Showing posts with label Dip. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dip. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Welcoming Autumn: Hummus with Spiced Lamb, or Hummus bi Laham

The leaves are piling in drifts around my house, forming crunchy alleys for my children to march through. 

It is time to pull blankets more snugly around our shoulders, to wrap our fingers around warm cups of tea, to dip our bread into something a little warmer, a little more substantial.

Here is a way to "spice up" your hummus:  serve it topped with warm, spiced minced lamb and toasted pine nuts. Add a pile of hot Arabic bread and some fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, and you have a hearty spread, guaranteed to satisfy and delight.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Just as Good as Hummus: Palestinian Smokey Eggplant Dip

Now if you love hummus, (and I know that a lot of you just can't get enough hummus), you have got to try its smokey cousin:  eggplant dip.   It's a hearty dip made from the same ingredients as hummus except with eggplant instead of chickpeas.  This dip has it all going on: creamy, smokey, garlicky, a little nuttiness from the tahini, and texture from mashed soft eggplant.  Mmm, mmm, mmm. 

For many years, my (American) father preferred hummus over imtabbal.  It wasn't until my Uncle Yousef came to visit us in Jerusalem after years of living in Texas, and made this dish for our family one afternoon, that my father fell in love with it.  What did my uncle do differently?  Nothing really.  He just added a handful or two of garlic.  A handful or two.  We couldn't stop eating it and we've been eating it ever since.  My mother goes easy on the garlic, but I still like it extra garlicky. 

Let me give you five reasons to try eggplant dip instead of hummus:

1.  No food processor needed.  Just mash with a fork or a masher.  Easy peasey. 

2.  You don't have to soak or cook anything.  Throw your eggplant on the grill, stir up the tahini and lemon juice, and you'll be done in no time. 

3.  This is dip is mostly vegetable.  Besides soft, warm Arabic bread, I also love to dip red peppers into this dip, or even a sweet carrot stick.  Vegetables dipped in vegetables? Maybe not strictly tradition, but definitely healthful and delicious.

4.  Your tahini jar is getting a little bored.  I am not a one-trick-pony, she says.

5.  This dip will wake up a party, picnic or barbeque.  Everyone seems to bring hummus to a potluck but who bring eggplant dip?  You do, that's who!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Grilled Lamb Shawarma with Cucumber Mint Yogurt Salad

Just in time for Father's Day, here is an easy but festive meal that is great on the grill and will warm any father's (and mother's!) heart.  Well-seasoned leg of lamb, grilled and sliced, folded into fresh warm bread, topped with a cool minted cucumber yogurt sauce - now that's enough to entice me to dust off our grill and sweep off our patio. 

My mother still tells the story of her first encounter with lamb in America.  As a young bride, she spent several months in her mother-in-law's house, and learned to eat American food for the first time.  For some special occasion, my American grandmother served her lamb with mint jelly.  My mother said that she tasted the lamb and it was good, but she couldn't figure out what the green gel on the side of her plate was.  She tasted it and found it very unpleasant, and so bizarrely sweet; for Arabs love lamb, and love mint, and even lamb with mint, but never sweet with savory.

This meal is a nod to that mint-and-lamb combination.  Both the lamb and the yogurt salad are traditional Palestinian recipes, but Palestinians would serve the yogurt salad on the side and use this tahini-lemon sauce on the shawarma. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Lacto-Fermented Hummus

Do you sometimes make a double (or triple!) batch of hummus and then find that it still sitting in your fridge a week later?

I do.  Maybe you don't, because everyone in your house attacks it immediately, which does often happen here.  But sometimes, we just can't eat it all quickly enough. 

And then I become sad.  Because who would want to throw away such beautifully smooth and delicious hummus?

You see, I really like making large batches of hummus.  The best hummus is made from hot, just-boiled chickpeas.  As I shared in my post on hummus (How to Make Really (Smooth) Authentic Hummus), if you want smooth hummus, you need to either peel the chickpeas or make your hummus with hot, freshly boiled chickpeas.  So after I have gone through the work to soak and boil my chickpeas, I try to make as much hummus as I think we can manage to eat before it goes bad.  Otherwise, I have to freeze the chickpeas and peel them the next time I want to make hummus (not fun).

But then we have to EAT all of that hummus.   And even though Palestinians often serve hummus breakfast, lunch and dinner, we don't.   But I do love having hummus on hand all of the time.  I think Americans must love that, too, because Costco sells massive boxes of single serving tubs of hummus and they sell like hot cakes.  Because of the preservatives, store-bought hummus will last a long time in the fridge, but fresh hummus will usually only last about a week.  

So, here is a very easy way to extend the life of your homemade hummus.  It takes no time, doesn't change the flavor, and is as easy as stirring.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spotlight on Ancient Herbs: Za'atar and Sumac


Za'atar (also spelled zaitar, zatar, zattar, zatr) means two things in Arabic:  it is the Arabic word for the herb thyme, and it is also the word for a thyme spice mixture.  The recipe varies across the Levant, and even varies within regions, as families grind their own cherished blends, but the Palestinian za'atar that I am most familiar with, the one that my mother makes, contains ground thyme, ground sumac, toasted sesame seeds and salt.  This spice mixture, collected from the land that they live on, holds in it the heart of the Palestinian.  To eat zait-and-za'atar, olive oil and this spice mixture, is to partake of our land. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How to Make Really (Smooth) Authentic Hummus

Hummus . . . a creamy, garlicky, lemony,  protein-packed dip.  It's all the rage in this country now, the most ubiquitous Arabic food to reach the American table.  I am not sure when hummus became so popular here, because when I would travel back to the States as a child and teenager, most Americans approached our plate of hummus with a great deal of, um, suspicion, and rarely tasted it enthusiastically. My, how things have changed. 

The word hummus is the Arabic word for chickpea (also known as a garbanzo bean).  In fact, this dip is technically called hummus bi tahini, meaning chickpeas with tahini.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Basic Tahini-Lemon Sauce, with Fish

Looking to add a new flavor to some of your basic recipes?

This sauce balances the rich nuttiness of tahini against the acidity of fresh lemon - a classic Palestinian combination.  (Read about all of the nourishing benefits of tahini here).  I love this sauce because it is so very versatile.  Drizzle over fish or chicken, pour over vegetables, use as a dressing for a salad or a sandwich - Palestinians use this sauce in many ways.  You already may have tried this sauce over kefta, a Palestinian meatloaf, but if you haven't, you should.  Sometimes without the parsley, this also makes a simple stand-alone dip for Arabic bread.  It is also the base for other dips, such as hummus and baba ghanoush. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How to Make Yogurt Cheese, or Labani

In the fridge, at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table, in any home in Palestine and you will find a bowl of this tangy spread made from two simple ingredients:  yogurt and salt. We always had bread and labani in the house.  Stores closed because of a political strike?  Bread and labani.  No time to cook?  Bread and labani for dinner.  In a hurry for breakfast?  Bread and labani and a cucumber.   

Simple as it is, it is delicious and nourishing.  This spread holds all of the goodness of yogurt, high in protein and probiotics, but it is even more concentrated and more portable. 

Labani (also labaneh, labneh, labane) is from the Arabic word laban, which means yogurt.  I have seen it described in English as "yogurt cheese."  Technically not a cheese, this is similar to Greek yogurt, but with the consistency of cream cheese.