Saturday, November 15, 2008

Trout with Tomato Onion Sauce

  • two medium sized trout
  • one large onion
  • two medium tomatoes
  • dried or fresh tarragon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • White wine vinegar

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees farenheit
  • season the fish with salt, olive oil and tarragon on both sides and also on the inside.  Do this first so that the fish has time to absorb the seasoning.  If using fresh tarragon, put two tarragon springs on the inside
  • dice one large onion and two medium tomatoes.  Add salt, pepper and more tarragon (chopped fresh or dried).  
  • Sautee mixture in a pan with olive oil and two tablespoons of white wine vinegar until onions and tomatoes are soft.
  • Assemble trout in a baking dish.  Pour a bit more olive oil in baking dish to prevent sticking
  • Spoon half of mixture into trout and pour the rest on top
  • Cover baking dish with foil
  • Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why a cooking blog?

If you knew me, you'd be surprised that I started a cooking blog. Although I love cooking, I am more interested in politics, religion and current events. I read the news daily and keep myself updated on what's going on in the world by visiting various blogs - my favorites being Angry Arab, Nido Generation, Baghdad Burning and other Middle Eastern/Bahraini blogs. I enjoy discussing politics with my husband(who is also obssessed with politics) friends and family and I grew up with a very politically minded family. So why a cooking blog? Well a cooking blog doesn't take much effort. You just post your recipes and thats about it. But most importantly, cooking makes me happy. I see it as an outlet to life's frustrations. Whenever something is bothering me, be it personal or political, I start cooking something. Cooking is almost magical - You take a bunch of ingredients, put them together and then end up with something delicious and satisfying. If someone enjoys a dish I made or a recipe I gave them, then I feel happy and satisfied. I also love listening to people's ideas on how to improve a recipe and make it even better. I love how recipes can become personal - with each cook adding a special something that makes a recipe uniquely their own. I hope you enjoy my recipes and please feel free to send me some of your own!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Learning how to cook Middle Eastern Food

I admit that while I am not the best cook in the world, for a 25 year old, I am pretty good! When I came to college, I had no idea how to cook at all. I had watched my mother cook in the kitchen and helped her with mundane tasks such as chopping onions and making salad. However I had never made a meal from start to finish. I had never needed to. Why learn how to cook when you already have someone to do it for you (and do it well too!)??? I did know how to bake though. My sister and my cousins and I would bake cakes and cookies all the time (from scratch by the way. We wern't dependent on betty crocker like most people are today!)
All this changed however, when I graduated from high school and went to college in the University of Virginia. While UVA was an excellent school, Charlottesville wasn't exactly diverse. It had no Middle Eastern restaurants whatsoever. After living for one year in the dorms and surviving on disguisting dining hall food, I finally moved to an apartment. I realized that I finally had a chance to get myself out of the misery I was in by learning how to cook! My first cooking experience was with rice. I had no idea how to make it. My roomate (and best friend!) who is Iraqi taught me how to make rice the easy was (3aysh/ruz mash'7ool). I was really proud of myself! My mother also would send me emails with certain recipes I had craved. I learned the most however, from cookbooks. I bought several and I would follow the recipes exactly. Most of the cookbooks I bought were ones that my mother uses home also. A few months later, I had become an expert in cooking! The next year and the year after, my roomate and I invited over 50 people for fu6oor during Ramadhan! We did a crazy amount of cooking but everyone loved the food (of course they were hungry college students) and had a good time.
So for those of you wanting to learn how to cook, I suggest buying a few cookbooks like I did! Here are the cookbooks that I can't live without:
  • The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden: I love this book because the recipes are simple but they turn out great. The book has recipes from every region of the middle east with the exception of the khaleej and Iran. There are a lot of Egyptian recipes which is good since egyptian recipes are hard to find in other cookbooks. I've tried several recipes from this book and they all have turned out to be great! My mother loves this book also. I definately recommend buying this book if you want to learn how to cook!
  • The Complete Middle East Cookbook by Tess Mallos: This is another book that my mother relies on a lot. The book is divided into regions and spans the entire Middle East with the exception of the North African countries. I recommend buying it simply because it has recipes from everywhere.
  • The Arab Table by May S. Bsisu: This book was recently published in 2005. I bought it for my sister first but then I couldn't resist the temptation to buy a copy for myself also! Bsisu is an excellent cook! She is half Palestinian-half Lebanese and has lived in Kuwait for most of her life. So as you can imagine, she has a lot of recipes from all three countries. She also has recipes from other arab countries as well. Go buy this book now! Some of the recipes take a while to make but thats because she doesn't like taking shortcuts. Get this book if you want to be a good cook!
  • Recipes and Remembrances from an Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen by Sonia Uvezian: Sonia Uvezian is Lebanese of Armenian descent. The book covers recipes from the Levant (Al-Sham) region only. The recipes are amazing and delicious! Her version of mulookhiya is the best that I've ever tasted! I also learned how to make amazing Laban Ummo (Lamb with yogurt sauce) from this book. What's sad about this book though is that Uvezian decides to ignore Palestine completely. The book contains pictures and ancecdotes from the 19th and early 20th century, but mysteriously, any reference to Palestine was left out. This is all very strange because she keeps talking about the "greater syria region" but only refers to Syria, Lebanon and Jordan from being part of that region. She talks about some dishes of Palestinian origin but never mentions where dishes of Palestinian origin come from! The only other place is when she mentions Palestinians is when she talks about the make-up of the Jordanian population. She states: "At present, however, the Palestinians, who have emigrated from their homeland in what is now Israel, represent the majority." Emigrated?????????????? Expelled or massacred are better words to use if you ask me! Anyhow.. I digress.. Buy the book. Its great! Too bad she thinks of Palestinians as a bunch of people who willfully emigrated from their homeland to Jordan though.
  • A taste of the Arabian Gulf by Afnan Rashid Al Zayani: Since there are so few cookbooks that focus on Bahrain or the Khaleej, this book is your best bet if you want to learn anything about khalijee (and specifically Bahraini) cooking. Since the author is half Iraqi (I think.. many of the Al Zayanis have married people from Iraq) it also contains numerous Iraqi recipes. Since Bahrain has a large population of persian origin, she also includes many Iranian recipes. I rely on this book a lot. Honestly, I don't know what I'd do without it! I wouldn't know how to make many of the dishes I grew up with had it not been from this book! My only problem with some (actually most) of the recipes in the book, is that the author doesn't provide us with the simplest way to make the recipe. There are easier and quicker ways to make the same recipes which achieve the same (if not better!) results. Since my mother emails me a lot of recipes and has taught me a lot of cooking techniques, I have learned how to tweak her recipes in order to reduce my cooking time and still achieve a great result.

Books that I plan to buy (and that you should buy too!):

  • New Food for Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies or a Taste of Persia, both by Najmieh Batmanglij . I have many cookbooks that contain Iranian recipes, but I still don't own a book solely dedicated to Iranian cooking. Batmanglij is THE expert on Iranian cooking. Ask any Iranian cook and they will tell you! My mother owns the book a Taste of Persia. She loves it! I made one recipe from it, maragat bathinjan (Eggplant stew) and it turned out to be amazing! I made it three years ago and I still remember how it tastes! The cool thing about a Taste of Persia is that it has pictures for every single recipe. New Food for Life has more recipes than A Taste of Persia and more historical information. However, it doesn't have pictures for every single recipe. I am not sure which one I'm going to buy but most likely I'll buy New Food for Life.
  • Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and History of Iraqi Cuisine by Nawal Nasrallah: Iraqi food is simply the best food in the Arab world. I may be a little biased since Bahraini food is very close to Iraqi food but I still stand by my point! Unfortunately I don't own any Iraqi cookbooks. Most of the Iraqi recipes that I have made come from Afnan AlZayani's cookbook and Tess Mallos' cookbook. I did a lot of research on and it seems like out of all the cookbooks dedicated to Iraqi cooking, this one is the best. I can't wait to buy it!

I hope this list encourages you to go out and buy your own cookbook. Believe me, anyone can learn how to cook! You just need to be able to follow directions. And once you master that, you'll soon be able to internalize the techniques and make things without using any recipe!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fedai's Wara'a Enab Bil Zayt (Stuffed Vine Leaves)

  • 2 jars vine leaves, drained and stems removed
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
  • 1 large potato, sliced
  • 1 lb steak, pounded very thinly, for bottom of pan (optional)
  • Salt
  • pepper
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (for roll layers)


  • 2 cups rice, washed and drained
  • 2 medium onions
  • chopped finely1 cup parsley
  • chopped finely1/4 cup fresh mint
  • chopped finely or 4 tbsp. dried mint
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup olive oil1
  • /4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teas. Salt
  • 1 teas. Black pepper
  • 1 teas. Cinnamon
  • 2 teas. Allspice

To finish:

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teas.
  • Salt
  • 1 cup water
  1. Put the potatoes on the bottom of the pan in which the vine leaves are to be cooked.
  2. Cover with sliced tomatoes and sliced onion.
  3. Sprinkle with salt.
  4. Season steak, with salt and pepper; and put on top of the sliced onions.
  5. Mix stuffing ingredients very well.
  6. Working with one grape leaf at a time, lay it down with the rough side up and place a teaspoon of stuffing in the center of the leaf.
  7. Roll once, fold in sides and roll tightly.
  8. Repeat with the rest of the grape leaves.
  9. Pack rolls, folded side down, in tight rows and layers, in the pan on top of steak.
  10. Sprinkle each layer with chopped tomatoes and salt.
  11. Take a heatproof plate and put it on top of grape leaves, pressing down.
  12. Mix finished ingredients well, pour over grape leaves.
  13. Cover pan, bring to a boil quickly, turn down heat and simmer until rice is tender and liquid has evaporated.
  14. Let grape leaves cool before inverting on a serving plate.
  15. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with a bowl of yogurt.



Chicken Curry Recipe (thanks Fedai!)

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 majji cubes1 teas.
  • Salt
  • 1/4 teas. Black pepper
  • 2 tabl. Curry
  • 3 cups of cold water
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into small cubes
  • 1 small bag of frozen green peas
  • golden raisins (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tabl. Flour
  • vegetable oil
  • olive oil
  1. Cut chicken in bit size cubes.
  2. Over high heat, heat 1 tab. of olive oil in a frying pan, add chicken pieces.
  3. Fry till chicken is golden brown. Add salt , pepper and 1 tabl. Curry. Fry for 2 minutes.Add cold water and majji cubes. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning.
  4. Meanwhile: Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan. When oil starts smoking, add potatoes. Stir frequently so potatoes will not stick to each other.
  5. Once potatoes are golden brown remove to a paper towel covered plate and set aside.
  6. Fry carrots in olive oil till almost tender. Remove from pan and set aside.
  7. Do the same with the green peas and raisins.
  8. Add fried veggies and raisins to chicken pot.
  9. Fry onion, curry, and flour in 1 tabl. of olive oil, just until onions are transparent.
  10. Stir into the chicken pot.
  11. Simmer chicken curry on low heat until liquid has thickened.
  12. Serve with rice pilaf.

Yumm O!


Fedai's easy atayef recipe

My husband swears that these are the best atayef that he's ever tasted!

  • 3 cups warm milk
  • 2 cups smead 3
  • tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. each: baking soda, baking powder, mahleb
  • 1 pack instant yeast
  1. combine all ingredients in a blender, liquid first.
  2. Blend 5 minutes.

Choose from these Filling options

  • 2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Mix all well in a bowl


  • 1lb. Ricotta Cheese


  • ustah:
  • small container half/half
  • 3-4 tbsp. corn starch (dissolved in water)
  • 1 qt. heavy whipping cream (small milk carton)
  • 2-3 tbsp. sugar
  1. put half & half,sugar,whipping cream in a pot bring to boil.
  2. Add slowly dissolved cornstarch stirring well.
  3. Put in refrigerator to thicken.


  • 1 lb. unsalted lebanese white cheese, grated

Atter (syrup):

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. orange blossom water
  1. Start by making Atter since it needs to be cold.
  2. Dissolve sugar in water, stirring over medium high heat until dissolved.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add lemon juice and lower heat.
  5. Simmer 10-15 minutes.
  6. Just before moving from heat add orange blossom water.
  7. Let cool.
  8. Heat a griddle or small nonstick frying pan over medium heat and lightly grease with butter.
  9. Pour 1/2 ladle of batter into the pan and tilt immediately to allow it to spread. Make sure it remains round and thick.
  10. Cook about 1 minute or until all bubbles forming on pancake disappear and underside is golden brown.
  11. Fry one side of pancake only. The other side must remain uncooked and moist, so that its edges can be stuck together.
  12. Lift out and pile on plate ready for stuffing.
  13. put a heaping tablespoon of stuffing in middle of pancake, on uncooked side.
  14. Fold pancakes in half over filling to make half-moon shape, and pinch edges to secure.Deep fry, until golden brown,turning them over once.
  15. Drain well on paper towels.
  16. While still hot dip in cold Atter syrup.
  17. Serve hot or cold.



Fedai's Mujadara Dish

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, halved, and sliced thinly
  • 1 cup brown lentils, washed and drained thoroughly
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain rice, washed and drained thoroughly
  • Water
  • 1 teas. Ground allspice
  • 1 teas. Ground coriander
  • 1 teas. each Salt and pepper
  1. Heat oil in pan, add onions and fry until golden brown.
  2. Remove half the onions to a plate covered with absorbent paper to drain and become crisp.
  3. Wash Rice several times.
  4. Cover with cold water, set aside for 30 minutes. Drain well
  5. Meanwhile, put lentils in a pan cover with 2 1/2 cups of water. Simmer; uncovered for 25 minutes or just until tender.
  6. Add rice, spices, salt, pepper, and the remaining onions. Bring to a boil. Lower temperature, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Garnish with crisp brown onions.
  8. Serve hot or cold with yogurt or a salad.

Yumm O!Fedai

Fedai's Tabouleh Recipe (Parsley and Burghul Salad)

  • 6-83/4 cup fine burghul (cracked wheat)
  • cold water
  • 5 cups finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped spring onions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • 3 large firm ripe tomatoes, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Crisp romaine lettuce leaves, washed

  1. Place burgul in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 20 minutes.Drain through a fine sieve. Pressing with the back of a spoon to remove as much of the excess water as possible.
  2. Place in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Put chopped green onions with dried burgul in a bowl.
  4. Squeeze mixture with hand so burgul absorbs onion flavor.
  5. Add parsley and mint to the burgul.
  6. Gently stir in tomatoes. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.J
  7. ust before serving, mix olive oil with lemon juice.
  8. Stir in salt and pepper. Add to salad and toss well.
  9. Serve in a deep serving dish and garnish with lettuce leaves.

Yumm O!


Chicken, Couscous and Chickpea salad

This easy recipe makes for a light and satisfying lunch. I prefer making this with shredded chicken and real chicken stock because it is so much tastier that way. But if you don't have leftover shredded chicken or don't feel like making it then just use chicken breasts.

  • 1 cup of Couscous
  • 1 cup of chicken stock (or water if you don't have chicken stock)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint (or dried mint if you don't have any fresh mint)
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley (or dried parsley if you don't have any fresh mint)
  • Juice of of 2 lemons
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • cooked shredded chicken (boil one whole chicken with water, salt and tumeric for an hour or until done. Let cool. Shred chicken) OR or two breasts of chicken
  • 1 can of chickpeas (around 2 and a half cups), drained
  • 3/4 teaspoon of tumeric
  1. Prepare the chicken if not using shredded chicken: Cut chicken breast into small pieces. Put in pot and cover with water. Add tumeric, salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked. This usually takes no more than 10-15 minutes. Alternatively you can marinate the chicken in a mixture of tumeric, salt, pepper and lemons for 10 minutes and then sautee until done.
  3. Meanwile prepare couscous by following directions on the box. Usually this involves bringing 1 cup of chicken stock/water, 1 tablespoon of butter and salt to a boil. When chicken/water reaches boiling point, add one cup of couscous. Remove from heat quickly and stir. Cover and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Add chicken pieces to couscous. Add chickpeas, mint, parsley, juice of one lemon, salt and olive oil to taste. Mix all together.