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.
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.
I have been waiting for a looong time to post a recipe for kabsa, because I absolutely LOVE it. Kabsa combines fragrant, spiced hot rice with tender meat/chicken, and a very exciting (and spicy!) tomato chili sauce on the side. I can’t get enough kabsa! It’s also incredibly easy to make, and is a great dish to serve if you have a lot of people to feed. Serve it piled high on a huge platter, decorated with raisins and toasted almonds, and you’ve got a serious feast for your guests. We serve fresh yogurt, a simple salad, and a hot tomato-chili sauce on the side to complete the meal.
Kabsa is known as being a traditional Saudi Arabian dish, although some say it originated in Yemen. Other Gulf countries, like Kuwait and the UAE, make a variation of kabsa but they call it machboos. In Jordan, Palestinian families have started making it, and it has become very popular, especially for people who like their food with some heat in it! It is most commonly made with meat (usually lamb), but I like it a lot with chicken. My aunt Hanan makes absolutely amazing chicken kabsa, and I’m very happy to share her recipe with you now :) I know a lot – most? – Saudi recipes don’t add tomato to the stock that the rice is cooked in, but my aunt does, and it tastes very flavorful this way. I’ve made this recipe many times and it’s perfect! Make. This. Dish.
A couple notes:
Kabsa is usually made with basmati rice. I have found that for my aunt’s recipe, American long grain seems to work better. Basmati just ends up being a bit dry for my taste, but you can use basmati if you prefer it.
Kabsa requires a special mix of spices. If you live in an Arab country, just ask for “kabsa spice mix” at the spice market/spice section of store. In the US, most Arabic/Middle Eastern grocery stores sell prepared kabsa spices, but I think making your own mix is just as easy and is definitely more fresh.
Here is how to make a kabsa spice mix (the spices will differ from household to household):
Process equal parts of the following spices in a spice grinder/food processor:
ground red pepper or red pepper flakes
also, 2-3 small dried black lemons
also, a lesser amount of ground cinnamon
Alternatively, you can just combine all of the above ingredients if you buy them each ground and ready to go. Also, lessen the amount of peppers used if you like it less hot.
And now, for Unbelievable Chicken Kabsa:
1 chicken, washed properly and cut up into 4-6 pieces (or you can use a package of thighs or whatever cut you like best)
1 large onion, finely chopped
4-5 tablespoons of vegetable oil for browning the onions in
5-6 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
Kabsa spice mix
extra teaspoon of turmeric
extra cardamom pods for extra flavor (crack each pod open slightly with your teeth so the flavorful seeds can get into the food)
4 bay leaves
salt to taste
approx 2 pounds of American long grain rice (wash it, soak for about 15 mins, then drain off the water)
Sautee the onions in the vegetable oil until soft and transparent.
Add the pieces of chicken, and let them brown. Add the chopped tomatoes, the spices, the tomato paste, the cardamom pods, the extra teaspoon of turmeric, the bay leaves and salt to taste to the pot.
Pour in warm water until the chicken is just covered, and give it a stir. Turn the flame up to high. Let the contents of the pot come to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low and cover the pot.
Let the chicken cook – about half an hour.
When thoroughly cooked, scoop the pieces of chicken out of the pot and put off to the side. Pour the rice into the pot of spiced tomato-chicken stock. Turn up the flame, let it come to a boil, then cover the pot and turn the heat way down to very low. Add some more salt here if you want. Let the rice cook for about 15 minutes, then check it, picking at it with a fork. If it’s dry but is still not cooked, add some more water and re-cover. If it’s cooked, you’re done!
To serve: (reheat the chicken pieces in the oven upon serving)
We pile the rice high on a large serving platter, then arrange the pieces of chicken on top. Sprinkle fat yellow raisins and golden toasted almonds on top for garnish (I don’t like raisins so I always leave them out).
Sides you must serve with kabsa:
Simple green salad: diced tomato and cucumber mixed with chopped lettuce and parsley, dressed with lemon juice, salt, and a bit of olive oil.
Our version of Daqous: a spicy tomato chili sauce. To make our version of Daqous: in a blender, puree 2 large tomatoes, 4 large cloves of garlic, one hot green chili pepper, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Serve immediately.
Yeah. Chicken Kabsa. Must eat now.
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 :)