Saturday, July 17, 2010

Baba Ghanush

My vacation is coming to an end, which is a perfect time to go to the farmer's market and fill the refrigerator with produce and cook for the week. One of my very most favorite salads my father makes quiet often (and is served in almost every Arab family) is Baba Ghanush. This dish, like hummus, has gained popularity in the west--and for good reason! Back home, we like it with extra lemon juice and extra garlic. Sahtain ( double health in Arabic)

  • 1 large eggplant
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • 2 T tahini
  • 3-4 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Score the skin of the eggplant on each side and place on a cookie sheet covered with foil.
  • Roast the eggplant for 40 minutes or until soft.
  • Let cool a little, cut open lengthwise, and scoop pulp out of skin with a fork.
  • Mix all ingredients with eggplant and mix in a food processer (use pulse and do not over puree-- texture should be slightly chunky/stringy).
  • Sprinkle olive oil on top and serve with pita bread.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Indian Eggplant Bhaji

I went to the local Indian restaurant yesterday for dinner and had a delicious eggplant bhaji. It was so delicious, I wanted to have it again today. I started looking up recipes online and with some adjustments, cooked my first eggplant bhaji and it was wonderful. It was less sweet than the one I had yesterday, but delicious nonetheless.

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp sambhar powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 Spanish onion
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 inch chunk of fresh ginger
  • salt

  • Chop the eggplant into cubes and soak in salty water.
  • Chop the onion and the green pepper
  • Chop the ginger finely
  • Heat the oil on high heat and add the mustard seeds and the cumin seeds until they start crackling.
  • Add the turmeric and stir.
  • Add the ginger and the bay leave.
  • Add the onion and the green pepper and cook for 5 minutes
  • Drain the eggplant and add to the mix.
  • Add the rest of the spices and mix well.
  • Cover and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat.
  • serve with Raita.

Shatain! (double health in Arabic)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Moroccan fish tagin

I don’t own a proper Tajin, but I do have a Dutch oven that is perfect for this dish. This recipe makes a big portion which I can eat from all week long. This serves me well given my current schedule.

Ingredients for marinade:

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ paprika
  • 1 ½ cumin
  • ½ tsps cayenne pepper
  • ½ C chopped cilantro
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 4 large tilapia fillets cut into bite- size pieces

Directions for marinade:

    • Pound the garlic with the salt and spices in a mortar.
    • Add the cilantro and lemon juice and stir until the mixture is well-blended.
    • Cover the pieces of fish with the marinade and let stand for about an hour.

Ingredients for Tajin:

  • 1 large onion, cut into rings
  • 4-5 carrots
  • 4 large potatoes, cut into thin slices
  • 3 14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 fresh lemon, cut into thin slices plus lemon zest
  • small jar of Kalamata olives
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

To make the tagine:

Pour the olive oil into a tagine or Dutch oven, and add onion slices, carrots, potato slices, and the spices. Cook for eight minutes, then add the tomatoes, olives, and lemon slices. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat. Add the marinated fish and cook on low fire until the potatoes and fish are cooked (about one hour). Serve on couscous.

SAHTAIN! (Double health in Arabic)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Chocolate Balls

I am on a roll with childhood favorites. These chocolate balls were the first things I ever made in a kitchen when I was in a cooking class in the fourth grade. It is safe, no baking or cutting is needed, so it is a great project to do with kids. It is also a great dessert for parties since it takes no time to make and is delicious! I challenge you to eat just one.

  • 200 grams (one package) of Leibniz butter biscuits
  • 10 T sugar
  • 5 T cocoa
  • 7 T milk
  • 1 tst vanilla extract
  • 1 stick margarine
  • sweetened coconut flakes
  • colored sprinkles

  • Put the biscuits in a plastic bag and beat them to smithereens with a wooden spoon.
  • Mix the biscuit crumbs with the cocoa and sugar.
  • Add the milk, vanilla, and margarine and mix with your hands until it forms a lump.
  • Form into golf-size balls by rolling in your palms.
  • Mix the coconut and sprinkles together (eyeball the portions...approximately 3T of each) and roll the balls in this mixture.
  • Place in the fridge for an hour and a half until cold and firm. Serve cold.

SAHTAIN! (Double Health in Arabic)

Chocolate Pinwheels

I have been busy. Working on a project for two weeks and a recent switch to the morning shift kept me from cooking and writing. Watching the World Cup here in Atlanta and not back home with my family inspired me to make one of my childhood favorites. My mom used to bake these fabulous, tasty, chocolate bread pinwheels. As kids we could smell the fresh, warm yeast and chocolate while playing outside of our apartment building.


  • 6-7 cups of flour
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/4 C veg oil
  • 1 1/2 lukewarm water
  • 2 sticks margarine
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast

For the filling:
  • 1 T cocoa
  • minimum one jar (possible two) of Nutella
  • pinch of cinnamon

  • Mix together the margarine, sugar, oil, eggs, yeast, and water. Add salt and flour until you have a soft dough.
  • Cover and let rise for an hour.
  • Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each with a rolling pin until it is approximately 1/2 centimeter thin. Spread the filling on each and roll gently jellyroll-style.
  • Let the 4 rolls rise for 1/2 hour
  • Mix an egg white with sesame seeds and brush the rolls with this mix
  • Bake at 425 degrees for half an hour or until brown.
  • SAHTAIN! (Double health in Arabic)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Killer Broccoli

Feta cheese on broccoli? I needed to use up the last bit of the feta in the refrigerator, so I thought of this amazing, killer broccoli recipe that is super easy.

  • 1.5 pounds of broccoli cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 T olive oil
  • lemon juice from one lemon
  • 2 big cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 T feta cheese
  • drizzle of soy sauce
  • slivered almonds (optional)

Steam the broccoli until al dente. Heat up olive oil in a pan. Add broccoli, lemon juice, soy and stir for 30 seconds, add garlic and keep stirring for 1 minute. Take off the fire, let it stand for two minutes and then add feta and almonds.

Sahtain! (Double Health in Arabic)

Jazz and arugula salad

Dinner on day 6 of the South Beach Diet called for fish and arugula salad. Because the plan for the evening was to go to the Jazz Festival in the park, I had to drop the fish and go with chicken; cold chicken on my arugula salad sounded more cooler-friendly. Jazz in the park and arugula salad proved to be a fantastic combination for a perfect Saturday evening out.

* A bunch of arugula
* 2 tomatoes cut in wedges
* 15 cherry tomatoes-- halved
* green onions
* chives
* slices of avocado
* feta cheese
* 1 1/2 t Dijon mustard
* 3 T red wine vinegar
* 3 T olive oil
* lemon zest
* lemon juice from one lemon
* salt
* pepper
* 3 cloves garlic
* A handful of fresh chopped parsley

Cooking the chicken:

Cut two boneless, skinless breasts into bite-size chunks. Saute in olive oil, sprinkle with 2 tsp. of cumin and 2 tsp. of sweet paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook until lightly browned on outside.

* wash the arugula and remove the stems
* mix in chives, green onions
* whisk together the mustard, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
* toss the tomatoes in the salad dressing
* add the tomatoes and the salad dressing to the arugula
* add the feta cheese, slices of avocado, and the sauteed chicken.

* Sahtain! (double health in Arabic)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dieting does not necessarily mean the fun is over....

I am on the South Beach Diet and it is easy to think the party is over: no more nice cocktails, no more pasta or bread or pizza. None of the things which are the reasons that I am on the South Beach Diet in the first place.

However, the party is not over. How good is it to just detox a bit and free your body from all of this for two weeks. I will be trying to modify the recipes of the South Beach Diet and give them a Middle Eastern flavor.

So since you have eggs or eggs beaters for breakfast every day in this two-week, phase-one diet, adding the Middle Eastern touch makes all the difference.

  • 2 mushrooms
  • a couple of slices of red onion
  • Hand full of shredded low fat mozzarella
  • As much as you can take chopped fresh parsley-- I like a handful.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Heat up your non-stick pan and add olive oil.
  • Break the eggs and let them cook till they sit well and you are able to flip them.
  • Before the flipping action, add your vegetables and your spices. Let it cook for 45 secs.
  • Flip your eggs and add your cheese and let it cook for another minute.
  • Sahtain! (double health in Arabic)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Baking Bread, a mood changer.

Busy week at work... from ash clouds shutting down main airports in London, violent Thailand protests to South Korea saying it found conclusive evidence that North Korea fired a torpedo at one of its warships in March, killing 46 sailors. With an empty refrigerator and a strong need to de-stress, baking comes to mind.

I have all purpose flower, dry yeast, shredded mozzarella cheese and walnuts. I may add za'atar to the mix and see if I am on to something here.

Here is the recipe for this bread. This is a basic bread recipe that's been Waffa-ized..

Mozzarella, Za'atar and Walnut Bread


  • 3 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 6 1/2 cups bread flour
  • ½ pound of shredded Mozzarella
  • Two handfuls of chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 C Za'atar


  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Add in olive oil, salt and two cups of the flour. Add in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Knead about 8 minutes. Add cheese, walnuts and Za’atar to the mix and keep kneading for another minute
  2. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  3. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Prepare to form into loaves, but before you "roll" them up, sprinkle Za'atar on top (like making a jelly roll). Form into loaves. Place the loaves into two lightly greased loaf pans. Cover the loaves with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
  6. SAHTAIN (Double health in Arabic). (Be sure to smell the bread before each bite. Oh, the thyme!)