Feb 21, 2008

A little bit of this and a little bit of that...eating the Middle Eastern way

Well some of you may know that my origins run down to Middle Eastern and the Mediterranean parts of the world, of which many culinary specialities are similar with lots of shared typical ingredients. I grew up eating away on these regional dishes, but having grown up in places like Switzerland and France, I've also become accustomed to more Western cuisine. The French approach to food has particularly affected me in a positive way, but from time to time it's nice to go back to "the roots" and enjoying traditional generous plates such as taboulé or delicious dips such as hoummous- both of which I've included the recipe at the end of this post!

And as in my previous post, where I shared some photos of a not-too-well-known "mshalalé" cheese, I'm also including a photo above of a Middle Eastern mix called "Za'atar", which is basically thyme, oregano and sesame seeds. There are many uses for za'atar, but the most traditional, common and basic way to enjoy it is dipping a piece of fresh bread into olive oil, and then into the za'atar. Popular belief says that za'atar is good for your brain, making it stronger and "smarter"...the reason why plenty of students tend to overdose za'atar around examinations period! Whether this belief is true or not is something I cannot confirm...

Now that we're almost onto the recipe part, I would just like to point out that for the hoummos, I'm actually sharing a recipe that went down from my grandmother, to my mother, and now to me! It truly makes the best hoummos that I've tried so far...sometimes I am just shocked with the hoummos served out there at Middle Eastern restaurants or ready made ones sold at food shops! It's just too stiff, too dry, too liquidy or the tahini taste is overwhelming...and I just happen to be very attached to my family's recipe of this well-balanced creamy version of hoummos!

Recipe for hoummos gourmand:

  • 250 gr cooked/boiled chickpeas and some few extra chickpeas for decoration
  • 125 gr tahini
  • 125 gr yoghurt (or fromage blanc)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Dab of butter + pinenuts (or blanched almonds)
  • Cumin

How to make it:

Put the chickpeas, tahini, yoghurt (or fromage blanc which for me personally gives a creamier texture) salt and lemon juice in a mixer. Mix until creamy and set aside. In a pan, heat a dab of butter and add pinenuts (or blanched almonds) until they become a golden toasted colour. Remove from heat immediately. Place hoummos in your serving dish, drizzle with olive oil, decorate with the pinenuts (or almonds) and the chickpeas, sprinkle with cumin and enjoy! Hoummos can be enjoyed simply with bread or as a dip for kibbé, kebab, shish taouk...whatever pleases your tastebuds really!

Recipe for super healthy traditional taboulé:

  • 1 bunch of flat parsley
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon boulghour (and if you really cannot find any, then replace with couscous)
  • 1 lemon (juice of)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

How to make it:

Finely chop the parsley and mint leaves and place in a big salad bowl. Finely dice the tomatoes and add to bowl. In a small cup, place boulghour and cover with boiling water for about 1-2 minutes, then drain and add the now tenderized boulghour to the salad bowl. Follow with the lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Mix everything well and serve over a bed of ultra crunchy lettuce leaves.


Anonymous said...

I love the idea of several little plates to be eaten "a bit of this and a bit of that" style. The recipe for tabouli looks amazing and fresh - just what I need to get me through until spring is finally and truly here...

Su-Lin said...

That hummous looks so delicious - I think it's the toasted pinenuts on top that do it for me! Unfortunately, I don't have a food processor... :(

Helene said...

We love hummous. I make it every week. My kids request it. Thanks for the recipes.

Julia said...

Wonderful, I've been waiting for the hummous recipe since I saw the gorgeous photo on flickr! Can't wait to try, thanks for sharing :-)

Hillary said...

I love middle eastern food too! This hummus looks DELICIOUS!!! Great meal altogether!

Laurie Constantino said...

I make hummus all the time, but never with the yogurt addition, which is such a great idea. Next time, I'm trying it your family's way.