Choosing mindfully, when I choose meat I choose OBE Organic Beef

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Idreh Khaliliyeh (rice, chickpeas & meat) - A glorious recipe for entertaining a large crowd this Ramadan


This image and recipe are from my book Plated Heirlooms,
however the recipe had been modified to serve 12 instead of 4

cooking in claypot is fully covered in my book
you can order my book Plated Heirlooms online on this link


It is only a matter of days and the holy month of Ramadan will start. It is a very special time of year, which to me, as to many, is the month of connection. It is customary to connect with family members and friends on a more regular basis during Ramadan. Perhaps due to the shorter working hours, or maybe more of making that conscious effort to make the time to get together with immediate and extended family members as well as get together with friends. Of course this is done in the portion of the day when people can eat, because what is a gathering if food is not involved?

These gatherings are usually not your routine small gatherings, usually a host/ess will have to cook for a large crowd. And since everyone is fasting and craving all kinds of food, the cooks usually also have to prepare many varieties of food, which can be very time consuming and tiring for the fasting host/ess. For such occasions I truly appreciate the concoctions that are originally created to feed many. As in our cuisine there are recipes that are designed for special occasions and days when you are meant to feed large crowds. One such recipe in the Palestinian cuisine is Idreh, which is the popular and very dearly loved specialty of the Palestinian city Hebron, where my family is from. This is a very special recipe (that I completely describe and tell you the full story of in my book Plated Heirlooms, along with the theatricals of serving it) because this recipe is one that can be cooked to feed as little as four to as many as a hundred and more. Really it is just a matter of doubling quantities to fit the number of people you wish to feed. The best thing about Idreh though is that it so decadent yet is so easy to prepare that you can and will have time to prepare other varieties of food next to it without over exerting yourself that day.

Idreh (recipe below) is basically a concoction of rice, chickpeas, and meat all of which will be cooked in meat broth. Traditionally done in special claypots or special copper pots, or if not available can be cooked in the regular cookpot.

With any such food that relies on a few basic ingredients, the outcome is completely reliant on the quality of the ingredients used. Therefore, it is really essential that you choose good quality rice ( I prefer to use the medium grain Egyptian rice for making this), chickpeas (I always use dried organic chickpeas that I soak overnight and boil to soften the next day. I prefer them to the chemically preserved canned ones.) and most importantly the quality of the meat. After all the whole flavour of Idreh comes from the meat, as not only will the meat be one of the main ingredients, but its broth is what cooks all these ingredients and binds them together giving them their overall flavour.

Cattle Grazing freely in open environment
A natural process that I prefer to mass production facilities

Therefore, opt for good quality meat, and as I always advise you, do go for organic meats, this is very crucial for your and your family's health. I personally only eat organic meat because of the hormones and antibiotics used with non-organic meat (see my articles about this on this link). Also when it comes to meat, the living conditions of mass production facilities and farms are just outrageous. Not only are they so unfair to the cattle living there but those conditions are also very harmful to earth and the environment and therefore have an all round very negative effect on our overall wellbeing. Therefore, when I choose to eat meat, I want to know where my meat comes from, and want to know the living conditions of the cattle, what they feed on, how they graze and so on. I do that because I like to be mindful and make healthier, better and more humane choices wherever possible.

A few years ago I got to know about OBE Organic Halal beef, which I love and truly appreciate (watch the video at the top of the blog and see how they care for their cattle). I find their process to be very natural, the meat is 100% organic, Halal and also the quality and flavour of their beef is just outstanding. I do recommend you try their different cuts of beef, they really are fabulous (you can buy OBE Organic beef at Geant, Carrefour and Prime Gourmet shops across the UAE).


Idreh Khaliliyeh
The Recipe

Serves 12


Ingredients
meat and broth of 2.5 kg OBE Organic Beef cubes
1.5 Kg medium grain rice, washed and drained
500g cooked chickpeas, preferably peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
3 large onions, halved and sliced
1.5 garlic head, cloves separated and peeled
1 tbsp qidreh spice mix (can be found at spice markets and shops. Recipe on how to make your own is in the book Plated Heirlooms)
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp curry powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground allspice
salt and black pepper, to taste
50g samneh baladieh (local clarified butter) or home-made clarified butter
½ cup toasted pine nuts and almonds, for garnish
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley, for garnish


Cook the OBE Organic meat cubes to make the broth. Separate the meat and broth reserving both.

In a large bowl, combine the washed and drained rice with the spices and seasoning. Set aside.

Sauté the sliced onions and whole garlic cloves in heated olive oil until translucent and slightly browned. Pour the sautéed onions, garlic and oil over the rice mixture and mix to combine. Add the cooked and peeled chickpeas and mix again to combine.

In a large cooking pot, place the cooked lamb pieces and top with the rice mixture. Crumble the butter on top of the rice and pour the meat broth over to submerge the rice. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil, continue to cook until the liquid is reduced and the rice is showing on the surface.

Reduce the heat and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through.

Transfer to a large serving dish, top the rice with the meat pieces and garnish with toasted nuts and parsley. Serve hot with plain yoghurt, yoghurt and cucumber salad, or spiced salad on the side.


Wishing you all a blessed Ramadan 
and heartwarming gatherings with your family and friends. 
Ramadan Mubarak




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Sunday, 22 May 2016

Experiences from my journey with Plated Heirlooms and a review by Sally Prosser

Picture by Sally Prosser (www.mycustardpie.com)


When you write a book, you do so hoping that readers enjoy it. You normally want to take them on a journey and one way or another offer them a perspective hopefully a full learning experience. 
I think that what any author of any written materials eventually appreciates the most is the feedback one gets from the readers. Perhaps, because this feedback makes all the hard work of producing a book all that much more worth it, but more so because it becomes the growth journey of the authors themselves completing the cycle of any book into its wholesome journey of learning. This to me is what I have learnt and appreciate the most about taking up the journey of writing a book. 

I am feeling so blessed truly and receiving so much love, from many of you guys a lot of which I am sharing on my Instagram account (@1dimasharif) and facebook page (Dima Sharif) and some I will also be sharing here Sally's review below.

I simply cannot say to all of you enough thank yous to express my gratitude! I can simply say I am experiencing a deep sense of appreciation and feel grateful for everyone of you. Truly we meet, and we even part, we might see one another occasionally, and we might do only once, while other times we are a regular part of one another's' life... Regardless, I am really grateful for all of you guys. Thank you!

My friend, food blogger, and author of the food blog mycustardpie, the well known and loved Sally Prosser sent me the following as her review of Plated Heirlooms: (in her own words): 

"I've lived in the Middle East for over 20 years and over that time I've tried to gain a greater understanding of the region. This has been through a variety of books primarily non-fiction, some fiction (The rock of Tanios by Amin Malouf is highly recommended). 
My other source has been through books about food and cookery to make sense of this multilayered feast that stretches from the olive groves of the Levant to the fish based diets of the Gulf.
Some dishes have a similar expression across many countries, some totally unique and understanding the reasons behind this (climate, economics, tradition, ritual) is key to a deeper knowledge of the region and why it's pretty vague to say Middle Eastern food (as general and unhelpful as the term European food).
Dima's book (to me) has not yet reached my kitchen. It's been beside my bed telling tales of food, cooking and life, giving a very different and human perspective from a displaced nation, and a foil to the images conjured up in most people's minds, from the West particularly, when they hear the word Palestine.
Claudia Roden's book came with me to Saudi Arabia in 1995 and I've recommended it to everyone who comes to the Middle East. Plated Heirlooms is now its partner in recommended reading. Even though I haven't tested the recipes I have tasted Dima's food so have confidence that these will deliver... in spades."

Thank you Sally for such understanding and for sharing this with me. Really appreciated.

Plated Heirlooms is available at Kinokuniya, Book Munch Cafe, The Change Initiative, and the Gulf News Online Store. (See the tab Plated Heirlooms at the top of the blog for links for home delivery).

Grab your copy and let me hear your feedback!
Dima x

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Never short on choice or recipes this Ramadan


Ramadan is just around the corner and my book Plated Heirlooms has all the recipes you need to throw delicious feasts throughout the month. With over 280 recipes you will never run out of options and especially all the best loved Ramadan recipes. This here is the picture of Atayef Asafiri from my book where Atayef recipes include the batter, the making of the pancakes, a variety of fillings, the traditional Atayef, the Asafiri Atayef and Atayef with a twist, including an Atayef cake!! Go on and grab your copy you will be really happy you did, I guarantee it myself 🤓 as not only will you be cooking amazing food but will also enjoy a very nice read this Ramadan because my book is a collection of stories, some personal, some collective and all telling the story of Palestinian Cuisine. Plated Heirlooms is available @kinokuniya.uae in @the_dubaimall @bookmunch cafe @thechangeinitiative and also available on @gulfnews online store for home deliveries 😉 

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Hear Hear... You are gonna love this!


I am so excited about getting together with you Next Tuesday May 10th at the Home Centre store at Mirdif City Centre where I will demonstrate 2 Ramadan desserts that I have developed especially for you guys this Ramadan. The desserts are all about slow-releasing sustainable energy to last you throughout the full day of fasting! Yes you will actually learn how to make desserts that are just super good for you and will help you fast better!!! What more can any sweet treat do really?!
Well if that sweet also works for #diabeticPatients and can be packaged for gifting during Ramadan and also (yes there is more!!) is whipped up in less that 15 minutes!!!!


I will also be arranging a Ramadan Table, plating some food so you can reacreate the experience at home. You will get all the recipes, will taste all the food and I will also be signing my book if you wish to purchase a copy :) I am telling you, it's just not be missed!


Join me next Tuesday, pass this on to your friends and do come in groups, I love nothing more... We will cook, eat, share, chat and just have a good morning together! Oh, and please do RSVP.


So looking forward to this ;)



#DimaSharif #HCRamadan
#PlatedHeirlooms #Eatforenergy #GoodRealNaturalNonProcessedFood

These recipes of mine are dedicated to your and your family's health...

Friday, 8 April 2016

Why this restaurant is a winner!


                

Hummus & Hazelnut Starter (a complete new take on the use of hummus)

It is tucked in at the DIFC village. It is definitely a destination. You walk in and unlike most DIFC restaurants, this one straight away invites you in and casts a midday hideaway spell on you. You feel at home but not quite, you feel out for lunch but not just, you feel you want to hang out, then more, some more and what the heck! You've already spent the whole afternoon there, ate everything on the menu and every cell in your body is satisfied, relaxed and happy! 

Yes! I know Chef Tom very well, and know his kitchen genius very well too. And yes I went into Intersect by Lexus knowing it was going to be fantastic, but I was blown away still and found myself at awe with the chef's food's flavors, textures and not to overlook the overall ambience he and his team were able to create at Intersect that makes it a tad more than just a place to lunch but more like a perfect day lounge, a hangout!

                   
My usually very fussy-eater daughter loved the food so much she wanted to go to the kitchen to say thank you to Chef!

I went with my two kids, my husband and sister and we all had a fantastic lunch. No one had any complaints, we all loved the food and were tasting each other's choices it was that good. And every time a dish came out we were smiling, the mixtures are that interesting! 


The kids asked me to be in the pictures so they can tell other kids how much they loved the food!

When you have kids you know, fussy eating and moody preferences are always on the menu. You also know that they are a tad less than keen to try new combinations and what you purée to squeeze into a plate at home or what you normally disguise in their food is stirring them right in the face when eating out! So when children reach a point that they are looking forward for the next dish. They are trying every single ingredient on the dish. They are bragging their feasting and are making sure you know they loved the Kale which they normally look down to at home!!! And when all this food is seasoned and mixed in totally new combinations to their usual palates you know that chef, that restaurant and that lunch is a winner!!

My kids loved it so much that my son actually videoed his first review (see the video at the end of this post), my daughter wanted to go inside the kitchen to say thank you to Chef and they asked to be in the pictures this time to show everyone how much they enjoyed it.

It is also worth mentioning that Chef Tom is a regular at the farmers' market. He sources his ingredients straight from the farmers' whenever possible and he is definitely a seasonal chef. All the more to like his food! Also all the more to let your kids eat that food instead of the standard junk served to kids elsewhere!


You know I do not do restaurant reviews. But this experience was really spectacular and worth every calorie, penny and word. You guys I am straight out recommending that you go to Intersect by Lexus and taste Chef Tom Reger's genius. Take your kids and open up the world of flavors for them, allow them to learn why food is fantastic and this place is it. Go and see for yourselves.



Thank you Tom for a fantastic lunch! We thoroughly enjoyed it.



Disclaimer 
Please note that I was not invited to Intersect by Lexus and was not there to review and am not promoting or being compensated in anyway for this. I simply went with my family for lunch and honestly love it and think you will too. So I am personally recommending it.

Find the pictures from this lunch on my facebook page Dima Sharif and will also be posting the video shortly :)










Thursday, 31 March 2016

Appreciate

         




They had to do this everyday! 
They went to the water wells and collected their family's share of water in these large clay jugs, that kept the water cool even on the hottest days. They made the clay containers from their earth's mud and collected that earth's reserved water. 

They did this everyday, mastering the Art of body balance, as they carried those jugs over their heads walking back to the city. 

They did this everyday, talked, walked, provided. Everyday, never once complaining, never once feeling the need to! 

These are Women from the Palestinian city "Al Nasrah", also known as Nazareth in 1910. Like all the other women in all the other Palestinian cities and villages, they did this everyday! 

And now that we have the very accessible, always available, right at our finger tips, environment non-friendly plastic bottles of mineral, and vitamin fortified water to stay fit and healthy... we simply forget to hydrate! 

#forgranted we forget what we had to do to get what we abundantly have now. #Stayhydrated #DrinkWater and every time you do remember it was not always that accessible and we are blessed to have all the things we do readily available #apriciate 

Monday, 21 March 2016

We are in Spring! Here are some Seasonal Cooking Tips for you

Stuffed Turnip In Tamarind Sauce (Recipe in my cookbook Plated Heirlooms)
Find the book launch picture album on this link

Before I go into the tips, let me just tell you that there are amazing local organic turnips at The Farmers' Market On The Terrace,  for making pickles,  for stuffing,  for roasting and making turnip sauce, the quality of turnips I find there is unmatched! It is the height of the season and the varieties of produce and leaves there is just fantastic! If you have not been shopping there yet, really don't miss out on this amazing opportunity to bring good quality organic ingredients, the freshest possible and all these fantastic flavours back to your kitchens. Every Friday from 8-1 and I am there too, selling my mooneh, which am telling you sells out fast, so do come early.

         Where I come from spring is all about leaves. The kitchen gets dressed with green and our plates undoubtedly look like spring. It is after all the season where the brown earth, the empty tree branches are back in their greenest, freshest and most delicately delicious state. Green symbolises life - new life, young life - and in the kitchen it could not be more true. Because it is the season where this colour comes in, giving new life and new energy to our menus and our varieties, making up for the more limited, noticeably heavier, deeper, and more mature flavours and tones of winter. The kitchen is never as vibrant and alive as in Spring and it is a real waste not to make the best of this season and all its produce. A total miss if we don't stop to appreciate not just the greenness of it all but also the delicateness of the flavours of spring. Because everything is brand new, and even a thorny plant as the Gundelia Thistle, which we know as Akub (fully explained in my book "Plated Heirlooms") is easy to clean and lenient to being a food as opposed to the ones that make it to summer, hardened by the heat, or perhaps the age, definitely more stubborn, more prickly, more demanding and therefore less desired! Spring is the season of the most generous forms of giving: that of the earth.
My mum always told me, as am sure yours did too, "when given a gift, you must show appreciation" and the only way to do that is to 'cook in celebration of spring'.

         Seasonal Cooking, is to me the best form of cooking. Not only because the produce is at its best, its most abundant, most delicious... although that definitely rests the case. But because seasonal eating allows us to miss produce when it goes out of season. To miss munching and crunching on a cold watermelon during the cold, sunless days, and miss dipping our bread in stir-fried Wild Mallows (Khubbeizeh) with that sprinkling of lime or dipping into the Hedge Mustard Leaves (Hweirneh) mixed with yogurt on that sunny morning with a cool breeze carrying away the cold of winter bringing in the early rays of summer that are yet too weak to completely warm the morning. And when we don't miss the produce, when it is always available we just tend to forget how good it is. We forget how much we love it, and we can easily waste it. Seasonal eating is perhaps that way the deepest form of appreciation.

            In Palestinian Cuisine, There is a huge section dedicated to "the foods of Spring" and is even named as such. A very big part of that is all about the green leaves. And because these leaves are young, fresh and so delicately flavoured, which also applies to spring vegetables, you really do not want to mask their delicate flavours. You really do not want to interfere too much and ruin a good thing and as such I thought to share with you my "Spring Cooking Secrets" or let's call them tips and hopefully you will try them and see how tremendously this improves your spring collection of recipes bringing out the flavour of each vegetable, leaf or even spring meat that you end up cooking!

  1. Do not over cook. Overcooking changes the textures of food. Spring is young, crunchy and very fresh, keep those adjectives in mind when cooking. Undercook and keep the characteristic of your vegetables, leaves and even meats. Serve the meat pink, the vegetables crunchy and the leaves with a bite. Do not wilt them to death, nor cook them to a mash or roast them to melt. Spring foods are young, light and shallow in flavours. Keep them as such and you will taste each and every component. 
  2. Keep it Simple, resist the urge to interfere. The easiest, fastest and most delicious way to cook spring leaves is by sauteing chopped onions in olive oil, seasoned with salt and black pepper until translucent but not browned. Once done cooking add the leaves and stir for exactly 2 minutes then serve. For extra flavour, if you must, try: sumac, finely chopped fresh coriander, rosemary, stir fried garlic or caramelised onions. 
  3. Eat Raw whenever possible. There is no better time for raw food lovers than in spring. The produce is delicate, flavourfull and really hardly needs any cooking. A simple dressing can cook it enough. Not only is raw food delicious, but it is also good for you and helps you cleanse. You do carry out a spring cleaning of your house, don't you? Well your body could use one too! 
  4. Think Green. Add as much green to your food as you can. Use the fresh herbs for flavour, use the just starting to settle new season olive oil, go for spring onions instead of the other varieties and go for fresh garlic instead of the aged ones. Add those to leaves, add the leaves to salads, mix them with seeds and/or your favourite grains and have these super foods, which will supply you with the much missed Chlorophyll for the whole year! Green is also iron, think baby spinach add it to even your sandwiches and see how a simple smoked salmon sandwich transforms over a bed of baby spinach! While you are at it, aim for local, less travelled, and go for the source, this way you add green to your food sourcing which helps keep our earth good to give us another spring. 
  5. Follow the season's offerings. Eat only fresh at the beginning of the season and preserve towards the end. The freshness gives you an unmatched flavour the preservation ensures a treat out of season. It really is a win win situation. 

Here are some of the season's offerings to follow (of course according to where you live). Most of the below produce become available at the beginning of the season and last throughout the whole season but are at their best in the indicated months.


March


Cabbages, Cauliflower, Green Almonds, Thyme, Zaatar, Green Plums, Akub, Romain Lettuce, Wild Mallows (Kubbeizeh), Hedge Mustard Leaves (Hweirneh), Dandeloin Leaves (Hindbeh), Arugula, Green Beans, Corriander, Parsley, Bay Leaves, Baby Spinach, Kale, Celery, Kusa, Tomatoes, Fresh garlic, Fresh Onion, Spring Onion, most edible flowers...

April 


Orange Blossoms (for making Jam and blossom water for desserts), Peas, rosemary, strawberries, Spring Lamb, Spring Goats, All kinds of dairy products (the season for making cheeses and labnehs, kishek and Jameed), Honey, most edible flowers...

May


Artichokes, apples, garlic, green walnuts, freekeh (green wheat), Damascus Rose (for making Rosewater and for use in desserts and other foods)

Get my book Plated Heirlooms and explore the wide variety of spring foods and varied recipes for the different seasons. The book is available at Kinokuniya bookstore (Dubai Mall), The change Initiative. You can also order it online from the Kinokuniya website or Gulf News Online Store on this link.



We are in Spring!
Make sure you actually enjoy it and do celebrate it by cooking seasonal :)

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