Posts Tagged ‘Middle Eastern food’

Ramadan Recipes ~ What’s Cooking This Month

July 16th, 2013 4 comments

Qatayef 'Ataif

It’s not Ramadan without ‘Atief, our go-to Ramadan indulgence. There are endless ways to fill and prepare these little pancakes. My method is to stuff them with walnuts and bake them. I serve them as dessert or a sweet suhoor snack. I prepare ‘atar scented syrup to pour over top.

As for iftar, every night we sit down to this easy Lentil Soup. This has been a tradition at our house for years, and it’s one of the most popular recipes on my website.

Arabic Lentil Soup for Ramadan

Meanwhile, another flavorful soup to try during Ramadan is Moroccan-style Lentil Soup with Chickpeas. This is a good soup if you are looking for something hearty.

Moroccan Soup for Ramadan

As for main courses, our favorite family iftar is the Palestinian dish Maqluba, which means “upside down” in Arabic. It’s prepared in a layered pot—chicken, rice and cauliflower simmered on the stove. We traditionally eat this dish on the first day of Ramadan, as we did this year. I plan to prepare it several more times before the month is over. On the side, I serve a Simple Arab Salad and Yogurt Cucumber Salad.

Maqluba Palestinian Rice Dish

Aonther terrific side dish during Ramadan is Fattoush, a hearty peasant salad from the Levant. It’s super-healthy, as it’s loaded with various greens and veggies and prepared with an olive oil dressing. The salad is topped with toasted Arabic bread pieces, which is what makes it fattoush.

Fattoush Salad for Ramadan

As for suhoor, the pre-dawn meal during Ramadan, one popular dish is Foul, a Egyptian fava bean breakfast, which is filling and nutritious. Also, I can’t forget Hummus, which can be made in advance and served for both iftar and suhoor.

Egyptian Ful for Ramadan Suhoor

Finally, I’d like to wish you all Ramadan Kareem.

Question: What are your favorite Ramadan foods?

BBC Good Food Middle East ~ Meet the Blogger

July 16th, 2013 7 comments

BBC Good Food Middle EastCheck out this month’s issue of BBC Good Food Middle East magazine, sold in the UAE and Qatar.

I am featured in their Ramadan issue on the “Meet the Blogger” page. The theme for the month is Arabian Delights. My favorite subject! 

So many talented food writers and bloggers have been featured here, so I’m pleased to see my photos and words on these pages.

Happy Reading & Ramadan Kareem!  


BBC Good Food ~ Meet the Blogger

Cookbook Review: Suzanne Husseini’s WHEN SUZANNE COOKS

June 12th, 2011 11 comments

I first heard about Suzanne Husseini and her cookbook in an article in the National newspaper. What struck me were her stories of her Arab-Canadian childhood and her philosophy of cooking—it’s not about perfection, but the love imparted through food.

When her cookbook was released, I went to Magrudy’s and looked at its cover. I thought: Do I really need another Arabic cookbook? Honestly now? I already had a dozen in my kitchen, mostly collecting dust.

I opened the book and looked at every page. I scanned every recipe. I studied every photograph. When I reached the end, I decided I had to have it.

Now I’ve had the cookbook about six months. I’ve made about fifteen recipes from it, nearly all with great success. Some of the recipes, such as the Green Salad with Fried Halloumi and Pomegranate Dressing, are now part of my weekly repertoire. My favorite is the Knafe Pastry with Cheese, a dessert I’ve never been able to pull off until now.

This cookbook does not focus on a particular national cuisine, such as Lebanese. Husseini’s cuisine is broader, encompassing Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East. Nor does the cookbook obey strictly traditional recipes. The cookbook’s subtitle is “Modern Flavors of Arabia.” Most of the recipes have a twist to them. For example, the Baba Ghanouj includes toasted walnuts. The Spicy Chicken Wings call for pomegranate molasses. The Date Pastries are made in the shape of hearts.

What I appreciate most about this cookbook is the photography. There is a photo for every recipe, and the food photography is simply stunning. For me, photographs are vital for preparing foreign foods. I need to see what the dish is. I need to know if I’ve achieved the right end result.  Most importantly, I need to feel inspired. After all, cooking is a lot of work, and I need motivation!

Did I mention that Suzanne Husseini is a Middle Eastern TV chef? She’s been a chef on various regional TV shows. I’ve never seen her on TV, but I finally got to see her in action at the Emirates Festival of Literature where she taught her recipes like a food ambassador. As she cooked, she told food stories from her childhood and taught the audience Arabic words. You can see Husseini give a short cooking talk in this video from The Gulf News.

One factor that helps Husseini succeed as a cooking teacher is her bicultural Canadian-Palestinian background. She gears her explanations toward the western cook who may not know what pomegranate molasses is or how to clarify butter.

My only concern with this cookbook is that I have trouble finding recipes in it. Sometimes I can’t remember the name of a recipe. Also, it’s a puzzle to me whether an Arabic dish is considered breakfast, mezze, lunch or what. And so, I’m forced to flip through the entire cookbook to find a recipe. I’m forced to look at every gorgeous, exquisite photo once again. And once again, I think, I wanna make that. I wanna make that…

When Suzanne Cooks is written by Suzanne Husseini with photographs by Petina Tinslay. It is published in Dubai by Motivate Publishers and is available in bookstores in the UAE. It is also available through Amazon via Lebanese Books. You can view some of Husseini’s recipes in the Gulf News.

Have you used this cookbook? What is your favorite Arabic cookbook?