Friday, February 22, 2013

Tasty Tourism Series-Middle East, Part 1


In this edition of 'Tasty Tourism', I'm going to cover the Middle East. I've already given you a few in the post about Greek food; their recipes are very similar. Kosher and Halal (suitable for Muslims) will also be covered in a separate post. Since meals in the Middle East can be multi-course events, I'm going to give you several recipes.

When a friend of mine throws a dinner party, she always makes sure to serve an appetizer of hummus and pita wedges. If you've never had it, here is a basic recipe.

4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), drained
1/3 cup of tahini (a paste made of sesame seeds and oil)
3 tablespoons of water
¼ cup of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of onion powder
¾ teaspoon of garlic salt

Simply puree everything in a food processor or blender. I've also seen people add things like red peppers and olives to give it an extra 'kick'. To quote the vegetarian recipe page: ”No need to ever worry about vampires again-this garlic hummus will keep them away for weeks!” Hopefully you don't have this problem, but you never know. :)

Since lentils are so common in the Middle East, I would be remiss if I didn't include at least one recipe. In case you've never seen them, lentils are a nutritious bean-like legume you can usually find in the rice or ethnic food section of the grocery store.

Basic Lentil Soup
½ cup red lentils
½ cup brown lentils
2 potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, finely chopped (a medium-sized one will do)
1 stalk celery, finely chopped (see above)
4 cups water
3 cloves, whole
3 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder (a soup base)
¼ teaspoon black pepper, ground
¼ teaspoon salt

Rinse the lentils several times in cold water. Boil them with the water in a Dutch oven (or another type of cooking pot) for about 30 minutes. Then, add the potatoes and cook until they are tender. Once done, put them in another bowl to mash.

Now, add the celery, carrots and bouillon to the pot. Cover and simmer for the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Add the salt, pepper and cloves and simmer for 15 more minutes. Add the potatoes, stir well and bring to a slight boil. Then, remove the cloves and serve.

One great thing about lentil soup is that it is very easy to customize to your particular tastes; many people add chicken or sausage to the mix. This is also a great way to 'slip nutrition' into the mouths of picky eaters. :) 

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