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We are expecting some snow here this afternoon and somehow I always end up baking something when the weather is cold and windy!

Since the orange season is in full swing at the moment and fresh oranges are everywhere, I buy some whenever I go grocery shopping! We love them as is. They are a great snack on a cold day. But I also love using them in recipes! My mum’s orange jam is high on that list but I also love adding them to my desserts and baked goods. Like the orange and spiced chocolate marble cake that I shared with you a few days ago, the orange bars, orange and mango layered cake ,orange curd and rice pudding that you see below and of course the recipe that I am sharing with you today

Today’s recipes is one of my “aromatherapy recipes”!
You know, the recipes that fill the house with a cloud of aromas and spice and everything nice!
The floral smell of the orange zest, rich earthy nuttiness of the walnuts, the warm and comforting scents of cinnamon and cardamom, all blend into a heavenly combination that you just have to smell to appreciate.

Not only do these bars smell heavenly, the taste is the perfect match to all those beautiful scents. The chewy dried figs, perfectly compliment the crunch of the walnuts both playing against a canvas of spices and nutty wholewheat.

As you will notice as you go through the recipe below, this recipe can be made in two forms. Bars and biscotti. I got this recipe years ago from the Smitten kitchen.  But when I made it for the first time, my kids (who have to sample every biscotti recipe halfway through before the second bake!) loved it so much as bars that it never made it to the second bake!I have made it many many times over the years and I personally love it both ways but my kids still stand by their opinion and still like it as bars not biscotti. So do give this a try both ways and let me know which one you like best
The recipe written below is the one that I make nowadays. I have adapted it to our liking a little by making a few changes to the spices a and replacing half of the white flour with whole wheat. If you have dried figs on hand, do yourself a favor and give these bars a try, I promise the smell alone is worth it!


Orange scented dried fig and walnut bars

1 cup toasted walnut chopped coarsely
1 cup dried figs chopped
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons or 3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/3 cup (6 tablespoons) brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of a large orange
1 cup wholewheat flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (or 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons) unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon. ground cardamom

Instructions

  1. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula occasionally.
  3. Beat in the vanilla and the orange zest. Your wet mix is ready, set it aside.
  4. In another bowl, add all your dry ingredients: stir together the two types of flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and beat to form a somewhat firm dough.
  6. Add the walnuts and figs and beat until thoroughly combined.
  7. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic and chill 35 to 40 minutes or until completely firm.
  8. At this stage you have two options, you can either make bars or biscotti. If you decide to go with bars, spread the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet
  9. If you decide to make biscotti you can roll the piece of dough into a log on a floured surface and then transfer it to a baking sheet.
  10. Sprinkle the dough with granulated sugar. Bake at 180 C for 15 to 20 minutes until it is lightly golden brown, firm to the touch and just beginning to crack slightly.
  11. Allow the log/baking sheet to cool on a cookie sheet until cool to the touch, about 40 minutes.
  12. With a serrated knife, slice the biscotti, slightly on the bias, into 1/2-inch slices. Lay the slices on the cookie sheet in single layer (You may end up needing a second baking sheet in this step, as the cut pieces have a bigger surface area); Return the biscotti to the oven and cook for 20 more minutes, or until the biscotti are toasted and crisp.
  13. Store the biscotti in an airtight container. They will keep up to about 2 weeks.(that is if you can keep your hand off them for that long!)
Notes
  • You can prepare this recipe in the bowl of an electric mixer or by hand
  • To toast the walnuts: Preheat the oven to 150  degrees. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Allow the walnuts to cool completely

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Knock knock, anybody home?
I know it’s been over 5 months since I last published a recipe (yesterday’s shawarma post doesn’t count! it was a draft that has been sitting in my draft folder since Feb!! ) To say that I have missed blogging and connecting with all of you my wonderful readers is an understatement! (I do hope that after 5 months away, you are still interested in this little corner of the web :))

So much has happened in these past few months, we packed a home and 4 years’ worth of adventures, memories, and experiences in the UAE and moved back to Jordan.
We searched all over Amman for a new place to call home and were blessed enough to be able to find a place that we all loved. Then came the long and hectic process of setting the house up. I am honestly glad I still have hair on my head after having to deal with so many contractors, handymen, delivery companies, shipments that got lost, misplaced or broken, appointments that were moved, delayed or simply canceled at the final minute,things that had to be reinstalled because of a missing piece or a wrong measurement and the list goes on and on and on….
Having to live in a house with no kitchen or sinks for a while made me realize that there is a looooong list of things in every home that we take for granted. I have never thought to add (having a functioning kitchen), (sink) or (warm water) to my list of ( things that I am grateful for) but after the first few weeks in this house, they have made the list for sure!

I p I still smile every time I walk into my kitchen or turn on the hot water and I do hope that my gratitude won’t wear off soon!

On that same note, I still run to the window with the joy of a child when it starts raining and my phone’s memory is already overloaded with pictures of clouds, autumn leaves and my mini herb garden that I started on the kitchen window (mint and sage tea has never tasted this good!)

One of my teachers once told me that they need to teach photography in schools for people to learn how to actually see instead of just look! and I want to add, I think that every person needs to leave his home country for a few years if possible to be able to actually see and appreciate all the beauty that is in it.

I have so many pictures to share and stories to tell but I thought that I would ease back into blogging by sharing one my all time favorite recipes: my mum’s white bean stew. 

When I was an expat and my longing for my mum’s smile and company got out of hand, I would make this stew. A spoonful of it was enough to transport me back to her kitchen on a cold winter afternoon with the sound of rain playing in the background, the soup (and her smile) warms me inside and out…

So before getting to the recipe, allow me to ask you, my dear readers, if you happen to be an expat..what is the meal that you make when you really miss home?

White bean stew

2.5 cups dried white beans
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 kg tomatoes chopped
2 cups water
350 g meat (beef or goat work well)
1 teaspoon salt

1.Soak the beans in water over night
2.If you are tight on time, add the beans to a pot and add enough water to completely submerge them then add more water till the level is at least 5-7 cm above the beans. Bring to a boil then turn off the heat, cover and set aside for 2 hours
3. Add the olive oil and onion to a pressure cooker (If you don’t have a pressure cooker check out the notes)
4. Saute the onions for 3-5 minutes
5. Add the meat and cook while occasionally stirring for 10 minutes
6. Add the soaked and drained beans
7. In a food processor or blender , blend the tomatoes and water till smooth
8. Add the blended tomatoes to the pressure cooker
9. Add the salt
10 close the cooker and cook over medium heat for 13 minutes
11. Take off the heat, allow the pot to cool before attempting to open it

Notes
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can cook this in a regular pot but you will have to increase the cooking time to about 45 minutes to an hour or until the beans are cooked through and soft

البشر مخلوقات مدهشه…تفاصيل حياتيه صغيره بتفتح جواتنا عوالم من الذكريات..اغنيه من مسلسل كرتونك المفضل بترجعك طفل صغير بعمر 8 سنين بتغني باعلى صوت و بتشجع الخير و البطل رغم كل الظروفصوره من اجازه السنه الماضيه بتخليك تغمض عيونك و تشم ريحه الياسمين و تحس نسمات الهواو لقمه من طبخة كانت الوالده تطبخها بتحسسك انك قاعد معها في مطبخها و حواليك غيمه من الدفا لما باشتاق لامي كتير باعمل هاي الوصفه..لانه
بحياتي ما بدوق فاصوليا بيضا اطيب من اللي بتطلع من تحت دياتها…يا ترى شو اكتر وصفه بتذكركم باهاليكم..؟

2.5 كوب من الفاصوليا البيضاء المجففة
4 ملاعق طعام زيت زيتون
1 بصلة متوسطة الحجم مفرومة
1 كغم من الطماطم
2 كوب ماء
350 غرام من اللحم
1 ملعقة صغيرة ملح
  • ننقع الفاصوليا في الماء طوال الليل
  • نيف زيت الزيتون والبصل إلى طنجرة ضغط (نقلي البصل لمدة 3-5 دقائق
  • يضاف اللحم ويطهى أثناء التحريك لمدة 10 دقائق
  • قوم بإضافة الفاصوليا المنقوعة والمصفاة
  • في خلاط الطعام أو الخلاط ، نمزج الطماطم والماءو نخلط حتى يصبح الخليط أملسًا
  • نضيف الطماطم الممزوجة إلى طنجرة الضغط
  • نضيف الملح
  • نغلق القدر ونطبخ على نار متوسطة لمدة 13 دقيقة
  • نترك الطنجره تبرد تماما قبل فتحها
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Chef in disguise | Middle East Recipes B.. by Sawsan Abu Farha @ Chef In Disguise - 7M ago

What is your fondest memory associated with shawarma?

Enjoying a sandwich on a long walk with your best friend on a cold winter day discussing everything that you love and hate about your new school?

A family dinner on the first day of summer break excitedly planning trips and activities for the whole summer?

Finally nailing the recipe for homemade shawarma and beaming as everyone tells you that it is just as good as the stuff you buy at your favorite restaurant?

We all have memories associated with that juicy combination of perfectly spiced and aromatic chicken, beautifully complemented by the creamy yet tangy tahini sauce but how about creating some new ones by taking the shawarma you know and love and giving it a mini-makeover to make it tastier (if that is even humanly possible!), more fun and easier to share with friends and family?

The kids and I have a twist on traditional shawarma that we love to prepare on movie nights or during the school break:

Shawarma nachos!

The kids can help in preparing it (which makes eating it double the fun for them), we get to spend more time together and create our own magical memories. Win-win situation in my book.

Turning your basic shawarma sandwich into an irresistible bowl of nachos couldn’t be simpler. All you have to do is transform your sandwich bread into pita chips (perfectly crunchy and easier to scoop things with) then layer your chicken, fries, pickles, tomatoes, and olives on top of the pita chips and finish everything off with my secret ingredient tahini sauce. 

Shawarma nachos

1 chicken shawarma recipe 

2 loaves pita bread cut into squares

2 tomatoes deseeded and cut into strips

3-4 cucumbers pickles cut into thin rounds

2 medium potatoes cut into sticks and fried

1/3 cup black olives (pitted and cut into circles)

1/3 cup parsley leaves

Direction

  1. Spray the pita squares with olive oil or toss them with a little olive oil.
  2. Spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  3. Toast them in a 200 C oven for 7-10 minutes, stirring them after 5 minutes to get them to toast evenly
  4. Take the pita chips out of the oven and allow them to cool slightly
  5. Transfer the pita chips to your serving dish, top them with the shawarms, pickles, tomatoes, fries and olives
  6. Finish the nachos off with a drizzle of tahini sauce (recipe below) and garnish with parsley

Creamy tahini sauce

1/2 cup tahini paste
2-4 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on how much zing you like)
1 clove of garlic minced (optional)
2 tablespoon Greek yogurt
salt to taste
1-2 tablespoons water (IF you want the dressing to be thinner)
1 tablespoon dried mint

Whisk the tahini with the lemon juice, at first it will get runny then it will thicken up and become lighter in color
add the garlic,  yogurt, dried mint, and salt then whisk until homogeneous.

 
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Chef in disguise | Middle East Recipes B.. by Sawsan Abu Farha @ Chef In Disguise - 1y ago

Sorry for my lack of posting lately, we are in the middle of packing the house for our move back to Jordan and things are overwhelming, to say the least. To make up for my absence I am sharing a MUST try recipe if you are a fan of spices: Mandi our Arabic flavor recipe for the month of June.

Mandi is a traditional dish that originated in Yemen but slowly spread through the whole Arabic Peninsula and even made its way to the Levant and Egypt. Mandi simply put is a smoky rice pilaf that has three main components: meat (this can be chicken or lamb), rice, and spices but don’t let the humble trio fool you, the end result is anything but humble!
The word “Mandi” comes from the Arabic word nada, meaning “dew”, and reflects the moist ‘dewy’ texture of the meat. That moist nature of the meat is attributed to the unique cooking technique. Mandi is traditionally cooked in a special kind of oven. The tandoor which is usually a hole dug in the ground then lined with clay or a giant metal barrel that is buried in the ground. To cook the mandi, dry wood is placed in the tandoor and burned till the inside is super hot and all the wood burns down. The rice pot is then suspended inside the tandoor without touching the charcoal and well seasoned marinated meat is placed on a wire rack on top of the rice. After that, the whole tandoor is closed but an air vent is given to remove excess smoke.

The rice and meat are cooked low and slow using the residual heat in the oven. The steam from the rice helps in cooking the meat and the spices and fat that drip from the meat infuse the rice with more flavor. Add the smokiness from the burned wood and you’ve got a rice pilaf like nothing you have ever tried!

As you may have guessed from the cooking technique, Mandi is a festive main dish served on special occasions, such as Eid, weddings, and feasts.

If you are not one of the very few people who own a tandoor in their backyard, don’t despair, you can still enjoy this smoky pilaf in the comfort of your home using your oven.

Below you will find a detailed recipe along with the technique for cooking the mandi in your home oven. I do hope that you will give this one a try and if you do, let me know what you think of it.

Mandi

Recipe by : Halima Sheikha

Ingredients:
For the chicken marinade:
1 whole chicken, washed and cut into 4 pieces
3 Tablespoons yogurt
1 pinch Saffron (optional but recommended)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the rice:
4 cups basmati rice, soaked in water for 30 min with 1/2 teaspoon of salt then drained
2 tablespoons ghee
1 tablespoon oil
4 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 green chili pepper (optional)
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
5 pods whole cardamom
1 tablespoon allspice berries
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves,
2 dried lemons
1 teaspoon whole cloves

Directions:

  1.  Mix all chicken marinade ingredients together and keep it in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours preferably overnight
  2. In a food processor or blender, combine the garlic, onions, tomatoes, chili and tomato paste and blend till smooth
  3.  In a deep heavy bottom pot, heat oil and ghee and stir in cardamom,all spice, turmeric, dried lemons, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and cloves until fragrant. Add the blended mixture and the drained rice.
  4.  Stir gently, add 3 cups water
  5. Preheat the oven to 180 C
  6.  Cover rice pot with foil sheet, make several holes in it.
  7.  Place the marinated chicken on a metal rack on top of the rice pot, cover the chicken with foil sheet and place the entire assembly in the oven and allow it to cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
  8.  Check on the chicken and rice. Add 3 more cups of water to the rice, stir gently then cover the rice pot again and top it with the wire rack and chicken but leave the chicken without the foil cover this time and return the assembly to the oven for 20 more minutes.
  9. Check on the rice and chicken, the chicken needs to reach an internal temperature of 160C and the rice needs to absorb all the liquid and be cooked through.
  10. Reseal the rice and leave it covered for 15 minutes and leave the chicken covered as well.
  11. To get the smoky flavor: Use one foil sheet, make a small bowl-like shape (3-4 cm in diameter) out of it,  Or you can use an onion shell instead. Fill it halfway with some oil , butter or ghee and then heat a small charcoal on a flame till glowing red and then dip the charcoal in oil in the foil cup and cover the pot tightly for 10 to 15 min
  12.  Fluf the rice with a fork and then ladle into a serving platter, place chicken on top and top it with fried nuts, fried raisins and some parsley leaves for a pop of color
  13.  Serve with dagos tomato sauce (recipe below)and laban ayran drink.

Dagoos tomato sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion grated
2 cloves of garlic grated
1 green chili chopped finely (optional)
3 medium tomatoes grated
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt to taste

  1. In a pot over medium heat add the olive oil and onions and stir for 2-3 minutes
  2. Add the garlic and chili and stir for 1-2 minutes
  3. Add the tomatoes and stir for 3-5 minutes
  4. Turn off the heat, add the lemon juice  and salt to tasteNotes: You can chop everything instead of grating but grating gives better texture and flavor

المندي

المكونات

تتبيلة الدجاج

دجاجة مقطعة اربع قطع ومغسولة جيدا وبالسكين نعمل فتحات على قطع الدجاج حسب افراد العائلة

3 ملاعق كبيرة روب

صبغة الزعفران

1\4 كوب زيت نباتي

2 ورق غار

1 ملعقة صغيرة بابريكا

1 ملعقة كبيرة خل

1 ملعقة صغيرة هيل مطحون

1 ملعقة كبيرة ملح

1 ملعقة صغيرة فلفل اسود

3 فصوص ثوم مهروس

1 ملعقة صغيرة كركم

1 ملعقة صغيرة قرفة

نخلط البهارات كلها مع الروب والزيت ونتبل الدجاج فيها ونتركة ليلة كاملة او اقل شي 4 ساعات ونضل نقلب الدجاج حتى يتنكهة بالخلطة

مكونات الارز

4 اكواب ارز بسمتي مغسول ومنقوع مع 1\2 ملعقة ملح

زيت او سمنة

فحم مشتعل

مكسرات مقلية

تتبيلة الارز

4 فصوص ثوم

بصلة متوسطة الحجم

2 حبة بندورة مقطعة حمراء

1 قرن فلفل أخضر حار

2 ملعقة كبيرة رب البندورة

هيل , وفلفل اسود , وكركم , وورق غار , ولومي مجفف , شطة مجروشة حسب الرغبة , ملح

نضع جميع المكونات بالخلاط ونخلطهم جيدا وان كانت سميكة نضيف ماء قليلا

بالطنجرة نضع الزيت او السمنة ونقلب الهيل الحب وعود قرفة ولومي مجفف والمسمار حتى تتصاعد رائحتهم نضيف الخلطة الى خلطناها بالخلاط ونقلبها جيدا ثم نضيف الارز المنقوع ونقلبة جيدا ونضع ماء ولكن ليس كثيرا على سطح الارز فقط اقل من اوصفة العادية المخصصة لطبخ الارز

ثم نضع قصديرعلى الطنجرة ونعمل ثقوب بوسط القصدير ثم نضع شبك فوق القصدير ونضع الدجاج المتبل قبل بليلة على الشبك ثم نغطيها بقصدير ونحكم اغلاقة وندخلة الفرن لمدة 1\3 ساعة ثم نتفقدة ونتفقد الارز نزيل القصدير حتى يتحمر الدجاج وياخذ اللون الاحمر

نضع قصدير ونعملعا على شكل صحن او قشرة بصلة سميكة نضع بداخلها زيت نباتي ونضع الفحمة المشتعلة ونغلق الطنجرة بالقصدير حتى تتنكة بطعم الفحم

نسكب الارز بصحن التقديم ونضع الدجاج على الوجة والمكسرات ويقدم مع الدقوس البارد والساخن ولبن العيران

بالف صحة وهنا على قلبكم

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