Persian Saffron Rice

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.

Similar recipes include How to Cook Buttery Steamed Rice, How to Cook Rice with the Absorption Method, and Simple Oven Finished Rice.

Saffron dishes include Saffron Mograbieh with Broad Beans, Saffron, Date and Almond Rice, and Dates and Saffron Soaked in Spiced Ghee.

Browse all of our Rice dishes, all of our Saffron dishes, and all of our Persian recipes. Our Middle Eastern dishes are here. Or explore our Early Summer recipes.

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Turmeric Chickpea Hummus

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.

Similar dishes include Tray Baked Spicy Turmeric Chickpeas, Celeriac Hummus with Cauliflower Tabbouleh, Smashed Chickpeas with Dukkah and Brocolli, and Creamy Pearl Hummus Salad.

You might like to browse all of our Dips and all of our Chickpea recipes. Explore our Middle Eastern recipes. Or take some time and browse our Mid Spring recipes.

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Olive, Pistachio and Pomegranate 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.

Similar recipes include Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad with Molasses, Burghul Salad with Olives, Hazelnuts and Pomegranates, and Tomato and Pomegranate Salad.

Browse all of our Pistachio dishes, Pomegranate recipes and our recipes using Olives. All of our Salads are here. Or explore our Early Summer collection of recipes.

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Pan Fried Broad Bean Salad with Spring Onions and Yoghurt

Broad Beans with yoghurt is a common dish in the countries of the Middle East, and this simple recipe makes a nice salad – or eat with flatbread for a snack, light lunch or part of a mezze spread.

The taste of the beans – lightly green – against the yoghurt is beautiful. Fennel herb is a classic pairing with broad beans, although in the Middle East dill is probably more common. Use either herb.

Similar dishes include Broad Bean Salad with Asparagus, Olives and Black Garlic, Salad of Broad Beans, Spring Pasta with Broad Beans and Mint, and Pan Fried Broad Beans with Chilli and Lime.

Browse all of our Broad Bean Salads and all of our Broad Bean recipes. All of our Salads are here and our Middle Eastern dishes here. Or explore our Mid Spring dishes.

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Turkish Spinach Soup with Chickpeas and Barley

The earthy flavours of spinach, chickpeas and barley come together in this Winter dish which is Turkish in style. A soup, it is full of comfort, nourishment and hope for the future. Are you with me in your love for Winter soups? And with everything that is going on in the world at the moment, we need a little hope for the future. The inspiration for this came from Turquoise, a special book about Turkish cuisine.

Similar dishes include Chickpea and Orzo Soup, Mung Dal with Spinach and Cumin, Chickpeas and Beetroot Greens with Chilli, and Vegetable and Barley Soup.

Browse all of our Spinach dishes, all of our Chickpea dishes, and all of our Soups. Our Turkish recipes are here. Or explore our Late Winter set of recipes.

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Tahini and Yoghurt Sauce and Dressing

This is an awesome dressing for salads – think green salads, or salads of warm vegetables. It is also perfect for hot potato chips, and a great sauce for snacks. Try it with Falafels! Or use as a dip for celery and carrot sticks. It is made in seconds, all you need is a bowl and a fork for whisking.

Are you after similar dressings? Try Minty Yoghurt-Tahini Sauce and Dressing, Celery Yoghurt Salad, Green Tahini Sauce, and Lemony Yoghurt Dressing.

Browse all of our Dressings and all of our Sauces. Or take some time to explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Yoghurt and Barley Soup

In India, yoghurt curries are very common – yoghurt heated gently and flavoured with spices. In the Middle East, yoghurt is used for soups, and they are also incredibly delicious.

This soup has bite and substance thanks to the handful of pearl barley. The creamy yoghurt and a wealth of spices makes this is a such a nourishing bowl.

Try similar recipes – Turkish Spinach Soup with Chickpeas and Barley, Turkish Cacik, Pineapple Curry with Yoghurt Sauce, and Yoghurt Curry with Lentil Dumplings.

Barley Soups include Farmhouse Barley Soup and Parsnip and Barley Soup with Garlic and Sage.

Browse all of our Yoghurt recipes and all of our Barley dishes. All of our Soups are here. Middle Eastern delicious recipes can be found here. Or browse all of our Mid Winter dishes.

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Toasted Pearl Barley with Pistachios and Raisins

Such a wintery dish – beautiful Barley mixed with dried fruit and nuts, with a yoghurt-tahini and mint dressing, making a perfect salad, or an accompaniment for roasted winter vegetables. My house is a cold old house in the depths of winter, and there is nothing better than having vegetables roasting and barley bubbling on a cold evening. It fogs the windows and makes us and the kitchen toasty warm.

This Barley almost-pilaf-style dish is wonderful served with all sorts of roasted winter vegetables – Pumpkin, Jerusalem Artichokes, Fennel, Parsnips, Carrots etc. But don’t let that limit you. The Barley makes an excellent salad or side dish with the dressing just drizzled over the top.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Olive, Pistachio and Pomegranate Salad, Winter Roast Vegetables with Chickpeas, Barley and Red Kidney Beans, Parsley and Barley Salad, and Mediterranean Barley with Crispy Tofu.

Or browse all of our Barley dishes, and all of our Middle Eastern recipes. And explore our Mid Winter dishes.

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Slow Cooked Stuffed Zucchini

Old fashioned as they might be, there is a joy in stuffed vegetables, oozing with tomatoey rice or chickpea fillings, perhaps covered with cheese, melted and dripping down the sides. Nothing quite says cold weather more than stuffed vegetables. We love them. But then we were never one for fashion, especially in food.

This recipe is Turkish in origin, although many versions appear around the Middle East and gulf regions, from Israel to Afghanistan. We are stuffing our zucchini from the garden, the late ones that have grown slightly larger. We stuff them flat, that is, laying on their length, slit in half, and cooked with the stuffing in hollows left by the removal of their seeds and soft core. You can, of course, stuff them vertical – cutting into lengths without splitting down the middle, and using a manakra from your Middle Eastern store, to hollow out the middles – sort of like coring an apple.

We are using Ottolenghi’s recipe in Plenty More, but many similar recipes abound, using a range of grains to give substance to the filling. We are using Ottolenghi’s recipe because we have a little project at the moment, to cook through Plenty More, so it is a convenient way to add another dish to our project’sΒ Cooked list.

The thing about many Zucchini dishes is that they are just as delightful served at room temperature as well as warm – this dish, for example, is divine. Today’s recipe is in the same class – serve it warmish, or at room temperature, with goat’s feta (Middle Eastern feta, beautifully creamy) and a salad of sliced onion, radish and tomato. Excellent. Make it a first course or a main dish.

Ottolenghi has changed the recipe for this dish over time, reducing the time taken to cook the stuffed zucchini from 2 hours to 40 mins. That raised a warning signal for us. We find that it all depends on your heat levels. I cooked mine with a heat diffuser to keep the heat low and it takes all of 2 hours to ensure the rice is cooked well. Higher heat levels will mean that cooking time is shorter.

Our suspicion is that the longer time might be more traditional, but less photogenic or visually pleasing. It is often the case with dishes from countries like Greece and Turkey, and neighbouring countries, that dishes are cooked longer than might be fashionable these days. Flavour goes through the roof but the visual appeal is lost. It’s a pity that we put so much store on visual presentation.

HOWEVER, we found that using Ottolenghi’s recipe, the zucchini was overcooked and the rice just a tad undercooked, even after 2 hours. After all, it is being steamed rather than boiled as is usual. Our recommendation is that the rice should be par-cooked before using in the stuffing, and that the cooking time is then reduced to 40 – 60 mins so that the rice is really soft. As it is, the recipe does not work. (See this Guardian article which also recommends precooking rice for stuffed courgettes in general.)

I am leaving the recipe as it appears in the book, in case I missed something or you have other insights and views. If so, let me know. It is unusual to have an Ottolenghi recipe that does not work.

It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar dishes include Stuffed Tomatoes with Cheese, Peppers Stuffed with Cherry Tomatoes, and Okra Stuffed with Chilli Paste.

Browse all of our Stuffed recipes and all of our Zucchini dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Smoky Aubergine with Tahini and Pomegranate

There is a marriage made in heaven, and that is eggplant and tahini. Oh, goodness, how magic happens with that combination. There are a quadzillion recipes that feature that specific combination, and it is no wonder. We have quite a few on this site too. They tend to be Middle Eastern in origin, or in style.

This recipe is no exception – it is Middle Eastern, it is magic, and it is delicious. The combination features pomegranate molasses, and the usual garlic and lemon juice. You will adore it.

It is an Ottolenghi treasure, from his book Plenty. We have a small project at the moment, to cook from his books, and currently we are cooking fromΒ Plenty More but not ignoring his other books altogether. I have to say, this is one of his simpler recipes, easy to make without too many processes. It can be made in just a few minutes after the eggplant is charred. This contrasts with the Persian Noodle dish we made yesterday, which contains 7 different processes and 5 different elements. Its a pleasure to cook such a simple dish after that one!

It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Marinated Eggplant with Tahini and Oregano, Roasted Eggplant with Chickpeas and Herb Yoghurt, Quince Molasses and Tahini Dip, Burnt Spring Onion Dip with Chilli-Garlic Kale, Babaganoush, Persian Style Eggplant, and Begun Pora.

Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

Continue reading “Smoky Aubergine with Tahini and Pomegranate”