Warm Salad of Charred Okra with Tomato, Garlic and Preserved Lemon

I love this recipe – it is so versatile, and the sort of recipe you can pre-prepare the ingredients, charring the okra and tossing it with the other ingredients at the last moment. The preserved lemon and fresh lemon juice contrast so wonderfully with the charred but still crunchy okra. This dish is GOOD.

The okra can also be charred on the BBQ (grill), tossing them on the hot plate as you sip wine and talk to friends. Then throw them into a pan and toss them with the other ingredients and place on the table for your guests to munch on (try with some flat bread) while you get on with BBQing the rest of the meal. I use a kadhai (Indian wok, flatter than a Chinese one) to make this dish, it is perfect for it.

It is an Ottolenghi recipe, of course, born of the Israeli and Palestinian roots of Sammy and Yotham. Okra features well in these cuisines, from the sun dried okra hanging from strings, to being served in dishes heavy with tamarind syrup. What a divine thought!

For this dish, use short, young, fresh, crisp okra only.

Are you looking for other Okra dishes? Try Crispy Okra (Kurkuri Bhindi), Goan Fried Okra, and Lemak-Style Vegetables.

Perhaps you are looking for Salads? Try Tomato Salad with Green Olives, Chickpea and Carrot Salad with Curry Dressing, and Cucumber and Avocado Salad.

Perhaps try some other Middle Eastern dishes: Babaganoush, Falafel, Parsley and Barley Salad with Spiced Marinated Feta and Chickpea “Tabbouleh”.

We have a wealth of Ottolenghi recipes that we have tried. Or have a look at all of our Okra recipes and all of our Salad recipes. Our Middle Eastern Dishes are here. Or spend some time browsing our Mid Autumn dishes.

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Rice and Orzo

Orzo is petty good, don’t you agree? This little rice-shaped pasta has an elegance that eludes other pastas. I was delighted to find another way to cook this star in Jerusalem, the cookbook by Ottolenghi and Tamimi.

Rice is a staple of many of the communities of the Middle East and features in quite complex dishes as well as very simple ones. Quite often, other ingredients like chickpeas, vermicelli, potatoes, lentils and nuts are are cooked with the rice.

Spices are also used, for example the Bucharan Jews in Jerusalem use ginger, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon with mint, raisins and peas. How delicious!

In this recipe, the usual vermicelli is replaced by Ottolenghi and Tamimi by orzo. Don’t confuse this orzo with the Greek barley – it is the Italian pasta version. You can use vermicelli if you like, just don’t fry them as long as they will burn.

Are you looking for other Orzo recipes? Try Elegant Orzo Salad.

Perhaps you are looking for mixed rice dishes. Try Zucchini Rice, Mango Rice, and Pepper Rice.

We have several Middle Eastern Recipes to try. Beetroot with Yoghurt-Tahini, Saffron and Rosewater Scented Aubergine, and Beautiful Hummus.

Are you looking for more? Explore our Ottolenghi recipes, all of our Orzo dishes, our Rice recipes, and all of our Middle Eastern dishes. Or simply spend some time browsing our Mid Autumn collection of dishes.

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Bami Titvash | Armenian Pickled Okra

We like to keep some pickles on our shelves – usually in the fridge for longer storage. Given our current focus on Okra, it was wonderful to realise that these can be pickled as well as our usual ones – carrots, jicama, cumquats, quinces, onions, ginger – pickles feature big here.

This is an Armenian Pickle, from Arto Der Haroutunian’s Middle Eastern Vegetarian Dishes – my old copy that I bought at a second hand stall in about 1985. I love this book.

The recipe would be quite tweak-able, and I am quite excited about it. As the jars lined up on the shelf, I imagined it with various other spices included. This will stay on our list of often-repeated dishes for some time. It is surely a nice way to use up an over-abundant crop from the kitchen garden.

It’s a long wait though. Between the easy part – placing them in the jar with spices and vinegar – an eating them is the difficult part, that of waiting 8 weeks. Oh well, just imagine, in early Winter we will have pickled Okra with our meals. A nice thought.

Are you after other Okra Recipes? Try Crispy Okra, Okra with Chilli Spice Paste, and Goan Fried Okra. Read more about Okra here.

Or perhaps you are wanting other pickles? Try Pickled Jicama, Pickled Lemon Slices, and Quince Pickle.

We have one other Armenian dish – Green Peppers in Yoghurt.

If you are keen for more information, browse all of our Pickles and all of our Okra recipes. Our Middle Eastern Recipes are here. Take a look at Arto’s dishes that we have made. Or take some time to explore our Mid Autumn dishes.

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Beetroot with Yoghurt-Tahini Dressing and Za’atar

Beetroot is back on the menu, our earthy flavoured friend. In this salad, the beets are grated and mixed with a classic yoghurt and tahini dressing. To keep up the Middle Eastern theme, we add some za’atar.

This is a perfect Autumn Salad, although it does work really well in all other seasons. I love it in Autumn because we are moving from the cool blue colours of Summer into the oranges, golds, reds and crimsons of Autumn. It seems to fit well somehow.

If you are interested in other Beetroot Salads, try Beetroot, Orange and Olive Salad, Beetroot with Honey Dressing, and Warm Beetroot and Carrot Salad with Indian Spices.

Or try other Beetroot Recipes – Beetroot Risotto, Beetroot Fry and Beetroot Halwa.

Otherwise, have a look at all of our Beetroot Salads and all of our Salads. You can have a look at all of the other Beetroot recipes too. Or browse our Early Autumn dishes.

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Ayran | Middle Eastern Yoghurt Drink

A Summer-time salty yoghurt cooling drink from the Middle East.

I am keen on yoghurt drinks in warmer weather. Somehow they keep me feeling well and balanced. Lassi drinks – India’s contribution to the world of yoghurt drinks – are diverse and wonderful. Smoothies, made with yoghurt, encapsulate the modern trend of blending ingredients together. And the Middle East has much to offer.

This recipe is Ayran/Airyan, a drink claimed by both Turkey and Bulgaria. But it is popular across all of the Middle East. Syrians and Lebanese call it Laban Ayran. In Iraq and Jordan it’s called Shenina. And if you add a little crushed or dried mint to the drink, you’ll have Doogh, the Iranian version of Aryan.

Ayran is a mixture of yogurt, cold water and salt, but there are variations. What makes its Ayran special is that it is quite frothy. For example, one variation, the Susurluk Ayran, comes from a small town, Susurluk, in Turkey. The ingredients are the same, but in Susurluk restaurants cirulate the Ayran through a faucet, using high speed pumps, and this creates a foamy texture with a heavy creamy top. It is very famous, and eaten with a cheese panini-like dish called tost.

Are you after Yoghurt Drinks? Try our Lassis, we recommend Strawberry and Peach Lassi with Basil, Jeera (Cumin) Lassi, and Mango Lassi.

You can find all of our Yoghurt Drinks here – please browse. Also browse our Middle Eastern recipes here, and all of our Yoghurt recipes here. Or explore our easy Early Spring recipes.

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Babaganoush | Roasted Eggplant with Tahina

Suddenly the eggplants in the garden have found their mojo and are producing so many eggplants. It has me scrambling to find different ways to prepare them. Today they are grilled and the flesh is combined with tahini. It is another lovely mezze or tapas dish, or an any-time snack with flatbreads. You will love this. A take on Babaganoush, it is rich, smoky, and creamy.

You can grill/bake the eggplant in several ways. Cook it under the griller, turning often until the skin is blistered and blackened, and the flesh is soft. Or it can be cooked over a gas flame in the same way. But my favourite way is to grill it whole in a covered BBQ (grill) until the skin is blackened and the flesh collapsed. It is the easiest and quickest way at our place.

Are you looking for other Eggplant recipes? Try Eggplant Simmered in a Beautiful Broth, Grilled Eggplant Salad with Pinenuts and Pita Chips, and Deep Fried Eggplant.

Is it Dip Recipes that you are looking for? Try Coriander-Walnut Dip, Tomato and Chilli Jam, or Tahina Tarator.

You can explore all of our Eggplant recipes here, and all of our Dips here. Browse the Middle Eastern recipes, or take some time to explore our Late Summer recipes.

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Parsley and Barley Salad with Spiced Marinated Feta

A beautiful, fresh and light Salad

Oh how delightful this salad is! It feels healthy and green and very clarifying. It makes you feel so good as you are eating it. The recipe comes from Ottolenhi and Tamimi’s book Jerusalem.

Middle Eastern and Israeli dishes can be substantial and heavy and are accompanied by a sharp, fresh salad such as this one. The herbs and lemon juice cleanse the palate and give a certain sense of lightness. Serve it with other vegetable-based mezze dishes. I like to eat it on its own for lunch with some flatbread. This amount serves 4 – 5 as a side dish and 2 – 3 as a lunch with flatbread.

The flavours of garlic, olive oil, onion, lemon – flavour so familiar from the Middle East – are all there, accentuated by za’atar – and the flavours are carried by the beautiful green tastes of parsley and green capsicum. A delightful, balanced dish.

Are you looking for Barley recipes? Try this wonderful Farmhouse Soup, and Adzuki Bean, Barley and Pumpkin Soup with Miso and Parsley.

Or try some Ottolenghi recipes – Roasted Eggplant with a Garlic Sauce, Du Puy Lentils with Tahini and Cumin, and Smashed Garlic and Cucumber Salad.

We even have Parsley recipes for you. Chickpea “Tabbouleh”, Greek style Salsa Verde and Parsley Braised with Tomatoes.

You might like to browse other Parsley recipes here and here, other Barley recipes and other Ottolenghi recipes. Try our Middle Eastern recipes here and here, or explore our collection of easy Spring dishes here and here.

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Zhug | Zhoug | Skhug | A Coriander-Chilli Paste, Dip and Sauce

A versatile Yemini-Israeli paste made from green coriander (cilantro), green chillies and earthy spices

What to do with the left over coriander (cilantro) leaves and stems at the end of the week – a perpetual problem in a family that uses a lot of green coriander. One solution we have is to make Coriander Paste. Another is to make Zhoug, a Yemeni-Israeli sauce or dip full of spices. Traditionally a perfect accompaniment to pita with falafel, it also serves as a sauce, spread and dip. It can be stirred into soups and stews to spark them up. Zhoug can be fiery hot, depending on your chilli level, and Yemenites believe that eating zhoug daily strengthens the immune system, keeps away illness and strengthens the heart.

Once you have experienced the fragrant spiciness of Zhoug, you will be making this weekly with your left over coriander, or, indeed, buying extra coriander each week, just to make this pesto-like sauce. Actually, Zhoug is a green cousin to Shatta, which is a similar dish, except Shatta uses mild red chillies. Zhoug has also been called Israeli Chilli Paste, a green harissa, a Middle Eastern Gremolata and a hot chermoula.

Are you looking for other coriander recipes? Similar recipes include Coriander Paste, Coriander Pesto, and Coriander and Coconut Chutney.

Or try these: Carrots and Green Peas with Green Coriander, Coriander and Lemongrass Vichyssoise, Pudla with Green Coriander, or Urad Dal with Tomato, Coconut and Green Coriander.

Read some more about Green Coriander, and also How to Use Leftover Green Coriander.

You might also like other Coriander dishes and other Coriander Pastes. Middle Eastern dishes are here and here. Or enjoy our easy Late Autumn dishes.

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Falafel | Ta’amia | Spicy Middle Eastern Chickpea Patties or Balls

Using cooked or tinned chickpeas, falafels are very easy to make.

Who can resist a good falafel? Wonderful for snacks, meals, in wraps or topping salads, they are wonderfully tasty, textural and healthy. Whip them up using chickpeas you have previously cooked and  frozen, for an easy supper.

Home made falafel are a huge cut above store-bought ones, or even those from some restaurants that must purchase them in bulk and keep them frozen for a long time. One has to wonder why, they are so easy to make, whereas many pre-prepared ones taste like cardboard. Who hasn’t had a wrap or roll with cardboard-tasting falafel stuffed into them for a “vegetarian option” when it would have been more flavoursome to leave them out?

Worry no more, we have your back. These are fantastic. Crispy crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. You can grind the chickpeas coarsely or more finely, which ever is your preference. But they must be ground enough to hold together as fritters.

You might like to also try hummus, which goes well with falafel. Chickpeas make a whole range of dishes. Try Chickpea Fingers, for example (it uses chickpea flour). Or Chickpea “Tabblouleh”Chickpeas can be baked, or made into a spread, or smashed and made into a salad.  They are really healthy – have a look at this article.

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Green Peppers in Yoghurt

The Middle East has a variety of flavours and dishes that are amazing and under-explored in other countries. And yoghurt, one of my favourite food stuffs, features strongly there as it does in India. The recipes using yoghurt are often simple – take a vegetable, some yoghurt, garlic, dried mint and some spices, mix and serve.

Traditionally it is used as a pre-dinner snack or appetiser, generally served with pita bread., but you can use any flat bread. We get a great Afghan flatbread cooked fresh on the tandoor from our local shop, and it is amazing.

You can use the Green Peppers in Yoghurt as you might use a salad. If you use thick, drained yoghurt they can be used as a dip or spread, or it can be used as a sauce or dressing.

If you are looking for other Middle Eastern dishes, try Fragrant Eggplant with a Garlic-Yoghurt Sauce, Cucumber and Yoghurt Mezze, and Chickpea “Tabbouleh”.  All of our Middle Eastern dishes are here.

Capsicum recipes you might like to explore include Grilled Peppers and Eggplant Salad, Roasted Red Pepper Salad, and Baked Peppers with Cherry Tomatoes. All of our Capsicum dishes are here. All of our Salads are here.

Our Dips are here if you are after dips and sauces. Or simply take some time to explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Dried Lime Tea | Chai Noomi Basra

A popular Iraqi tea, it is said to be good for the digestion.

This is a popular Iraqi tea made with dried limes. It is said to be good for the digestion including stomach aches. Dried limes are popular in Middle Eastern and Israeli dishes and can be found in Middle Eastern groceries or herb specialist shops.

You will also love this Fragrant Persian Rose Bud and Borage Flower Tea. Or try Cumin, Coriander and Ginger Tea and Lemon Verbena and Lavender Tea.

Please browse all of our Tea and Infusion recipes here and here. We have some Middle Eastern recipes here and here. Or get inspiration from our Spring recipes here and here.

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Chickpea “Tabbouleh”

A chickpea salad with the taste of the Middle East.

There are some things that just go together. Like Figs and Almonds. Like Chickpeas, olive oil, lemon and parsley. Tomato and Basil. Take a combination that works, and it will give you endless dishes.

Here, we pulse the chickpeas and make a tabbouleh style salad with them.

You might like to browse our Chickpea Salads, or all of our Chickpea dishes here and here. Explore our Middle Eastern Dishes here and here. And check out all of Bittman’s Salads.

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Saffron and Rosewater Scented Aubergine | Persian Style Eggplant

This beautiful recipe of eggplants stewed in a jammy tomato sauce flavoured with saffron and rosewater is testament to the versatility of this exquisite vegetable.

Aubergines! No one cooks them better than Italians, Indians and Middle Eastern cuisines. This beautiful recipe of eggplants stewed in a jammy tomato sauce flavoured with saffron and rosewater is testament to the versatility of this exquisite vegetable.

This recipe has a wonderful mix of spices including saffron and the sprinkling of rosewater gives it a wonderful Middle Eastern ambiance. The house smells amazing as the aubergines cooks gently in this scented tomato base.

You might also like Turkish Red Lentil Soup, and Eggplants with Sultanas and Pinenuts.

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Eggplant, Sultanas and Pinenuts, with Yoghurt and Mint

Eggplant, the versatile King of Vegetables.

Such stunning weather this Spring, a little breezy, not too hot, not too cold. Everything is green, roses and other Spring flowers abound. The air is heavy with scents of roses and blossoms. The Jacarandas are flowering so prolifically.

And so our mind turns to Aubergines and yoghurt. A quick dish for lunch or side dish for dinner; it is very easy.

You might also like to browse our other eggplant recipes here and here. especially Saffron and Rosewater Scented Eggplant, Deep Fried Eggplant and Sauteed Eggplant.  Or be inspired by our Middle Eastern recipes here and here. Continue reading “Eggplant, Sultanas and Pinenuts, with Yoghurt and Mint”

Salty, Garlicky Labneh | Thick Thick Yoghurt

A beautiful, garlicky thick yoghurt for salads, soups and dips.

Labneh is a particular favourite, going into salads, soups, pasta dishes, dips, vegetable dishes, deserts and breakfast dishes.

We call it Thick Thick Yoghurt. See these previous posts on our love for this wonderful food. And this is how to make it: Making Thick Thick Yoghurt. Recently we began making it pre-flavoured with salt and garlic. You will love it too.

You might like to browse all of our yoghurt recipes here and here, and our Middle Eastern recipes here and here. Find inspiration in our Autumn recipes here and here.

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