Tag Archives: Middle Eastern cooking

Chicken With Saffron And Thyme

The colour of this chicken is amazing, and the taste is just as good!

The quantity of saffron may seem a little odd, the saffron I buy, comes in a tiny box and weighs 0.5g so I use half a box, a really good pinch would be an equivalent. By chopping the saffron you get more colour but it is as light as a feather so be careful not to lose any.

Also, don’t wear your favourite white top, it’s guaranteed to get stained as will your hands so metal spoons and tongs are the go here!

Serves 6.

Ingredients

30mls boiling water

0.25g saffron, chopped 

800g chicken breast, sliced 

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme leaves

Salt and pepper

A little oil for the pan

Method

Pour the water into a non staining bowl, add the saffron and swirl around.

Once the colour has been released by the saffron add the chicken, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper to the bowl, stir with a metal spoon and then pop into the fridge for 1-2 hours.

Heat a large frying pan, I use a 32cm pan, over a medium to high heat and add a little oil. 

Using tongs, lift individual strips of chicken out of the bowl and lay them in the pan, don’t overcrowd them.

Cook for 4-5 minutes and then turn them, cook until cooked all the way through. Set aside somewhere warm and repeat with the remaining chicken.

Middle Eastern Meatballs With Yogurt And Tahini Sauce

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Humble mince, I can remember joking as a child that my Mum had one hundred and one ways of cooking mince but this certainly wasn’t one of them!

Loved by the boys the meatballs are sweetened with dates and the sauce tastes very mild. I serve these with Lebanese flatbreads and salad, as we all know, food tastes so much better when you eat with your hands!

I use fresh gluten free bread for my breadcrumbs and these meatballs freeze well too. Just brown them, place in freezer proof tray, and pour over the sauce. Cool and then freeze.

Makes 40 meatballs.

Ingredients

1 onion, peeled and quartered

3 garlic cloves

70g dates

80g breadcrumbs, gluten free if needed

100g pistachio kernals

5 teaspoons ground cumin

6 teaspoons ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

50g fresh coriander, leaves and stalks

salt and pepper

1 egg, beaten

600g ground beef/ minced beef

SAUCE

350g Greek yogurt

90g tahini

1 garlic clove, crushed

zest of 1 lemon

150mls water

salt and pepper

Method

Using a processor, process the onion and garlic.

Add the dates, breadcrumbs, pistachios, cumin, ground coriander, fresh coriander, salt and pepper.

Pulse until the nuts are finely chopped.

Tip this paste into a bowl, add the egg and minced beef and using your hands mix really well.

At this stage you can leave the meat in the fridge for 4-12 hours to develop its flavour or carry on as below.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade.

Heat a large non stick frying pan over a medium to high heat. You can add a little oil if you want but I tend to just use the dry pan.

Form the meat into small meatballs, you should get around 40.

Cook the meatballs in batches, just to seal the outside. Place the sealed meatballs in an oven proof dish and continue to cook the remaining balls.

Once all of the meatballs are sealed, spread them evenly in your oven proof dish.

In a jug, combine the yogurt, tahini, garlic, lemon zest, water and salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce over and around the meatballs.

Place the meatballs in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until they are just cooked through and the sauce has thickened.

Bejewelled Rice

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I am a great fan of flavoured rice and this rice has a great spice base that the cranberries go so well with.

Serves 8.

Ingredients

50g ghee or oil

1 large red onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, finely sliced

5 teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon chilli powder

pinch saffron

salt to taste

120g dried cranberries

360g basmati rice

750mls water

Method

In a pan with a well fitting lid, warm the ghee or oil over a medium heat.

Add the onion and cook until soft.

Add the garlic, cranberries, cumin, cinnamon, chilli, saffron and salt, heat through until fragrant.

Add the rice, stir well and cook for one minute.

Add the cold water, stir again and and then cover, bring up to the boil and then simmer gently for 14 minutes.

Turn the heat off but do not remove the lid for 5 minutes.

After five minutes, fork the rice through and serve.

Slow Roast Leg Of Lamb Flavoured With Ras El Hanout and Zatar

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I have mentioned before my love of all things slow cooked and this is yet another option that we love!

The ras el Hanout does have a bit of spice to it but the sweetness of the lamb comes through. I serve this with pitta bread, hummus, pistachio and coriander dip, quinoa tabbouleh and a green salad, a veritable feast!

Serves 8.

Ingredients

3kg leg of lamb

80mls olive oil

zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons ras el hanout

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 tablespoon smoked paprika

3 garlic cloves

1/2 red onion

2 fire roasted capsicums, skin and seeds removed

salt and pepper

Method

Start this recipe the day before cooking.

Process all of the ingredients, except the lamb and zatar, to form a thick paste.

Place the lamb on a chopping board and stab it all over with a large knife.

Spread the paste over the entire leg and pop into the fridge, covered, for the night.

The following day, preheat the oven to 140 degrees Centigrade.

Place the lamb in a roasting tin and spread over any excess marinade.

Sprinkle the zatar over the top.

Soak a piece of baking parchment in water, squeeze the excess water out and spread the parchment over the lamb, tucking it well in.

Next, cover the parchment with foil.

Place the meat in the oven and roast for 7 hours.

After 7 hours, turn the temperature up to 200 degrees Centigrade, remove the foil and paper, baste the meat with the fat in the roasting pan and return to the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes, baste again and bake for a further 20 minutes, you should have a crust forming over the meat by now.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes, covered, before serving with hummus, bread and salads.