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MIDDLE EASTERN CUISINE

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THE SEXY CHIC THIGH

coconut curry thighs

A lot has been said when it comes to chicken. Endless discussions about its lackluster qualities. Who ever said chicken was boring, must still be pondering how can it get to the other side? Considering the million preparations and techniques, with deep-rooted dishes going through a much-needed revival and new imaginative takes thrown in for good measure, chicken is the 13thwonder of the gastronomic world when given some TLC, because it’s a blank canvas. Sure, you can slap it on…

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CHICKEN SOFRITO

CHICKEN SOFRITO

This is a recipe made popular by nomadic shepherds and Palestinian villagers, where people had limited means and it’s the true essence of a rustic dish. It delivers the indigenous and a quintessential flavors of Jerusalem and though simple in flavor, it is one on of the most exquisite chicken dishes I’ve ever tasted and prepared. The dish calls for a whole chicken, but it can easily be substituted with thighs. Not be confused with the sofrito associated with Spain…

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SHAKSHOUKA AND TABBOULEH – EXOTIC MIDDLE EASTERN DISHES

shakshuka

If your background is Middle Eastern, hail from Israel, Lebanon, Syria or Turkey, you’re extremely familiar with Shakshouka.  But most will be scratching the proverbial bean because you’ve never heard of it, let alone tasted it. The origins are nebulous, as there’s always the primeval dispute where a dish generated its roots.  It’s not typically native of the Levantine regions, but as with anything, there are permutations where dishes are recreated from country to country.  In Israel it’s served as…

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MOROCCAN LAMB MEATBALLS WITH YOGURT SAUCE

meatballs moroccan

Tunisian and Moroccan food is by far one of the most exotic cuisines round the globe.  Nothing like any other in the Middle East.  Heavy accent on spices, showcasing poultry, lamb, vegetables and pulses.  The waters of the Mediterranean yield an overabundance of fresh caught fish and seafood, and unlike most of Africa, Morocco is a country that mostly cultivates all of its food for the population.  It’s part Arab and also Berber – which are the nomad Bedouins of…

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THE “IT”VEGGIE – THE WINSOME CAULIFLOWER

cauliflower roasted with couscous

Move over Kale and Brussel Sprout – your claim to fame is already longstanding.  I present you the cauliflower.  A lovelier flower has yet to grace your plate. Never an antagonistic veggie, it sat forlorn and bypassed on supermarket shelves, allowing its cousin, the broccoli to receive all the acclaim, never vying for first place. Well those days are over.  No more insipid and lackluster boiled cauliflower, because boiling veggies are not only foul tasting, but have hardly any nutritional value,…

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TAGINE OF CHICKPEAS, SPINACH AND MINT

chickpeas and cauliflower tagine

Tagine is a Middle Eastern method of cooking (mostly stews) in an earthenware pot.  The technique dates to the 9thCentury and was even mentioned in “A Thousand and One Nights”.  The desert dwellers, Bedouins and nomadic tribes in North Africa, are well known for their addition of dried fruits and mint to their tagines. The conical shape ensures that the food inside is kept exceptionally moist while cooking.  Since the base is wide and shallow, the pointed lid on top…

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MOROCCAN BALLS IN TAHINI

MORROCAN MEATBALLS

Your subliminal response must have been meatballs in Tahini sauce?  Seriously.  This is a very Mediterranean dish, actually Moroccan and often served in Lebanon and Syria, where a lot of lamb and tahini are used daily.  In case you aren’t familiar with tahini, it’s a very rich and thick paste made out of sesame seeds and oil.  You can adjust tahini with your own flavorings and one its best uses is in hummus. Remove any clandestine thoughts that the use…

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LENTIL STUFFED MOROCCAN BELL PEPPERS

Moroccan stuffed bell peppers

The filling for these peppers has a Moroccan/Middle Eastern flavor profile.  They include no meat but carnivores will relish these for the combination of spices, mushrooms and lentils alone.  They are extraordinarily easy to prepare. 4 bell peppers – choose your preference 1 cup of cooked lentils (see note) ½ LB of button mushrooms – chopped somewhat small 1 medium onion – finely chopped ½ TSP ground cumin ½ TSP ground Aleppo pepper ½ TSP ground coriander ¼ TSP cinnamon…

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EGYTIAN STUFFED PEPPER – MAHSHI

Stuffed yellow bell peppers

During the Ramadan, these stuffed peppers are almost a staple served in restaurants and almost every local Egyptian household.  They are typically served alongside roasted lamb skewers as a complete meal.  Some ground lamb can be added, but they are robust enough with aromatics and rice.  If you choose to add some ground lamb, sauté it first with some onions, cilantro, pinch of allspice salt and pepper and then mix with the cooked rice prior to stuffing the peppers.  …

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BASIC HUMMUS – LEBANESE HUMMUS BI TAHINI

Lebanese Hummus

Hummus authorities will tell you it’s truly calamitous to use canned chickpeas.  Still, when time constraints thwarts the lengthy preparation, it’s a precipitous way of creating Hummus in a hurry.  It may be a desecration of the Hummus Laws of the Universe, but you still get a pretty decent dip in my opinion, way better than any store bought.  So, venture gently into the Hummus world, and know it’s fine to use the shortcut.  Fair warning however, once you make…

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