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mjaddarah: a taste from home away from home

Mjaddarah (مدردرة – مجدرة), the “hungry man’s food”, is a simple yet very rich dish that is relatively popular in the Arab world and a food enjoyed by everyone. Classically served with yogurt and mint, Mjaddarah is a true delight.

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Reminding me of home, Mjaddarah has always been a favorite dish that I would delightfully have anytime, anywhere. And lately, I have been nostalgic and missing my mum’s cooking and so, naturally, have been craving this dish often. And I’m not ashamed to admit that, despite my love for this dish, I failed to make it a few times before. So being finally able to prepare it not only makes me happy knowing I can enjoy this dish whenever I want, but also give me a certain sense of pride.

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tomato, zucchini and yogurt for three vegetarian mezze dishes

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Rich in some of my childhood flavours, these three vegetarian mezze dishes are incredibly easy to prepare and represent an authentic taste of the Levantine cuisine. And they can be eaten on their own or served with some fresh lebanese pita bread.

So next time you plan a get together, make sure to include these three beautiful vegetarian dishes in your menu.

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slices of an unorthodox Palestinian Moussakhan

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One of my favourite and most beloved dishes is the Palestinian Moussakhan. A flavour-rich dish that is traditional to the Palestinian country-side. And with only a few but very rich components, the Moussakhan, prepared with a traditional type of nan bread (taboun), olive oil, onions, chicken, and the yummy and lemony soummak spice, has been a source of pride to many many people of the Palestinian countryside as it reflects at once, their generosity and the rich produce of their sacred land: olive oil.

And even though I truly believe that there is no better way to serve this dish than the traditional authentic way, I’m sharing with you today an unorthodox way to prepare it in the hope that soon, I will be able to share the real thing 🙂

Recipe

Ingredients

Onion Topping:
2 medium onions, halved & sliced
4 – 5 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soummak
juice of 1 lemon
salt & pepper according to taste

Chicken Topping:
400 g of boneless chicken, cut into rather small pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp soummak
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper according to taste

a few slices of country bread
3 tbsp olive oil
a few parsley leaves to garnish with

Onion topping: pour the olive oil in a medium frying pan put on medium heat. Add the sliced onions and sauté, stirring often, for a few minutes till all onions have been sautéd evenly. Lower the heat and the soummak and stir to mix well with the onions. Remove from heat. Add the lemon juice for a more lemony taste to the soummak. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep the sautéd onions in a well-sealed container to keep it warm.
Chicken topping: using the same pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat before adding the chicken pieces and sautéing it for a few minutes till they all have cooked thoroughly. Remove from heat. Add the soummak, lemon juice and season with salt & pepper according to taste.
Toast the bread slices. Then, using a food brush, spread some olive oil on the bread (and remember the more oil, the better :)). Top with the sautéd onions followed by the chicken. Sprinkle with parsley leaves and serve right away!
Tip: Optional, sprinkle with some roasted almonds and / or pines for a richer taste.

Bon Appétit!

My first Brick attempt à la Palestininne

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The first time I heard about the North-African specialty food, feuilles-de-brick, was not long time ago. And even though I might have known some of the recipes prepared by those most amazing sheets, I did not know how they were actually called or of what an important component they were to the North-African cuisine. But thanks to my little son’s French teacher, originally from Algeria, I learnt a lot about these wonderful feuilles-de-brick as she so passionately told me all about those sheets that I felt the urge to try some recipes right away. Only problem was I could not find them easily at grocery shops and it took me a while to finally do. But luck finally decided to smile at me and I was able to find some here in Dubai. It turns out that the closer we get to the month of Ramadan, the easier it should be to find them since they are widely used by the North African community during that period.
Whether savory or sweet, it seems there are endless recipes and ways of preparing dishes using the feuilles-de-brick (sky is the limit). However, for my first feuilles-de-brick adventure, I went for a Palestinian taste that I thought, just until a few days ago, was impossible to make at home: Tamrieyh.
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Always on top of my to-eat list while in Amman (in Jabal Amman, one of Amman’s oldest quarters, there is a small shop called Tamrieyt Omar, to where I used to go with my mum so to get the most delicious Tamrieyh ever), Tamrieyh has always been a mystery to me. A simple yet complex mix of flavor and texture. And until very recently, I was not able to figure out what its filling was actually made of.
A fan or not of oriental sweets, and you have not got the chance to try this beautiful Palestinian gem then I highly recommend trying to make it and celebrate yet another beautiful and elegant Levantine bite.
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For the Recipe:
Ingredients
 
6 sheets of feuilles-de-brick*
vegetable oil for frying
for the filling
 
1 tbsp butter
1 ½ cups fine semolina
1 ½ – 2 cups milk
¾ cup caster sugar
½ tsp good quality vanilla extract
  • In a medium pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Lower the heat and add the semolina. Stir continuously for a few minutes using a wooden spoon, till mixture consists of fine crumbs.
  • Add the sugar, vanilla and milk (start by pouring 1 ½ cups milk first then adding more if necessary) and continue to stir for a few minutes.
  • At this point, the mixture should pull back from the pan sides (just like in choux pastry).
  • Remove from heat and spread over a wide plate or tray covered with parchment paper. try to spread the mixture into a rectangle shape that is about 2.5 – 3 cm thick. Allow to cool.
  • Now cut the semolina filling into six relatively equal pieces. Preparing one Tamrieyh at a time, and working on a clean surface, spread one sheet of feuilles-de-brick and place one piece of the filling rather into the center of the the sheet and fold the sheet neatly over by folding first one side of the sheet over the filling, then the two opposite sides and then fold the fourth side over. Repeat with the remaining five sheets.
  • In a medium frying pan, heat some vegetable oil (just enough to cover the base of the pan) then add the Tamrieyh pieces one or two at a time (depending on the size of the pan). Fry for less than a minute on each side (you have to keep a close eye as Tamrieyh can burn easily). Once fried on both sides, move onto kitchen paper for a few minutes before serving them warm and sprinkled with icing sugar. Indulge!
       Bon Appétit!
 
*If can’t be found, use phyllo pastry sheets instead but unfortunately it won’t   result in the same taste nor texture.
 
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