Taste of the Middle East

Taste of the Middle East

Take inspiration from the region and surprise your guests by adding bold twists to these dishes



 


BEETROOT AND ORANGE SALAD
Ingredients
  • 3 medium beetroots
  • 75 gm rock salt
  • 4 whole oranges
  • 40 ml olive oil
  • 10 ml orange juice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 40 mint leaves
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
Method
Preheat oven to 200°C. 
Put the rock salt on some double layer aluminum foil and place the beets on top.
Pull the sides of the foil up around the beets like a bag; it should be loose but sealed before placing in the oven.
Cook the beets for 50-60 minutes. Use a skewer or knife to check if done. The skewer should pierce the beet easily; if firm, continue cooking.
After roasting the beets, let cool for easy handling (gloves are recommended while handling beets, unless you like purple hands!). Peel the beets and cut into strips about 1x1cm.
Skin the oranges with a knife, leaving no peel or white membrane.
Slice two of the oranges into rounds (try to get about 20 rounds; remove seeds, if need be). Cut the other two into segments with no skin or seeds.
In a bowl, mix together all ingredients except the orange rounds.
Lay down five orange rounds on a plate and place the salad on top.
 
 
 
 LAMB BAJEEN

INGREDIENTS

For the dough:
  • 1 kg plain flour
  • 20 gm active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 400 ml water
For the lamb:
  • 500 gm minced lamb
  • 100 gm minced onion
  • 200 gm tomato, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sumac powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
 
To garnish:
  • Lemon wedges, fresh zaatar, sliced tomato, cucumber, mint leaves, pomegranate molasses
 

Method

For the dough, mix water and yeast together in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes.
You can mix the dough by hand or by using a dough mixer. If using a big bowl, add the flour and make a well in the centre. Pour water, yeast and olive oil into the well.
Knead the dough till it starts to come together and not stick to the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a floured work surface till smooth and elastic.
Clean the big bowl, dry and rub with little oil. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap. 
Place the dough in a warm place and let rise until double in size (30-45 minutes).
Mix all the lamb ingredients together in a bowl.
Cut the dough into 8-12 equal sizes. Roll into balls and set aside for 10 minutes to rest; then, roll out and spread the meat mix on top.
Preheat oven to 250°C. Place the lamb bajeen on a tray and cook in the oven for 6-10 minutes till the sides start to brown.
Garnish, as desired, and serve.
 
 
 
 
 BEEF SHORT RIB TAGINE

Ingredients

For the short ribs:
  • 600 gm boneless beef short ribs
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 medium-large onion, diced
  • 1 large celery stalk, diced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp corn oil
 
For the sauce:
  • 10 ml corn oil
  • 10 ml olive oil
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 500 gm white or yellow onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tsp garlic purée
  • 1 tsp ginger purée
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp ras el hanout (North African spice mix)
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 20 prunes, pitted
  • 8 dried apricots, cut into strips
  • 4 tbsp roasted almonds, skin removed

Method

Cut beef short ribs into 4x4 cm cubes and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a non-stick pan; add oil and brown the meat on all sides.
Transfer meat to a pot, add the remaining ingredients and cover with water.
Boil slowly for an hour, then remove the meat and keep the broth.
For the sauce, add oils, ghee and onion to a pot and cook slowly on low heat till onions are translucent. 
When the onions become soft and pasty, turn up the heat to medium and add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, ras el hanout and saffron. Cook to release aroma and be careful not to burn.
Add the beef short ribs to the pot. Cover with the reserved cooking liquid and simmer the beef, covered, for another hour and 30 minutes on low heat.
Once the meat is soft, add prunes and keep reducing the sauce till medium thick. If sauce is too thick add a little water. Cook the prunes for about 10 minutes.
Serve the beef short ribs in a bowl, garnished with the sliced dried apricots and roasted almonds.
 
 
 BALALEET BOMBOLONI

Ingredients

For the bombolonis:
  • 500 gm all-purpose flour
  • 11 gm dry active yeast
  • 4 gm bicarbonate of soda
  • 15 gm milk powder
  • 8 gm unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 75 gm sugar
  • 2 gm salt
  • 200 ml cold water
 
For the balaleet:
  • 200 gm vermicelli noodles
  • 100 gm sugar
  • 50 gm unsalted butter
  • 1 medium egg
  • 2 gm cardamom
  • 10 broken saffron strands
 
For the spiced glaze:

. ¼ cup full fat milk

  • 250 gm icing sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 3-4 broken saffron strands
 

Method

For the balaleet, cook the noodles in water until al dente; drain.
Add sugar, butter, egg, cardamom and saffron; mix really well then cover and place on a stove on low heat for 15 minutes.
For the spiced glaze, whisk the milk and sugar together and add spices, as desired.
Set aside and allow to cool.
For the bomboloni dough, mix the flour, yeast, bicarbonate of soda and milk powder in a mixer with paddle attached.
Add the butter, eggs, sugar, salt and water and mix on medium high speed for 15 minutes. Roll out to ¼ inch thickness and cut out circles. Allow to proof on a floured baking paper lined sheet for 45-60 minutes.
Heat fryer to 175-180°C and fry on both sides while flipping once. Place on absorbent paper to drain.
Top with balaleet, spiced glaze and pistachios. Serve.
 
 
 CHICKEN TAGINE WITH PRESERVED LEMON AND OLIVES

Ingredients

  • 1.2 kg whole chicken (cut into 8 pieces, skin removed)
  • 25 ml corn oil
  • 25 ml olive oil
  • 500 gm yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp garlic purée
  • 1 tbsp ginger purée
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 ¼ preserved lemon, quartered, flesh removed
  • 20 red or green olives
  • ½ tsp salt
 

Method

Heat a non-stick sauté pan and slightly brown the chicken, after seasoning it with a little salt and pepper. Remove from the pan and set the chicken aside.
Add the remaining ingredients, except olives and preserved lemons, to a heavy bottom pot. Cover with a lid and cook on low to medium heat. Stir the pot every 5-10 minutes to ensure the mixture does not burn.
Cook chicken for approx. 50 minutes till tender. Remove from pot and keep aside.
Finely chop the ¼ preserved lemon. Add it and the olives to the pot. Keep uncovered and stir to reduce the mixture.
When the sauce becomes semi thick, add the chicken and fold into the sauce.
Remove from the stove and plate the chicken in a serving dish or tagine.
To garnish, quarter the remaining lemon and place the quarters on top of the chicken. Serve hot. 
 
 
 Spencer Lee Black
Culinary Director, Vida Hotels and Resorts


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