Middle Eastern cooking

Shish Taouk


Shish Taouk Sheesh Tawook Lebanese Style Chicken Kababs

Delicious Middle Eastern Kabobs – Lebanese style. Superb as appetiser, starter or make a meal of it. And what to say of sandwiches, which are at the heart of middle eastern food and lifestyle. Just slather the pita bread with Toum and pile on the shish taouk kabobs and salads and pickles for a satisfying and delicious snack or meal!

Ingedients

  • 1 Kg. Boneless chicken breasts
  • 6 tbsp. yogurt
  • 1 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 small slice of lemon with the peel
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, if available.  If not use regular vinegar
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. garlic paste
  • 2 tsp. white pepper or black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. ginger garlic paste
  • ½ tsp. oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp. chilli powder or paprika
  • 2 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste

Method

  1. Cut the chicken into 1” cubes.
  2. Mix all the ingredients from yogurt to tomato paste and mix well into the chicken cubes. 
  3. Marinate for 4 to 6 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. 
  4. Heat the grill. 
  5. Skewer the chicken and grill till light brown. 
  6. Turn over and brown the other side. 
  7. Serve with grilled tomatoes, onion, olives, cucumber, olives, etc.
  8. Serve as a appetizer or accompaniment to any main meal.
  9. Have with pita bread, spread with Toum (Garlic Sauce) and green salads.

Toum


Traditional Homemade Lebanese Garlic Sauce

Toum (Garlic Sauce) usually used as a dip for grilled chicken, meat, etc. So creamy and fluffy and ah the taste… simply lip-smacking, you can just eat and lick it as it is. You would never believe it is homemade! Serve with Shish Taouk, Souvlaki chicken, Crispy fried chicken and any grilled meats or roasted vegetable. Slather on pita bread sandwiches or serve as a regular dip!

Traditional homemade garlic sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup iced water
  • 3 cups oil, like canola, sunflower

Method

  • Peel garlic and remove the germ if desired (makes the taste less sharp) by cutting in half and scooping out the germ in the centre of the garlic.  I skipped this step today due to lack of time.
  • Place the garlic with salt in a blender and process till garlic is smooth, use the lemon juice at intervals to facilitate movement of the garlic. 
  • Add a little water if the lemon juice is not sufficient.  Adding more lemon juice may make it too sour.
  • Once the garlic becomes a smooth paste, start adding the first cup of oil in a continuous drizzle while the blender is running. 
  • Stop the blender to give it a rest.
  • Then continue adding the remaining oil alternating with the iced water till all oil and water are incorporated. 
  • The paste should be light and fluffy by now.  
  • If not add one egg white and run the blender for 2 minutes to achieve the fluffy consistency.
  • Transfer to a sterilized glass jar or a container and refrigerate. 
  • Use for a month, if it lasts that long! 
  • This recipe makes a large quantity of toum.  So it would be better to try with half or quarter of the recipe. 
  • But bear in mind that if the toum doesn’t become thick and fluffy, the garlic mixture should not be wasted, use it in cooking where garlic paste (with tartness) is required.

Six Breakfast Sandwiches to kickstart your day


Six Breakfast Sandwiches to kickstart your day!

Quick and Easy with minimum preparation!

Make a meal of these sandwiches, for brunch, lunch, dinner or simply as a quick snack to satiate you.  If you wish to cut down on the carbs, have them as “open sandwiches”, using only one slice of bread. Enjoy these crisp, crunchy sandwiches with various fillings with fresh ingredients that can be adapted to suit your taste. Instead of tomatoes, use cucumbers, jalapenos or gerkins. I am partial to fresh basil and like to use it in everything if I have it on hand. You can substitute basil with parsley or fresh coriander. Feel free to use your preferred sauces like, tomato, mayo, mustard, etc. to suit your taste.

  1. Tapenade and Feta Cheese Sandwich with Zaatar (Wild Thyne or Oregano)

Ingredients – Per Sandwich

2 Slices bread

2 tomato slices

2 tbsp. crumbled Feta cheese

2 to 3 tbsp. Black Olive Tapenade

1 tsp. Zaatar

2 tsp. olive oil

Lettuce, fresh basil and cherry tomatoes for serving

Method

Apply Tapenade to the bread slices.  Put one tbsp. olive oil on a hot pan and place the bread slice tapenade side up.  Spread the crumble feta cheese, sprinkle the zaatar, drizzle some olive oil and top with the tomato slices.  Place the second slice of bread on top of the tomato slices tapenade side down.  Apply olive oil to the top of the bread.  By now the underside of the sandwich should be brown.  Turn over and toast both sides.  Serve crisp olive tapenade and feta cheese sandwich with soft succulent centre, with some iceberg lettuce and fresh basil.

2. Grilled Pepperoni Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients – Per sandwich

2 Slices Bread, of your choice

2 slices cheese

8 slices pepperoni

Butter to coat the bread

Dijon Mustard

Method

Butter one side of the bread and place on a skillet or pan, buttered side down.  Place 1 slice of cheese and 8 slices of pepperoni on the top of the bread.  (You may broil the pepperoni for ½ to 1 minute in the microwave if you wish).  Top the pepperoni with a slice of cheese.  Cover the open-faced sandwich with a lid.  Spread some Dijon mustard on the second slice of bread.  When the underside of the open-faced sandwich is brown, top the sandwich with the other slice of bread, mustard side down.  Butter the upper side of the bread and turn to brown the other side.  The cheese should be melted by now.  Remove and serve immediately when brown and crisp on both sides.

3. Grilled Halloumi Tapenade Sandwich

Ingredients – per sandwich

2 slices Bread

3 slices Halloumi Cheese

2 to 3 slices tomato

Iceberg lettuce (or any lettuce you have at hand)

Some fresh basil

2 tbsp. tapenade

Olive oil to brush the bread

Method

Grill the halloumi slices on a hot pan till brown on both sides. Brush the bread slices with olive oil and spread tapenade on the other side of the bread.  Place the olive oil side on a hot pan with the tapenade facing up.  Top it with the tomato slices, lettuce, basil and halloumi and cover with the second slice of bread, olive oil side facing up.  When brown on the underside, flip the sandwich over and toast till brown.  Serve immediately, crisp and warm on the outside and crunchy, salty and tangy on the inside!

P.S.:  I am partial to fresh basil and use it in everything if I have it at home.  Feel free to use any fresh herbs of your choice.

4. Tuna Melts

Ingredients – for one sandwich

1 small tin Canned Tuna (in sunflower oil)

1 small Onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp. Mayonnaise, or as required

1 green chilli, finely chopped (optional)

1 tsp. Sweet relish (optional)

1 tsp. Dijon Mustard (optional)

2 slices of tomato

Fresh Basil

1 slice cheese

Method

Put the tuna alongwith the oil in a bowl, add the chopped onion and green chilli and mash to a paste.  Mix with mayonnaise and the sweet relish and mustard, if using.  The tuna would taste as good though, without the relish and mustard.  But if you love their complex flavors, you would enjoy these additional flavors.   Butter one side of the bread and place on a heated griddle, buttered side down.  Top with the tuna mayo paste, tomato slices and cheese slice.  Add the fresh basil and cover with the second slice of bread, buttered side up.  Flip the sandwich over when the underside is brown and toasted.  Brown both sides and serve hot and crunchy with the soft juicy delicious tuna filling.  Serve with some crisps or potato chips.

For variation: Add gherkins or jalapenos instead of tomatoes

5. Grilled Egg & Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients – for one sandwich

2 slices bread

2 eggs

Salt and pepper for the eggs

2 tomato slices

Butter to spread on the bread

Method

N.B: You need to use a large skillet for this recipe so you get enough of the egg omlete to fold over the sandwich.

Grease the skillet with a little butter and add the beaten eggs seasoned with salt and pepper and spread evenly over the pan.  Place one slice of bread buttered side up in the centre of the egg omlete.  When the egg browns lightly and sets completely, flip over so that the buttered side of the bread is now touching the pan . Fold the egg over the four sides of the bread. Top with tomato slices and fresh basil (or lettuce or baby spinach) and a slice of cheese. Place the second slice buttered side up on top of the cheese slice and turn the sandwich over the brown both sides.  Serve hot and crisp with some green salad or sprouts salad if you wish to serve it as an express lunch or dinner!

6. Halloumi Lettuce Wrap

Ingredients – for one wrap

1 tortilla wrap

Mayonnaise or mayo Sriracha, etc as desired to spread over the wrap

3 to 4 Tomato slices, grilled

3 to 4 Grilled Halloumi

Lettuce, fresh basil, (or coriander leaves or mint)

Method

Place the tortilla on a warm pan on low heat.  Drizzle mayonnaise as required and place on one end of the tortilla, grilled halloumi slices, tomato slices, lettuce and basil. Fold into half and serve immediately.

Quick Breakfast Tortilla Wrap


Quick Breakfast Tortilla Wrap

This easy and quick breakfast is ready in minutes! Enjoy as a snack or for dinner or supper.

For variation, use chapatis or phulkas instead of tortillas.

Quick Breakfast Tortilla Wrap

Ingredients

To make one wrap – per person

  • 1 Tortilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 slices cheese
  • A handful fresh baby spinach
  • 2 or more slices of cold cuts (beef, pork, chicken ham, smoked turkey, mortadella, etc.)
  • A pinch Salt & pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. butter

Method

  1. Break the eggs into a bowl, season with salt and pepper. 
  2. Heat a pan, add butter and pour the beaten eggs into the pan. 
  3. Immediately place the tortilla over the egg and quickly turn the tortilla over (must use your fingers for this) so it is coated with the egg on both sides.
  4. Now fry for a minute till egg on the underside is light brown. 
  5. Flip the tortilla over and place 2 slices of cheese side by side at the end nearer to you. 
  6. When cheese melts slightly, top with spinach and 2 or more slices of cold cuts, as per your taste. 
  7. Carefully transfer the tortilla to a board and form into a compact roll, beginning from the side with the filling. 
  8. Cut diagonally into two halves and serve immediately. 
  9. Ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard sauce may be added as per taste. 
  10. I prefer it plain.

Daoud Basha


Daoud Basha

Daoud Bash – Lebanese Meatballs in Tomato Pomegranate Molasses Sauce

Ingredients

  • For Meatballs:
  • 1 Kg. minced meat (Beef or Lamb)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 green chillies, chopped
  • ½ cup parsley (or coriander) leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. all spice powder) or 1 tbsp. garam masala powder
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon powder) instead of all spice and cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pepper powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil to sear the meatballs
  • Potato Chunks:
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
  • For the gravy sauce:
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. all spice powder) or 1 tbsp. garam masala powder
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon powder) instead of all spice and cinnamon
  • ¼ cup tomato paste (or 2 large tomatoes, chopped & pureed and 1 ½ tbsp. tomato paste or increase the tomatoes to substitute the paste)
  • 1 tbsp. pomegranate molasses (substitute with vinegar or lemon juice)
  • Fried potato chunks
  • ½ capsicum each (any colours), cubed
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Parsley or coriander leaves to garnish

Method

  1. Mix all the meatball ingredients and make lemon sized balls. 
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan and brown the meatballs turning carefully. Remove and keep aside. 
  3. Add the potatoes to the same oil and brown. Remove and keep aside.
  4. Take a wide dish, heat it and add 1 tbsp. olive oil. 
  5. Fry the chopped onion and garlic for a 2 minutes, add the spice powders and salt and saute. 
  6. Stir in the tomato puree or paste and cook till moisture evaporates. 
  7. Add the pomegranate molasses and mix well. 
  8. Place the meatballs in a single layer. 
  9. Pour enough hot water to cover the meatballs.
  10. Bring to a boil, lower flame and cook for 30 minutes, till meat is cooked and sauce thickens.  Stir occasionally. 
  11. Add the potatoes and capsicums and adjust seasoning. 
  12. Cover and cook further 10 minutes. 
  13. Garnish with parsley and serve hot with rice, bread or pasta.

Arabian Lamb Stew


Arabian Lamb Stew Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg. Lamb/Mutton
  • 1 Large onion, chopped
  • 4 Garlic cloves, chopped
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 large potato, cubed
  • 2 Zucchinis, sliced into thick slices
  • 2 Carrots, sliced into thick slices
  • Salt to taste
  • 5 whole cardamoms
  • 5 whole cloves
  • ½ tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp. Lebanese 7 spice mix (or garam masala)
  • 2 tbsp. Olive oil

Method

  1. Clean, cut and wash lamb. Drain and set aside. 
  2. Heat a pan and add the chopped onion, fry till light brown. 
  3. Add the lamb and cook on high till the water almost dries up and lamb changes color. 
  4. Add the whole spices and garlic and stir. 
  5. Add the tomato paste and water and let it boil, lower heat and cook for one hour. 
  6. Then add the potatoes, zucchini & carrots, and salt and cook further 15 to 20 minutes. 
  7. Add some hot to thin the gravy if required. 
  8. When meat and vegetables are tender, turn off heat. 
  9. Serve hot with rice or bread.

Mhullabiya


Mhallabiyyeh – Creamy Rice Pudding

Mhallabiya is a famous and very common dessert in Middle Eastern Cooking. It is very simple and easy to make and result is almost like the Indian ‘Phirni’. Several ways to make it, and is usually made with rice flour, rice paste, corn flour which makes the pudding smooth and thick. I have used rice rava for the grainy texture.

An Arabian dessert

Ingredients

  • 1 litre milk
  • 125 gms. sugar
  • 10 gm. Rice flour (or paste)
  • 1 tbs. orange blossom water or rose water
  • Nuts or fruit to serve

Method

  1. Take a pan and add the milk along with the sugar and rice and dilute it well. 
  2. Place on fire and cook till thick and creamy and the mixture coats the spoon. 
  3. Will thicken further upon cooling. 
  4. Add the orange blossom water and stir. 
  5. Transfer immediately to individual or a large serving bowl. 
  6. Garnish with nuts and cherries or top with fruit cocktail.

Imam Bayildi


Extraordinary dishes prepared with ordinary vegetables!!

Imam Bayildi translated The Fainting Imam, the name given to this Eggplant (Brinjal/Aubergine) preparation originates from one of the stories on the origins of this dish. It is said that the Imam passed out when he tasted this simple but flavorful dish, although not certain if it was due to the amount of olive oil or from the delicious taste!

Imam Bayildi (The Fainting Imam)

Blanch, peel and chop tomatoes. Chop parsley/coriander leaves. Remove stems and peel strips of skin lengthwise from the brinjals to get a striped effect. Cut lengthwise stopping short of the edge. Place the brinjals in salted water to avoid turning brown. Cut the onions into wedges. Chop the garlic. 

  • Heat half the olive oil and fry the onion till nearly transparent. Add the garlic and fry for a minute. Add the tomatoes and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper and sprinkle parsley/coriander leaves all over. 
  1. In a frying pan, heat remaining oil over high heat. Drain the eggplants well and fry until lightly brown on all sides but still firm. Cool the eggplants slightly and stuff the onion mixture as much as possible into the eggplants. Place the eggplants over the remaining mixture. Sprinkle the lemon juice, sugar and ½ cup water, cover and place on medium-low heat for 45 minutes.

Imam Bayildi

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3 long medium-large eggplants
  • 3 large onions
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 4 tomatoes
  • Large bunch parsley or coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp. black pepper powder
  • 1 lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup olive oil

Method

  1. Blanch, peel and chop tomatoes. 
  2. Chop parsley/coriander leaves. 
  3. Remove stems and peel strips of skin lengthwise from the brinjals to get a striped effect. 
  4. Cut lengthwise stopping short of the edge. 
  5. Place the brinjals in salted water to avoid turning brown. 
  6. Cut the onions into wedges. 
  7. Chop the garlic. 
  8. Heat half the olive oil and fry the onion till nearly transparent. 
  9. Add the garlic and fry for a minute. 
  10. Add the tomatoes and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. 
  11. Add salt and pepper and sprinkle parsley/coriander leaves all over. 
  12. In a frying pan, heat remaining oil over high heat. 
  13. Drain the eggplants well and fry until lightly brown on all sides but still firm. 
  14. Cool the eggplants slightly and stuff the onion mixture as much as possible into the eggplants. 
  15. Place the eggplants over the remaining mixture. 
  16. Sprinkle the lemon juice, sugar and ½ cup water, cover and place on medium-low heat for 45 minutes.
  17. If necessary add a little water to prevent from drying.
  18. Ideally served with Pita bread, goes well with chapatis or any Indian bread.

Extraordinary dishes prepared with ordinary vegetables. Also check out Aloo Chutneywale and Musallam Phool Gobi.

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