Delicious Dips & Middle Eastern fare

When i am not traveling, I usually embark on some adventure in my kitchen. Cribby says, I’m lucky to have my very own lab at home….aren’t all of us who enjoy cooking lucky people?

The  Middle East is a very tempting travel destination to me & i do want to see all the beautiful places there. (i have spent time in Dubai & love the food there, but Istanbul is where i really yearn to go). Anyway, while that plan takes a few years, nothing stops me from relishing the flavours of one of my favourite cuisines in my very dining room….Who knows if this love comes from the variety of spices and flavours that are so close to the ones i am used to back in India…but this is one cuisine i love!
It is not that i don’t appreciate simple cuisine, which concentrate on bringing out the inherent flavours of each individual fresh ingredient be it veggies or meat, but i must admit that i couldn’t have cuisine deprived of spices for a whole week without feeling ‘foodsick’….. That is a reason why i really look forward to visiting the middle east. Traveling is great, but travel coupled with great food is unbeatable. It creates a nostalgia that lingers on and keeps inviting you back to the place. I could really go on about nostalgia and food for a few pages, but then i would miss describing my latest culinary adventure!

Not sure if a mentioned earlier, but Cribby has been traveling a lot and as a result leaving me a lot of time to experiment & read up about new cuisine…
Here is the result of about a week long experiment with Middle eastern cuisine…it was delicious & why would any meal including olives, hummus, pomegranates, pitta bread & cheese be otherwise?

Bottom to top: Cous Cous, Hummus, Muttabel, Baba Ganoush, Thyme Bread, Pitta Bread & Salad
CousCous, Delicious Dips, Thyme Bread, Pitta Bread & Salad

I’m sharing here a few recipes. Leave me a comment if anyone wants other recipes or is crazy enough to bake these breads at home 🙂 i will cover them in a later post…

Hummus
Ingredients:
– Half a can chick peas, drained or
100gms freshly boiled chick peas, drained
– 2 tsps Tahini
– 1 clove of garlic
– 1 tsp lemon juice
– Salt to taste
– Olive oil

Method:

  1. In a blender, pulse all ingredients (except olive oil) together until just a bit coarse.
  2. Add a few drops of water of needed. Adjust salt & seasoning & transfer to serving dish.
  3. Drizzle olive oil,sprinkle red chilly powder & top with a few chick peas.

*****************************************************************************************
Mutabbal Batinjan (Eggplant Dip)
This is my favourite dip & i love the silky but smoky finish! ensure you buy fresh eggplants. Try picking the lightest ones, since that guarantees young eggplants with fewer seeds…. For those you do not relish the smoky flavour, it is a such a pity, but i’d suggest you peel & steam the eggplants & directly proceed with Step 2.

From Left: Hummus, Muttabal & Baba Ganouj
From Left: Hummus, Mutabbal & Baba Ganouj

Ingredients:
– 1 Eggplant (Medium globe)
– 1 clove of garlic
– 1 tsp tahini
– 1 tsp lemon juice
– 3 tbsps plain yogurt
– Salt to taste
– Olive oil & Parsley to garnish

Method:

  1. Preparing the eggplant
    In the oven/grill: The eggplant can either be baked in an oven for 30 mins at 200 degrees C or grilled until tender. Ensure you prick the eggplant before you put in in the oven/grill to avoid it bursting.
    Using a gas stove top burner: This is what i use for my regular cooking &  it is very efficient for preparing the eggplant. Just pass a metal skewer through the eggplant (horizontally through the stem) & place on top of a small gas burner. Keep rotating every few mins to evenly char the surface. The eggplant is done when it is smoking & charred evenly on all sides.
  2. Rest the eggplant on a small plate & allow to cool down a little.
  3. Meanwhile, add the garlic cloves, tahini, lemon juice, yogurt & salt to the blender & pulse a few times.
  4. To extract the flesh of the eggplant, scrape off the skin with a knife &  keep dipping your knife into water to rid it off the skin. Now cut open the eggplant & check the inside to ensure it is soft & fresh. Discard any tough or dark portions.
  5. Add the eggplant flesh to the blender & pulse a few more times until it is the texture that you want. i prefer to pulse it until creamy.
  6. Taste & adjust seasonings. Transfer to serving dish & drizzle some olive oil.

Relish with some bread.

****************************************************************************************
Baba Ganouj
Why go through the trouble of buying & preparing globe eggplants & settle without making Baba Ganouj too! I usually smoke/grill 2 eggplants instead of one as per the above recipe & then go on to make Baba Ganouj…

Ingredients:
– Flesh of 1 Eggplant (Medium globe); prepared as for Mutabbal recipe
– 1/2 red Paprika, diced
– a few shallots or 1/4 red onion, diced
– a quarter tomato, diced
– 1 Tbsp pomegranate seeds, optional
– 1 tsp lemon juice
– 1 or 2 green chillies chopped fine, to taste
– Salt to taste
– Parsley & Pomegranate seeds to garnish

Method:

  1. Pulse the eggplant flesh & pomegranate seeds (if using) in a blender, until just a little grainy.
  2. Add all the other ingredients & pulse twice to mix. Do not blend too much as the dip will become watery & lose its appeal.
  3. Garnish with pomegranate seeds & Parsley.

Serve with pita bread/sesame bread…… Can it get any easier!?

****************************************************************************************

Advertisements

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Aman says:

    Wowwwww…. this is awesome..!!!! I am not much into baking, but reading your posts gives me motivation.. I am going to try some breads and cakes at home..
    Cribby must be feeling lucky to have all this at home 😉

    1. ThankYou! I hope you do soon…
      He is gaining kilos by the day 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s