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  • Almond and Fig

Updated: Jun 18, 2020


1 package frozen phyllo dough thawed For the filling 1 bag frozen spinach thawed 1 cup crumbled feta 1 red onion minced (you can sautée it or leave it raw) Salt and pepper to taste A few grates of fresh nutmeg Zest of one Lemon 2 tsp sumac 2 tbls pine nuts Nigella seeds or sesame seeds and flaky salt (optional) Olive oil for brushing

Filling: Squeeze the spinach until all the water comes out you can do that using a couple of paper towels. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, sumac, feta, pine nuts, onions, lemon zest.


Take 1 sheet of filo dough (make sure to cover the remaining sheets with a clean kitchen towel to prevent them from drying) Cut the sheet of phyllo into 3 even strips and brush with olive oil. Fold each strip in half creating a double layer. Place one teaspoon of the filling along the short side of the rectangle and roll creating a cigar ha! Brush the top with olive oil and add a Sprinkle of nigella seeds and flaky salt on top if you want to be fancy u know. Brush, fill, roll and repeat until you are done it goes by so fast. Line the cigars in a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a 350 oven for about 20 min until golden and crisp.

Dipping Sauce: 1 cup Greek yogurt 1/4 cup crumbled feta Juice and zest of one Lemon A drizzle of olive oil Whirl all ingredients in a blender or a mixer until smooth and fluffy Tip: Phyllo dough gets soggy after it sits out for a while just reheat in a toaster oven and enjoy

* These cigars are freezer friendly. Freeze them in a one sheet pan until frozen solid. Once frozen, pack in a freezer reusable bag. Don't defrost, reheat in a 350 oven until crisp and heated through 15-20 minutes.

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  • Writer's pictureMai

Baked Kiftah Meatballs with Potatoes and Vegetables

Kiftah is a kebab or meat mixture made up of only few ingredients. It is very popular, in fact its an obsession throughout the Middle East and the Arab world with slight variations. This version is made up of a mixture of ground beef, lamb or chicken, finely chopped parsley, chopped onions and a few spices.

Kiftah is not only delicious but is so versatile and used in so many dishes and preparations. This is the basic recipe for kiftah and is used in so many dishes in the Palestinian kitchen. Kiftah can be made into meatballs and added into soups and stews, made into kiftah burgers, baked with tahini or tomato sauce also grilled as a kiftah Kabab for BBQs. These meat patties can be shaped and cooked in so many ways.

This baked kiftah recipe is a one casserole dish and is part of an array of dishes that are essentially cooked and served in the same sanieh (tray) or a baking dish hence it’s name kiftah bi al Sanieh in Arabic meaning (kiftah baked in a tray). Making this dish a perfect weeknight meal. The meat can be prepared in advance and frozen up to 3 months. This way you have kiftah anytime you want just thaw in the fridge and cook according to the recipe. The vegetables and kiftah meatballs caramelize in the oven and the pan juices create the most delicious sauce.

Serve this dish with a simple chopped salad, Arab bread to mop up the juices and briny olives.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 45- 60 minute.

Serves 4


For the kiftah meatballs:

1 pound minced lamb or beef or a combination

1 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley from a small bunch

1 small onion finely diced or grated

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp All spice

Salt and pepper

1/4 tsp or few grinds of fresh nutmeg

1 tablespoon of red pepper paste (optional) or you can also use 1 Tsp tomato paste

For the casserole:

3 tbls olive oil

2 pounds medium potatoes about 4-5

1 onion thinly sliced into rounds

3 tomatoes cut into 1/2 inch thick slices

1 bell pepper thinly sliced into rounds

1 jalapeño cut into rounds (optional)


Preheat the oven to 400F

Let’s start by prepping our potatoes. Although you can just slice your potatoes and toss them in the oven. But I love the results of parboiling or partially boiling the potatoes . This method yields to creamy potatoes on the inside and crunchy and crispy on the outside.

To parboil your potatoes:

  • Start by placing your whole potatoes in a pot and cover them with water.

  • Throw in a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat to medium and continue boiling for about 10 minutes

  • Test your potatoes with the tip of a s knife if it goes in with slight resistance, they are ready for their next step.

  • Drain the water and let your potatoes cool enough to handle. Once the potatoes are cooled, cut into 1/2 thick slices.

To prepare the kiftah:

In a bowl, mix all the kiftah ingredients together until combined but don’t over mix. Spray your hands with cooking spray or olive oil and shape the mixture into golf size patties. Divide the kiftah into 12-14 equal size balls and flatten slightly. Each kiftah ball is about 2.5 Oz each or adjust to the size you like.

Tip: if kiftah mixture is sticky dip your fingers in a bowl of ice cold water or spray your hands with a bit of oil it will help smooth the kiftah balls.

In your baking dish, toss the sliced potatoes, sliced onions, sliced tomatoes and sliced peppers with 2 tbls of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange them in a single layer in the baking dish overlapping slightly.

Top the potatoes and vegetables mixture with the kiftah balls. Drizzle with the remaining one tbls of olive oil all over the top. Add 1/2 cup of water or broth to the bottom of the dish and bake covered until cooked through about 30 minutes then uncover for additional 15 minutes.

Check to make sure the potatoes are done and cooked all the way through.

To serve: spoon some of the kiftah meatballs, veggies on a plate, make sure you spoon some of that sauce (pan drippings) on top. Serve with a chopped salad, arab bread and olives.




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  • Writer's pictureMai

Creamy Asparagus & Jameed Soup

Spring is almost here, despite the still crisp cold days but the bright sun, the birds chirping, and snow melting are clear and promising signs of warmer days ahead. A stroll to the souk (market) and you start to find bundles of emerald green asparagus another indication of all the spring produce ahead.

Every year, when asparagus is in season (it’s now till May) a big pot of silky, cream-laced asparagus soup is always the first thing I make. This vibrant soup packs in the bright freshness I crave this time of year while still delivering all the comfort I expect from a creamy hot bowl of soup.

But this creamy asparagus soup is made without heavy cream, — it’s made with an unusual ingredient; Jameed yogurt that’s puréed with the softened asparagus to silky perfection.

Jameed yogurt (Arabic: جميد, literally means "hardened in Arabic") has a distinct fermented, slightly tangy and salty taste (I can possibly compare it ever so slightly to Pecorino Romano cheese just to give you an idea if you are not familiar with Jameed). The complex flavors of jameed compliments the fresh asparagus pretty well and gives this soup the creamy element that we love with flavors that are amplified , and you can’t get from heavy cream alone.

This soup is the perfect start for early spring because both the asparagus and the Jameed yogurt are in peak season. Jameed is produced by Bedouins during this time of the year when milk (goat or ewe’s milk) is at its freshest and is produced in surplus amounts.

Jameed yogurt is usually the main ingredient in Mansaf (the most beloved and national dish of Jordan). Mansaf is Always Served on a large platter called سدر covered with a thin flatbread, topped with a bed of ghee scented rice, a generous portion of melt in your mouth lamb and the Jameed sauce. More about the preparation of traditional mansaf on my IG story.

Drawing from Bedouin traditions, Jordanians and Arab hosts often prepare mansaf as a show of appreciation and hospitality for their guests. It is also commonly served for special occasions.

But today this hearty, full of flavor asparagus in jameed soup is served in hopes of warm weather, spring and a new set of fresh produce ahead ❤️

Asparagus & Jameed Soup

Serves 4 to 6

PREP TIME: 5 -10 minutes

COOK TIME 20 minutes to 25 minutes


  • 2 pounds fresh asparagus (about 2 bunches)

  • 1 onion finely chopped

  • 2 cloves of garlic minced

  • 2 tablespoons ghee

  • 1 tsp sumac

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper (Watch for your salt as the jameeed is pretty salty)

  • 4 cups low sodium or sodium free chicken or vegetable broth about 32 ounces

  • 17.6 Oz liquid Jameed**

**If you are not using prepared liquid Jameed

Make sure you don’t dilute with broth. This measurement is for a concentrated Jameed mixture

liquid Jameed: prepared brand you can purchase in the USA is Ziyad its a product of Jordan

Jameed balls ready for drying and use. Cooking jameed from a hard ball requires soaking and then blending till you get a smooth creamy consistency. to get real karak style jameed in the USA you can get it here


Wash your asparagus well and trim about 1-inch off the ends . The ends tend to be dry fibrous. You can reserve the ends to make a veggie stock if you wish . Chop your asparagus spears into bite size pieces about 1/2 am inch.

Finely chop the onion and mince 2 garlic cloves.

Melt the ghee in a Dutch oven or a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the asparagus stalks, garlic, salt, and black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. (Watch for your salt as the jameeed is pretty salty)

Pour in 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Then add in the liquid jameeed stir well to combine it will appear cloudy at first but it will come together quickly. Reduce the heat to simmer, and simmer uncovered until the asparagus is tender but still bright green, 8 to 12 minutes.

Using a hand held immersion blender, Or if you are using a regular blender make sure you then blend soup in batches and cover well so you don't burn yourself from the hot steam. Blend until you get the desired creaminess. Add the sumac and stir to combine.

Serve hot. I love to drizzle the top with a drizzle of warm ghee.

Jameed (Arabic: جميد, literally means "hardened") is a hard dried yogurt or laban often made from ewe or goat's milk. The traditional preparation of laban Jameed is done by Bedouin communities. The milk is kept in a fine woven cheesecloth to make a thick yogurt. Salt is added daily to thicken the yogurt even more and the outside of the yogurt-filled cheesecloth is rinsed with water to allow any remaining whey to seep through. After a few days of salting the yogurt, it becomes very dense and can be removed from the cheesecloth and shaped into round balls. It is then set to dry for a few days. If it is dried in the sun it becomes yellow; if it is dried in the shade it remains white. It is important that the jameed is dry to the core because any dampness can spoil the preservation process. Jameed is the primary ingredient used to make mansaf, the national dish of Jordan.

For a video on how jameed is made in a Palestinian Bedouin community near Hebron click here.


Season: You will start finding asparagus in the market late February to June, with April being the peak.

Picking Asparagus: Fresh asparagus will be bright green and crisp with no signs of shriveling or wilting. The tender tips may have a purplish cast, but they should be firm and tight, and not mushy.

Prepping Asparagus: The ends are thick and fibrous, just trim it and you can use it if you are making vegetable stock. Take take the end of the asparagus between your thumb and forefinger and bend until it breaks. Usually its right where the stalks turn from white into green. Then using that as an indication and line up all of the spears in a row and slice off the ends all at once

Storing Asparagus: Trim about an inch from the bottoms of the stalks and place them in a big jar with a little water in the bottom. Cover the top loosely with a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Change the water daily to help keep them crisp and vibrant. You can also wrap the ends with a damp paper towel and store the stalks in a plastic bag in the fridge.

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