My photos sucked in the last few posts. I don’t know how to put it more accurately! I did not understand what was going on with the lighting, hue and tint. They were blue, yellow and all over the place. So when I heard that Jean Cazals was giving a work shop in Dubai I was more than happy to attend. The work shop was inspiring in terms of understanding how the beautiful photographs we see in books and magazines are made to look so polished. It was about styling and lighting and I really felt that Mr Cazals gave us his best tips and techniques. It was refreshing to meet other food photographers and to know that there’s a world out there that shares one’s passion and hobby..
I am still not there yet in terms of producing balanced photos. And also, at the end of the day It is food and it has to look like food and not plastic (I was shocked to know that what we see as ice cream in most food magazines is actually potatoes!!). On another note, with summer already here I wanted to do something with berries and I always remember Nigella Lawson’s Eton Mess. So I just recreated that adding more berries for color and textures. There’s no recipe per say excpet for whipping up some cream, adding icing sugar to that (minimum) crushing shop bought meringue and mixing and topping with fruits. Really delicious desert and oh so easy.
Jean Cazals in photography work shop
“Need is the mother of all inventions” or so the saying goes in Arabic. Mujadara is not a one pot dish normally. But at the moment my life is far from normal. With no help with my little one, my time can’t absorb excessive cooking or washing up so decided to cut some corners. Once again this dish has many themes and variations, in fact many names too, as most dishes in the Middle East do. But if you only have a few items in your pantry i.e brown lentils and rice, this is ideal.
What makes Mujadara taste savory and really good is the slivers of fried onions that any respectable arabic cook adds as a garnish to this rice dish. I did not have the luxury of time to do so, nor to be honest, want the extra calories added (although is totally delicious). I cooked everything in the one pot you see above. So in order to get some of that delicious friend onion feel, I fried the onion in the oil at the start and added salt and let it all caramalise for ten minutes. They wont really burn or darken as there is salt in there. Once the onion cooked well and caramalised on medium heat, I added the washed lentils and fried everything for 3 minutes ensuring you don’t break the lentils. I added 4 cups of water and half of all the spices above (i use the rest to season the rice before I fry with the lentils). Please add or reduce the spices as you see fit. Let the lentils cook on gentle boil for ten minutes until they are al dente. Meanwhile, wash the rice thoroughly and season with the spices above and drop into the water and lentils and cook everything for another 12 minutes. I like to cover the lid with kitchen towel as it keeps the steam in. I like to serve Mujadara with yogurt and a small side salad. Bon appetite.
- 1 cup green lentils
- 1 cup bismati rice
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 table mixed vegetable and extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp Chicken bouillon powder
- 1.5 tble spoon sea salt plus another tsp for frying onions
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 mixed spice
- 1/2 black pepper
- a pinch of crushed mystic spice
- 1/4 sweet pepper powder
I don’t know if I ever told you that I am a picky eater. I am so picky that when we are out at a restaurant and a waiter is taking orders, my other half warns that this is going to take a while and if a pen and paper are pulled out it’ll be handy!. I don’t eat red meat and haven’t been for twenty years but will eat white meat anyday. I don’t like Shitake Mushroms, Baby Corn or Pok Choy, I don’t care for mussels or any kind of shellfish and the list goes on.. I guess that’s why I can never become a food critic. This is all to explain that when I do stumble upon a recipe I like, I know that it is going to be for life.
I would also say that my menu choice at home is quite rotational. There are some dishes that I’ll cook twice a month. You can call me boring, it’s just the way it is. I can’t for the life of me remember how this stuffed peppers recipe came to life.. I just remember that I decided one day that peppers needed to be stuffed with wild rice, cheese, walnuts, olives and parsley.
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