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warm eggplant and capsicum salad

Cold winter days call for soul warming food. And with the beautiful, yet cold, winter that we have been living since a few weeks now, I find myself craving warm dishes, that taste a lot like home.
This warm eggplant and capsicum salad is quite easy and straightforward to make. It is an excellent vegetarian choice and can be prepared in very little time.

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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!

Mini Mnazzallet Batenjane – Aubergine Bites

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Mini Mnazzallet Batenjane

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The beautiful world of Levantine Cuisine

I can’t believe it’s taken me forever before finally being able to sit down and write this post (food was prepared, shot, and happily devoured more than a week ago :)). But last week was so busy it would have been totally impossible for me to write down not even one single letter. For as you must have most probably guessed by now, kids were off from school for a whole week and things have been a bit too crazy around at home. But happily, they are back to their beloved school now and life is back to normal this week. So here you go with a beautiful dish that I have been waiting impatiently to share on the blog.
And while I bought those baby aubergines with the intention of preparing mini Moussakka bites (I guess this will have to come in a future post), I ended up preparing a similar dish, suggested by my husband, and which I’m glad I made: Mnazzallet Batenjane. Mnazzallet Batenjane is normally made of fried aubergine slices topped with meat and chopped tomato, hence the similarity with Moussakka.
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Mini aubergine halves soaked in salty water

Besides being delicious, these heavenly bites (it hardly takes two bites to devour them) can be prepared the day before (mise en place of the ingredients) and then assembled the next day (or when it is time for them to be served). And they are perfect food option for gatherings and get-togethers. And the final touches of pomegranate and parsley sprinkles not only enriches the dish’s colors but also flavors.

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Fried mini aubergine halves

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Mini Mnazzallet Batenjane right out of the oven and ready for the final touches

For the Recipe
Ingredients
 
6-7 baby aubergines, halved & soaked in salted water
oil for frying
300 g minced meat
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried mint
1 tsp sweet spices
1 tbsp good quality pomegranate molasses
salt & pepper to taste
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp pine nuts
Seeds of half a pomegranate
a handful of roughly chopped parsley leaves
  • Remove the baby aubergines from water and discard of any excess water.
  • In a medium pan, heat oil for frying. Fry the baby aubergine halves till golden brown (I personally like them fried, but grilling the aubergine halves in the oven is another way to prepare them). Place on kitchen paper to get rid of excess oil, and set aside till meat topping is ready.
  • In a wide frying pan, heat the olive oil and then sauté the onion. Stir continuously till onion is caramelized. Add the minced meat. Cook for a few minutes before adding in the molasses, spices, and dried mint. Give it a good stir and continue to cook till meat is thoroughly cooked.
  • Heat the oven to 180°C. Lay the fried aubergine halves on a non-stick baking tray (or you can cover a baking tray with parchment paper as I did). Divide the meat on top of the aubergine halves. Top them with the chopped tomato & pine nuts.
  • Place the tray in the oven for about 15 minutes (pine nuts would start to get golden brown). Remove from oven and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds & parsley leaves. Serve immediately and indulge!
      Bon Appétit!
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Heavenly mini bites