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Friday, February 04, 2011

Egyptian Dinner

As we see the struggle for this country take place this week, we pray for all the people of Egypt, a country long in culture and cuisine. You may show your solitarity by prayering too, but throw a little dinner party with Egyptian cuisine so your prayer partners have a little something to share with these people.

Louvia (Blacky-eyed Pea Stew)

12oz 350g dried black-eyed peas
2 2 onions, chopped
5 5 garlic cloves, minced
3 oz 80g fresh dill, chopped
3 oz 80g fresh parsley, chopped
2 2 fresh, ripe, tomatoes, diced
2 2 tbsp tomato purée
4 tbsp 60 ml olive oil
salt, to taste

Wash the black-eyed peas, place in a bowl and soak over night. The following day, drain, place in a pan then cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil and cook for about 50 minutes, or until tender. Turn into a colander and set aside to drain.

Heat the oilive oil in another pan and use to fry the onion for about 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic, tomatoes and tomato purée along with the parsley and dill. Bring the mixture to a simmer then cook for a further 30 minutes or until the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce has thickened. Season to taste with salt then stir the cooked black-eyed peas into the sauce.

Continue cooking for about 15 minutes, or until heated through then serve with flatbreads.

M'raad (Aubergine Salad)

2 lbs 900g large aubergines (eggplants)
1/2 tbsp 8 ml salt
1/4 cup 60ml oil for frying
5 5 garlic cloves, mashed
1/2 cup 120ml water
1/8 tsp pinch ground turmeric
1/4 tsp 2 ml paprika
1/4 tsp 2 ml ground cumin
1 tbsp 15 ml tomato purée
1 tbsp 15 ml white (or cider) vinegar
1 oz 30g red bell pepper, finely chopped, to garnish

Trim both ends of the aubergines then cut into slices about 12mm thick. Sprinkle the slices with the salt then set in a colander to stand for 30 minutes. Drain off any discoloured liquid and wipe the slices dry, pressing down gently to extract any juice.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the aubergine slices in a single layer and lightly brown on both sides over medium heat for about 4 minutes per side. Remove the aubergines and keep warm as you fry any remaining slices and prepare the sauce.

When you have fried all the aubergine slices add the garlic to the pan and fry for about 10 seconds. Now add the water, turmeric, paprika, cumin and tomato purée, simmer over low heat for 5 minutes then stir in the vinegar. Pour the resultant sauce over the aubergine slices, garnish with the bell peper and serve.

Ta'amia Egyptian Falafel
1 lb. 500g dried, skinless, broad beans
2 tsp 10 ml ground cumin
1 tsp 10 ml ground coriander
1/8 tsp pinch ground chilli
1 tsp 5 ml bicarbonate of soda
1 1 large onion
5 5 spring onions
6 6 cloves garlic
1 1 large handful flat-leaf parsley
1 1 large bunch coriander (leaves only)
salt and pepper to season
vegetable oil to fry

Soak the beans for a full 24 hours in warm water. The following day drain and dry the beans then pound to a powder/paste in a pestle and mortar. Add the spices and pound these into the mixture as well. Peel the onion, grate it finely, transfer to a kitchen towel and squeeze out the moisture. Add to the broad bean paste and mix in well. Chop the remaining ingredients finely and add these to the mixture as well. Tip onto a floured surface and knead the falafel mixture for a few minutes. Tar off balls of the mixture and form falafels from this that should be about 5cm in diameter and 1 cm deep.

Allow the falafels you've just made to rest for 15 minutes then heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the falafels in hot oil until they become crisp and brown on both sides. Serve immediately either with hummus or a Middle Eastern or Greek salad.

Tagin Sabak Bi-l-firik Tagine of Fish with Hulled Grain

2.2 lbs 1kg whole trout or prech, cleaned and scaled
6 6 garlic cloves
1/2 lb 250g hulled grain (groats eg bulgur wheat)
1 tsp 5 ml ground cumin
2 tsp 5 ml ground cardamom
2 tbsp 30 ml flour (or, as needed)
salt and black pepper, to taste
oil for frying

Cut the fish into steaks (retain the heads and any trimmings) then dredge the fish in the flour before frying for about 6 minutes per side, or until crisp and just cooked through. Allow to cool then flake the fish into large chunks, removing any bones and skin as you do so.

Add the fish heads, bones, skin and any trimmings to a pan. Add the cardamom and 1.2l water and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes then strain through a fine-meshed sieve, retaining the fish stock.

Meanwhile add the hulled grain to the pan used to fry the fish (use the same oil) and fry gently until lightly toasted. Add the fish stock and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer then add the cumin and garlic and cook for 10 minutes.

Take off the heat and pour the contents of the pan into a tagine or flame-proof casserole. Stir-in the fish flakes then cover and cook gently for about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Mahshi Moroccan-style Lamb Patties with Harissa Sauce

1 lb. 500g courgettes, medium size
1 lb. 500g green bell pepper
1/2 lb 225g long aubergine (eggplant), white
1/2 lb 225g purple aubergine (eggplaint)
1/2 lb 225g firm medium-sized tomatoes

For the Stuffing:
1/4 lb 115g minced meat (lamb or beef)
1/2 lb 250g rice
1/4 cup 60g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tsp 5 ml mint, chopped
2 tbsp 30g coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp 30 ml tomato purée
2 cups 500 ml chicken stock
2 tbsp 30 ml butter
salt and freshly-ground black pepper

In a large bowl, mix together the minced meat, parsley, coriander, onion, mint and butter then season to taste with salt and freshly-ground black pepper.Wash the rice thoroughly then drain and add to the bowl along with the meat mixture. Stir to thoroughly mix all the ingredinetns then adjust the seasonings to taste.

Wash the vegetables then slice off the tops. Use a spoon to remove the seeds and membranes from the bell peppers and tomatoes. In the case of the aubergines and courgettes use a thin knife to chop the centre of the vegetables. Remove with a knife and keep cutting in circular motions until the vegetables have been hollowed out.

Put 1 or 2 tbsp of the stuffing mix inside each vegetable, pressing down with your fingers to pack the stuffing in well (do not over-fill the vegetables though as the rice will expand during cooking).

Arrange the stuffed vegetables in a deep non-stick casserole dish, setting them so they stand upwards with the open ends uppermost. Now stir the stock and tomato purée together then pour around the vegetables. Add more hot water to the pan until it comes 3/4 of the way up the sides of the vegetables.

Cook over medium heat until the liquid comes to a simmer. Cover the pan and continue cooking for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the rice is tender (add a further 120ml boiling water to the pot, if needed).

Arrange the cooked vegetables in a serving dish. Serve hot.


1 lb 250g walnuts, finely chopped
1 lb 250g sugar
1 3/4 cups 400g clarified butter
2 tsp 10 ml ground cinnamon
1 tbsp 15 ml orange blossom water
1 1 packet filo (phyllo) pastry (about 450g)

For the Syrup (Sharbat):
1 lb. 450g sugar
1 cup 250ml water
2 tbsp 30 ml lemon juice
2 tbsp 30 ml orange blossom water

Combine the walnuts, sugar, 50ml of the ghee, ground cinnamon and orange blossom water in a bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, use some of the remaining ghee to grease a baking pan (about 30 x 22cm). Take a sheet of the filo pastry and place on the bottom of the baking dish then brush well with melted butter. Add the next sheet of pastry and brush with the ghee. Repeat the process until half the pastry has been used up. Turn the nut mixture on top of the pastry and spread evenly.

Now add the first sheet of the remaining pastry and brush the top with ghee. Again, repeat the layering process until all the pastry has been added.

Transfer any remaining ghee to a pan and heat gently to warm before pouring over the top of the pastry stack. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the pastry stack into 5cm squares or diamonds. Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 200°C and bake for 5 minutes before lowering the temperature to 150°C and bake for a further 40 minutes, or until the top and sides of the baklawa are a pale golden brown.

In the meantime, prepare the syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes, or until all the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat then stir-in the lemon juice. Return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil. As soon as the syrup has begun to boil take off the heat and stir-in the orange blossom water then set aside to cool until the pastry is ready.

As soon as you remove the pastry from the oven spoon the syrup solution over the top then set aside to cool before cutting into serving portions.

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