Monthly Archives: July 2012

Bahraini Kebab

When served Bahraini kebab, you will not find yourself eating… a dish consisting of small pieces of meat, tomato, onions, etc., threaded onto skewers and grilled, generally over charcoal, which is the dictionary definition. Instead you will be served a vegetarian snack made from a thick batter, which has been shallow-fried, making this kebab resemble a pakora or a pakoda… in my opinion!

The batter for the Bahraini kebab is made using chickpea flour, known locally as kebab flourbesan and gram flour are also other names for chickpea flour. Tomato, onion and other spices are some of the ingredients incorporated into the batter, however ingredients may differ from household to household. Adding kurrat (so does my sister in-law) which is locally known as “bughel” adds a nice onion flavour to the kebab. Kurrat is also known as Egyptian leek and looks like long flat blades of grass which are widely grown in the Middle East.

The Bahraini kebab is very popular during Ramadan and usually served during Iftar. But also eaten and enjoyed as a snack with a cup of sweet tea (chai) anytime of day. Having had my fair share over the years… it’s a bit like throwing buns to an elephant, these kebabs are so delicious and I can never stop at just one!  Crisp on the outside with a soft interior, the Bahraini kebab makes a great little spicy vegetarian appetizer for passing around when entertaining. Also, delicious when served with a cool refreshing (will post recipe) yoghurt and coriander dipping sauce.

Bahraini Kebab

Bahraini Kebab

Bahraini Kebab

Ingredients:

  • 150g chickpea flour or kebab flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • pinch of garam masala spice mix
  • 1 egg
  • 140ml water
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped tomato
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped red onion
  • 3 blades kurrat, finely chopped
  • 1 small green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed

You will also need some sunflower oil for shallow-frying.

How to make: Sieve the chickpea flour, baking powder, salt, chilli powder and garam masala into a medium mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the chickpea flour, add the egg and pour in the water, whisking all the ingredients together until the batter is smooth. Add in the tomato, onion, kurrat, chilli and garlic, mix all the ingredients together and leave the batter (covered) to rest in the fridge for about 25 to 30 minutes.

Shallow fry: Pour sunflower oil ( approximately 1/2 inch deep) into a frying pan and heat until the oil becomes hot. Place tablespoons of batter carefully into the hot oil and fry until deep golden, flipping the kebab over, cooking the other side. When cooked remove the kebab from the oil with the help of a slotted spoon and transfer onto a plate covered with some paper kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil. Serve warm.

Note: Recipe can easily be doubled which will make approximately 30 pieces!

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nut brittle with dried rose petals and vanilla salt

This months Sweet Adventures Blog Hop is “Nuts about Sweets” and is hosted by Nic from Dining with a Stud. Nuts and seeds are good for your health… they help boost the immune system, are good for anemia, vision, memory, energy, muscles, a healthy nervous system and help lift your mood… well nut brittle definitely lifts the mood! We love nuts and seeds in our family and there is always some type of nut or seed stored in the fridge… making them a quick grab and go type of snack!

Basic brittle is pretty much the same all over the globe, caramelized sugar surrounding some type of nut or seed! Sometimes other flavours such as cardamom, vanilla and rose-water may be added. In India they use jaggery instead of white sugar and refer to brittle as Chikki! The addition of baking soda in the recipe creates loads of tiny air bubbles and lightens the density of the caramel, making the brittle hopefully more tooth friendly! If you are not a nut or seed fan but love caramelized sugar, making honeycomb to nibble on is also a delicious sweet treat!

Cut into neat pieces or broken into uneven shards it all tastes good and can be enjoyed with a nice cup of coffee or tea… but I especially love having these delicious nut treats with Arabic coffee Pressing dried rose petals on top of the brittle while still warm and sticky adds a hint of rose flavour and a little glamour. Breaking the nut brittle into small pieces and mixing with a light sprinkling of vanilla sea salt to nibble on is a very moorish combination of sweet and salty! 

 Nut Brittle with Dried Rose Petals and Vanilla Salt

Ingredients:

  • 50g unsalted cashew nuts, roughly chopped
  • 50g hazelnuts, halved
  • 50g unsalted pistachio nuts, left whole
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 15 g clarified butter or unsalted butter
  • 175g granulated vanilla sugar or plain granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon glucose syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of crushed dried rose petals
  • to serve, vanilla salt (optional)

Note: It is important when making brittle that you have all your preparation done beforehand as brittle sets very quickly!

How to make:  Cover a chopping board with foil and grease with some unsalted butter or vegetable oil. Have on standby a large greased chopping knife and a small flat-bottomed stainless steel tin or cup (to help flatten the brittle), grease the bottom.

Place a medium thick bottomed saucepan over gentle heat, add the water, butter, sugar and glucose. Gently stir with a wooden spoon making sure that all the sugar has been completely dissolved, brushing down the inside of the pan with a wet pasty brush if any sugar crystals have stuck to the sides! Once the sugar has been completely dissolved turn up the heat and bring the sugar syrup to a boil, leave to bubble without stirring until the sugar syrup takes on a very light golden colour.

When the syrup is light golden remove from the heat and add the baking soda, followed by the nuts, gently but quickly coat the nuts with the now caramelized nut and immediately empty the contents of the pan onto the greased foil. Flatten the brittle with the bottom of the tin into about a 1/4 inch thickness. Press the dried rose petals over the top of the brittle, if using. While the brittle is still warm mark into desired shapes with the knife, makes cutting easier when cool. Sore in an airtight container.

Before serving sprinkle over a little vanilla salt, if desired or when entertaining, leave a little dish of vanilla salt on the side and let guests salt their own brittle!

This post is part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop Nuts about Sweets... click here and scroll down to the end of the post to see all the other nutty entries!

arabic coffee

Ramadan signifies a month of fasting in which Muslims must refrain from eating and drinking from dawn until sunset, which lasts for 29 to 30 days according to the Islamic calendar. Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, worship and charitable giving to others less fortunate. At sunset family and friends gather to break the days fast with a meal know as Iftar, each household preparing their favourite main dishes followed by desserts and sweets. This is the month when I usually drink more Arabic coffee than any other time of the year.

Arabic coffee is associated with tradition and hospitality in Bahrain and the Gulf… visit any Arabic family’s home and even some establishments and you will always be welcomed with a serving of Arabic coffee, with an offering of dates or other sweets. Arabic coffee or qahwa is served in a small delicate cup called a finjan and only filled to one-third, filling anymore than this with Arabic coffee is not considered good etiquette!

The Arabic coffee pot or dallah is always held with the left hand and the small cups  filled with coffee served with the right, guests receiving the Arabic coffee should do so with their right hand. Usually it is customary to serve no more than three cups of Arabic coffee, in which the guest should at least accept one cupwiggling (custom) the cup from side to side when finished.

I love Arabic coffee and when visiting my in-laws house the customary three cups of coffee usually goes out the window! For me Arabic coffee is very light and refreshing (not to be confused with Turkish coffee), with warm and welcoming aromas and flavours of light coffee, cardamom and saffron!

How do you like your Arabic coffee?  Do you prefer using light, medium or dark roasted coffee beans or maybe even a mix!  Do you favour using more or less cardamon? Do you like saffron? Each person and household will have their own preference and taste when it comes to Arabic coffee! Roasting green coffee beans is also carried out in some households and I believe you can even roast coffee beans using a popcorn machine!  I thought this was an interesting video on the colour and roasting stages of coffee beans… should the urge ever take you! These golden coloured whole coffee beans can be bought at the local roasters in Bahrain, which also sell ready ground versions of Arabic coffee mix, as well as  nuts, sweets and  spices.

When making Arabic coffee I buy the lighter roasted coffee beans at the roasters and also use some of Starbucks Blonde (not so blonde looking) roasted coffee beans, freshly grinding all in a coffee grinder! The coffee beans and cardamom can be ground together, but I prefer grinding the cardamom in a spice grinder… wanting to keep the coffee grinder just for coffee!

Nowadays thermos flasks are used (some look like the traditional coffee pots),for keeping Arabic coffee hot for a couple of hours! A thermos flask for the sole use of Arabic coffee is advisable, the lingering flavours never seem to quite leave the flask once it has been used for Arabic coffee!

Arabic Coffee

Ingredients:

  • 500ml water
  • 2  level teaspoons freshly ground green cardamon pods
  • 4 level teaspoons of freshly ground light golden coffee beans
  • 2 level teaspoons of freshly ground Starbucks blonde coffee beans
  • 4 strands of saffron

How to make:  Bring the water to a rolling boil in a small saucepan, then turn off the heat. Add the cardamom and coffee to the boiled water giving the saucepan a quick swirl. Leave the contents of the saucepan to sit for about three minutes. Meanwhile pre-warm a thermos flask with some boiling water which should be emptied before filling with the Arabic coffee.

Before pouring the Arabic coffee into the flask, if necessary, re-heat the contents of the saucepan to almost boiling as Arabic coffee should always be served hot. Strain the Arabic coffee through a small strainer into the thermos flask and add the saffron. Discard the contents of the strainer.

Arabic coffee should always be served with dates or sweet pastries!

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