An easy way to tart up couscous as a side dish. This makes a side dish for four.
- Generous pinch of saffron fronds
- 3 tbs boiling water
Place them in a saucepan and let the saffron steep for 20 minutes while you make something else.
Dry fry the pine nuts until they look a bit brown. Set aside.
- 225g couscous
- Equal volume of boiling water or vegetable stock
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tsp olive oil
Put all this in the pan containing the saffron. Cover and leave for five minutes.
- Leaves from a small bunch of parsley, chopped.
Stir in the pine nuts and parsley. Fluff up with a fork and serve. Good alongside falafels, pittas, hummus and courgette and tomato
I have tried several recipes and not all of them work. This one does! It needs a bit of preparation but it’s well worth it. Here are quantities to make a generous pile to feed four.
Either soak overnight, or cook for 5 minutes in your Instant Pot and leave for a further hour in the water.
- Optional – 1 small onion
- Bunch of parsley leaves
- 2 garlic loves
- 1 tbs chickpea/gram flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 0.5tsp ground coriander
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Black pepper
Put these and the drained chickpeas in a food processor with about 50ml water. Process to a coarse paste. Add a spash more water if necessary. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
Make little balls 2-3cm in diameter – you will make about 20 with this batch. A small icecream scoop is useful. Heat a pan full of oil to about 160degC and shallow fry the balls in batches. You may need to flip them halfway through cooking if your oil isn’t deep. They are cooked when the outside goes brown and crispy. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm until ready to serve.
An easy side for a Lebanese meal. This is nice and sloppy so it goes well with dry dishes like couscous and falafel. This serves 4 as a side.
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tbs oil
Saute gently until translucent.
- 2 courgettes, sliced thickly and quartered.
Add to the pan. Saute until starting to colour.
- Pinch of chilli flakes
- Salt and pepper
- 4-6 tomatoes depending on size, diced.
You could use a tin of chopped tomatoes if times are hard. Now gently stew all this in a covered pan for 15-20 minutes. Add a splash of water if it is drying out. That’s it! Job done.
This is an easy lunch salad as long as you plan ahead with the bulgur wheat! You can us a variety of proteins for this to make it a more substantial dish, or you can use it as a side. For 2 portions (main) or 4 portions (side):
- 100 gm Bulgur wheat
- 400ml water
Simmer 15 minutes covered, turn off the heat and leave for 10 minutes. Meanwhile
- 1tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs tomato puree
- 1 tbs lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
Mix to make a dressing. When the bulgur is cooked, fluff it up. It should have absorbed all the water. Mix in the dressing and leave to cool.
- 2 dried figs or dates, chopped
- 2 spring onions chopped, or chives
- 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
- handful of mint leaves, shredded
- handful of parsley, chopped
- Optional – 1/4 cucumber cubed
Mix up with the cooked bulgur to make a salad. If you are serving this as a main course salad, you can top with:
- fried halloumi (vegetarian) or…
- Smoked mackerel fillets, or…
- Falafel (vegan), or…
- Grilled chicken breast, or…
- beef mince kofta, or…
- Lamb meatballs
and a few fancy lettuce leaves alongside. Pittas, yoghurt, hummus, Lebanese pickles all start to make this look like a feast.
You need an oven-proof pan with a lid, such as a cast-iron casserole.
Splash some oil in the pan and brown the thighs for 10-15 minutes. Remove to a plate.
Add to the pan and fry gently 2-3 minutes
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
- 2 tbs Moroccan spice mix*
Fry a bit more, scraping up any crispy bits from the chicken.
- 2 preserved lemons
- 2 large tomoatoes, chopped
- 1 tbs honey
- 1 tbs red wine vinegar
- Handful of olives
- Chicken stock cube
- 750ml water
Add to the pan. Stir gently to boiling point. Add the chicken back in, cover and transfer to an oven 170C/150C Fan for one hour. Serve with a scattering of feta, mint leaves and pomegranate seeds with couscous on the side.
*If you can’t find a suitable Moroccan spice mix try this:
- 2tbs coriander seeds
- 1tbs cumin seeds
- 1.5tsp fennel seeds
- 0.5tsp black pepper
- 0.24 tsp ground ginger
- 0.5 tsp cinnamon
- pinch saffron
Dry fry the seeds until they start to smell. Grind, then mix with the other spices.
North African spice mix used as a rub for meat and fish, or for our lamb flatbread recipe
- 4 parts paprika
- 4 parts ground black pepper
- 1 part ground coriander
- 1 part ground cloves
- 1 part ground cardammom
- 1 part ground cummin
- 1 part ground cinammon
- 1 part ground ginger
- 0.5 part ground allspice
- 1 part ground dried chilli (optional)
We seem to be on a bit of a Middle Eastern theme at the moment. I had a solitary whiting and a hungry Olwyn on her way back from Pilates so I thought why not add a quick starter to our chicken with pomegranate molasses? You can use Tarator Sauce for falafels as well. Nutty, lemony, garlicky, good. Here are the base ratios, add your garlic and salt as you like.
- 2 scoops tahini paste
- 1 scoop lemon juice
- 1 scoop water
- garlic puree
OK if it helps I used a tablespoon for a scoop, with one garlic clove and half a teaspoon of salt. Just mix it all up. You can added chopped parsley if it looks a bit ordinary without.
- Skinned, boned fish fillets cut into chip-sized strips
- oil for frying
- Enough flour. OK, for a more scientific measure I used 60ml for two medium-sized whiting fillets-worth of strips
- Season with white pepper, salt and ground cumin. For the above I used 1 tsp cumin, half tsp salt, quarter tsp white pepper
Put oil in a pan to 1 cm depth and heat until a lump of bread goes golden in 30 seconds. Mix the flour and seasonings. Dip the fish in the flour then straight into the oil for about a minute or until it looks cooked. Serve with shredded lettuce, a lemon quarter and Tarator sauce.
If you buy a kebab from a genuine takeaway or van you will usually be offered (or find) some bright pink pickled vegetable with a nice crunch and a bit of a tang. These are surprisingly easy to make, and go well with your own kebabs at home. You will need some sort of glass jar, I used a Kilner but others are available. Wilco is a surprisingly useful source for these. There are other recipes available on-line. This one does produce good pickles though. Others appear to have more salt and less vinegar. Experiment!
- 1 large or 2 small turnips, 400-500g total
- 1 small uncooked beetroot.
Trim off the peel and slice into sticks the size of French fries, or shorter chunkier pieces.
- 175ml water
- 175ml distilled vinegar (white)
- 4 tsp salt
- 1 chilli stabbed with a knife (optional)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole.
Mix the pickling ingredients and stir until the salt has dissolved.
Pack a jar with the beets and fill with the liquid. Place in the fridge and check it each day to see the pink tinge grow! The original recipe advised swirling around every few days. After a week it will be ready to eat. Keep it in the fridge and it will last a few weeks I am told. It didn’t last that long here – it was eaten. The Lebanese call these pickles “lift”. Yes, you can see Rudi in the photo.