicken stock
Chicken bouillon cube, for extra flavor
salt&pepper to taste
Parsley, washed and chopped
Vegetable oil for ‘ad7ah
Heat oil for frying in a pot. When hot, put in the cubed potatoes and let them get golden brown.
Once fried, add them to a pot of hot chicken stock. Let the potatoes cook thoroughly in the stock until desired tenderness. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a bouillon cube if you want to add extra flavor. Then, add the chopped parsley.
Stir the parsley in. In a separate frying pan, heat some vegetable oil for the ‘ad7ah (explained in the post titled Bamyeh: Palestinian Okra). Once very hot, add several cloves of mashed garlic to the oil and let it get golden brown. Then, pour all the oil+garlic into the pot of potatoes and chicken stock. Watch out! It will hiss and sizzle very loudly! Stir it in, then add salt&pepper to taste.
You’re done! Serve with fresh bread or rice (preferably Egyptian or American short grain), and a salad.