Lentils and Eggplant with Pomegranate and Crispy Onions | Rummaniyeh

Eggplant and dark lentils are such a paring! We loved them here – this is an extraordinary dish – and we love them in this recipe. When the eggplant is cooked with the lentils it becomes very silky and simply melts into them. This is the joy of Rummaniyeh.

Pomegranates also feature strongly in Rummaniyeh. In fact, Rumman means pomegranate, so this dish’s name, Rummaniyeh, means pomegranatey. Pomegranates are cherished in Palestine – they are an integral part of Palestinian eating, and are regarded as a symbol of abundance and prosperity.  The cheap and easy recipe uses rich, sweet-tart pomegranate molasses and pomegranate kernels (when in season), for a tangy stew in which the eggplants melt into the lentils as they gently simmer. Crispy onions, fried garlic, zingy lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, hot chilli and generous amounts of olive oil are added, to create layers of flavour and transform the primary ingredients.

Today’s recipe had its genesis in the one in Falastin by Tamini. I made some adjustments to make it simpler, with more lentils, and also to get that simmered silkiness of the eggplants.

Eat warm or at room temperature with pitta or tafoon (Middle Eastern flatbread) and a chopped salad. I like a bowl of spiced yoghurt with it. You can serve Rummaniyeh at any time, but it is especially good for breakfast!

Similar recipes include Lentil Stew with Eggplants, Lentil Salad with Pomegranate Molasses, and Walnut and Pomegranate Dip.

Browse all of our recipes from Falastin, and all Eggplant dishes.

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Garden Salad with Peaches and Orange Blossom Dressing

Ottolenghi recently wrote an article for the New Yorker called Ottolenghi’s Simplest Recipes. It’s a funny, tongue in cheek article about his recipes and the way that people complain about the complexity and number of ingredients. And about the way that they change all the ingredients and then make commentary on them.

I am certainly guilty of the first, and have gotten over the second – mostly. I still sigh if I have to go shopping for a dish when I want to make it right now and there is some ingredient my pantry is not stocking atm. Having cooked a significant number of Ottolenghi’s dishes, I have moved on from strict adherence to his dishes to shaking them up to suit what is cheaper in our part of the world, what is in the pantry or fridge or on the kitchen bench, and what I can pick from the garden.

This recipe had its genesis in Ottolenghi’s first book Ottolenghi. But it is not recognisable as his any more. I’ve removed the non-vegetarian item, and used greens from our garden rather than the expensive (in my area) greens that he uses. I am ticking the recipe off in the book, but really only the dressing (fabulous) and the peaches are recognisable in the original. If you are looking for the original, check his books or his Guardian column.

The key here is to use sweet peaches (yellow-fleshed or a mix of yellow and white) that are at their peak, with none of that floury texture that they can have when unripe. It’s a dish that’s dazzling in its blend of colours and textures, and works well as a starter.

Similar recipes include Watermelon and Peach Salad with Basil, Tomato and Peach Salad, and Peach Salsa with Tofu.

Browse all of our Peach Salads and all of our Salads (there are hundreds!). Or explore our Late Summer recipes.

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Cauliflower and Cumin Fritters with Yoghurt Sauce

These are some of the most delicious fritters that we have made. The soft bite of the cauliflower with the spices is a warming mouthful that you won’t forget quickly. Here we have served them with yoghurt with short mung sprouts and herbs.

The recipe appears in 2 books from the Ottolenghi family – Falastin by Sami Tamimi, and Ottoleghi by Ottolenghi and Tamimi. They are the sort of fritter you can have for a meal, as a snack (make them smaller), or packed in a lunch or picnic box.  Or shove them into some pitta bread with hummus and tomato for a great afternoon filler with a cuppa tea.

They keep a couple of days in the fridge (think – after school snack), and are best eaten either at room temperature or heated slightly in a warm oven. The batter will also keep a couple of days in the fridge if you want to cook on demand.

“These are not your usual fritters,” says cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi. These are packed with cauliflower and spiced with cinnamon, cumin and turmeric. As a dipping sauce, he serves a spiked Greek yoghurt.

Of course, I have switched out the eggs in Tamimi’s recipe for my usual egg replacer in friters – 1 Tblspn chickpea flour, 1 Tbslpn or a bit less of cream and about 0.25 plain or lemon eno per egg.

Similar recipes include Roasted Cauliflower Tahini Puree, Buckwheat Upma, Crispy Couscous and Saffron Cakes, Sweet Potato Fritters, Mung Bean Flour Fritters, and Pakora.

Browse all of our Fritter recipes, and all of our Snacks. Our Tamami recipes are here, and the dishes from Falastin are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More.

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Mushrooms with Pearl Barley and Preserved Lemon

We are all working to stay happy, healthy and somewhat sane during this time. It is the middle of the coronavirus pandemic as I write this draft. We are social-distancing, a new word, and we s-d even in our own homes. It is a scary time that is changing the world in many large and small ways. Oh, so many countries have been devastated with so many deaths, my heart is broken for you. Who knows what is to come ….

As it happens, I happen to have a couple of flat mushrooms in the fridge, barley in the pantry and feta from the Afghan shop. There is parsley and thyme in the garden, so this seems to be the perfect use for the mushrooms. I also have wine! It is a rare occurrence, but is perfect for this dish. The mushrooms are slowly braised in the oven in wine, stock, butter and thyme, to become achingly soft, fragrant and highly flavoursome. The stuffing is barley, feta, preserved lemon, garlic and herbs. It is an unusual stuffing for mushrooms, but one that is divine and perfect against the soft ‘shrooms. They mended my heart a little, just for a moment.

This is an Ottolenghi recipe from his book Ottolenghi. I serendipitously came across it while browsing last evening. We are always free to massage his recipes into a shape that fits what we have at hand, but this time it needed little alteration. I toyed with the idea of using goat cheese for feta, and it would have worked, but used feta instead. I did chop up the mushroom stems and add them to the barley as it cooked. No waste, no want, always my mantra. This recipe doesn’t appear to be on the Guardian website, so you will have to check his books for the original.

Similar recipes include Toasted Barley and Pistachio Pilaf, Sweet Barley and Ginger Poached Rhubarb, Roasted Mushrooms with Burrata, Pan Fried Mushrooms in Butter, Roasted Mushrooms and Garlic, Black Barley with Mushrooms, and Mushrooms in Terracotta.

Browse all of our Mushroom dishes and all of our Barley recipes. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Spinach and Toasted Orzo with Green Chilli Yoghurt

There is something about orzo and spinach – it is a much loved combination, there are lots of variations, and it is easy to pull together. Tamimi has a version in Falastin, his book with Palestinian  flavour combinations and recipes. It combines orzo and spinach with a yoghurt-chilli-herb mix. Simple, yes, Divine, also.

The dish can be a dish in a vegetarian meal, a side dish or something akin to a salad. Throw in some feta, black olives and/or chopped tomato if desired.

Similar recipes include: Orzo and Eggplant Bake, Elegant Orzo and Spinach, Chickpea and Orzo Soup, and Rice and Orzo.

Browse all of our Orzo recipes and all of our dishes from Falastin.

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Roasted Eggplant with Saffron Yoghurt

Eggplant and Yoghurt is very common, even eggplant and saffron yoghurt is not unusual. Ottolenghi has his version in his first cookbook, Ottolenghi. This book is still one of my favourites, given to me as a gift when I was spending a couple of months in London. Lucky for me I was so very close to Islington, and so Ottolenghi’s became my usual haunt. This was long before anyone in Australia had heard of him. So this book brings back many joyful memories.

As usual, I feel free to massage his recipes to suit my preferences at the time and the availability of ingredients. Today I had a deep sticky sauce that I had made sitting on the kitchen bench, so the eggplant slices got smeared in this before roasting. You don’t need to do that, though. This recipe is actually very very simple to make (Yay!) and it is perfect for evening suppers. It doesn’t seem that it has appeared in the Guardian column, so you will need to check his books if you want to check the original.

Similar recipes include Eggplant Kuku with Cauliflower Puree, Noodles with Fried Eggplant, Eggplant in Spicy Tomato Sauce, and Cheesy Baked Eggplants.

Browse all of the recipes from Ottolenghi, and all of our Eggplant dishes. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Spicy Baked Black Chickpeas, Eggplants and Tomatoes

Black chickpeas (Kala Chana) are very common in India but not so common outside. There are two types of chickpeas – the larger light tan Kabuli chickpea, the one that is commonly used here, and the variously coloured Desi chickpea. They are green when picked early then vary through tan or beige, to speckled, dark brown and black. 75% of world production is of the smaller desi type. The larger type, also called garbanzo bean was introduced into India in the 18th century.

Desi chana are smaller and darker with a rough coat; its other names include kala chana (black chickpea) or chholaa boot. It is this variety that is hulled and split to make chana dal.

Kala Chana have a dark and earthy taste, and aren’t quite as soft and creamy as their kabuli chana counterpart. But that makes them unique and especially delicious in Wintery dishes.

Today I bake them in a spicy tomato saucy and layered with roasted eggplant and tomatoes. Served with rice, a pickle and a herby yoghurt dish, it makes a wonderful meal. There are similar dishes made with the karbuli type of chickpeas from the Middle East and beyond – Falesten has a recipe for Musaqa’a which is also worth making. This recipe is quite similar.

Similar dishes include Chana Madra, Baked Eggplant with Cheese and Tomatoes, Eggplant and Zucchini Bake with Chickpeas, and Baked Garlicky Eggplant.

Browse all of our Chickpea recipes and all of our Eggplant dishes.

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Saffron Couscous with Dried Apricots and Butternut Pumpkin

Lately dishes have been coming together nicely – like this one. I had half a butternut left over from making Sweetcorn and Butternut Fritters, and some beautiful but very hard dried apricots from the Afghan shop that needed to be used up. What better way to do that but with couscous. Those dried apricots, by the way, are such a surprise. They look like nothing when dried, so hard and dark in colour, yet they plump up to flavoursome soft apricots when soaked. I love them.

Roast the pumpkin the evening before if you are looking to save time. This is a very easy dish, and it makes a great salad or side dish. It is from Ottolenghi’s Ottolenghi, the first of his books. It is interesting to go back and browse through Ottolenghi – you can see the journey that Yotham has been on, and the journey that we have been on along with him.

Similar recipes include Couscous Salad with Orange, Couscous with Pinenuts and Sultanas, and Couscous Lunches.

Browse all of our Couscous recipes and all of our Butternut dishes. Or explore our Early Autumn feasts.

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Herb Salad with Radishes and Burnt Betel Leaves

A salad of herbs is common elsewhere, but not in the English Speaking countries (in general). However herb-full salads are extraordinary and worth seeking out and making.

This one is inspired by a salad in Ottolenghi’s Ottolenghi, but his is far too fussy for me. There is no way that I am going to spend hours picking leaves from the stalks of herbs. So I mixed it up to make my version of the salad.

This salad is made with herbs – rather than cutting or slicing them, the leaves are plucked (with stem) to form leaf-sized pieces. I used the herbs available in my kitchen and garden. It is a fresh and lively salad. We kept Ottolenghi’s almonds for texture and the butter-lemon dressing, and added radishes and betel leaves. The betel leaves are optional of course – my Asian grocery stocks them so occasionally I bring some home. To soften them we wave in a gas flame and then use them as a bed for the salad.

Similar recipes include Quinoa, Herbs and Lemon Salad, Freekeh Pilaf with Herbs, and Thai Betel Leaf Salad.

Browse all of our Salads and all of our Ottolenghi dishes. Or explore all of our Early Summer dishes.

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Marinated Eggplant with Tahini and Oregano

Fresh oregano must be one of the most underused herbs. It is rather potent, so must be used with care, similar to rosemary or sage. It’s a herb that can dominate if used too liberally. However, oregano is very versatile and works well in marinades or dressings for roasted vegetables or substantial salads. It also flavours gratins and makes a great addition to pasta sauces, pizzas, or over steamed potatoes.

Some combinations are just a match made in Middle eastern heaven. Eggplant and Tahini, for example. With roasted wedges of eggplant and a creamy tahini sauce, it’s hard to go wrong. The fresh oregano needs to be added with a little caution as mentioned, but adds a fresh herby note to the dish.

Wedges of eggplant are baked and then marinated in garlic, chilli, herbs and oil, before being dressed with the tahini sauce. Truly, the baked eggplant wedges are good enough to eat on their own, so make sure that you cook enough of them to have a quick snack while making the dish. For the finished dish, the play of the green flavours of the herbs against the eggplant and tahini is magnificent. And don’t you love the way that lemon juice works with tahini? I have always loved that.

It is a magical side dish, entree, mezze plate addition or salad, and can be made up to 2 days in advance. The recipe is from Ottolenghi’s book Ottolenghi.

Small eggplants such as Japanese or Chinese varieties are good to use for this recipe, as well as the globe varieties. If using white eggplants, perhaps peel them before roasting as the skin is thicker than most other small eggplants.

This is an Ottolenghi dish from Ottolenghi. It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one day per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s 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 Algerian Eggplant Salad/Spread, Lentil Salad with Pomegranate Molasses, Eggplant and Zucchini Baked with Chickpeas and Harissa, Eggplant Steaks, and Saffron and Rose Scented Eggplants.

Browse all of our Eggplant dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Ottolenghi and from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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