Thanks to The New Book of Middle Eastern Food from Claudia Roden, we feasted tonight. And will do so again tomorrow. And quite possibly even the day after that. Today, I made the following dishes which have roots in countries like Turkey, Egypt, and Israel:
- Pita Bread
- Baba Ghanouj
- Falafel (sort of)
I won’t go into detail with every recipe but below are the pictures from the pita and the dolmas.
Cookbook: The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Week: 16 of 52
The pita dough is made with water, yeast, a tiny bit of sugar, flour (I used a mixture of all-purpose and whole wheat), salt and olive oil.
After rising for about two hours, it looked like this:
This was separated into 8 chunks which were rolled out to form 7-8″ rounds.
After a second rise of 20 minutes, these went into the oven at 500 degrees right onto my “baking stone” (a.k.a. terra cotta tiles from Home Depot). The puff right up and are done in about 3-4 minutes.
The inside of the pita was soft and moist and so much better than store-bought pita. And reportedly these freeze well, so it could definitely be worth it to make a large batch and store for future use. We ate a couple of these with the shakshouka I made for breakfast (eggs poached in peppers, tomatoes, garlic and spices) and then a couple more with dinner.
For the dolmas, I made the meatless version which is traditionally served cold. This recipe has a filling made from rice, tomato, onion, parsley, cinnamon, allspice, salt and pepper. You stuff the filling into grape leaves (purchased preserved in brine and then soaked in water to remove the salt). The filling is placed right above where the stem would be, and then you fold the stem up from the bottom, fold in the sides and finish by rolling into a cylinder. Squeeze in your palm to keep the shape and lay in a pan. Repeat until finished.
Once the pan is filled, you can fill holes with garlic cloves and torn grape leaves. Then mix olive oil with water and add lemon juice and then pour over the dolmas in the pan. Cover with a plate or something similar to prevent them from unrolling while cooking and simmer on the stove for about an hour, adding water as needed.
These are just two of the dishes I made tonight – the hummus, baba ghanouj and tabbouleh were all fairly simple. Any of them could be pulled together quickly (well, not the hummus, unless you use canned chickpeas, which I imagine would be fine too). I pan-fried the falafel instead of deep-frying and served everything with a simple salad of lettuce, cucumber and tomato with lemon juice and olive oil.
There was a LOT of food and as I said, this will last us at least through tomorrow (and the dolmas are coming to a marathon party as well), but what was really fun was all of the different possibilities and combinations. It was a tasty dinner and I’m already looking forward to eating it all again tomorrow!
- Olive Oil
- Split Broad Beans (skinless fava beans)
- Grape Leaves
- Various Herbs & Spices