Freekeh is delicious – it is a roasted, green wheat. It is great in salads and pilafs, and today we combine it with burghul (cracked wheat) for a delicious pilaf. It can be served as is, or chopped or grated vegetables and herbs can be stirred through. Use in place of rice or as an accompaniment for dishes from countries ranging from Afghanistan to Greece.
As Autumn slowly turns colder we pull out the jumpers, get the heater serviced and turn the oven on. What is it about oven cooked food that is so delightful in late autumn and winter? It is used most days during the cold weather in our kitchen. Today we throw some vegetable onto an oven tray and bake them with home made pomegranate molasses and baharat, the Middle Eastern spice.
They get placed in a very hot oven and are cooked in no time.
This is a dish that is made in Spring in Malta and the Middle East with fresh broad beans. For the rest of the year it is made with dried broad beans. There are two types of dried broad beans (generally called dried Fava beans). The first, commonly available here, are large, darker coloured beans. Huge, really. They are not peeled, so require soaking and peeling before cooking. Despite the work, I do love the intense earthy flavour of these large beans.
The second type is a more delicate dried fava bean, small in size and golden in colour. These are generally already peeled, and so less work in the kitchen before cooking. They are more difficult to find, and I had to search them out in a large Greek grocery.
Today, I am using the smaller variety, as I think that they are better suited to this dish, but note that the larger beans or fresh broad beans can also be used. It is just the cooking time that will vary.
This is a particularly great dip or spread for Autumn. You know that we love our dips and spreads, and this one makes use of our home made pomegranate molasses and the unshelled walnuts that are commonly available in the local area. Pomegranate Molasses makes great dips and spreads when mixed with any nut butter, tahini or miso.
This paste is simple to make using the food processor and easy to pull together when unexpected guests arrive. We love those sorts of recipes.
Burghul seems to be used mostly a Winter grain, but I would like to reassure you that Summery Salads based on Burghul are terrific. Juicy with ripe tomatoes, fragrant with Pomegranate Molasses, crunchy with nuts, cooling with cucumber and herbs. A perfect fit for a lunch on a hot day, sitting under the grapevines.
Since discovering golpar, I have been looking at ways to use it. This lovely salad has its origin in a book by Najmieh Batmanglij, New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking. It is quite a terrific salad, with the flavour bursts of pomegranate kernels, the tang of the lime, golpar and salt, the freshness of mint and the cooling taste of the cucumber. It is a remarkable mix of flavours and is totally gorgeous. It would make a great Xmas Salad with those lovely colours.
Golpar is the powder made from the seeds of Iranian Hogweed, and you can read more about it here. Pick up some of the powder or the seeds at a Middle Eastern or Afghan grocery. If you can only find the seeds, grind them to a powder in a spice grinder.
Saffron rice – it’s a classic of the Middle East, and one that is so gorgeous. This is a simple recipe that gives 2 colours to the rice. Always use good saffron – nice long threads with an earthy and sweet aroma.
Serve with any Middle Eastern or even Indian dish. You will love it.
Are you wanting other ways to use saffron? Try crushing a tiny piece of saffron into a glass of champagne or sparkling apple cider, turning the drink into a golden elixir. And coffee spiced with saffron and cardamom is a wonderful, soothing drink. Try our Saffron and Spices Tea – relaxing and amazing.
Hummus is pretty common in everyone’s home and in many a Middle Eastern restaurant. We make it a lot, whizzing it up in the food processor in a matter of minutes. There are many variations on hummus, but we now have our favourite way of making it, so it is a no-fuss, no thinking dish that can be on the table in under 5 minutes (if you have cooked the chickpeas ahead of time – we keep bags of them in the freezer).
Recently I came across Turmeric Chickpeas – chickpeas that have been soaked and cooked with a lot of turmeric. You can read about our experiments with them here or jump straight to the recipe (you will need it for the hummus).
For this recipe we use Turmeric Chickpeas instead of plain, ordinary chickpeas. It is the same recipe as our usual hummus, just that we are adding this twist. BTW, if you are interested in reading about the different thoughts about how to make the best hummus, check our usual recipe. It also has some variations that you can incorporate.
You might like to read our Very Special Turmeric Recipes.
Similar dishes include White Bean and Sun Dried Tomato Dip/Spread, Tray Baked Spicy Turmeric Chickpeas, Celeriac Hummus with Cauliflower Tabbouleh, Smashed Chickpeas with Dukkah and Brocolli, and Creamy Pearl Hummus Salad.
In the Middle East and places like Afghanistan and Turkey, Pomegranates are all the rage, and the pairing of olives, pomegranate and nuts is rather common as you get closer to the Mediterranean. We have used Pomegranates with Walnuts and Pistachios before, with just Walnuts, with Hazelnuts, and today we use just Pistachios. This one is a herbaceous salad, and absolutely divine.
The dressing has the Middle Eastern spice, Golpar, in the dressing. This is available from Middle Eastern and Afghan groceries. You might need to buy the seeds (they look like lacy butterfly wings) and grind your own. It is a beautiful spice, but if you can’t find it, leave it out.
Baked chickpeas are a delicious, easy and healthy snack. You can snack on them straight from the pan, or throw them into salads, on top of pasta or scattered over a thick wintery soup. Eat them sitting in the garden in the sunshine. Take them in your backpack on long walks. Bring them to a picnic. Take a small container to the gym. Bring in your bento box to the office for lunch. Nibble when you have the pre-dinner munchies. Or snack on them late at night while watching TV.
I first baked spicy chickpeas way back in 2008, and they have been a firm favourite in our household. But recently we made a variation of the recipe. Rather than using canned or ordinary cooked chickpeas, we have soaked and cooked the chickpeas in turmeric water. It adds a lovely colour to the chickpeas and a turmeric tang to the flavour. Turmeric chickpeas are all across the internet, and we have done a small experiment with them to test the flavours, visual appeal and health impact. If you are interested, you can read more about the wonders of Turmeric.
The recipe for Spicy Baked Chickpeas is one that works well with the Turmeric Chickpeas.