Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Middle Eastern & Israeli Food

Hebrew: אוכל ים תיכוני ואוכל ישראלי

 

The cuisine of the Middle-East includes plenty of fresh produce, dried pulses, olives, olive oil, yogurt, fresh parsley, mint, lamb, chicken and fish. Spices such as sumac, allspice, cinnamon and cayenne pepper are used in abundance.  Other dominant flavors in Middle-Easter cuisine include lemon juice, tahini and flower-flavored waters.  We have selected a few recipes where yoghurt, mint and olive oil are widely used:

shakshoukaShakshouka: Tomatoe based, vegetables and fried eggs 

Originally a Tunisian dish, shakshouka has become popular all over the Middle East.  You will find it on the menu at most restro-cafes.  The original recipe calls for green hot peppers, but you will also find courgettes, aubergines (eggplant) and potatoes as extra ingredients.  Salty white cheese like Feta, adds an extra dimension to the dish - this is our recipe.

Ingredients

  • 4 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 2 green peppers, de-seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 4 tomatoes, sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of chilli powder or cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1tblsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 4 large eggs  (1 per person)
  • 250 g feta cheese, crumbled

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions and peppers until they are soft and golden.
  2. Add the tomatoes.  Cook until soft.  Season with salt, pepper, chilli powder and the mint.
  3. Distribute the 4 cracked eggs, on top of the tomatoes.  Sprinkle with feta cheese and cook gently until the eggs have set and the feta has melted slightly.

Some chefs will cook their tomatoe sauce for hours until it is thick and all the flavors have developed.  For busy cooks, you may not want to spend more than half an hour prepping this dish.

Chef's Tip

  • You can use Bulgarian cheese, Roquefort or feta
  • Customry to eat shakshoukah on Saturday mornings so serve with chunks of fresh challah   
  • For a slightly different twist, slice and fry some vienna sausages, one per person, and add it to the shakshouka before you add the eggs.

cacikCacik (Jah-Jik): Yogurt & Cucumber Salad

Cacık is a dish of seasoned, diluted yogurt, eaten throughout the former Ottoman countries. In Greece a similar, much thicker yogurt dish is called tzatziki and is also similar to tarator in Balkan cuisine. It is served cold in very small bowls usually as a side dish or with ice cubes.

Ingredients

  • 500ml white natural yoghurt
  • 1- 2 cloves or garlic, crushed
  • a few sprigs of fresh mint, chopped finely
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

cauliflower frittersTunisian Cauliflower Fritters

There is a Lebanese version of this dish is called Em-Shaat. Served for Shavuot this makes a light and nice entree.  Deep-fried foods are traditional on Hannukah too.  You might want to serve this as an addition to your traditional potatoe latkes.

Ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower cut into florets
  • 75g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • juice of one lemon
  • 125 Gruyere or Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)
  • oil for deep frying
  • salt

Directions

  1. Boil the cauliflower in lightly salted water for five minutes or until just tender.  
  2. Beat the flour with the eggs and lemon juice until well blended.  Add the cheese and nutmeg, chilli powder and garlic.  Leave for 30 minutes.
  3. Separate the florets into bite-size pieces and Add them to the batter mixture
  4. Heat the oil until hot but not smoking.  Drop in tablespoons of the mixture and deep fry until browned, turning once.  Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot.

Chef's Tips

  • It is very important not to overcook the cauliflower.  It will become waterlogged and your fritters will become a soggy mess.
  • In Israel, Tal Ha'emek cheese is a perfect substitute for Gruyere

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Learn Hebrew with our free word sheets with English and transliterations - dairy products and tens of other topics too