A new post is long overdue. After the very labor-intensive stuffing recipes, I think it would be appropriate to add some quick and easy recipes that you can make any time of the day, in less than half an hour.
Shakshooka is a very simple and hearty egg dish that is made in different variations all over the Middle East. It is usually eaten as a breakfast food, but people make it for lunch and dinner too! The following recipe is the way my Taita makes Shakshooka. You should definitely try it out for a super quick and very satisfying meal.
3 tablespoons of olive oil or butter
1/2 a large onion, finely chopped
1/2 a chili pepper, chopped
1 large green pepper, diced
3-4 large tomatoes, diced
Heat the oil or butter in a frying pan. Add the onions and chopped chili peppers, and sautee until soft.
Add the tomatoes and green peppers, and sautee for a couple of minutes.
Cover and let cook on medium heat until the vegetables soften to desired texture.
When softened, dig out little holes in the vegetables with your spatula, then crack each egg into a hole. Add salt&pepper to taste, then cover again until the eggs cook.
When the eggs are cooked how you like them, you’re done!
Serve hot with fresh pita bread or toast, or fried potatoes. Perfect for a late lunch on a cold winter evening.
I always like to read menus at restaurants here in Amman and look out for the English typos. It’s funny when you see items like “pananas and milk”, “eggplane”, and my most recent favorite, “salvers”. My lit.- major friend thankfully pointed out that salver is an actual English word, albeit a bit archaic. The item itself, however, is a popular favorite among the people of Amman. The basic idea is to roast any combination of meat and vegetables in the oven to then be eaten with fresh bread. These roasts (or “salvers”! – called sawani in Arabic) are considered lighter to eat and easier to make compared to tabeekh – literally, “cooking.” My aunt Hala always reminds me that she and her husband much prefer these sawani, and as such she is a pro at making them. I’d like to post a recipe for one of her most simple roasts: meat and potatoes.
approx. 500 grams of cubed lamb or beef – you can also use your favorite cuts of chicken instead of red meat
approx. 500 grams of cubed, peeled potatoes
approx. 500 grams of cubed tomatoes
2 red onions, halved and finely sliced
1 green chili pepper, chopped (optional)
1-2 bell peppers (optional)
salt&pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons of allspice
1-2 teaspoons of yellow curry powder
a pinch of cardamom and cinnamon
approx. 2/3 cups of hot water
approx. 1/4 cup of vegetable or olive oil
Preparing the vegetables outside in Aunt Hala’s garden!
Toss with your hands so that the spices combine with all the other ingredients thoroughly.
Arrange the ingredients in the roasting pan such that the meat is on the bottom, and the vegetables are on top.
Pour the hot water and then the oil all over the ingredients in the pan, and then cover the pan with aluminum foil. Roast in a medium oven for approximately half an hour or until the meat is cooked thoroughly. If you want, you can uncover the pan at the end and turn on the broiler for a few minutes, so the vegetables blacken a bit on top.
Serve with fresh bread and a salad.
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.