I feel I have missed out on a whole summer of blogging. There was a lot going on with my life and had no help at hand with my little one. This doesn’t mean that I did not cook, eat or photograph some of what went on in this kitchen…. So I am sharing some of the dishes and places that were experienced from June till I picked up on posting again in September.
Maqloube “Upside Down” Palestinian Dish
Maqlouba is possibly the most delicious rice based staple of both a palestinian and a jordanian kitchen. It is usually cooked with lamb meat, a fried vegetable and rice. Like many dishes of the Levant, every house hold has their own version of it. I chose to use chicken instead of the meat and cauliflower for the vegetable. I actually learnt my version from a dear family friend and expert cook “Aunti Serene”. She cooked hers with garlic, cauliflower and turmeric. For me the secret of a delicious Maqlouba is in the broth that the rice is cooked in. It is also a must to leave it to rest for a good half hour before flipping upside down to get a cake like effect. Using the right amount of stock is important so as the rice absorbs just enough water.
1-As seen in the order of the photos the first thing to do is to fry the cauliflower in vegetable oil. I choose to shallow fry it, dap them on kitchen tissue and to sparingly add the crushed garlic and some salt on each cauliflower floret.
2-Season the chicken breast and thighs with a little salt, pepper, a sprinkle of all the spices used in this dish and saute in 1 tablespoon of mixed olive oil/vegetable oil. Once browned but not cooked in the middle take out and cover in foil. (I use the same pot that was used to saute the chicken to cook the main dish in)
3-Wash, drain and season the rice with one table spoon black pepper, half a tablespoon cumin, half tablespoon mixed spice, one third teaspoon turmeric, one table spoon soya sauce and one table spoon salt.
4-Now to work on seasoning the broth, in a kettle boil almost double the amount of rice planning to cook. I cooked 3 cups of rice so cooked it with 5 cups of water, not 6 because I had soaked the rice for 5 minutes. Add half a chicken or vegetable stock cube to the water, add the rest of the spices left from seasoning the rice. Add the rest of the soya sauce (my own little addition for flavour and colour).
5- Start layering the Maqloube, place thick slices of tomatoes at the bottom of the pot and sprinkle with salt. Add some rice, chicken and Cauliflower -also drop some of the sliced garlic as you build your layers. Repeat again covering everything with rice. Add the stock, cover the lid with a towel to trap steam. Let it all come to a boil and immediately place on medium to low heat like you would cooking any rice. Cook for 25 minutes. Switch off and let it rest till whenever you are ready to eat. I usually let it rest for an hour or so. With both hands on the pot, flip onto a flat or slightly curved serving dish. Bon Appetit.
- 12 large cauliflower florets washed and thoroughly dried
- 3 cups mixed american and egyptian rice (similar to pudding rice in shape and it is used in Maqlouba to hold the shape of the cake like dish)
- 2 chicken thighs 2 chicken breasts
- organic chicken stock
- 1 bayleaf
- 1 large red ripe tomato
- 3 cloves of crushed garlic(for the florets)- 2 cloves thinly sliced inside the dish.
- 1 tablespoon mixed spice
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1/3 and 1/3 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoon soya sauce (secret ingredient)
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1.5 table spoon black pepper
- 2 table spoons mixed olive and vegetable oil for the chicken (plus half a cup for frying) I shallow fry the cauliflower florets
Another tasty dish I prepared this summer was a grilled aubergine dip. Famously known as Baba Ganouj. As you can see from the photos, you simply kill the life out of those Auberjs. I directly placed them on the stove and simply balanced them onto individual wire racks. I recommend that you buy young small ones so they can cook quickly. I left each of them on the direct fire for a good 30 minutes, turning only when pressed on the flesh , to make sure it is soft and cooked. It is VERY important that you cook the flesh through, alternating between high and medium low heat. Once cooled down, simply peel off the burnt skin. Crush the Aubej. flesh with a fork until soft, add the yougurt, lemon juice, oil ,garlic garnish. Bon Appetit
- 1 large crushed clove garlic
- 1 large table spoon yoghurt
- lemon and olive oil according to reference
- salt pepper
- half a tomato chopped finely for decoration
- half a pepper chopped finely for decoration
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley