Thursday, March 01, 2007

Arabian Delights

Being asked for some Arabian dessert recipes. thankfully I remembered that somewhere I did have a book on 'Complete Arab Cookery', and managed to find it straight away, which is a first for me.
Hopefully, the following recipes should be as near to the traditional as can be. You will see I have given the country of origin, but generally - in one form or another - these dishes are eaten throughout the Middle East. As children might refuse the more exotic, I am including recipes more to their liking. Baklava comes under the banner of Arabic desserts, but as I have given this recipe in an earlier posting, I won't repeat it today.
Cream served with Arabian desserts is traditionally clotted cream. This can be bought from a supermarket. I have successfully frozen it.

Halawah Temar (Iraq) = Date Halva
makes about 40 pieces but will keep for weeks in a tin
1 lb dates (450g) stoned and chopped
8 oz (225g) walnuts, shelled and chopped
8 oz (225g) almonds, coarsely chopped
Icing sugar
Mix the dates and nuts together and knead until smooth. Form into a ball and place on a board lightly dusted with icing sugar. Roll out into a square half to three-quarters of an inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut into inch squares.
Dust a serving plate with icing sugar, arrange the squares on it, and dust with more icing sugar. Serve with clotted cream.

Esh es Seraya (Eqypt) = Palace Bread
8 oz (225g) honey
4 oz (110g) sugar
4 oz (110g) butter
4 oz (110g) white breadcrumbs
Heat together the honey, sugar and butter until sugar has dissolved and the mixture thickens. Stir in the breadcrumbs. Cook until it has become a homogenous mass (whatever that means). Turn out onto a plate or shallow pie tin. When cold it will be similar, but thicker, to the filling of our Treacle Tarts. Cut into triangular portions and traditionally this is always served with a little roll of clotted cream on top.

Ghorayebeh (Syria) = Lovers' Shortbread. Makes about 35
As these melt-in-the-mouth biscuits appear in some shape or another throughout the Middle East, these would be perfect for children everywhere. For tiny tots, omit the almond.
1 lb (450g) butter
8 oz (225g) icing sugar, sifter
1 lb (450g) plain flour, sifted
blanched almonds
Melt the butter in a small saucepan, remove from heat, pouring off the clear (ghee) and discard any solids which have sunk to the base of the pan. Chill the melted butter until solidified then beat or whisk until thick and creamy. Continuing to beat, add the icing sugar a little at a time, then continue with the flour in the same way until all has been beaten together. Knead by hand until smooth and pliable. Rest for 10 minutes.
Shape mixture into small balls about the size of a walnut and roll with hands into a sausage, joining ends to make a circle. Press an almond across the join.
Place circles on baking sheets leaving an inch between each. Bake for about 20 minutes until the almonds are golden but the biscuits are still white (150C, 300F, Gas 2).

Roz bi Halib = Rice Pudding, serves 6 - 8
3 oz (75g) short-grain rice
2 1/2 pints (1.5 litres) milk
3 oz (75g) sugar
3 tblsp honey
3 tblsp orange blossom or rose water
2 tblsp pistachio nuts, finely chopped
3 oz (75g) pistachio, almonds or hazelnuts, toasted
Boil the rice in plenty of water for five minutes, then drain well. Bring the milk to the boil in a large pan, add the rice and simmer, stirring often, over a very gentle heat for about 45 mins or until the milk has been mostly absorbed and the mixture is creamy.
Add the sugar, honey, rose or orange blossom water. Simmer for about 5 minutes longer. Pour into a serving bowl. Serve hot or cold garnished with a pattern of finely chopped and toasted nuts.
Note: some rice puddings are also garnished with both pistachio nuts and pomegrante seeds.

Figs and oranges are very much the fruits of Arabia, and - even though this recipe does not have an Arabic name - it was in the book and am sure this dish would be acceptable and couldn't be simpler to make.
Fresh Figs with Orange Juice:
Allow two purple or green (very slightly under-ripe) figs per person. Cut off the stalks but do not peel. Quarter each, put into a bowl and pour over the freshly squeezed juice of oranges (allow one large orange for eight figs). That is all that needs to be done, but prepare this dish at least one hour before being eaten.

Back to the Goode Life, yesterday was the planned meal of sausage, egg, beans and chips. After we had eaten we then retired to the sittingroom to watch Masterchef Goes Large. My husband suggested I make him a meal to the quality of those made during the series. Woops! I may be able to talk about cooking, even write about cooking, but to actually cook great food, well - that's a different matter. Maybe I can, maybe I can't. However, today I am planning to make a creamy risotto with mushrooms, topped with gently fried chicken livers. That's a start, anyway. Wish me luck.