• Almond and Fig

Updated: Jun 19, 2020


This is my grandmother's smoked tomato Baba Ghanouj. This is similar to the traditional Baba Ghanouj but instead of tahini you add tomatoes. The smoked creamy Aubergines, the sweet summer tomatoes and a nice zesty kick from the fresh garlic and jalapeños makes this dip addictive. It's often served part of a mezze platter or spread or as a dip accompanying grilled meats with lots of charred pita bread. Its also great as a dip with vegetables, and crackers and also delicious on top of a crostini. But as for my grandmother she enjoyed it as a salad with a hunk of bread, radishes, cucumbers and olives for lunch on hot summer days.

Ingredients:

4 vine ripe tomatoes

2 large eggplants

3 cloves of garlic minced

1-2 jalapeño (optional)

Juice of one lemon (plus more to taste)

1 fresh tomato diced for garnish

3 tbls chopped parsley

3 tbls chopped fresh mint

Salt, pepper and 4 tbls olive oil

Directions:

Oven method:

Preheat the oven to 400 brush the tomatoes, jalapeno's & eggplants with olive oil, salt and pepper. Pierce the eggplant with a knife in a few spots so it doesn't burst in the oven. Roast for About 20-30 minutes until they are charred on the outside and the eggplant is creamy on the inside. To know of the eggplants are done press on the skin of its soft its done. Or pierce it with a knife if its goes through its also done.

Gas stove top or grill method (open flames):

This method will yield to a smokier flavor. Place the tomatoes, eggplants and jalapenos straight on the open flames until charred and skin blisters on all sides rotating your vegtables often. This process could take 5-10 minutes. The longer you char the vegetables the smokier they taste.

* A helpful tip: if you are using your gas stove top line it with Aluminum foil cutting an opening where your stovetop flame is. This will catch any drips from the vegetables and makes clean up easier. I also have seen stove top aluminum liners at kitchenware stores feel free to use those as well.

No matter what method you decide to use, let your veggies rest and cool. You can place them in a bowl covered with cling wrap. This will allow the skin to sweat and therefore it will be removed easily.

After the vegetables have cooled, the skin should come off pretty easy. On your chopping board place the eggplants, roasted tomatoes, and jalapeños. Using your knife chop the vegetables you can leave them as smooth or as chunky as you wish. Add the lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper and 2 tbls of olive oil, add half the herbs gently mix all ingredients together.

Garnish with the fresh tomatoes, the rest of the herbs and a good drizzle of olive oil.

This dip is perfect served part of a mezze platter, with grilled meats, as a dip with pita bread and cut up veggies or simply on top of a crostini.

Keeps refrigerated for up to 3-5 days

#dip #vegan #vegetarian #vegtables #glutenfree #grainfree #mezze

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  • Almond and Fig

Updated: Dec 31, 2020


Hummus in Arabic literally means chickpeas. The word hummus describes the legume itself. Hummus is a staple in homes all over the Middle East. Every family and every Hummus café takes pride in their recipe. But hummus is humble and made from basic ingredients. and perhaps its the most popular dip to travel all the way from the Middle East to the U.S.

This staple is eaten with most of meals in Arab homes. Its definitely key at the brunch or breakfast table. My mom often packed our hummus for school slathered in a pita pocket cut into two perfect halves packed with cucumbers and tomatoes on the side. Hummus is packed in plant based protein, fiber, iron and B vitamins, plus the tahini paste is loaded with calcium, zinc, copper making it an ideal dish for school lunches or as part of any healthy diet.

There are so many variations of hummus, hummus with beets, red peppers, avocado you name it .. But to create your own version one needs to learn the basic recipe. This is the one I grew up eating and will remain my favorite variation.

Soak hummus with baking soda overnight or at least for 8 hours

Boil the hummus in water until so tender and the skin starts to separate. Reserve some of the cooking liquid. make sure you remove any of the white foam on top from the baking soda.

Add the basics: Good quality Tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and cumin (optional)

Creamy Hummus Recipe:

2 cups dried chickpeas

2 tsp baking soda

1 cup Tahini paste *

2 cloves of fresh garlic (adjust to taste) *

Juice of two lemons* (more to taste if you want your hummus more tangy)

salt to taste

2 tbls olive oil

ice cubes (up to 5)

To garnish:

cumin

paprika

a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Toasted pine nuts

Directions:

- Place the chickpeas in a bowl and cover with water. Add 1 tsp baking soda and let it soak overnight for best results or at least 8 hours.

- Drain the chickpeas and rinse under cold water

- In a pot combine the chickpeas, and the additional teaspoon of baking soda, mix to combine. Add enough water to cover, bring the pot to a boil over high heat. cook skimming the white foam as it develops. Boil for an hour or until the chickpeas are tender (they should fall apart if you squish them between your fingers) and the skin starts to separate. the cooking time will depend on the type and size of chickpeas you use. Cooking chickpeas is delicate. Cooking them for too long will result in a runny hummus and i think it looses some of its tastes. too hard the hummus will not be creamy. you want them to fall apart when squished between your fingers.

- Drain the chickpeas reserving the cooking liquid.

- you can add water to your chickpeas a few time to get rid of the falling skin, just like you would when you are soaking rice, this step will also help cool your hummus down so you can blend it.

- This step is optional: you could also go the extra step to rub the chickpeas between your fingers to remove their skins. But i never have enough patience to do this and I find that if you cook your chickpeas properly you can skip this step and still get a creamy smooth hummus.

- make sure the hummus is at room temperature before you blend it. If you blend hummus while hot or warm it will yield to a gummy consistency.

- In a food processor or a strong blender start by adding the chickpeas, blend until completely smooth and creamy. Add the tahini, garlic, salt and lemon juice. start by adding half the amount and then adjust to taste. Blend until you get a creamy texture, drizzle in 1-2 tbls of good extra virgin olive oil, this will help with the creamy texture plus it will add value to the taste. Add in a few ice cubes this help brighten the hummus.

- Scrape the bowl, adding a few tablespoons at a time of the cooking liquid until you get the creamy consistency you like. This process could take 5-8 minutes.

- Adjust the seasoning according to taste. Check the salt, and lemon juice add more if you need to.

Storage: Hummus will last up to 3 days in the fridge in an airtight container drizzled with olive oil.

Recipe Notes:

* Hummus can last a lot longer in the fridge if you skip yep i am going to say it ..close your ears if you cant handle it but skip the lemon juice and garlic. and instead add 2 teaspoons of citric acid. In Palestine the hummus is always served with "dagga" which is a simple sauce that consists of garlic, olive oil and sometimes jalapenos which goes to confirm that restaurant style hummus doesn't use garlic or lemon sorry for the shocker.

* Tahini tends to thicken things up, to loosen up your hummus add more cold hummus cooking liquid or ice water. if hummus mixture is too thin add more tahini.

To plate:

Spoon your hummus in the middle of a shallow dish, using the back of your spoon push the hummus towards the edge of the plate in a circular motion creating what looks like a border. of course this is the traditional way of plating the hummus. Have fun creating your own swirls and designs.

Sprinkle with ground cumin, paprika, toasted pine nuts seeds and finish with a drizzle of fruity olive oil.

Serve with warm pita bread, cut up vegetables, pickles, olives and fresh mints. A hot mint tea is often served with hummus.

#dip #vegetarian #vegan #legumes

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  • Almond and Fig

Updated: Jun 19, 2020


The Best Falafel is crispy on the outside, bright green on the inside, loaded with flavors both from green herbs like cilantro and parsley and spices such as coriander and cumin.

Growing up I ate my weight in falafel especially in my High school days. Everyone I know has their own favorite falafel stand yes falafel is a street food and it’s all over the Middle East. Everyone takes pride in their recipe and the long lines that form in front of the stand. Falafel is a sandwich that you eat as you walk not a fancy sit down or anything or at least those are not my faves.

Falafel is the kind of food we ate on the weekends part of a brunch spread, or part of mezze platter at gatherings and definitely after school which made all our moms mad.

One year my brother in law surprised me with a gift from Palestine. He brought me a falafel mix frozen straight from my favorite falafel stand all the way from Ramallah to Chicago. I can’t smell falafel and not eat. If I don’t eat it shows up in my dreams then I wake up and eat it. I love falafel that much.

This post is contributed to kick start #aprilisforarabfood

Falafel

Yield: at least 2 dozen falafel

Spices: cumin, corriander, salt and pepper

Spices: Cumin, coriander, salt and pepper

Fresh Cilantro, fresh parsley, onion and garlic

Dried chickpeas soaked overnight

Ingredients

  • 3 cups dried chickpeas about 16 oz

  • 1/2 an onion quartered

  • 3 garlic cloves smashed and skins removed

  • Small bunch fresh parsley washed and dried, large stems removed and roughly chopped about 1 generous cup

  • Small bunch cleaned and dried cilantro, large stems removed and roughly chopped about a generous cup

  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

  • 1/2 Tbsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp pepper

  • 2 tsp of baking powder (see ***note)

  • 1-2 tbls of olive oil

  • 1 tbls of sesame seeds

  • vegetable oil or flavorless oil for frying

Add fresh ingredients to a food processor and pulse until combined

Add the spices and pulse until combined and you get a smooth paste

Form the dough into balls and sprinkle with sesame seeds

Tahini Dipping sauce:

  • 1/2 cup Good quality tahini (sesame paste)

  • juice of one lemon

  • salt and pepper

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • water for thinning

Directions:

  1. Soak the dried beans in cold water overnight minimum 12 hours. Drain the hummus and give it a quick rinse.

  2. Add the chickpeas, herbs, onion and garlic to the food processor and pulse until combined.

  3. scrape down the bowl as necessary continue pulsing until the mixture is fine ground and holds together drizzle in 1-2 tbls of olive oil to help bind the mixture

  4. Mix in the spices and salt and give it few quick pulses. The mixture should be almost smooth and holds together once rubbed between your two fingers.

  5. Heat your oil to 340- 350F, using a clip on thermometer to check the temperature. Your oil should be at least 3 inches deep.

  6. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out the mixture and roll between your palms to form into round balls. You can sprinkle the falafel balls with some sesame seeds for added crunch

  7. When the oil is hot, gently lower the balls into the oil with a slotted spoon. Work in batches so you don't crowd your pan. Fry the falafel for about 4 to 5 minutes, until they are golden brown.

  8. Drain on paper towels.

  9. Serve hot with tahini sauce.

Fry the falafel for 3-5 minutes until golden brown.

Falafel should be crunchy on the outside and green on the inside

To make the tahini sauce:

In a bowl add the tahini and the rest of the ingredients whisk until you get a thick paste. It will look lumpy don’t worry it will come together. Start thinning the mixture by adding a tbls of water at a time until you get a syrupy sauce thin enough to be drizzled but not watery. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

***Note:

About 30 min before frying the falafel add the baking powder and form the falafel into balls ready for frying.

To make the ultimate falafel sandwich you would need:

  • Tahini sauce

  • Fresh Pita pockets

  • Amba Sauce

  • chili sauce (Shatta)

  • Simple Jerusalem salad or

  • Sliced cucumbers

  • Chopped tomatoes

  • Cucumber Pickles

  • Super Thinly sliced lemons

  • Hummus

  • Fries

  • Or fried eggplant

one of my all time favorite sandwich

At one of my favorite falafel stands in Ramallah where i spent most of my high school lunch money.

#vegetarian #vegan #legumes #hummus

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