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MINCED MEAT MAKHLOUTA SOUP

Makhlouta, which literally means ‘mixed’, is a levantine traditional vegetarian soup that is typically made of a mixture of dried vegetables such as lentils and beans. With the addition of some meat, this beautiful soup is best enjoyed during the cold season of autumn and winter.

Recipe

ingredients:

about 100 g minced meat 2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed
1 cup red lentils, washed and drained
1/4 cup rice, washed and drained
1/4 cup bulgur, washed and drained
2 tsp ground cumin
salt & pepper, according to taste
4 – 5 cups water
Lemon juice & slices (optional)

preparation:

In a medium to large saucepan put over medium heat, sauté the minced meat for a about 7 – 10 minutes, stirring often. Set sautéd meat in a small bowl aside.
Using the same saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes stirring often. Add the lentils, rice, bulgur and stir frequently for another few minutes.
Add the cumin. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour about 4 – 5 cups of water to the lentil and rice mixture. Couver the saucepan with a lid. Lower heat and cook for about 15 minutes.
Once the lentil and rice mixture has been thoroughly cooked, you can add the minced meat to it. Cook for a few minutes further.
Serve the soup hot with a slice of lemon (optional: add a few drops of lemon juice to the individual serving bowls).
Enjoy!

fresh coriander meatballs & sauce

Meatballs 1

Fresh Coriander Meatballs & Sauce

Fresh Coriander Meatballs & Sauce

Meatballs in Coriander and Pinenut Sauce
I remember when I was a kid, I used to get confused between fresh coriander (cilantro) and parsley as their leaves look very similar, despite the very distinctive flavour and aroma of coriander. Of course that is no more the case (fortunately!), but now I find it amusing to ask my kids to tell the difference between them when we go grocery shopping.

But the truth remains that till about a decade ago, I was never in love with coriander. And it was only after I met Ali, my husband, that I discovered my hidden love for this most amazing herb. For the way he finds pleasure in adding fresh coriander to different kind of dishes intrigued me and made me want to do my own discoveries.

Now, obsessed with coriander, I not only add it to as much recipes as I can, but I even find myself creating recipes with coriander as its main ingredient. However, it seems I’m not the only to have (or to ever have had) a crash on coriander. Most probably native to the Mediterranean basin, this herb and its seeds seem to have been the obsession of different civilisations, like the Pharaohs and Greeks, for both their culinary and medicinal uses.

Meatballs 2

Meatballs 3
For the Recipe:

Ingredients

Meatballs:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped
500 g mince meat
2 1/2 tsp sweet spices
Salt & pepper, according to taste

Coriander Sauce:
4 cups fresh coriander leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp pine nuts
Salt & pepper, according to taste

1 cup meat stock
To prepare the meatballs: in a large frying pan, heat the olive oil then sauté the chopped onion for a few minutes stirring continuously till onion has browned a bit and soften. Add the garlic and chopped coriander and sauté for one minute further. Pour the mixture into a large bowl then add the meat, sweet spices and season with salt & pepper. Mix well using your hands, then shape the mixture into bite-size balls (about 32 – 36 small balls). Using the same frying pan, cook the meatballs over medium heat, stirring often, for about 8 – 10 minutes (or till balls are golden brown). Remove the meatballs from the pan and keep in an air-tight container to keep them warm while preparing the coriander sauce.

To prepare the sauce: still using the same pan, sauté the chopped coriander and garlic for a couple of minutes before adding in the pine nuts. Season with salt & pepper and cook further over low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously.
Return the meatballs to the frying pan, add the meat stock and cook further over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
Serve right away with plain white rice or with some nice fresh pita bread!

Bon Appétit!

Sometimes, all you need is a Harira Soup

Harira soup_DSC0059

Harira Soup شوربة الحريرة

Originating from Andalusia الأندلس, Harira حريرة is a heart warming soup that made its rich journey all the way to North Africa, namely Morocco and Algeria, to become yet another magical flavor of the exquisite North African Cuisine.  

Widely prepared during the month of Ramadan, and during the winter season (which is far from being the case in Dubai), this beautiful food brought me comfort and peace after a few stressful and busy weeks. And it was one of those kinds of dishes that fill your home, and heart along, with beautiful aroma. 

Harira soup_DSC0072

Harira Soup

This soup takes some time to prepare (mise en place of the ingredients). But once you start bringing this soup together (mainly when adding the saffron to your soup basic mixture and having the magical smell of oriental spices invading your kitchen), you realize that this soup is so worth the work and that it just cant go wrong.

I have to admit though that it would normally be more interesting to work with dried chickpeas (about half a cup chickpeas soaked in water overnight), but I went for the road more taken and thus took the easier option (canned peas). Sorry! 


For the Recipe

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

40 g butter

1 large brown onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, trimmed and finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 cm fresh ginger, grated

1 ½ tsp freshly ground cinnamon

½ tsp freshly ground pepper

½ tsp saffron threads

1 tsp salt, or to taste

350 g lamb meat, diced

1 can of chickpeas, washed and drained

2 large tomatoes, finely chopped

½  Ltr chicken stock

1 ½ Ltr hot water

½ cup green lentils, washed and drained

½ cup white basmati rice, washed and drained

a generous handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped, plus some extra leaves for garnish

zest of 1 lemon

juice of ½ lemon

  • In a large saucepan and over medium heat, heat the butter and olive oil, till butter has melted, sautée the onions, celery, and garlic. Stir with a wooden spoon for about 5 – 7 minutes, till onions start to soften. Add in the ginger, cinnamon, pepper, and saffron. At this magical moment, the smell will tell you you are on the right way to heavenly food. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the diced lamb meat. Sautee for about 5 minutes stirring continuously till meat is brown. add the chickpeas and tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. 
  • Pour the chicken stock and water into the the pan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let cook for about 20 minutes.
  • Add the lentil and cook for another 15 minutes before adding in the rice. Cook further for about 10 – 15 minutes. 
  • Remove from heat and add the lemon zest, juice and coriander. Give it a stir before serving the soup garnished with coriander leaves.

         Bon Appétit!