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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Discovering Morocco

Nothing can prepare us for visiting a place for the first time! Regardless of how much we read, and how many programmes we watch; how much of it's food we cook, and how many people we speak with... nothing is like going and experiencing a place first hand.   Morocco exceeded all the expectations I had!

I had gone to Morocco with humongous expectations. It is no secret that I love Moroccan cuisine and love cooking Moroccan food. I had even posted Moroccan recipes and cooking techniques, as well as posts on cultural Morocco on a few occasions. Most of my fascination with this country took shape through reading what's been written about it, and watching programmes about its cuisine, culture, history... and so on. The more I read, watched and cooked its food, the stronger my desire to visit and actually experience it first hand. I had gone expecting intrigue, a huge cultural experience, amazing food and to be quite frank a life changing experience (you know the type of stuff that can change the way you see life! Yes, I know but true ... )... I had gone with many an unintentional stereotypes, and many expectations... Finally I was in Morocco!!! :))

I don't think that there can ever be enough said about this country. I don't think that all that's been said is enough to explain Morocco. I do think that Morocco is a country that has a powerful effect that can only be known by experience and that effect in my opinion is what's been referred to as the "mystery of Morocco". The country exceeded all my expectations by far.. But even I can't explain it all! I will attempt through these Morocco posts to give you a small picture, but really, go there and consider it time off, because there is an overwhelming sense of reboot that you will feel once you take that journey. However, I must say that if you really want to find this experience in Morocco, you have got to visit a handful of places there because it is a world of difference from one city to another and one interaction to another. Also do go with an open mind, and an open heart and see where that journey takes you, because somehow it will take you to where you need to be! Throw those plans and leave them to another less chaotic destination. As they say "go to where the road may lead" and I guarantee you will understand what I mean by life changing!

While there, I had felt like I had been put in a washing machine on full cycle. I felt like I was being pulled and pushed in every which direction. It was loud, chaotic, normal, abnormal, peaceful, full of struggle, simple, complex, layered, deep, superstitious, realistic, crazy, sane, old, new, freaky, strange, ordinary... and I can go on for ever, because it was all things at once, which explains that washing machine effect! Most of all it was powerful.

While in it, I was so visually and mentally stimulated that I really kept telling myself, "I have to take a moment and let all this sync in". But there was no time at all, it was continuous in your face interesting everywhere you looked and of course being tied with other people and on a project does not allow time for this kind of contemplation. I must admit, I struggled. I felt like I could do more, like I need more time, like I have so much to express, like I needed to write, paint, photograph, call a friend... lol... really I wanted to slow down and take it all in. In it, you don't realise all this, in it you are simply there feeling overwhelmed. However, looking back I know that what I really needed and was looking for is to slow down, and really live it! Remember my resolution about adventure, explore and discover. I was in my resolution, but unable to fully experience it. That is why, I am going back, but next time my way!

Discovering Marrakesh's Tangia

With that said, despite being absolutely scheduled, and getting small tasters of this and that, I had found tremendous inspiration in Morocco. Throughout this adventure I was inspired; in Jordan, Oman and of course the UAE, however most so in Morocco.

One of those brilliant learning moments that I have experienced was during our visit to the Argan Oil Female Cooperation. Those women, whose life is dedicated to the production of Argan oil (perhaps unwittingly) have taught me the world of patience (a virtue that I unfortunately lack and could do with more of). More details in following posts.

Another special moment was meeting the difference between modern day's ambitions and the previous generations' dreams, which has confirmed to me that there is no need to conform, to each their heart and all goes on living (will explain in another post).

I loved the couple we met in Essaouira, they are wonderful and their relationship urges you to take a deep look at today's superficial relationships and why today most relationships are stressed. I have learned that the great superficial expectations are the enemy of all relationships. As here is a couple whose life had tested them to the most. Having lost 2 daughters and struggling with diabetes among other life challenges, they still manage to love each other so deeply that it shows to everyone who meets them. Had they expected a fairytale (most do), had they expected each to be perfect (most do) or had they expected the riches of Solomon (most do) would they have still felt the same way they do having gone through all this?!

But the single most powerful moment I experienced in Morocco was the visit to the Berber family which reminded me why I love the simple life. Their life, their food, their family, their social set up and their smiles... Absolutely perfect. Throw balance out of the windows, because perfection and happiness are simple. Perfection and happiness are content and grateful. Perfection and happiness need no planning, no strategies, no facilities, and no labeled confusions! There is nothing to balance in simplicity because there, balance, perfection and happiness simply are. And I am yet to meet a people more happy than those Berber!

Moroccan Berbers

I really cannot say enough! From what you will find, what you will taste, what you will see, what you will learn... this destination is truly an adventure full of explorations and saturated with discoveries on all levels. #Goforit

Meanwhile, below is a small slideshow of some of these moments take a look and hope you enjoy it.

If this does not convince you to pack NOW, I rest my case ;)
Come back soon for the Stories & Recipes of Morocco...

#Travel #CulinaryTravel  #inspirations  #adventure #explore #discover #culture #food #Morocco #Casablanca #Essauira #Marrakesh #fun #life #goforit

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Summing Up Jordan - Generosity is not a display but a way of being

This time I had spent only a few days in Jordan, but feel like I have covered a few months there! Perhaps when we connect with a place, duration no longer matters because what we cover during that time is way more profound than what we may in a month spent just gazing around! When traveling there is nothing more beautiful than finding a connection, and perhaps that is best done through food. Because put food in the middle, we immediately become social, we converse, share and therefore know more about the place, its people and way of life. Once that connection is made, a place becomes all too familiar and we no longer feel like strangers or outsiders! Somehow, we find similarities and realise that despite the difference in details, all is the same in the end. That thought alone is enough to connect us and remind us that regardless of the imaginary boxes we always view ourselves within, the world is huge and we are all in it. It is all ours and all out there for us to explore.

Jordan was the first stop on this journey I have taken, and in Jordan I had reconnected with its old, became acquainted with its new and joined the dots for everything in between (besides devouring its absolutely unique flavours!). Most interesting to me this time was finding true generosity. Observing its people go about their daily routines I have learnt a huge deal about what it really is to be generous. Realising that it is not a display but really a way of being. There I have seen generosity as giving, regardless of what, it is unconditional giving mindless of ourselves and without expecting anything in return. Furthermore, I have realised that there is no greater satisfaction than that granted by this kind of giving.

We often mistake generosity tying it with money or abundance of offering, but generosity is a personal choice. We give in love, we give in knowledge, we give in assistance, in support... we give in the way we deal with people, we give in money, we give in anyway we can, and we choose how much we want to give and why. However, when we choose to give unconditionally and for the sake of giving, mindless of ourselves, we are then being generous. That is what I have been repeatedly shown this time around in Jordan.

Did you know that more than 70% of the ruins in Jerash are still under the ground?! 

Apparently the whole city sits atop buried ruins

During this trip people opened their homes for us and welcomed us there to cook and eat with them. They have been so hospitable, warm and welcoming and they all have been so generous offering us really everything in their homes. While shooting one of the episodes for instance - three women (sisters) welcomed a whole crew (+12 people) - and while the food was cooking, the ladies brought out every item in their pantry from Labneh balls, to zaatar, maqdoos and all types of stored home-made food and fed us in case we were hungry while the actual lunch cooked. They then offered us a banquet of amazing home-cooked platters that can feed a country and thought it was not enough, so brought out even more of their pantry stock, all of which was extremely delicious. But it did not stop at that, as you can see in the episode, they were giving Hatun tips for alternative remedies for diabetes, they gave me time-saving tips for storing foods when in season, and have taught each one of us a thing or two about sisterhood and relationships that last. They showed us by example how love and giving is the essence of happiness.

When at that age, having such a support system and choosedly living together can only mean that at some point real generosity took place and the three have unconditionally given love and support for one another. So blessed they are with their spirits, their company and for being so welcoming, opening their homes to some 10+ people for no personal gain!

Rawan & her friends

Rawan too had invited us to her home. She invited us to meet her friends, and all their children. While there discussing healthy eating for kids and having the children around, she invited us to cook with them, and basically make a lot of fun mess in her kitchen! She generously opened her heart, home, and kitchen for us and wanted to share with us a slice of her life, and even took us on a picnic to the park. Why, simply to connect and be hospitable to these complete strangers she just met at a cooking competition!

Then of course, Hashem restaurant, who offered us a breakfast of the best hummus, falafel, fattet hummus, musabaha... you will ever have. Then passionately told us the story of how Hashem restaurant started, making sure we learn that when there is a will no obstacle can stop anyone, all the while ensuring that we eat any dish we mention!

And the guy we met, who is celebrating his 25th anniversary, still loving his wife as though he'd just been smitten. We all know how relationships can never last without unconditional love, suppoprt and giving, and the bond between these two goes to show how generosity goes a long way!

Mooneh - Pantry
All that got me thinking of how generosity is at the essence of all our relations. That it is in a way the essence of being social. If we just want to hold back, or think of only one's self then no relationships will ever be possible. Therefore we must always give and experience the amazing happiness unconditional giving grants us!

My Diaries - Little notes I wrote throughout this trip
Leaving Jordan Diary:

We all look for different things, and I can always only explore the perspectives I look for. And I look for connections, enriching experiences, and exploring myself in the presence of new surroundings. Because there is where I find growth and there is where I enrich my understanding, ultimately allowing openness to enter both my heart & mind....

The Journey Continues...


A journey in a new destination starts tomorrow... Heading off to the mesmerising Morocco, starting this journey in my best loved beautiful Casablanca :)

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Barley Pilaf & Slow Roasted Shanks of Spring Lamb - شعير مفلفل مع موزات الخروف المشوية

الوصفة بالعربي بآخر البوست
Spring is lamb Season and no better time to have any food than when it is in season!

Besides the intro above, there is really not much more to say for me to convince you of this recipe's goodness!

Except that...
This is not one of those recipes that will take you 3 minutes of prep and cooking then it's done! This is in fact one of those recipes that the more love and attention you give, the more it gives you back, but hey it is one very rewarding recipe. The slow cooking of lamb shanks that have already been marinated overnight creates a melt in your mouth texture that you will not forget and will have you going back for repeats.

Barley Pilaf with Slow Roasted Lamb ShanksServes 4
The pairing of this slow roasted lamb and the roasting juices with the cooked barley, which like the finest risotto offers a textured yet soft bite, along with its earthy nuttiness you are not talking about just another eating experience! No this is one unique dish that will make you proud and everyone else very pleased! Gotta try it to know it...

Barley Pilaf & Slow Roasted Shanks of Spring Lamb
You Need
For Lamb Shanks
6 lamb Shanks, all visible fat trimmed
1 tbsp Tomato Paste
2 cups Fresh Tomato Juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
½ tbsp brown sugar
1 Spring Thyme
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ground allspice
Freshly cracked black pepper to Taste
Unrefined Salt to taste

For Barley Pilaf
3 cups Barley, washed and drained
3 cups meat or chicken broth,
1 tbsp Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp grape vinegar
Chopped parsley to garnish
Toasted pine nuts to garnish

A day in advance, marinate the Lamb shanks: In a large bowl, make the marinade by mixing together all the shank ingredients. Rub the shanks all over with this marinade making sure to coat all the shanks with the sauce. Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

The next day, pour the lamb shanks and marinade in a roasting dish, drizzle with olive oil and add 1 cup hot water to the mix, then shake the dish to incorporate. Cover and roast in a hot oven for 45 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to roast, covered, for 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes. Once done, remove the cover and broil for 10 minutes to brown.

Make the barley pilaf: Sauté the chopped onions, minced garlic and thyme leaves in the olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add the broth, then bring the mixture to a boil while stirring. Once boiled add the barley and bay leaf then bring the mixture back to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and leave to simmer, covered until the barley is fluffy and cooked through and all liquid is absorbed. Once the Barley is done, remove from heat, add the vinegar and mix well. Cover and set aside until ready to plate.

To finish, pour the barley on a large serving dish, top with the lamb shanks and some of the roasting sauce then garnish with chopped parsley and toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately with a side of Green Salad Leaves and the remaining roasting juices in a sauce boat.

 الربيع موسم لحم الخروف و أحسن وقت لاستخدامه في الطبيخ

مش كتير زمان، كان القمح والشعير يربوا بكل الأراضي الفاضية بين البيوت. أنا بتذكر كتير منيح أيام كنت أركض فيها بين سنابل القمح والشعير جمب بيتنا. و بتذكر كمان كيف كنت لما أروح عالبيت أعد أقيم السنابل العلقة بأواعيي. بتذكر كيف  كانت الأرض يتغير لونها حسب الموسم، من أخضر، لأصفر للون الترابي قبل ما الناس يحصدوا هالسنابل. وكمان بتذكر ... ـ
إنا كنا انطعمي الخيل شعير مع البرسيم، و كانو يحبوا كتير... ذكريات كتير حلوة! ـ 

شو صار بهالحقول البرية؟ وين راحوا؟ والا نحنا إللي زحفنا عليهم و ما خلينا محل لكل هالزريعة؟ يمكن هدول الحقول ما قدروا يتكيفوا مع حياتنا السريعة، و شوي شوي اختفوا و أخدوا معاهم أكلاتنا الطيبة! أنا كتير بحب هدول الحقول وهداك الشعور بالوسع والحرية لما الواحد يركض بين السنابل! و لهيك عملت هاي الأكلة لتاخدني هناك واتذكرني بالأيام لما كانت السنابل عايشة بينا." ـ

هادي مش من الأكلات اللي ابتتحضر وابتنطبخ بخلال ١٠ دقائق! بالعكس هاي من الأكلات يللي بدها شوية صبر و كل ما 
صبرنا عليها ابتهدينا أطيب طعم و أحلى أكلة. طبخ لحم الخروف ببطء و على نار هادية هي أحسن طريقة و ابتعطي أحسن نتيجة. لأنه بهالطريقة لحم الخروف بصير كتير طري و غني بالنكهة. عنا بسموه "هالط" يعني عم بدوب من كتر ما هو طري. و هاي أفضل طريقة لتقديم لحم الخروف. بما إنا بالربيع والربيع هو موسم الخرفان، ما في وقت أحسن من هالوقت لطبخ لحم الخروف، و بخلال هادا الموسم لحم الخروف بكون بأحسن حالاته. فجربوا هاي الطريقة إللي رح تعجبكم كتير و رح تعجب عائلاتكم وضيوفكم كمان. ـ 

أنا اخترت أقدم الخروف مع الشعير المفلفل كتغيير عن المكونات المعروفة و دائمة الاستخدام. الأكل أشهى مع التغيير، و كمان طعم الشعير و طريقة ملمسه كتير ابتلبق مع الموزات المشوية بهالطريقة وطبعا الشعير من الحبوب المفيدة جدا لتقليل الكولسترول بالجسم و تقليل ضغط الدم والسكري... فهادا كمان بزيد من محاسن هاي الطبخة. ـ

وصفة الشعير المفلفل مع موزات الخروف المشوية
وصفة الشعير المفلفل مع موزات الخروف المشوية
لموزات الخروف المشوية
٦ موزات منظفة من الدهن الزائد
١ ملعقة كبيرة رب البندورة
٢ كوب عصير بندورة طازج
١ ملعقة كبيرة زيت زيتون
١ ملعقة كبيرة خل البلسمك
١/٢ ملعقة كبيرة سكر بني
١ عود زعتر طازج
١ عود قرفة
ورقة غار
١ ملعقة كبيرة بهار مشكل مطحون
فلفل أسود مدقوق حسب الطعم
ملح غير مكرر (حسب الرغبة، لا يستخدم بحال استخدام مكعب الماجي) ـ

للشعير المفلفل
٣ كوب شعير حب
٣ كوب مرقة دجاج / لحم
١ ملعقة كبيرة زيت زيتون
 ٢ سن ثوم مدقوق
١ بصلة صغيرة مفرومة ناعمة
فلفل أسود مدقوق
ورقة غار
١ ملعقة صغيرة ورق زعتر طازج
١ ملعقة صغيرة خل العنب الأبيض

بقدونس مفروم
صنوبر و لوز محمصين

قبل الطبخ بيوم، تخلط مكونات موزات الخروف كلها مع بعض لتكوين نقعة. نضع الموزات في النقعة ونغلفها فيها على كل الجهات. نغلف الوعاء بالنايلون و يحفظ بالثلاجة من ١٢ - ٢٤ ساعة.ـ

اليوم الثاني، نضع اللحم مع النقعة في صنية شوي، نضيف عليهم رشة زيت زيتون و كوب ماء ساخن و نحرك الصنية ليمتزج الجميع. نغلف الصنية بورق الألمنيوم و نشوي داخل الفرن على حرارة عالية مدة ٣٠ دقيقة. ثم نوطي الحرارة ونشوي المزات مغطية من ساعة لساعة ونص. بعدها نزيل ورق الألمنيوم و نحمر اللحم. ـ 

بهاي الأثناء نفلفل الشعير. نقلب البصلة المفرومة و الثوم المدقوق بزيت الزيتون حتى يطرى و يصير البصل شفاف (بدون تحمير البصل) نضيف المرقة و ندع الخليط يغلي. نضيف عليه الشعير المغسول وورقة الغار وأوراق الزعتر و نعيد غلي المزيج. عند الغليان نوطي النار وندعه يتقلب مغطى على نار هادية لأن ينضج الشعير ويتشرب كل المرقة. بس يخلص نبعده عن النار. ـ

للتقديم نضع طبقة من الشعير المفلفل على صحن التقديم، ثم نضيف الموزات المشوية فوقه و شوية من مرقة الشوي. نزين الجميع بشوية بقدونس مفروم و الصنوبر واللوز المحمصين. نضع باقي صوص الشوي في إناء صغير على طرف و تقدم الأكلة ساخنة مع سلطة على جنب. ـ

#dimasharif #oldandforgotten #recipeswithastory #nostalgiccooking 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Why Do We Not Address this?! - The Best Food Advice for Parents

Using food as reward or punishment never promotes healthy eating, better food choices, nor does it create empowered children. All it really does is create emotional eaters, who as adults, will continue to reward or punish themselves with food.

This might not be the most delightfully light food topic, but it is one overly practiced everywhere, and has serious consequences! So really, why do we never address it?!
Well today, we are going to...
Do read on...

Photo from one of my "Little Chefs" Session: baking for young children

Let me please first establish that I am not in anyway saying we should completely omit sugars, chocolates, candies, cakes and all similar foods out of our children's diets! What I am saying is: we must stop using these foods as rewards / punishments to alter children's behaviours or enhance children's performances. And while we are at it, we must refrain from referring to only this section of food as "treats"; instead we must view all food types as a whole and not dissect them into desirable foods and the other, must eat foods! Ask yourself what are you most likely to choose desirable or must eat? We pass on our attitudes to our children and therefore they are, then we think they are developing bad eating habits. But as the saying goes, there are no bad children but there are better parenting practices.

Eating Healthy for Children
To begin with, all food types are food; each of which have essential nutrients needed by our bodies. Some more beneficial than others, including a mix of nutrients, while others less so including a few essentials needed by the body. The least desirable of foods are those that carry empty calories, which can do nothing for our bodies, even at times can cause illnesses. So if we look at a cake as a type of food that includes, carbs and sugars, oils and fats, dairy and fruits as well as vegetables at times....etc we detach this cake from being devil food. Instead a slice of cake can be viewed as a full meal. With that said, because cake is more heavy on sugars, carbs, fats and so on - and because a very small serving of cake is a full meal - furthermore in comparison to a salad it becomes less healthy and therefore less desirable. Does that mean we should omit cake from our diets? Not at all, but we certainly must consume it less frequently than we do a fresh fruit for instance. These are the types of facts that we must empower our children with. And we must separate our understanding of "healthy" as equal to "weight loss regime", the two are very different things!

Photo from my son's 6th birthday: trying a new flavour in making our pizzas activity

Research shows that children, since their bodies are still growing and building, need a bigger variety of food types than adults do. As long as we make sure that their diets are balanced and that their bodies are taking their need to grow and develop from food, without having so much excess that the body does not need, they are then eating healthy. Children do not need to go on an all vegetable (salad) diets - neither do adults for that matter - nor do they need to eat grilled meats all the time... in fact that is very unhealthy for them. However, they also do not need the excessive amount of sugar, fried food, and junk snacks that they usually consume. The problem with these food types is that when they are had in excess they can lead the way to obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure as well as cavities and other problems.

As long as we are offering our children a varied diet where no specific type of food is omitted or overly focused, our children are then eating healthy and developing a good appetite and palate for different flavours and textures.

Raising Children with Healthy Attitudes Towards Food
"Healthy" for kids is really eating a balanced diet. But most importantly "Healthy" for kids is developing the right attitude towards food. Children raised with the right attitude towards food grow to become healthy eaters and tend to make better food choices as adults.

Photo taken at one of my "little Chefs" Session: Cooking & Healthy Eating Attitudes for Young Adults

Raising children with a healthy attitude towards food can only be done by removing the emotions from food types! Because as long as they believe that crisps are a "treat" ... cake is for "special occasions" only....  junk is "special food" ....  chocolate is a "reward" for eating a healthy lunch ... broccoli is "punishment" for not finishing the plate.... and all these connotations that we continuously tie different foods with, they are most likely to continue to treat themselves with chocolates, comfort themselves with ice-cream and request junk on special days as well as avoid broccoli because it is only for punishment! This is what is known as emotional eating.

Examples of commonly used phrases that tie foods to specific emotions and promote using food to feed these emotions:
  • "If you eat this food, I will give you a chocolate." (reward)
  • “If you pick up the toys, I will give you each a cookie.” (reward)
  • “I know you got hurt when you fell down, here is a piece of candy.” (comfort)
  • “Eat all of your sandwich or we will not go to the playground.” (punishment)

According to Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Co-Director, Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders:
“Rewarding children with unhealthy foods undermines our efforts to teach them about good nutrition. It’s like teaching children a lesson on the importance of not smoking, and then handing out ashtrays and lighters to the kids who did the best job listening.”
You see, we must never use food as a reward or punishment and avoid this method as though it is the plague! Instead we must take out the emotions from food and reward / punish behavior with non-food-related actions. We must follow the words with supporting action, when we explain to them what is healthy and what is not, we should not offer them a chocolate when they eat their healthy meal. When we tell them all food is equally good we must not offer treats in the form of sugary or junk foods!

Photo from one of my "little Chefs" Sessions about 
introducing new flavours & textures to toddlers and young children

Dealing with Fussy Eaters
We all have to deal with fussy eaters at some point or another. Sometimes, fussy eating can lead to this whole reward/punishment with food scenario. There are many ways to deal with fussy eaters, but this method is not the solution. Food as reward / punishment method is nothing but a temporary fix that will keep the fussiness alive throughout these children's lives and set them up for unhealthy eating habits.

These are some links that will help you deal with fussy eaters:

Photo from one of my "lilttle Chefs" sessions fussiness is all in the textures for toddlers

Don't forget that learning best happens in a fun environment. Turn everything into a game and your young children are most likely to play! 

Come back soon for more of my food adventures,
Meanwhile we will always remember together that we should make our children's food moments memorable and we must always empower them with skills that facilitate their lives as adults, these are the better parenting practices!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Jordan Street Food - Karabeej Halab كرابيج حلب

الوصفة بالعربي بآخر البوست
Karabeej Halab are among the most famous street foods in Amman.
They are sugar syrup drenched (absolutely sweet) essentially fried dough (absolutely delicious)
Maybe not an everyday bite but once in a while they are an absolute treat!

While filming the Jordan episodes, and walking through Al Balad (down town Amman), we passed by a stall on which Karabeej Halab were being made, freshly prepared, fried and drenched in sugar syrup (the only way you should have them)! Once made, they are then placed on a tray placed over an old wooden trolly, which will go around selling these sticks of sweet, gooey goodness. I had not had these in ages and had to have some. So we stopped and had a few and what a treat! I had forgotten the amazing splash of sugar syrup that explodes in the mouth as soon as you bite into the stick, and had forgotten that gooey texture of the fried dough which while slightly crunchy on the outside is absolutely soft on the inside thanks to sugar syrup bath it goes through, straight after frying! I could not believe I am not making these myself and serving them for dessert when I am hosting!! These are heavenly, and while not an everyday kind of dessert, had every once in a while they are an absolute treat.

So without too much talk, as non is necessary in this case, here is the recipe and I really recommend that you try making these and serving them to your friends, occasionally. They will love this dessert and what better than reviving old traditions to warm your guests hearts?!

Karabeej Halab 

For a more modern way to serve this dessert, instead of plunging in sugar syrup you can serve it with chocolate spread or chocolate fondue along with sliced strawberries or raspberries. You can even serve it with ice cream topped with chocolate shavings.
Another way is to serve them as parfaits. Make mini sticks and place them in small dessert cup along with chocolate cream or custard topped with sliced strawberries and chocolate shavings.
Let your imagination be your guide :)

You Need
2 cups fine Semolina
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tbsp ground fennel
1/2 tbsp ground aniseed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flavourless vegetable oil
1 -2 cups water (or as required to create a very soft dough)
Oil for deep frying
1 recipe Sugar Syrup

Start by mixing the egg, vanilla and 1/2 cup oil together until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the semolina, flour, baking soda and ground aniseed and fennel. Pour the egg mixture over the semolina mixture and mix well.

Gradually add the water and mix, until you have a very soft dough.

Heat the frying oil. Meanwhile, place the dough in a piping bag.

Carefully, pipe the dough straight into the hot oil in long strips and fry until golden. Repeat until all the quantity is done.
Once golden, place the fried sticks on a sieve for a moment to get rid of the excess oil, then straight away plunge them into the sugar syrup, making sure to coat all over.

Remove and place over a serving plate, and serve hot or warm.

(Street Food Amman - Jordan)
The making of Karabeej Halab
طريقة عمل كرابيج حلب
شو أحلى من إحياء التقاليد و تقديم أكلات من مطبخنا العربي الكلاسيكي؟ في أكلات كتير طيبة و خسارة إنا ننساها. أنا دايما بحب أقدم أكلات كلاسيكية بس بحب أغير شوي في طريقة تقديمها لتصير مميزة أكتر و كمان لأضيف لمستي الشخصية عليها. ـ
لتقديم كرابيج حلب بطريقة مودرن أكتر، ممكن عدم وضعه في القطر بعد القلي، وتقديمه مع الشوكولاته السائحة أو كريمة الشوكولاته مع بعض الفراولة أو التوت. وممكن أيضا تقديمه مع الآيس كريم وبعض الشوكولاته المبروشة. للتقديم ممكن أن يقدم كأصابع مع الشوكولاتة كغموس على جنب أو ممكن تقديمه في كاسات صغيرة متل البارفيه ـ

كرابيج حلب
٢ كوب سميد
كوب طحين
١/٤ ملعقة صغيره بايكربونات الصوديوم
١/٢ ملعقة كبيره يانسون مطحون
١/٢ ملعقة كبيره شومر مطحون
١ ملعقة صغيرة فانيلا
١/٢ كوب  زيت
١-٢ كوب ماء أو حسب الحاجة لتكوين خليط طري
زيت قلي

تخلط البيضة مع الفانيلا و كوب الزيت جيدا معا و يوضع الخليط جانبا. ـ
 يخلط الطحين والسميد واليانسون والشومر والبيكربونات الصوديوم معا.  ثم يضاف له خليط البيض و يخلطوا جيدا. ـ
. ثم يضاف الماء لخليط السميد تدريجيا إلى أن يصبح عجينه لينه. يوضع هذا الخليط في كيس الكريما الذي يستعمل لتزيين الكيك. ـ 
 يحمى الزيت ونضغط الخليط خارج الكيس لنشكل أصابع طويلة، على طول داخل الزيت (مثل الصورة). يجب الحذر عند القيام بهذه الخطوة لأن الزيت حامي. تقلى الأصابع إلى أن تحمر ثم تنقل من الزيت (مع تصفيتها) وتوضع في القطر مباشرة. نكرر هذه الخطوة  إلى نفاذ الكمية. ـ 

تقدم ساخنة أو دافئة بحرارة الغرفة. ـ

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Destination Jordan - Stop 1 Amman ♥♥♥ Street Food

The Street Food of Jordan

"Whether it is served on fine china or paper plates, food brings us together and stimulates conversation. We feast to wed, mourn, celebrate, strengthen friendships, grow, and simply to be hospitable. Good eating is one of life's great pleasures."

What is the first thing you want to try when traveling to any place? For me, it's always street food. Those bits and pieces, here and there always contain the produce, the flavours and the spirit of a place. It is fascinating how much street food tells about a destination! The perfect introduction.

So when we landed in Amman, and having grown up there, I wanted to show the ladies the city and have them taste some of its best loved street food. I felt I wanted to show them, why I love this place, where we hung out back in the day and give them a quick feel of Amman and what better way to do that, than by having them taste the street food of Jordan? So we head out to Shawerma Reem, one of the most popular and best loved meat Shawerma places in town. I myself had missed it so much, and knew they would love it! The whole experience is different from any other Shawerma place. You would queue for a while until you get your shawerma (the place is usually packed), all the while watching the guy slice off shavings of caramelised meat, which he then places in pita bread, drenches with Tahini sauce and adds a few slices of tomato, red onions and sprinkles the whole with chopped parsley and sumac, then rolls... you bite into it and you can't miss the tahini, the meat and get woofs of sumac and onion... absolute pleasure! We each had a few and could not stop at just 1!
Shawerma Reem is located in Jabal Amman, close by the Intercontinental hotel. A must try when in Amman.
Happily munching on Shawerma Reem

It was already afternoon and we wanted a good cup of coffee to keep us going, and since we were close by, I thought to take them to Books@Cafe, which is my favourite cafe in town. This is where I used to hang out with my friends since school days. Every so often we would go there and spend the whole afternoon out on the terrace, overlooking the beautiful Mountain studded with very old houses; a beautiful scene of old Amman. Books@Cafe, being located in the first circle of Jabal Amman, is in one of the oldest neighbourhoods of the city. Some houses there are well over 70 years old, so immediately you are in the presence of the city's history, its old structure, and iconic enduring stone houses. You take a look around, see the many windows and terraces and can't help but wonder the lifestyle back then.

A place with houses so closely knit with windows and balconies overlooking the whole neighbourhood. Had you spoken, the neighbour would have heard you, and the streets are very narrow, however everywhere you look there is a picturesque view. This area is very close by Rainbow street, which back in the day used to house the most famous and posh shopping stores, now turned into a cafe and retaurant strip. It is also close by Al Abdali, which has always been the public transportation hub of the city as well as being so close to down town Amman, which had always been the trade centre of this city. So rightly, back in the day, these people who lived in this area lived at the centre and the heart of Amman. While the city grew and hugely expanded, these areas reamain a centre and carry out much of the city's unique character. Ever characteristic of this city, Books@Cafe looks like it belongs to another era from the outside, however, very art deco on the inside, with the book shop section greeting you as you enter and the cafe on top treats you with its multi coloured, hand-painted walls, remixes of the most famous 90's tunes and some delicious treats all in the presence of amazing scenery from Old Amman. Beautiful, and I could not be happier that a good thing has not changed!

If you do go to Amman, dedicate a day for strolling down Rainbow Street. The strip is filled with cafes, restaurants, pubs and pub gardens among others but really the best thing about it is that it is a historical part Amman, the one that paved the way for modern Amman to evolve. 
Also recomend that you visit Souk Jara during the season it operates. This is an artisanal open market in which you will find many souvenirs and beautiful pieces by local makers including, cross stitching (pillows, clothing, table runners...), hand painted plates, cups, trays... and many more beautiful things. There are often performances and concerts there as well, so it is an all round fun activity showcasing Jordanian talents.
Since we are talking cafes, another one of my favourite cafes in Amman is Blue Fig Cafe in Abdoun. The ambience of the place and the back terrace are gorgeous. One of my favourite spots for sundowners. Music is always good there (they promote local musicians and artists) and the food always intriguing! They have completely revamped the Manqooshe (bread pastry) concept. Their pesto pastry and turkey and cheese one are to die for (I always order them there). Even their burgers are very different from what you would normally refer to as a burger! Must try! 
Books @ Cafe & Fairuz Restaurant
Amman - Jordan

The day was quickly unwinding from then on, we had dinner at Fairuz restaurant (in Landmark hotel), a new restaurant that I have not tried before. I really enjoyed the freekeh risotto, completely different from the traditional freekeh, taking it out of context completely... interesting to say the least. Also very much enjoyed the Yalangi we had there, which was more similar to the Turkish Dolma and thoroughly tasty. Their Labneh balls where heavenly and all the regular Lebanese Mezzes were good too.

In Jordan, the street food ritual is never complete without a
Hummus breakfast in Hashem restaurant in Al Balad
Followed by Knafe from Habiba
It was not until the second day that we went on the proper street food hunt! You have not tasted Street Food in Amman, until you have had the Falafel, Hummus, Fool, & Fattet Hummus... breakfast! Then followed that with Knafe from Habiba! That is it. This is the street food ritual in Jordan, and an absolutely delicious one, that you really want to go on!

The most famous Hummus breakfast shops include, of course Hashem Restaurant in Al Balad (everyone's favourite), 
Al Amaneh take out in Sweifieh, 
Al Kalha in Sweifieh or Abdoun, 
Abu Jbara in Tla' Al Ali or 
Al Usra in Abdoun... All of which are highly recomended.

The most famous Knafe and Arabic desserts shops include, Habiba Al Balad, Zalatimo, Abu Sir (must try their warbat or shueibyat, Ah Divine!)... All of which are very recommended.

The second day, we did just that and even filmed parts of it for you guys to see. Watch the video below, you will see how I could not stop munching. Nothing beats the flavours and rituals of HOME!

Because we were on a tight schedule, of course we could not try everything, however managed to squeeze in the most iconic ones, including Shawerma Al Daya the best loved for chicken Shawerma. We have even gone on a Sahlab hunt as Sumaya was craving Sahlab :) (sahlab is a milk mixture that is thick and served with nuts and desiccated coconut on top, really delicious and especially during winter, very heartwarming). We looked everywhere and while this drink was always readily available even at the sides of the street, that time it was hard to find! We did find it eventually in Gerard an ice cream shop in Abdoun, and it was everything I hoped for. Fantastic and recommended!

We missed on the delicious Kaek Bisimsem (Sesame coated bread rings filled with zaatar, cheese or boiled eggs), never had enough time! These are usually sold on strollers in Abdali, Sweifieh or the 4th circle close to Al Khaldi Hospital. Do try them when in Amman, you will love them. 
Also do drop by the produce markets, because produce in Amman is really outstanding. It is all real and smells of the produce. You peel a cucumber in one room, and the whole house smells of cucumbers. The strawberries are marvelous, the oranges, pomelos, the prickly pears... all is to die for!

MY Diaries -  Little notes I wrote during this trip.
My Jordan, stop 1 Diary:

When we keep our mind open to new ways, new things and new flavours we allow ourselves to experience the essence of a place and therefore allow ourselves to connect the space in between. We must never take home with us when we travel, and must know that everywhere is unique and different and that is why travel is a beautiful activity. If we expect to find only the familiar, the sameness of home, then we might as well stay at home! When we are being overly critical and looking for things to dislike then we will find just that! Things to dislike and more space in between. But when we are looking for the unique characteristics, flavours and ways of a new place, we are then exploring and allowing ourselves to discover. That is true adventure!

Come back again soon for another sensational street food Recipe! :)

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Adventure, Explore & Discover 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Seafood Risotto ريسوتو ثمار البحر

Seafood Risotto Recipe  الوصفة بالعربي بآخر البوست
Serves 4-6

This Risotto is super delicious, done the authentic Italian way (always tomato-based and never dairy based). For best flavour, use fresh tomatoes (go to the Friday Farmers Market on The Terrace, and buy the best organic produce there, straight from the farmers), peel and deseed the tomatoes and puree.
The addition of the butter in the end (technique known as mantecatura in Italian cuisine) is necessary for the well known texture of risotto, it is what makes your risotto creamy, so it's OK indulge a little!
Use home-made seafood broth for making this risotto, it makes all the difference to the flavour. Finally garnish this risotto with assorted seafood (mussels, clams, shrimps, scallops...) then with chopped fresh parsley. 

Sauteed Fresh Shrimps
You Need
3 Kg clams
2 lobster tails cooked and chopped (optional)
1 Kg shrimps, cleaned and sautéed in olive oil and garlic
500g Mussels, cleaned, de-bearded and steamed until all are opened, discard any that remain closed
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil (you can use chili infused olive oil for spicy flavour/optional)
3 tbsp white grape vinegar
juice 1 medium lemon
4 tbsp pureed fresh tomato
Salt & Black pepper to taste
3 cups  fine carnaroli or arbario rice (medium grain rice)
2 liters seafood / fish broth
75g Butter, diced and kept refrigerated until ready to use

In a large saucepan, slightly heat half the quantity of the olive oil. Add the crushed garlic and saute until softened but not browned. Add the clams and shake the pan to coat and saute for about a minute or 2. Add the vinegar and stir to incorporate. After about a minute or 2 the clams should have opened. Discard any that remained closed. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the clams from the shell (reserving some with the shell on the side for garnish).

In a separate pot, heat the broth together with the tomato puree until the mixture reaches a boil. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer.

Meanwhile in a separate pan, heat the remaining olive oil and saute the onion until translucent and not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil, add more olive oil if the rice is not well coated. Make sure the rice is warm before adding any liquid to it. Once the rice is warm add the lemon juice and stir to coat. Continue to cook stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice looks dry. Start to ladle in the broth, one ladle at a time and cook stirring after each addition until all the liquid had been absorbed. It is necessary for the texture of risotto that all liquid is absorbed before the addition of any more liquid and you must continually stir the mixture. Once absorbed add the next ladleful and so on...

Continue this process for about 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. Bear in mind that risotto must be soft with a bite and is never too soft (al dente). Turn down the heat and ad the cooked, shelled clams, diced lobster and stir to mix all. Season to taste and mix.

Remove from the heat and add the cold butter mixing very well and continuously until all the butter is incorporated. Garnish with the remaining clams, mussels and cooked shrimps, then sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Fresh Lobster Tails

، كتير مبسوطة إنكم حبيتوا الفيديو تاعي و شكرا كتير على كل الكلمات الحلوة اللي قلتوها عنجد انتوا كلكم حلوين. كمان مبسوطة إنه عجبكم الريسوتو اللي عملته بهادا الفيديو. و صلتني كل رسائلكم اللي طلبتوا فيها الوصفة وأكيد رح أعطيكم اياها، هاي هي كل الفكرة أساسا و أنا أصلا بفرحني إنكم متحمسين تطبخوا وصفتي. فيالله هاي الوصفة مع شوية نصائح لاتقانها :) اعملوها، رح تعجبكم

وصفة ريسوتو ثمار البحر
٤-٦ أشخاص

هاي وصفة طيبة كتير و محضرة على الطريقة الإيطالية التقليدية (بالمطبخ الإيطالي التقليدي دايما السمك وثمار البحر بتنعمل على أساس بندورة مش مع منتجات الألبان). ولضمان الطعم الأفضل دايما استخدموا بندورة طازجة ويفضل اتكون أورجانك أو عضوية (جربوا تشتروا خضرتكم من سوق المزارعين مباشرة، في دبي أحسن سوق مزارعين هو سوق الجمعة اللي بصير بحديقة أبراج الإمارات). قشروا البندورة و بعدين قيموا البزر واهرسوها لتصير ناعمة واستعملوها بدل رب البندورة الجاهز

زيادة الزبدة بآخر الوصفة ضروري ليعطي الريسوتو خاصيته الكريمية المعروفة، معلش الله بعينكم هاي أكيد مش وصفة لأيام الدايت! بس اتخلصوا طبيخ زينوا الريسوتو ببعض ثمار البحر إللي إلها صدف و شوية قريدس مقلى مع قشره. بعدين رشوا عليه بقدونس مفروم و شوفوا شو طيبة

٣ كغم محار طازج
٢ لوبستر مطبوخ و لحمه مقطع صغير (اختياري)  ـ
١ كغم قريدس، منظف ومقلى بشوية زيت زيتون مع ثوم مدقوق
٥٠٠ غم بلح البحر، منظف ومطبوخ على البخار حتى يفتح (نلقي أي حبات ضلت مسكرة) ـ
٣ أسنان ثوم، مدقوقة
بصلة متوسطة، مفرومة ناعمة
١/٤ كاسة زيت زيتون (ممكن آستخدام زيت الزيتون مع الحر إذا يفضل الطعم الحر) ـ
٣ ملاعق كبيرة خل العنب الأبيض
عصير ليمونة متوسطة
٤ ملاعق بندورة مهروسة
ملح وفلفل أسود حسب الذوق
٣ أكواب رز حبة متوسطة (نوع كارنارولي أو أرباريو)
ليترين مرقة ثمار البح، أو مرقة سمك أو مرقة دجاج
٧٥ غم زبدة مقطعة مكعبات، تحفظ باردة لحين الاستخدام

يحمى نصف كمية زيت الزيتون في قدر ويضاف إليه الثوم المدقوق ويقلى حتى يطرى لكن دون أن يحمر. يضاف عليهم المحار ويقلب معهم على النار الحامية لدقيقة أو ٢. نضيف عليهم نصف كمية الخل و نحرك. بعد دقيقتين بكون المحار فتح ونلقي أي حبات ضلوا مسكرين. نزيل القدر عن النار ونزيل الصدف لكن نترل القليل مع الصدف لتزريين الطبق قبل التقديم. ـ

في قدر منفصل، نسخن المرقة مع البندورة المهروسة إلى أن تغلي، ثم نوطي النار ونتركهم يقلبوا على نار واطية. ـ

، في قدر واسع وعميق نسخن باقي زيت الزيتون ونقلب به البصل حتى يطرى دون أن يحمر. نضيف الرز ونحركه حتى يتغلف بالزيت. لازم نتأكد أن الرز دافيء قبل إضافة أي سوائل عليه. عندما يدفىء الرز نضيف عليه المرقة شوي شوي (مقدار كوب بالمرة) ونحرك جيدا حتى يمتص الرز كل المرقة. لازم ما يضل أي سوائل قبل إضافة المزيد. نضيف المرقة فقط عندما يتم امتصاص كل سوائل المرة إللي قبل. ونستمر بهذه العملية لمدة ربع ساعة أو لحتى ينطبخ الرز. بالريسوتو  الرز لازم يكون طري بس مش عالآخر، لازم يضل فيه قرشة صغيرة كتير. ـ 

 يضاف اللوبستر المطبوخ المقطع والمحار المطبوخ المقشر للريسوتو ويخلط ليمتزج. ثم يبعد عن النار ويضاف الملح والفلفل الأسود ويحرك ثم يضاف عليه مكعبات الزبدة الباردة وتحرك جيدا وبسرعة حتى تمتزج. ـ

يزين الصحن بباقي ثمار البحر المطبوخة واللي ضل عليها قشرها والصدف ويرش الوجه بالبقدونس المفروم. يقدم مع شرحات الليمون على طرف. ـ


My Heaven: Cooking Outdoors & Cooking with people. Change is fun.
مافي شي ببسطني قد الطبخ برة والطبخ مع العالم. التغيير بيعطي الحياة طعم حلو

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