I have a life. So, cooking a good meal can be a challenge sometimes. But, in the “ace up my sleeve” category, I’ve got a few super-fast recipes using one can of beans and a few other things I usually have in my pantry. They make a light meal for one or substantial side dish for two and are quite healthy!
Chickpeas! Yes, you can do more than puree them into hummus.
Pan-roasted chickpea salad
1 can of garbonzo beans
handful of parsley
rough-cracked blacked pepper
optional: thinly scallion/red onion/chives, diced cucumber, diced tomato
Before the chickpeas are roasted, they have to be dried well. Open the can of beans, drain the liquid, and rinse off the canning water. You can either place the beans on paper towels and pat dry, or spin them in a salad spinner till all the water is whisked away.
Heat a pan over high heat and drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the pan. When the oil is very hot, drop in the chickpeas and toss to coat with oil. The chickpeas will begin to smell wonderful and will actually start popping and jumping merrily in the pan. Keep tossing so that they get evenly brown all over. This takes about five minutes.
While the chickpeas are browning, zest the lemon. When the chickpeas are browned, toss in some salt and cracked black pepper. While still in the pan, squeeze lemon juice over the chickpeas. They’ll sizzle!
Remove from heat and put the chickpeas into a serving bowl. Add the parsley and drizzle with a bit of fresh olive oil. It’s perfect to eat as a side this way, but you can also add some thinly sliced onions and chunked cucumbers and tomatoes.
ANOTHER EGGPLANT RECIPE.
I love you, Ameir.
My friend Sana Anwar taught me to make this! Next step…acquire Sana’s Afghani pilau recipe. (that ish is GOOD).
3 gigantic eggplants
1 big tub whole-milk yogurt
Spice mix: equal parts cumin, coriander, and paprika.
Dried and/or fresh mint
Diced tomatoes and/or pomegranate seeds
1. Slice the eggplant into rounds (no more than 1/2 inch thick). Sprinkle both sides with salt and let sit on paper towels or in a colander for an 20-30 min.
2. Pat eggplant dry and sprinkle with the spice mix on both sides.
3. Cook the eggplant.
Option 1: Fry the eggplant in olive oil (or. Just put a film of oil in a nonstick pan, wait till it gets hot (medium-high heat) and put the eggplant in a single layer. Fry on each side till it gets brown, adding more oil if needed.
Option 2: You can also just sprinkle them with the spice mix and cook under the broiler on a baking sheet. This will take significantly less oil.
Option 3: You can also do a combination. Sear on both sides, cook halfway through, on the stove – then put it on a pan in a low oven (300 max) to finish cooking while you do the rest of the eggplant. Poke with a fork to see if it’s soft enough.4. Mash a clove of garlic smooth (mortar/pestle, or dice onto a board with a pinch of kosher salt). Mix this into the yogurt & whip till smooth. (Start with half a mashed garlic clove and then see if you want more – it should just be a light flavor, not overpowering). Add just a smidge of the spice mix into the yogurt – just till it shows a bit of color.
5. On a big platter, put a layer of eggplant. Dollop the yogurt all over the top. Repeat. (This recipe makes two platters of two layers each). On the top, sprinkle with mint and diced tomatoes. You can also make it awesomer by sprinkling with pomegranate seeds, and/or drizzling with balsamic vinegar or a flavored olive oil.
6. Serve at room temperature or cold.
I eat you Kanafa
I eat you Kanafa
yeah. we’re cool like that.
my lovely lovely Fatimah makes a fantastic kanafa. seriously. fantastic. crispy on the edges, creamy on the inside, and perfect with a cup of tea. she makes it regularly, and i never, ever get tired of it. i’ve watched her make it so many times, and last time I finally wrote it down. YOU’RE WELCOME, INTERNETS.
Fatimah’s amazing ricotta kanafa
1 15-oz tub whole-milk ricotta
1 regular pack whole-milk mozarella cheese
1 pack shredded fillo dough
2 sticks of butter, melted
Kanafa coloring (an unflavored powdered food coloring you can get from an Arab grocery store. You can leave it out, or substitute any other color you want).
1. mix 1/2 stick of melted butter and kanafa coloring and spread it onto a big nonstick pan (fatimah uses a very large pizza pan). melt the rest of the butter with the fillo dough and spread half the dough on the bottom of the pan.
2. mix the cheeses and spread evenly across the dough.
3. top with the rest of the buttered dough.
4. bake at 400F for 30 minutes and slice quickly when it comes out of the oven. Pour the room-temp syrup over the kanafa while the kanafa is hot. Serve in squares, flipped pink side up.
1 3/4 cup of water
3 cups white sugar
juice of half a lime
orange blossom water to taste (about a teaspoon)
cook the water, lime juice, and sugar on a rapid simmer/low boil, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture becomes syrupy, about 15 minutes. add orange blossom water. remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
note on the sugar syrup: you can really change things up here with the flavoring. instead of orange blossom water, you could use vanilla and/or almond extract, or rose water extract. once, Fatima and I accidentally left the sugar syrup on the heat for too long and it caramelized – we just whisked it with some warmed honey, added some orange zest, and made a delicious golden-colored burnt sugar-orange-honey kanafa.
I love making these quick danishes for brunch or an afternoon tea, or to take along when a friend invites us for dinner. It just needs a couple hours of forethought to take the cream cheese out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Start to finish, though, the assembly and baking takes less than an hour.
2 packets refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 8-oz packet cream cheese
zest of 2 lemons
dash of vanilla extract
couple big spoons o’sugar
1. let cream cheese sit until room temp. mix with lemon zest, vanilla, sugar (and cinnamon, if you want). one full packet of cream cheese is enough for two packets of dough. (the cream cheese mixture will keep, and you can make a second batch with cold cream cheese straight from the fridge).
a note about lemon zest: in dishes where the flavor will come through (like dips or dairy-based things), I always use zest whenever the recipe calls for the juice. if it would just be a waste to add zest, I zest it anyway and keep it in a little baggie in the freezer, moistened with fresh lemon juice. this way, I can just add zest to things even if I don’t have any fresh lemons.
2. unroll crescent roll dough. cut vertically and horizontally in half so you have four rectangle/squares of two triangles each. break apart the two triangles and then overlay one piece on top of the other, overlapping, and mash the seam together so that the filling won’t spill out.
3. cut each of these in half, so you end up with eight squares. stretch them out into a square-ish shape if they are a little misshapen.
4. for each square – put a teaspoon-sized dollop of cream cheese in the middle, then a dollop of jam. (my absolute favorite is crofters fruit spread).
6. bake at 375 for 17-20 minutes until golden brown. check at 17 – if there is any stuff oozing out, just use a nonstick spatula to kind of scoop it up and back onto/into the danish.
serve with tea!
Ameir does not. Marriage requires sacrifices.
BUT STILL. I make some killer eggplant sometimes. Here’s one of my favorites – not just because of the flavors, but the colors and textures. Everything except the last garnishes can even be done a couple of days ahead, and tastes best at room temperature, which makes it great for potlucks and parties.
Lemon Hummus with Eggplant-Tomato topping
Hummus: Chickpeas, tahini, water, lemon, food processor.
1 Eggplant & 1 pint Cherry Tomatoes
Ground Cumin & Coriander & Paprika
Parsley & Mint
1. Make a batch of your favorite hummus. Choose a recipe that gives you a thicker consistency so it can hold the topping. I’ve had luck with Yvonne’s hummus recipe in the Ramadan Recipes App and with this one from Simply Recipes. For a lighter-tasting hummus, I rarely add garlic or cumin, and always add the zest along with the lemon juice. Also, this works.
2. Cut the eggplant into small cubes. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle just a bit of cumin, coriander, and paprika (maybe 1/4 tsp each) and toss. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium high heat and toss in the eggplant into a single layer (do a couple batches if necessary – the sear really makes the dish). When the eggplant is seared, add a couple of cloves of diced garlic (optional, for a stronger and more savory flavor) and salt to taste. Meanwhile, cut a pint of cherry tomatoes in half.
3. Once the eggplant is soft, which takes about five minutes, move the eggplant to the side of the pan & turn the stove up to high. When it’s hot, add the tomatoes and cook until they get charred and release some juice. Mix it all up and let it cook together on medium heat for another couple minutes. All of this takes about 7 or 8 minutes – don’t overcook the vegetables. You want them to hold their shape, not be mushy. Remove all that deliciousness from the pan and let it come to room temperature.
4. When you’re ready to serve, get a big, beautiful platter. Spread the hummus all the way around, and then spoon the topping over it, leaving a border of hummus.
5. Last touches: Put the sliced almonds in a cold pan with a couple glugs of olive oil, then heat the pan and toast the almonds until they’re golden brown. Sprinkle these nuts and the oil all over the topped hummus. Cut up a small handful of parsley and mint and sprinkle on top. Serve with pita bread.
Whaaaaa? Where have I been? A combination of business, laziness, and technical issues that have resulted in this blogging lapse. This was a serious problem – not just because I couldn’t share recipes with you all, but because my blog is like my own personal recipe box that helps me remember how to make Shakriya. My very thoughtful husband Ameir fixed it up for me as an Eid present, and I’m really looking forward to blogging again, InshAllah! I’m still working on fixing some of the pictures in older posts, but the text is all there for you to browse. (Please don’t slack off at work. It’ll still be there in the evening).
For my first post back, I’d like to tell everyone about Ramadan Recipes, if you haven’t heard of it already!
This awesome iPhone/iPad app came from Batoul Apps and Yvonne Maffei of My Halal Kitchen. It has more than 100 recipes from many different cuisines, with pictures and step-by-step instructions for every one. One of my favorite features is the “Recipes of the Day” option that suggests a full set of meals for you to try – Suhoor (Breakfast), Iftar (Appetizer), Entree, and Dessert. I’ve got my Favorites all starred so I can go back to them quickly. The app is universal – in non-nerd terms, that means the app works on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.
I’ve cooked from this all Ramadan and am really looking forward to continue using it, especially with updates that Batoul Apps and My Halal Kitchen are working on. Look for new recipes and features from Ramadan Recipes throughout the year!
There are protests going on all over Syria right now. As we all watch and pray for peace, I wanted to share some pictures from our recent trip to show you all how beautiful the country is, and how delicious the food is. Today, a dinner we had at Ameir’s Amto Shukriya’s house.
Amto Shukriya invited us to an incredibly delicious dinner at her home in Damascus. It was almost entirely made of stuffed things – which, as you can imagine, takes hours of skill and patience to do.
Malfouf – cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and ground beef. They’re braised in a broth flavored with lamb or beef bones, garlic, onions, and lemon. The garlic cloves are left whole so they braise with the stuffed cabbage and turn out soft and sweet. The lemon makes the broth slightly tart, but is balanced out by the smoothness of the beef broth. This is actually one of my favorite Arab dishes of all time. Look at the beautiful tomato rose Amto Shukriya made for the middle!
Mah’shi – vegetables stuffed with the same rice and ground beef mixture. In this case, Amto has made a kousa mah’shi (stuffed zucchini) and baitinjaan mah’shi (stuffed eggplant). Mah’shi is braised in a tomato broth.
The cooking broths are served alongside the Makdous and Mah’shi so they can be poured over the rice.
This is called Balti – Amto Shukriya says it comes from the Gulf Arab countries, but I think it has Persian and/or Indian-Pakistani roots. The chicken is roasted in curry-flavored spices. It is served on top of curried pilau flavored with nuts and raisins – a classic Persian technique.
As you can imagine, we overate until we were as stuffed as the kousa.
There are protests going on all over Syria right now. As we all watch and pray for peace, I wanted to share some pictures from our recent trip to show you all how beautiful the country is. Today, shopping for spices in a Damascene souq.
The markets of Old Damascus are alive day and night. Stalls of all kinds border the cobblestone streets, some under covered markets and others under the open sky. Shopkeepers call out to advertise their wares, and were more than usually generous while we were there as they gave out free samples to celebrate Eid. These spice markets are unlike anything I’ve visited before. The sights, colors, and smells are intoxicating and other wordly in the most beautiful way possible.
Roasted seeds and nuts
A street vendor sells pistachio-topped milk pudding and – i think some kind of jello? – to celebrate Eid
Milk pudding, topped with pistachios
Jewel-toned dried and candied fruits. We saw lemons, pineapples, apricots, mangos, kiwis, cherries, figs, bananas, apples, and more I couldn’t even recognize!
Spices and dried herbs and flowers
Dried fruits. The dark red stuff are dried rose petals….yes, they smell incredible.
Spices in magnificent earth tones. The smell in here is amazing, but also kind of makes you sneeze! The shopkeeper was very kind – he had some bulk candy bins in the front, and a little girl walked by and just stared at them. Her father called her to keep walking, but the shopkeeper just smiled and pulled out a few treats and handed them to her, wishing her a happy Eid.
Spices again – you can see long cinnamon sticks from this side
There are protests going on all over Syria right now. As we all watch and pray for peace, I wanted to share some pictures from our recent trip to show you all how beautiful the country is. Today, the dazzling natural beauty of the Syrian Mediterranean coast.
I’ve done a good bit of travelling. I still have to visit the far east, which I hope I’ll be able to do eventually. But I can truthfully say that the Syrian Mediterranean coast is one of the most beautiful natural areas I’ve ever seen in my life (the others being Kashmir and Murree in Pakistan).
We took a two-day trip to drive to the Syrian Mediterranean coast, passing through the coastal town of Latakia. We then spent the night high up in the mountains of Kessab, right on the border between Syria and Turkey. A lot of Armenian people live in Kessab, making it quite a diverse city.
Tourists can rent apartments for a few nights while they’re exploring the coast – which we did! It was so wonderful to open our windows to a sunrise view of green mountains peppered with Armenian churches.
The coastline is completely unlike what I’m used to in North Carolina. Instead of flat land sloping gently into sandy beaches, there are rocky, green mountains that fall abruptly into shimmeringly clear blue-green water. It takes your breath away.
Pictures are in Lightbox – click the first on the left to start the slideshow.
Ameir teased me, but I picked up marbled sea-smoothed rocks from the coastline – they were so colorful!
The land around the Mediterranean is also very fertile, and there are all kinds of fruit trees growing wild or in orchards in between the mountains.
When olive trees get really old, they get this sensuously twisted and knotted trunk. Feels like something out of Narnia! The ground around this wild olive tree was littered with black olives.
There are hundreds of clementine orchards all over the coast. We just stopped on the side of the road and bought some to eat on the drive home!
At this level of ripeness, dates are called Ratab. They have a bright orange color and are creamy-smooth in texture, with a sweet caramel flavor and almost a vanilla-like perfume. So delicious!