Tag Archives: arabian

Sweet Quince, Fennel Seed and Pistachio Sambousek Pastries

29 Oct Sweet Sambouseks

I made these little pastries using the Persian Quince Jam from last post but you could use any jam you like. I have used this lovely fig & honey compote before too which is great if you don’t like using sugary jams.

Sambouseks are little samosa-like pastries that are normally savoury and filled with meat or cheese. I made these savoury Fig & Feta Sambouseks before, so this is just a little step in a sweeter direction. The picture below is of the savoury sambouseks and demonstrates the folding technique.

Sweet Quince, Fennel Seed & Pistachio Sambousek Pastries Recipe

Makes 16-20 pastries. Vegetarian/Vegan.

  • 225 g (1 1/2 cups) white spelt flour (or normal)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil plus extra for brushing
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 110 ml (1/2 cup) warm water
  • jam/compote/carne de membrillo
  • feta cheese or ricotta or queso fresco (optional)
  • honey or agave syrup
  • a handful of pistachios, very finely chopped

Sieve the flour sugar and salt into a large bowl then stir in the fennel seeds. Add the olive oil, mixing it in with a fork then make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the warm water. With your hand, fold the flour into the water, turning the bowl as you go until you get a sticky dough.

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky, 1 or 2 minutes. Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking sheets with parchment brushed with a little oil.

Flour your work surface and rolling-pin and roll the dough out until it is about 2mm thick. Cut out small circles about 3 inches in diameter (use a floured cutter or a glass). Lift the excess pastry away from the circles  and re-roll it and cut out more circles. Keep doing this until you have used most of the dough. You should get 16-20 in total depending on the thickness of your dough.

Put the circles on the lined baking tray and, using a teaspoon place a small amount of jam in the centre of the circle and top with a little cheese (if using). Lift up the two opposite edges and seal them above the filling. Seal the two other ends by pinching them together to create a four-cornered sambousek. (See picture above). They can be refrigerated at this point if necessary.

Brush the tops of the sambouseks with a little olive oil and bake for 15 -25 minutes until golden and cooked. Leave to cool slightly then brush the tops with honey or agave syrup and dip them in the finely chopped pistachios.

Serve the sweet sambouseks warm or at room temperature with a glass of fresh mint tea or Turkish coffee.

Enjoy!!

Moroccan 7 Vegetable Couscous with Saffron and Moscatel Raisins

29 Sep 7 Vegetable Couscous

Apologies for the extended absence but the computer was being mended so I couldn’t blog or access any of my photos, so frustrating. On a positive note all this spare time afforded me a window of opportunity to join Pinterest.

Oh dear, it’s very addictive, I mean really, if you haven’t already got an account, give it a go. It’s a great way to organise all your favourite things from the internet onto different boards so you never lose or forget about that fantastic recipe, that amazing paint colour or that must-have pair of shoes. The Washer Up is threatening to leave me but said he would have to put it on my Pinterest feed or I wouldn’t even notice. No, really?

So if you want to see what I would like our lounge to look like when he has eventually finished re-rendering all the walls, what food I will be cooking, what food styling and photography inspires me and what shoes and bags I own in my dreams, then why not follow Cook Eat Live on Pinterest here. He just said “or you could try getting a life instead”, so rude!

I said in my previous post for  the Grape & Fennel Seed Focaccia that I have been watching Moscatel grapes turn to raisins on the vine at one of the small farms that I run past with the dog in the mornings. This got me thinking about recipes including raisins.

At the same time one of our friends brought us some beautiful saffron all the way back from Afghanistan. He is another one of those men (like this pink watermelon martini loving guy) who would have to kill me if I told you his name. No, seriously he would. Apparently.

So, raisins and saffron take you in a certain direction gastronomically, and I had been wanting to try out a Moroccan restaurant in Malaga called Al- Yamal for a while. So, with my friend Caroline and my camera, I jumped on the bus and made a day of it. It being eating and drinking of course.

The restaurant is tiny, only about six tables, but comfortable and beautifully decorated so you are immediately transported to a Moroccan souk by the fabrics, lanterns, arches and delicious smells coming from the equally tiny kitchen. We were the only people in there when we arrived apart from the owner reading in the corner, his wife in the kitchen, his father with his grandson on another table and his son taking our order. A proper family business.

The food was lovely as was the service. We had the hummus with homemade pita bread, a roasted red pepper salad and the seven vegetable couscous to share. Caroline also ordered a lamb kebab which she said was delicious. The vegetable couscous comes to the table in a painted terracotta tagine. As the lid is removed you are drawn in by the warm scent of cinnamon, you see the different vegetables and chickpeas piled up the sides of the golden mound of couscous and the plump raisins and toasted almonds on top. You are also given a separate jug full of the spiced stock used to cook the vegetables to pour over as you wish. That was the best bit for me, I really enjoyed the whole dish and decided to try to recreate it when I got home.

Malaga continues to surprise every time I go. There is always something new to discover  food-wise, bar-wise or culture-wise which makes it my favourite city and one of Spain’s best kept secrets.

The seven vegetables you use can be whatever you have and whatever is in season but I would definitely use some root vegetables as they keep their shape with the cooking process. I used carrots, butternut squash, green beans, courgette, leek, green beans and red onion. Parsnips, turnips, potatoes or sweet potatoes would also be lovely.

Moroccan Seven Vegetable Couscous with saffron & raisins

Serves 6, vegan. Adapted from The Vegetarian Times

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, quartered & cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 leek, halved washed and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • a big pinch saffron
  • 1/4 tsp crushed chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 3 tomatoes, cored cut into 8 wedges (or 400ml tin chopped)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 500 -750 ml water
  • a small bunch parsley & coriander stalks
  • 1 courgette, quartered & cut into 2 inch batons
  • 250 gr carrots, peeled, halved (or quartered) and cut into 2 inch batons
  • 200 gr green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 350 gr butternut squash, peeled cut into 1 – 2 inch chunks
  • 1 tin 400 g cooked chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 100 g raisins (I used Moscatel raisins they are bigger and juicier)
  • 50 gr flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan until golden
  • 1 squidge of honey
  • 300 ml couscous
  • 300ml veg stock or water
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • a  big pinch of saffron
  • olive oil
  • fresh coriander and parsley, chopped

Cook the onions in the olive oil over a medium heat for about 15 minutes until softened and caramelising. Add the leeks, garlic,and ginger and cook for another 3 minutes. Add a splash of stock if it gets dry. Then add the saffron and the rest of the spices and cook for a few minutes until fragrant, adding a splash of stock if it gets too dry.

Add in the tomatoes, stock, 500 ml water and herb stalks. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the hard vegetables (carrots and  squash) and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the courgettes, beans, chickpeas, raisins and honey, season well with salt & black pepper and cook for 10 minutes more or until all vegetables are tender, you can some more water if you think it is too dry. Taste and add more honey, salt or even some lemon juice if required

Meanwhile make the couscous. Measure 300ml couscous into a measuring jug and then tip it into a large bowl. Measure the same amount of stock or water and heat it in a saucepan with the pinch of saffron and the ground cinnamon. When boiling, pour this over the couscous, season with salt & pepper, drizzle with some olive oil and quickly mix it in with a fork, not a spoon. Cover with clingfilm and leave to absorb for 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, fluff the couscous up to separate the grains again, with a fork and taste for seasoning. Pile a mound of couscous onto each plate (or a large serving dish/tagine) and make a well in the middle. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to the well and arrange some around the edge of the couscous too. Ladle some of the cooking stock left in the pan over the dish and transfer the rest into a jug to serve alongside for everyone to help themselves to.

Top with some toasted almonds, chopped fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Buen Provecho!!

Zanzibar Pumpkin Pilau with wholemeal chapatis

17 Jan

Zanzibar is a group of islands in the Indian Ocean situated off the coast of East Africa. Known as The Spice Islands because of the many spice plantations the cuisine is an eclectic mix of African, Indian & Arab influences. Pilau, the famous spicy rice dish found in Zanzibar, was brought by Arabs or Persians and Biriani was brought by the Indian traders.  The original Zanzibar Pilau is a rice dish seasoned with lots of spices and traditionally made with meat & potatoes. This is my vegetarian interpretation of the dish made with pumpkin (it should be sweet potato but I couldn’t find any!) and beans (an African staple).

I used some mixed rice I found in Mercadona (a Spanish supermarket) that I think is new. It is a mix of white, red & wild rice and it worked really well in this dish. The nutty flavours from the wild & red rices gave it an extra dimension. If you live here in Spain I would definitely recommend it.  Or is just that I am a sucker for anything new…?

Zanzibar Pumpkin Pilau Recipe

serves 6, vegetarian

  • 4oo gr/2 cups uncooked rice  (a mix of wild, red & white if possible)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 cardamom pods, bashed to open
  • 7 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 chilli finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced/grated ginger
  • 1 & 1/2 onions chopped
  • about 750 gr pumpkin/squash or sweet potato, washed well & cut into 2cm chunks
  • 880 ml (4 cups) veg stock
  • 450 ml (2 cups) boiling water
  • salt
  • a handful of whole almonds plus extra for garnish
  • 1 tsp tamarind (optional)
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • 3 or 4 tbsp tomato puree (tomate frito)
  • 2oo gr red beans (cooked) about 1/2 jar/ tin, drained & rinsed
  • about 200 gr fresh spinach
  • 1 lime or lemon
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus leaves to garnish

Combine the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cloves & cardamom pods in a teacup & cover with warm water from the kettle, stir and set aside. (This softens the seeds & releases the flavours). Wash and drain the rice.

Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a deep pot over a medium high heat, add the onions & pumpkin and cook for about 10 minutes until softened and slightly browned. Heat the veg stock up to boiling in another pan. Add the garlic, ginger & chilli to the pumpkin and cook, stirring for another 2 minutes (don’t burn the garlic). Tip the contents of the pumpkin pan into a bowl and set aside. Add the rice to the emptied pan with the boiling veg stock & boiling water. Add the soaked spices and the powdered spices along with a good teaspoon of salt and stir to combine. Bring back to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Now add the pumpkin mix back into the rice pot along with the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, beans, tamarind & almonds. Combine everything well, replace the lid and simmer over a low heat for about 15 – 20 minutes until the rice is cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed. Check on it occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking and add more hot water/stock if necessary. When all the liquid has been absorbed stir in the spinach & chopped coriander, season again with salt, taste and squeeze over some lime/lemon juice.

Serve in warmed bowls garnished with some almonds & coriander leaves and some extra wedges of lime on the side. The perfect accompaniments to this pilau are wholemeal chapatis and mango chutney….

Wholemeal Chapati Recipe

makes 4, vegetarian

  • 3oo gr wholemeal flour or a mix of 150 gr wholemeal 150 gr unbleached white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or other oil)
  • about 110-120ml warm water

Combine the flours & salt in a large bowl. Add the oil, then trickle in the warm water a bit at a time stirring to combine with a wooden spoon.  When it has cohered into a ball of dough put it on a floured work surface and knead for 2 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to stop it sticking. Put the ball of dough back in the bowl cover with cling film or a clean tea towel & leave for 30 minutes or longer.

Cut the ball into quarters, flour your work surface and start rolling out one of the balls, turning it, clockwise to make a thin(about 2mm), round -ish/oval chapati. Heat your non stick frying pan to hot and cook the chapati for about 1 & 1/2  to 2 minutes on each side until they are golden with charred spots. Meanwhile roll out your next chapati so it its ready to go when the first one is done. Keep them warm under a tea towel or in a low oven while you cook the rest.

If you would like to make your own mango chutney see my Mango & Tomato Chutney Recipe.

There is so much flavour in this dish from all the whole spices this definitely won’t be the last time I cook an East African recipe. The cuisine mixes all the best flavours from India & Arabia with the indigenous African recipes creating stunning food that makes you want to try more. Why not give it a go…….

Arabian Fig Jam Recipe

10 Oct

Gorgeous Figs

We have so many figs at the moment I think I have tried every recipe there is but this has to be the easiest and it’s great on toast, with goat’s cheese or even in little fig jam tarts!

The flavour of figs lends itself perfectly to the middle eastern spices creating a heady perfume with rose water and orange blossom water that transports you to 1001 warm nights in exotic palaces….

Arabian Fig Jam Recipe

Makes 1 Jam Jar Vegetarian

  • 500gr fresh figs chopped
  • 110 gr sugar
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp rose water
  • 1/2 tsp orange blossom water
  • a splash of white wine
  • 2 tbsp water
  1. Put the figs, sugar, lemon juice, spices and flower waters in a bowl and leave them for about 30 mins.
  2. Pour the mix into a saucepan, add the wine & water and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring constantly.
  3. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 15 mins until the jam is thick.
  4. Transfer the jam while hot to a glass jar that has been sterilized with hot water. Don’t fill it right to the top and put the lid on.
  5. Leave to cool, then store in the fridge.

Arabian Fig Jam

If you don’t have all the spices etc, don’t worry it will still be delicious!

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