Category Archives: Middle Eastern recipes and influences

Middle Eastern recipes and influences

Olympic Souvlaki with Tzatziki

This is for my friends and blog commenters who have asked me why I have been avoiding the Olympics in my blog. Well…

  1. I have been too busy watching the Olympics on TV to blog much
  2. Two – not all of the sports interest me unless they involve great athletic prowess, a huge record breaking headline, controversy (doping scandals etc.) or Holland (who are 10th by the way in the medal rankings in case you were wondering ūüėČ ). Sri Lanka…well lets not even go there.
  3. I’m feeling very poor after my trip to Bangkok and have been working my backside off.

Anyway back to the subject at hand.

The first modern-day Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896, with 241 athletes (all male) from 14 nations competing in 9 sports with 43 events. Volleyball wasn’t one of them.

Athens hosted its second Summer Games in 2004, this time with 10,625 athletes (4,329 women and 6,296 men) from 201 nations competing in 28 sports with 301 events Рincluding volleyball and beach volleyball. All that progress deserves a tasty Greek treat.

This dish can be prepared with lamb, chicken and pork although the recipe below is best with either lamb or pork. I don’t actually eat lamb so I make it with pork or chicken but some prefer lamb for the better depth of meaty flavour.

Olympic Souvlaki with Tzatziki:

Ingredients:

For the souvlaki

  • 1 kilo boneless¬†pork¬†or lamb (e.g. leg fillet or steaks. I use pork loin)
  • 1 tbsp¬†coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp rigani, or dried¬†oregano
  • 150ml/5fl oz extra virgin¬†olive oil
  • 4 tbsp¬†red wine vinegar
  • 1¬†onion, grated or very finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves, roughly torn (if not available omit these)
  • salt and freshly ground¬†black pepper

For the tzatziki

  • ¬Ĺ¬†cucumber, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tbsp white or¬†red wine vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground¬†black pepper
  • 150g/5oz thick Greek-style¬†yoghurt (I think you could safely substitute curd here)
  • 1 clove¬†garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp fresh¬†mint, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Cut the pork or lamb into 2cm/¬ĺin cubes, trimming off any gristle or other unwanted fat.
  2. Mix all the remaining souvlaki ingredients and then pour over the meat.
  3. Turn so that all the pieces are coated, then cover and leave to marinate for at least two hours, but preferably nearer to 24 hours, in a cool place (or fridge).
  4. To make the tzatziki, spread the cucumber dice out in a colander or sieve, and sprinkle over the vinegar and a little salt.
  5. Leave to drain for one hour, then pat dry with kitchen paper or a clean tea towel.
  6. Mix with the rest of the tzatziki ingredients, then taste and adjust seasoning. Serve either lightly chilled or at room temperature.
  7. Back to the souvlaki. Soak wooden skewers in cold water for an hour or two, and then thread the meat on the skewers. Don’t push the cubes right up against each other, but leave a minuscule gap between each pair, just enough space for the heat to curl round every cube, cooking it evenly.
  8. Preheat either the barbecue or grill or an oiled griddle pan (place over a high heat for about 3-5 minutes), then cook the kebabs close to the heat, or on the griddle pan, turning and brushing occasionally with the leftover marinade, until they are crusty and brown.
Olympic Souvlaki with Tzatziki

Olympic Souvlaki with Tzatziki

Serve sizzling hot, with a wedge of lemon, the tzatziki and warm crispy pitta breads.

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Filed under Meat recipes, Middle Eastern recipes and influences, Salad recipes, Snacks

Baba Ghannouj Recipe (Aubergine dip)

Those of you that regularly read my posts will know that I am a great fan of Aubergines (or Eggplant / Brinjal). Add to that my love of Middle Eastern influences in food (that includes Turkish & Jewish food too) and the following Baba Ghannouj recipe cannot fail to please me every time.

Baba Ghannouj Recipe (serves 4)

This classic Middle Eastern aubergine dip or spread, fragrant with garlic and smoky charred eggplant, is made even creamier with the addition of mayonnaise.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 medium aubergines / brinjals
  • ‚Öď cup fresh lemon (or lime) juice
  • ¬ľ cup plus¬†2 tbsp. tahini
  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • Sprinkle of chilli powder
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil to serve

Method:

Place garlic cloves and aubergines (brinjals) on a baking sheet lined with tin foil, and grill until tender and charred all over, about 10 minutes for garlic, and about 40 minutes for aubergine (be sure to pierce the aubergine with a fork first to avoid an explosive mess!!). Peel and seed aubergines, and mash flesh with peeled garlic, lemon juice, tahini, mayonnaise, 2 tsp. parsley, the cumin, paprika, and salt and pepper in a bowl; sprinkle with remaining parsley and drizzle with olive oil.

Baba Ghannouj (credit: Todd Coleman)

Baba Ghannouj (credit: Todd Coleman)

Serve with crispy pitta bread and a fresh salad. Grilled or barbecued meats also go very well with this luscious dip. For you Sri Lankan die-hards out there, roti works well too!

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Filed under Healthy food, Middle Eastern recipes and influences, Salad recipes, Snacks, Vegetarian recipes

Brinjal and Cucumber Sandwich

Another hot day…another food-sick day (instead of home-sick!) and seeing as I am well into brinjals (aubergines or eggplants) at the moment I thought I would try this recipe from Saveur.com today.

An earthy combination of fried aubergine, tea-steeped hard-boiled eggs, tahini, parsley, amba (a mango chutney/relish), and cucumber salad goes into this vegetarian sandwich, which is based on a traditional Shabbat breakfast of Iraqi Jews.

I was brought up in the Middle East for 13 years and thus have a great love of Middle Eastern food. You can honestly wake me up in the middle of the night for some home-made houmous, tabbouleh and warm Lebanese or Turkish bread…but I’ll save that for another post!

The ingredients for a Brinjal & Cucumber Sandwich:

  • The peel of 1 large red onion
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 7 tbsp. oil (vegetable)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. large brinjal/aubergine,¬†cut crosswise into 1/4″-thick slices
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 small cucumbers, unpeeled, finely chopped
  • 1 small tomato, cored and finely chopped
  • The remainder of the red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tbsp. tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped¬†and mashed into a paste with a little salt
  • 4 pitas, warmed
  • Amba (mango) chutney, for serving
  • 1/4 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves

Eggplant and Cucumber Salad Sandwich

Photo Credit: André Baranowski

Method:

1. Place tea bags and onion peel in a large saucepan with 8 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to lowest setting, add eggs, and cover; let eggs steep until they’ve darkened in color, about 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large cast- iron skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat until oil is shimmering. Season eggplant with salt. Working in batches, add eggplant and cook, flipping once, until golden and very soft, 3‚Äď4 minutes. Transfer eggplant to paper towels and set aside.

3. In a small bowl, combine the chopped cucumber, tomato, onion, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, and olive oil; season cucumber salad with salt and pepper and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the remaining lemon juice, tahini, garlic, and 5 tbsp. ice water. Whisk ingredients until creamy and season with salt; set tahini sauce aside.

4. To serve, slice off the top quarter of the pita breads and spread some of the tahini mixture on the inside of each pita. Put about 7 slices of eggplant into each pita along with one egg. Add some of the cucumber salad, top with some of the amba chutney, and stuff some of the parsley into each pita. Drizzle the top of each sandwich with the remaining tahini sauce.

YUM!

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Filed under Healthy food, Middle Eastern recipes and influences, Salad recipes, Sandwiches, Sri Lankan life, Vegetarian recipes