Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Turning Lebanese...

The full moon has pumped me full of creative thoughts. All I want to do is cook at the moment. So, when I got home last night, I headed around the corner to The Circle shops to buy my ingredients for my planned night of cooking. No television, no music. Just me,a knife, a chopping board and the kitchen. As promised last week- Kousa Mahshi or stuffed zuchinis- lebanese style.

First, wash your zucchini's then cut the stalk end off. Once
you have done this, you will need to hollow out the middle by removing the pulp.
How does one achieve this you ask?

Ta da!! Behold- the manakra! This baby will set you back 2 fat ones.
You'll need it.

The manakra in action-not sure if I'm doing it right but I persist

I guess that's how it goes-they're hollowed out and ready to be filled
with rice mincey spicy goodness.

An arty shot of my green babies.

Place the zooks in cold,salted water for 5 mins. The salt
water helps to keep them firm for the cooking process.

Now to make your baharat or if you can't be arsed,
can be purchased ready made at Middle Eastern grocers.
I hope the person behind the counter slaps you for being so lazy.

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons dry roasted and ground cumin seeds
2 teaspoons dry roasted and ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
In a bowl, mix 250 grams of mince of your choice. I used lamb but the recipe called for beef.
I'm bored with beef mince. Add 1 cup of short grain rice that has been rinsed, half cups of flat leaf parsley and mint, 1 medium tomato,salt,pepper and the baharat. Do not cook. Mix well and begin stuffing your zukes.

This is where I made a bit of a mistake. Don't use as much water as I have in this photo.
Add 2 big blobby tablespoons of tomato paste to just over half full pan of water.
Add your zukes and start boiling.

Cover them and once they start boiling, lower heat to a low simmer and cook
for a further 60 minutes.

Now for the fattoush - a Lebanese salad with bread.

Finely chop 2 tomatoes, handfuls of mint,coriander and flat leaf parsley,some fine slices of radish,half each of red and green capsicums
and 2 lebanese cucumbers. Juice one lemon and add to 3 parts of good olive oil.
The rule of thumb for salad dressing is one part acid,3 parts oil. Add some salt and pepper. Shake/whisk well.
The recipe called for one large round of flat bread to be deep fried till crispy and drained on kitchen paper.
I wasn't in the mood for that caper so I put in the oven for ten or so minutes till crispy. No oil on the hips or all over the stovetop/floors/walls/me.

My first attempt was a disaster. Pan carcinogentico.

The end result- fresh and delicious.

Again, I forgot to photograph the end result! The water the zukes are cooked in are meant to create the sauce but due to too much water, it was just flavourless liquid. As suggested, I served it with a dollop of smooth,creamy delightful labni yogurt which was to die for. I also served the fattoush on a leaf of baby cos lettuce which gives a fresh and lovely crunch along with the bread pieces in the salad. I'll definitely be making both of these again and I'm very happy for my first attempt at making both.
They should have looked like this and they kind of did!

If vegetarian and reading this, it is just as simple to make sans meat.


Post script! These aren't meant to be covered! If you do, the water doesn't reduce and you don't get the lovely sauce it creates. I made them the other night and they were so perfect. With the dollop of labneh, it's Lebanese heaven!!!

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