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Friday, 8 June 2012

Let's do breakfast Arabic style

If you want to refine the experience, instead of a traditional spread, go for these options in minis and serve individually
"Yeay! It's weekend :)"    -Me

Nothing like a good breakfast to make us feel the love of being off work. Let's be social, Let's do breakfast this weekend. Let's gather up friends for an amazing breakfast/brunch the Arabic way?

In Arabic tradition, breakfast is like mezze, we like to have a spread of different small platters of goodness, where each picks whatever they like to have. It is like a buffet of sorts. We then gather up around the table, and have scoops of the different items in the spread, place in our plates and eat them with crispy or soft warmed pita bread. Traditionally, we serve tea with breakfast, which also compliments the flavours of food. Most will  finish the meal with a dessert, traditionally Knafeh. Then Turkish coffee is served, and the lot gather up in the living area talking latest news (who is getting married, who had a new child, who graduated...) and of course discussing politics (the most favourite pass time lol ). Sounds like heaps of happenings, but these breakfast gatherings are in fact so much fun.

Most people like to listen to Fairuz in the morning (a very famous Arabic Singer from Lebanon). Not only does she have a sweet voice that's been celebrated the world over, but she also sings beautiful songs relative to many aspects of our culture and lifestyles. Fairuz's music is seen as one that gives you energy and sets a positive vibe for the rest of the day, and many people would have her music playing in the background in the mornings. So if you want to go all out with an Arabic style breakfast and would like to play her music, you can finds lots of her best loved songs here.

There is an array of breakfast options in Arabic cuisine. All equally delicious. You can choose any combination really, and whatever you end up choosing will never disappoint. In this post, I am choosing a menu of the most traditional, and best loved breakfast options that are easy to make, and spell Arabic breakfast anywhere.

Arabic Breakfast Menu
Zaatar o Zeit
Labneh bil na'na 
Fattet Hummus
Scrambled Eggs
Pita bread (toasted and soft warmed triangles)

Filo Chocolate Parcels 

Traditional Yellow Tea with Mint
Turkish Coffee or Ahwe Sada (Traditional Arabic Coffee)

Home-made Zaatar

To Prepare...
Zaatar o Zeit
Zaatar is a relative of thyme and oregano, it has the same flavour palate. The Arabic zaatar comes from a similar plant, it grows wild in the region, as usually referred to as wild thyme. The leaves of this plant are separated from the stems and are then semi-dried in the sun. After that they are rubbed between the palms to produce the almost powdered texture. Different areas then prepare it in different ways. Some add summac, sesame seeds, and even spices. I love the version my mum makes, in which she adds just a little bit of toasted sesame seeds, and a hint of salt, mixes all together and it is ready to eat. I find this to be the best tasting version as it celebrates the zaatar without too many flavourings. If zaatar is not available in your area to make at home, you can always purchase ready made zaatar from supermarkets and spice markets.
For breakfast, we usually place zaatar in a small plate, and place a bowl of good quality olive oil next to it. You would dip the pita bread in the oil, then the zaatar and eat. This also works very well with sliced tomatoes and you will see how the flavours mesh like a melody.
Another traditional way of serving zaatar is zaatar pastries (mana'ish). Topping raw pastrie disks with a mixture of zaatar and oil, then baking till done. Kind of like a zaatar pizza.

Labneh bi Na'na' (labneh with mint)
Labneh is similar to sour cream, however it is slightly thicker in texture, kind of like cream cheese. Arabic labneh, unlike its Turkish counter part, is tangy, while the Turkish one tastes more plain (more like cream). If you cannot find Labneh in your local store, follow this link for how to make Labneh at home.
We mix Arabic Labneh with 1 tsp of dried mint, a pinch of salt and place in a small plate, then drizzle all with olive oil and serve. Labneh is eaten with pita bread.

Fool (Brown Fava Beans Mash)

Fool (Brown Fava Beans Mash)
This is an awesome way to prepare fava beans. There are many ways to make it, but are all the same in essence. Basically, the beans are boiled or steamed till fully cooked and tender, then mixed with a mixture of Tahina and lemon. Usually flavoured with garlic, salt and black pepper. I like to add aromatics and vegetables to Fool, and like to dress it with Arabic green sauce as I find it to be enhanced this way. Here is a link to my Fool recipe. Feel free to omit the vegetables and aromatics for the plain Fool option.

Hummus is a breakfast option in Arabic cuisine as well as being an appetiser option. In fact, many people regularly have hummus for breakfast. Find my Hummus recipe here, it is super easy to make and super delicious.

Fattet Hummus
Fattet Hummus
Yes, it is very common to serve both Hummus and Fattet Hummus for breakfast. They are two different preparations. But if you feel you are over Hummusfied, choose one or the other ;) Fatteh is a very traditional and loved preparation in Arabic cuisine. For breakfast, we serve Fattet Hummus, but there are many other fattehs that we serve as appetisers to a meal (Fattet Beitinjan, Fattet Fool, Fattet Djaj, Fattet Kharoof, and even Fattet Mlookhieh!)
This recipe is the best ever for Fattet Hummus and it actually works. All those who have tried my Fattet Hummus recipe, loved it and said it was super easy to make. Do give it a try, you will love it.

Who doesn't like Falafel? Super easy to make and super delicious, this is a staple recipe and a staple breakfast item. Follow the link for my Falafel recipe and some cool serving suggestions :)

Scrambled Eggs
Scrambled eggs are scrambled eggs everywhere. We tend to add some spices to our scrambled eggs though. We will make scrambled eggs the regular way, but will then sprinkle the tops with either cinnamon or ground all spice. It is a welcome addition, as it gives a plain scrambled eggs extra depth.

Toasted or Soft Warmed Pita Triangles
We eat everything above with pita bread. You can either spread things on the bread using a knife or - traditionally - scoop them out with the bread, without your fingers touching the food. To prepare the bread for breakfast, quarter the small round of pita bread. Place in preheated oven, once warmed take out half the quantity, and keep the rest to toast until crunchy and slightly browned.

Filo for Dessert
No get together is complete without dessert. This is a crowd pleaser, both kids and adults will love tucking into this ooziness of chocolate and pastry. Delicious! Follow this link for the recipe.

Arabic breakfast is traditionally served with mint tea
Traditionally breakfast is served with mint tea, however there are a million other beverages and flavours that can be served with breakfast. Follow this link or hot beverage options, and this link for nice cold drinks, since it's summer :)

There it is, your complete breakfast or Brunch like an Arabian star Menu. Get your friends together before everyone is out on Summer vacations and celebrate the Flavours of Arabia :) You can even carry out this menu when back home to share with your family a part of your experience here...

Hope you give these recipes a go, and that you have a fabulous breakfast with your friends and family ;) Come back again soon for more. Meanwhile, share the love and leave me a comment xx