Kushari: Egyptian Lentil Rice with spicy tomato sauce

Kushari is a traditional Egyptian dish. I guess you could say that it is the Prince of Egyptian Cuisine (with falafel and fool being the King and Queen)

This is a lovely recipe to add to your repetoir, highly requested and easy to make!

Ingredients:

For the kushari rice

3/4 cup brown lentils : soaked for at least 30 mins

1.5 cups rice soaked (I used basmati, but traditionally short grain rice is used)

2 large brown onions: sliced

salt and black pepper for seasoning

1 tsp each corriander, cumin and garam masala powder (optional)

oil for frying the onions

For the tomato sauce (called da’ah):

1 large tomato pureed (0.5 cup) (alternatively use an extra tablespoon of tomato paste and add a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (to taste)

2 large cloves of garlic: crushed

optional: pinch of cumin, corriander and garam masala powders

To make:

Fry the onions in some oil on medium heat for about 15 mins, stirring regularly, until the onions are soft and deep golden brown in colour. Reserve half the onions for garnish. Add soaked lentils with the onions and add some water to cook. Season well with salt and pepper. When the lentils are almost done, add spices, salt, water and soaked rice. Cover and cook until the rice is done.

For the sauce, fry off the crushed garlic in some oil. Add the pureed tomatoes and fry off until cooked. Add tomato paste, vinegar, chilli, salt and pepper and cook until all the tomato paste is cooked out. you may add water to achieve desired consistency.

To serve the kushari, place the rice topped with sauce and caramalised onions. You may also add some cooked macaroni pasta and chickpeas.

Kishk – Egyptian Savoury Custard

Kishk is a delicious savoury custard, one of my favourite Egyptian side dishes.

It is fairly easy to make.

You will need:

1 cup full fat yogurt

1/2 cup of plain flour

A few ladels of chicken or lamb broth ( I genrally use lamb broth from boiling lamb bones with onions, cardomom, salt and pepper)

salt to taste

One large onion- chopped or sliced and caramalised by frying in mixture of oil/butter on a medium heat until deep golden brown

To make:

Mix the yogurt and flour together until you have a  thick paste. You may need more or less flour depending on how watery your yogurt is.

I usually let this sit near the stove top while the stock is cooking. This is how my mum taught me. I guess it ferments slightly in the warm weather and gives a richer flavour.

The stock flavour has to be good as this is the flavour base of your kishk.

When ready to cook, place in a deep pot and ladel some hot stock into the yogurt  mixture. Mix well and cook on medium heat, adding more stock when necessary to form a thick custard. Remember it will thicken as it cools, but you dont want it too thin! Season well with salt.

Once cooked, ladel into ramekins and garnish with caramelised onions. Make more onions if necessary as everyone LOVES to eat it with kishk.

Serve at room temperature or cold.

Freekah, Capsicum, Corn and Lamb Spiced Porridge.

Last week while out with my son, I found myself stuck without any food for him ( I was out longer than planned) and couldnt spot any supermarkets in my near vicinity.

I found a small lebanese foodshop so I bought some labneh (basically strained yogurt with some salt) and fed it to him with some bread.

I felt a bit dissapointed.. because I didnt think I would use it myself later. I dreaded it just sitting there in the fridge and I expected it to be laden with fat, so a no go food for me in my weight management efforts.

Having a look at the back it was surprisingly only 7% fat, yet lusciously creamy and delicious. Remincant of philly cream cheese.

So I’ve been using it with my smoked salmon sandwiches .. and I found that it works exceptionally well with this recipe I made for last weekend’s dinner.

This is a must try!

You will need:

3-4 pieces of lamb on the bone ( I used half neck and shanks)

1 cup freekah (green wheat available at Arab shops)

Half a medium red capsicum and half a green capscicum – diced

Corn off half a cob

One large onion- finely diced

5 cloves of garlic – minced

3 tablespoons paprika

1-3 tablespoons freshly ground cumin (to taste)

1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)

One medium ripe tomato (pureed)

salt and pepper to taste

chilli powder (to taste) – optional

To make:

Fry off onions and capsicum in some oil (I used half sunflower half olive oil) until fragrant. Add lamb bones and fry off until they pick up some colour. Add remaining  ingredients with suffient water and allow to cook until lamb is tender.

If you want the freekah to be more chewy, only add when the lamb is 75% cooked.

This is delicious served with Toasted Turkish bread, a generous dollop of Labneh (or sour cream) and some drops of chilli sauce!

 

Another Turkish Classic – Mince Pide

The very few of you who have thankfully been following my blog would know that I often experiment with dough making.

Over the years I have tried to come up with the perfect multipurpose dough recipe for making pastries.

Yesterday I made a dough with the intention of making Naan bread, but realised the ingredients I had out for dinner were more suited to making some mince pide.

This dough recipe (with the tips) yields an amazingly soft dough, and the final touches to the dough make it look as good as the ones you buy from the store.


Delicious!

You will need (makes about 4 pides)

For the dough

3 cups self raising flour

1.5 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon instant yeast

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons castor sugar

1/2 cup warm milk

1/2 cup full fat plain yogurt

For the filling

250 gms lamb mince

one green and one red capsicum – chopped

one large onion

2 cloves of garlic – minced

2 tomatos – pureed

1 tablespoon oregano

2 tablespoons paprika

Handful of chopped paresly

Method (will be updated soon)

To make the filling:

Cook the mince in a tablespoon of oil until it picks up colour. Add capsicum, onions and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add tomatos, oregano and allow to cook on a low heat for about 20 mins. If water still remains cook uncovered on a medium heat, stirring regularly until mix is dry. Season well. Add chopped paresly ad paprika.

Allow to cool and set aside.

For the dough:

Place all dry ingredients in a deep bow. Make a well in the centre (this will make mixing easier) and mix warm milk with yogurt in a seperate container to make a snooth liquid. Add to the well and gradually mix in the flour to make a dough. Dont add all the ;iquid (start off with most of it). Only use the rest if the dough looks dry.

Do not worry about kneading at this point as the dough will be too sticky to work with.

Cover well and allow to rest and rise for 2 hours.

If in a hurry leave for at least 30 mins.

Knead well to form a smooth dough. Adding more flour little by little. Smoothing out the dough is essential to a good end result. Do not add more flour than kneaded or else your dough will be dry.

Heat your oven to 200 deg.

Now divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll out into a circle a few mm thick. Add a few tablespoons of filling and fold both sides in, making an oval shape. Press the edges tightly so mix doesnt ooz out.

Brush lightly with a whisked egg and sprinkle with nigella or sesame seeds.

Bake in the oven until done. I grill the top first and then bake. Make sure the dough is cooked through and all edges are golden brown.

Umm Ali (ام علي) – Arab Pudding

I dont like food staying in my fridge for too long, and I  noticed that we had a pack of  mini croisonts that have become a bit dry, so I decided to make this Egyptian dessert.

Interestingly while making it, I realised that this traditional arab dessert is the East’s version of bread and butter pudding!

It is traditonally made with riceh layred puff pastry, but works well with croisonts as well.

For 2 servings you will need:

2 mini croissonts – chopped or torn into 1-2 cm pieces

1 cup of milk + 1.5 tablespoons sugar mixed well (sugarto taste)

1 tablespoon each dried fruit and toasted nuts

3 tablespoons thickened cream

you can add any flavour you like: vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon etc (optional)

To make:

Place chopped pastry in individual ramekins, mix in fruit and nuts.

Pour milk and sugar mixture ontop , adding more milk if necessary. You just need the pastry to be soaked. Push down any nuts or fruit that comes to the surface so it doesnt burn.

Add 1.5 tablespoons of cream ontop of each ramekin.

Bake for 10-15 mins until it firms up and surface is golden brown (you can place under the grill)


Garnish with chopped nuts and serve warm or cold.

Mahalabiya (مهلبية)- Egyptian Milk Custard

This is a traditional Egyptian dessert that can be made in minutes.

For two servings you will need:

2 cups full cream milk

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)

3 tablespoons rosewater (to taste) or vanilla flavouring, mastic etc

To make:

Bring milk to the boil with sugar and rose water in a saucepan, reduce heat to ensure that milk doesnt overflow.

Dissolve the cornstarch in seperate bowl with a few tablwspoons of hot milk until smooth.

Add to saucepan and whisk well. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes until thickened. Remember it will thicken once it cools, so once it ooks like a thin custard it should be ready. Adjust sugar to taste during cooking time.

Garnish with crushed nuts of your choice. Enjoy warm or chilled!

Basboosa – Egyptian Semolina Slice

Basboosa is a rich traditional egyptian dessert. Today we were invited to a lunch in the park, so decided to make some traditional arab dessert. This was a definite crowd pleaser!

You will need:


3 cups semolina (i used coarse semolina, but you should  use fine)

1 cup plain full fat yogurt

1/2 cup full fat milk

2 cups thickened cream

1.5 cup sugar

1.5 cups dessicated coconut

150 gms melted unsalted butter

vanilla flavouring

raw almonds for garnish or crushed pistashios

For sugar syrup:

3 cups water, 3 cups sugar, rose water and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.

To make:

Mix semolina, sugar and coconut well together to coat them in the melted butter. Add vanilla flavouring (optional). Add cream/milk/yogurt and mix well for about a minute so it all comes together.

Spread in a greased tray (i used a 30 X 20 cm) and smooth out the surface with wet hands. Allow to reast for about half an hour. You can garnish with raw almonds by pressing them in gently to the dough.

Bake in a preheated oven (180 deg) for about 30 mins on middle shelf until deep golden brown. If cooked but the top hasnt picked up colour, placed under grill for a short period but watch carefully as it will cook rapidly.

While baking prepare the sugar syrup by bringing 3 cups each water and castor sugar to the boil. Add some rose water or any other flavouring as per tast. (I use about 3 tablespoons). once up to a boil, lower heat and allow to simmer on a medium heat. Add about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice so that it does not crystalise.

The syrup is ready when you dip the spoon and it coats the spoon and is sticky once cooled to touch. It is usually ready by the time the basboosa is done.

Pour the syrup whilst hot (do not allow to cool) onto the basboosa after it has come out of the oven and you have cut into desired shapes.

Allow to cool fully before taking out of tray or else pieces may fall apart.

You can arrange in a tray and wrap for a lovely home-made gift!

This is best enjoyed with a nice cup of tea or coffee. Enjoy!

Eid Sweet Recipe 1- Egyptian Kahk (maa’mool) filled with turkish delight

This is one of my all time favourite eid sweets. The dough is not very sweet, but with a delicious vanilla or lemon turkish delight filling, and a generous layer of icing sugar on top.. they make the perfect treat after a month of fasting!

The dough recipe below can be also used for egyptian date filled kahk: (makes lots)

1kg plain flour

vanilla  or lemon flavoured turkish delight- I bought Sultan Brand which comes in a 1kg box.
roasted hazelnuts- peeled

1 sachet instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups warm water
2 cups melted clarified butter at room temp (you can add more butter for a richer cookie, but I don’t)

Method:

Mix yeast and about 1 cup of water + sugar. Add flour and butter. Mix well (should look a bit crummy)

Add as much as is needed of the remaining water and mix the SURFACE in a circular motion until the dough just comes together. (so lay your hand flat on the surface and mix as if you were wiping a surface).

DONT KNEAD! If you knead, the Kahk will become dry.

Cover well and allow to rise in a warm place. Allow to double in size (should take 1-1.5 hrs depending on how warm the environment is)

You can use sepecial Kahk or maamool making moulds readily available at arab grocery stores to form uniform cookies, or you can do it freestyle.

This is what they look like (or you can buy wooden ones):

Depending on the size of your mold.. take approx 1.5 tablespoons worth  of dough.. make a round/smooth ball and flaten slightly.

Take some turkish delight (approx 1/4-1/3 of the cubes shown below), dust off excess sugar and fill with about 1/3-1/2 a roasted/peeled hazlenut. Smooth the turkish delight into a ball.

Fill inside the dough . Fold the dough and seal well by pinching the ends. Make into a round ball again and place in the mold.


Place in baking tray and allow to rise again.

Then bake until lightly golden (dont bake too long as you dont wnt it to go crunchy)

Once cooled, generously press the top of Kahk in icing sugar and press firmly to stick to the cookie.

Enjoy!

Fragrant Capsicum and Tomato Freekeh

Freekeh, Fereek or greenwheat makes a delicious addition to soups or used as a substitute for rice. It has a mild nutty flavour and chewy  texture.

I usually cook it  in a stock, but today I made a vegeterian version that smells and tastes amazing.

You will need:

1.5 cups ferekeh- soaked to reduce cooking time

one large onion – diced

one capsicum – chopped

one medium tomato  – chopped

1/4 cup oil

2 tablespoons madras curry powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon corriander powder

1/3 teaspoon turmeric powder

salt and pepper to taste

water- about 5 cups

To make:

saute onions in oil until soft and slightly golden, Add capsicum and spices. Stir until fragrant. Add freekeh, water, tomato and seasoning. Cover and cook either in a pressure cooker or on the stove-top until soft. Stir and add extra water when  necessary. It should have a slightly chewy texture when done. You can cook longer if a softer result is desired.

Tips:

  • Freekeh, like any whole grain takes long to cook, so soaking and using a pressure cooker will cut down the cooking time
  • Add lamb or chicken to the onions while cooking for a richer version.

Arab Stuffed Lamb Style Rice

This is a recipe for the rice used in stuffing whole lambs. It is mildly spiced but full of flavour. You dont need to buy a whole sheep to enjoy this rice, you can enjoy it anytime. This recipe is perfect for guests especially in Ramadan.   You will need: 250 gms lean lamb mince 1 large onion -diced 1 large clove garlic – minced 1/2 cup toasted half almonds 2 cups basmati rice 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon (more or less to taste) 1 teaspoon allspice (more or less to taste) 1/2 cup frozen peas 2 tablespoons madras curry powder (optional) salt and pepper to taste To make: Saute onions in some oil for a few minutes. Add mince and fry off on medium heat until it picks up some brown colour. Do not burn. Add garlic and spices. Stir for a minute. Add water, almonds, seasoning and peas. Add rice and cook as usual. Serve with cucumber,mint and yogurt salad. Enjoy!