Posts Tagged With: egypt

Egyptian Summer Mezze – Tomato & Cumin Chickpeas

Egyptian Lunch on the terrace with Hulba (Fenugreek Dip), Roasted Cauliflower Wedges and Spicy Aubergines

Have you tried Egyptian food?  This is the ideal recipe to start.  Many people ask for quick and easy recipes that are tasty, nutritious and something that can be rustled up without fuss.  Here we are!

This an ideal summer dish, light and good to go for a picnic twist, it can be eaten hot or cold.  It seems with all the sunshine we’ve been getting in the UK, the tomatoes are here!  Great news indeed.  Using nice ripe tomatoes in this dish with make all the difference.

These chickpeas are perfect with the Hazlenut Dukkha recipe that I just posted, a nice fresh salad, chargrilled/ roasted vegetables and some flatbread.  Summer lunchtime sorted!

I also roasted some cauliflower in the oven, really simply with some oil and spices, you can use the Dukkha, or something like Bharat.  Or even Garam Masala will be fine.  Just add a little spice.  Roasted cauliflower is a staple in the BHK in the summertime, great on the BBQ too.

I added a couple more Egyptian Mezze’s, with a classic Warm Aubergine Salad and a Fenugreek ‘Hulba’ Dip, which does have a very strong flavour, the fenugreek is full power.  The consensus from those present was leave the recipe for now.  I like it, it’s a bit like mustard, a little goes a long way.  Next time, I may reduce the fenugreek a little, it can be powerful stuff!

Other Egyptian Mezze ideas would be fava bean falafels, hummus, baba ganoush (ghanouj), fuul medames, tabouleh.  I love these rich, hearty, flavourful dishes.  All traditional.  All vegan!

Travelling Egypt

I love Egypt and the delicious buzz of eating out in Cairo, sipping some tea, taking a wander around Old Town, the little windy, ancient lanes and souks, more tea, then a nibble (repeat).  I may have been lost most of the time, but I never went hungry!

My last visit to Egypt was a good few years ago, but it left a big impression.  So much history (a massive understatement really) and people could not have been friendlier.  I just wandered around each day and invariably got myself invited to cafes or restaurants or weddings for sweet tea and meals and many happy memories.  I experienced incredible hospitality where ever I went.

One of my favourite foodie times was when I was walking up the coast from Dhaba, I met a bedouin family who invited me to stay with them and have some dinner, over near the border with Jordan.  They were camped on an isolated beach facing the Red Sea and twinkling lights of Saudi Arabia.  They made veggie food especially for me, cooked out under the stars and eaten on a huge colourful rug.  These spiced chickpeas are similar to one of the dishes we had.  This is my version.  I love recreating global dishes back in Wales.  When I travel, I write all my favourite food moments and ideas down in notebooks.  The one I brought back from Egypt is packed full with many happy memories of tasty times.

Egyptian Food

For those who haven’t tried traditional Egyptian food, I’d say it has many similarities with much of the food in the Eastern Mediterranean, lots of delicious rice, bean and vegetable dishes, maybe the best hummus I’ve ever tried (at least well up there with Lebanese Hummus).  In Egypt, you never seem far from an awesome flat bread or bowl of ful medames or Kushari, a dish I had never tried before and found it loads of fun.  Rice, lentils, pasta, tomato sauce, garlic vinegar, fried onions, a good hit of cumin, it’s seems all over the place, but really works.  Especially after a long day getting lost in old town Cairo, I needed plenty of feeding up!

Cumin is one of my favourite spices, ubiquitous in so many cuisines around the world, from Mexico to the Mediterranean and India.  Cumin is warming and highly aromatic, that’s why toasting and grinding your own spices at home is such a joy.  Cumin has a sweet smell but can be bitter to taste, so it does need cooking through.  I normally add ground cumin to dishes at earlier stages of cooking.  It acts as a great base for other spices I find, but in this dish, it takes centre stage.  We normally get white cumin seeds in the UK, but in India especially, the smaller black cumin seeds are popular, along with Amber cumin seeds.

Recipe Notes

The best way to go, cumin-wise, is to toast and grind your own.  If you have a pestle and mortar handy, or a blender/ food processor, we’re good.  Toast 2 tbs cumin seeds in a preferably heavy-bottomed pan, for a minute, until the colour slightly changes to a darker shade of brown and you can smell the lovely toasty cumin aromas.   I know in some Indian dishes, cooks prefer to really toast the cumin until they’re almost black.  But generally, the oils (plentiful in cumin) which contain the lovely aromatic qualities are quite sensitive to heat, I prefer, in this dish especially, just a light toasting in the pan.

You can use tinned chickpeas, but soaking and cooking dried chickpeas is more economical and you get the benefit of a nice stock to use afterwards in soups, curries or stews.  This stock can also be used as aquafaba, genius bean broth, which can be used to make all kinds of things; vegan mayonnaise, macaroons. meringues or to replace eggs when baking cakes.

The Egyptian olive oil I’ve tried has been excellent.  Drizzling it over and stirring it in at the end can add richness and great flavour to these chickpeas.

You may like to blanch your tomatoes and removed the skins, but my tomatoes were so sweet and thin skinned , I didn’t bother here.

Egyptian Chickpeas with Tomato and Cumin – Sinai-style 

I hope you enjoy this recipe, do let me know if you try it out.  People have asked me recently what I get paid for doing the BHK blog.  Hahahahahaaaaaa!  I love food and cooking.  That’s it!  There’s no better reason to do this, sharing the recipes that we enjoy at home.

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Egyptian Mezze – Chickpeas with Tomato and Cumin 

The Bits – For 4-6 

500g cooked chickpeas (roughly 2 tins, drained and rinsed)

1 large onion (finely diced)

2 large cloves garlic (finely sliced)

1 tbs cumin seeds

2 teas ground cumin

100ml hot water

4 medium ripe tomatoes (chopped into small pieces)

1 tbs cooking oil – I use cold pressed rapeseed oil

Sea salt

 

1 handful fresh coriander (finely chopped)

4 lemon wedges

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (1-2 tbs)

 

Do It

In a large frying pan, warm on a medium high heat.  Then add 1 tbs cooking oil and the cumin seeds.  Let the sizzle for 30 seconds before adding the chopped onion and garlic, with 1 teas sea salt.  Fry for 6 minutes, until the onions are slightly caramelised, then add the ground cumin, hot water and tomatoes.  Pop a lid on and lower the heat a little, cook until tomatoes are soft, around 5 minutes.

Now add the chickpeas, pop the lid back on and warm through, cooking for a couple of minutes.

Stir in coriander and olive oil, check seasoning.

Serve with warm flatbreads, lemon wedges and hazelnut dukkha.

 

Foodie Fact – Cumin

Cumin seeds come from a plant in the same family as fennel and parsley, it’s been around for a while, mentioned in the bible on a number of occasions and the ancient Greeks loved it.  They kept it on the table as an everyday spice, like we use black pepper nowadays.  It was also a staple in Roman kitchens, but became less used in Europe in the Middle ages.

Cumin is rich in copper and iron, zinc, calcium and potassium.  One teaspoon of cumin contains around 1/4-1/3 of our daily iron needs.  Pretty good!

Cumin has also long been regarded as anti-inflammatory, has anti-oxidant properties, is anti-bacterial, helps with digestion (in India it’s used frequently in daals for example, to minimise windiness).  Cumin may also help with diabetes and boosts the immune system.  Cumin is not alone in this respect, most spices have beneficial health properties and its an awesome idea to add spices to dishes and your diet in general.

Cumin seeds can be kept in a sealed container in a cool and dark place, they will keep for around a year.  Ground cumin, well, freshly ground is best, but it will last for a few months, but loses it’s flavour gradually.

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Lunch, Nutrition, plant-based, Recipes, Side Dish, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Hazelnut Dukkha – Versatile, Nutty Spice Mix

 

Hazelnut Dukkha – Egyptian Condiment

Only a small thing, a condiment, but it really packs in some intense, earthy flavours and livens up almost anything.

I’ve finally got round to posting (and finding) some of the Egyptian recipes I cooked in the Spanish sunshine.  Having been on the road for a while, recipes can wander off for a while.  They normally come back in one piece though.

Spain was so hot, we wanted things simple, quick and of course, super tasty.

Dukkha is ideal in this respect, perfect sprinkled on your favourite salad, mixed into youghurt to make a delicious dip, or even just served with warm flatbreads and olive oil.  I also use dukkha on top of roasted or barbecued vegetables and even Middle Eastern stews.

Dukkha is basically a condiment that livens up most things, bringing lovely, deep, toasted flavours, nuttiness and spices.  Dukkha keeps well in a sealed container and is a versatile flavour boost to have around the kitchen.  You can also play around with the recipe, this is classic old school style, by adding your favourite spices to it.

There are many ways of making dukkha, but I’ve gone for the easiest here.  We simply roast all the ingredients in an oven and bash them together in a pestle and mortar.  It’s a highly fragrant task.  Prepare for your kitchen to be filled with the aromas of toasty nuts n’ spices.  It’s delicious.

Go Spicy

I’ve been roasting many of my spice mixes at the minute and feel that if you have the time, this is the way to go.  Fresh roasted spices, ground in a pestle and mortar, or even a blender, are so much better than shop bought.  You can’t even compare really.  If you love spices and spicy foods, making your own makes sense.  I’ll post my Garam Masala recipe soon.

Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels

Egypt travel 

But this is Egypt.  A country I love, whose food blew me away.  I really wasn’t expecting it at all, I had no preconceived this and that, I just landed and ate.  The hummus is well up there with the best in the world, of course we all know about the falalfels, here’s my version – Egyptian Fava Bean Falafels.

You won’t be too surprised that I traveled all over Egypt and even did some touristy things like try to climb one of the great pyramids, I had no idea this was illegal until a man with a big gun chased me a fair way up the pyramid of Cheops (the big one).  It was very early in the morning, I was half asleep (missed the sign) and obviously most of the guards were.  To be fair, it was a long climb anyway.

I chilled on Mount Sinai with a load of very happy Christians, clapping with hymns at dawn, staying in monastery.  I dove in the Red Sea, a technicolour world bursting with marine life, at night, sat around fires, we looked right into Saudi Arabia, just across the sea.  I’m not a big city person, but one of the highlights was Cairo, the old town especially, the call to prayer each morning at 5am was a wake up call in more ways than one.  Egypt was the first Muslim country I had traveled around and everything all seemed very exotic and fresh, charged with new flavours, sights and sounds.

I’d love to go back, I didn’t quite make it down to Luxor.  Food wise, no problem, I was a vegetarian/ vegan hybrid at the time and always found lots of options, as you do in other Middle Eastern countries.  I specifically remember one bowl of perfect hummus, in a restaurant on a busy road, it was packed with families and the mezze style dishes just piled up on my table and I was in some form of food-induced bliss.  I’d been walking lots around Cairo (aka getting lost), it’s an ideal walking city with loads of windy lanes and interesting architecture.  I needed to keep my energy up you see!  Bring on the falafels…..

Egyptian style Aubergines, simply pan fried with onion, a little spice and lemon juice.

Buddhist tangent – Dukkha is also the word for “suffering” or more accurately ‘unsatisfactoriness” in Pali, the ancient language of many early Buddhist texts.  It’s what we feel about life much of the time said Buddha.  When I first came across the Egyptian condiment, I couldn’t separate the two really.  Spicy suffering crumbs, toasty torment, I’ve been through them all.  The opposite of Dukkha is Sukha in Pali, meaning something like “happiness”.  I was thinking about coming up with a recipe for Sukha, the topping to sprinkle all over your Nirvana, but I’ve never could see past Dukkha.  Here in lies my inherent problem.  I just can’t get enough of that Dukkha!!

I hope you get to try this recipe out, please let us know in the comments below.  Have you been to Egypt how did you find the food?  Are you a fellow vegan traveler, seeking out the tastiest plates in the coolest places?

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Hazelnut Dukkha

The Bits – Makes one small bowlful

50g sesame seeds
25g hazelnuts (very roughly chopped)
10g cumin seeds
8g coriander seeds
1g dried thyme
3/4 teas sea salt

 

Do It

Preheat a fan oven to 180oC.

Toss everything on a baking tray and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes, checking after 8 minutes.  Mix the dukkha up a little to ensure that everything is getting an equal amount of heat.

Once the sesame seeds and hazelnut have gone a darker shade, place the dukkha into a pestle and mortar.  You can do this in batches unless you have a giant pestle and mortar.  Grind it all down, I like a few who spices left in there for extra flavour explosions.

 

Foodie Fact

Nuts are just packed with nutrition.  Hazelnuts are good for the heart, containing good fats and plenty of fibre, magnesium, protein and Vitamin E.  You can read our previous Foodie Fact  about our tips for soaking nuts to maximise and transform the nutritional properties of nuts here.  It’s a little tip that can have a big effect on a healthier diet.

Categories: gluten-free, healthy, Healthy Eating, Nutrition, photography, plant-based, Recipes, Side Dish, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Egyptian Ful Medames

We have hardly been prolific of late, both of us busy as bees.  Things are about to change.  Raw Earth Month is about to commence, more of that later.

It’s great to be getting back in the blog flow, so I thought I’d start with a simple little stew that we love, get warmed up gently.  So its semi-official, the Beach House is back and in many ways, better than ever!!!!!!!

I love broad beans.  They are surprisingly one of Britian’s most ancient crops and we used to make bread out of it until our seafaring sorts brought wheat to these shore.  I haven’t tried broad bean bread, but it sounds mighty.

This is a simple stew and ideal for a midweek dinner, hearty and superbly healthy, it also only takes a short time to prepare.

This may well be the national dish of Egypt, but it’s also served throughout North Africa and the Middle East.  Ful (I like to mispronounce it ‘fool’) Medames is a rich, spiced stew that was a true food revelation when I ate it in Cairo old town all those years ago (seven to be exact).  The food of Egypt was a pleasant surprise, as it does not have the reputation of say Lebanon or Iran.  I can think of one little restaurant, buffet style, with fresh flat bread, heavenly light hummus and a large dollop of this on a steel plate.  You can keep your Michelin star joints, this was real food, heart and soul.  They also showed very entertaining Egyptian TV and a beautiful recitation of the Koran, it was a multi-media feast.

This dish is equalled by an Arabian recipe, heavy on the tahini and tomato, which transports broad (fava) beans to something supreme.  I’ll be whipping that up in the future for sure.  Broad beans have such a great, chewy texture, they are great fodder for visiting meat eaters and would sate any ravenous carnivore, especially if you serve topped with a fried egg and lashing of warm bread.  YUM, YUM……

Alas, we live halfway up the hill in sunny Wales and my duty in the Beach House Kitchen it to bring the flavours of the world into our lovely little cottage.  Last night it was flavours of the pharaohs that we dined on and no, we were not walking like an Egyptian afterwards.

 

The Bits – For 6-8

1kg whole dried fava beans, 3 garlic clove (blended), 1 red onion (blended), 50g fresh coriander, 25g fresh parsley, 1 large lemons (juice and zest), 1 small hot chilli (finely sliced), 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 3 heaped tsp cumin seeds, 700ml good tomato passata, 3 heaped tsp tomato puree
3 heaped tsp brown sugar, 100ml olive oil, sea salt and black pepper

Add a tablespoon of light tahini for added richness.

Do It

Soak the beans overnight. Drain, place in a pan, cover with plenty of water and cook for around one hour until tender.

Toast cumin seeds for 3 minutes in a hot frying pan, no oil, pop in a pestle and mortar and grind (ground cumin is also fine, but just not as good)

Blend the onion and garlic in a food processor, then fry gently in a little oil. Meanwhile, chop and mix the herbs, oil, lemon juice, chilli and spices.

Add this mixture to the onions and garlic, then cook for a few minutes. Add the passata and tomato puree plus 100ml of fresh water, which you can first use to wash the remains of the passata out of the jar or packet it came in.

Cook for a ten more minutes and then add the beans. Continue to simmer and taste – adjust seasoning with sugar, salt and pepper. The beans will be ready as soon as the seasoning is balanced and the sauce is nice and thick.

Serve

Eat straight away or allow it to cool, divide into portions and freeze. It’s traditionally eaten with warm pitta bread, plus tomato and cucumber salad.

We Love It!

I love bringing the flavours of the bustling streets of Cairo into our quiet little kitchen.  Food evokes so many memories of travel for me and these flavours are allow me to relive days and nights in more exotic times.  I love Wales, but its good to mix things up, regularly.

Foodie Fact

Broad beans offer awesome levels of fibre, keeping the belly and below very happy.  They are full of folate, which lessens heart issues and other nasty diseases.  A cup of broad beans contains 40% of your daily iron (and fibre) and is a brilliant source of lean protein.  They are also easy to grow and even grow well in our windswept veg patch.

In times of doubt, refer to cat.

In times of doubt, refer to cat.

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Stew, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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