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Go Veg with a delicious Arabic meal

Eating-hummusSalaam Alaykum! (Hello in Arabic). I’ve lived in the Middle East many years ago, and suddenly felt a bit nostalgic about Arabic and Mediterranean food. We used to have a lovely Arabic restaurant at the basement of the apartment block we lived in, which virtually served as my second kitchen.  I always managed some lovely vegetarian options there.

I thought I’d make a nice Arabic veggie meal as part of our regular family party this weekend, which we have once or twice a month, where we make a really special themed meal and well, invite ourselves!! It’s a good time to bond with the family, and a great way for all of us to learn a few new dishes. The recipes I’m sharing will work just as well when you’re having guests over, and some of them will work for school lunch boxes too.

Here’s what I’ve planned. I tend to be heavy on starters, as they are my favorites. I’m sure you’ll agree that the combination of herbs, lentils and vegetables make for a truly wholesome and healthy meal.

 

STARTERS:

 

1. TABOULEH (or TABOULI) : A lovely salad made either of bulgur wheat or couscous with a colourful and heady combination of herbs and veggies.  The recipe here shows bulgur wheat and basil. I prefer to use couscous (which you need to soak beforehand and drain) and parsley as a herb for this dish, along with the other veggies.

 

 

 

2. HUMMUS(Chick pea dip) and BABA GANOUSH (Egg Plant dip) with PITA BREAD.  The two dips go very well with sandwiches or tortilla chips as well, but we’ll stick to Pita bread for today.


Baba Ganoush
is a tasty Egg Plant dip which also uses Tahini Sauce, and is made in a way similar to Hummus, except that the egg plants are oven baked.  As shown in this video, you can coat the egg plants with oil, (I tend to use sesame oil) and directly bake them on a tray. But a more energy efficient way, is to roast them directly over the fire. You need to use a little rack that you can use over the fire and turn the egg plant slowly so that it cooks evenly on all sides.  Allow for the eggplant to cool slightly and remove the peel. It gets a bit messy, so it’s best to put a bit of foil paper on the stove top below the fire.

 

 

3.  FALAFEL : This is a fried dish, so it’s a bit heavier on the calories. I love the crunchiness of a falafel, and you could make a wrap with pita bread, mint or parsley and Garlic Sauce (which I like to make without the eggwhite).

 

Pita Bread: You can buy this in the supermarket.  Just make sure it doesn’t have a load of preservatives and food conditioners added. Or you could make your own Pita Bread at home.

 

MAIN COURSE

 

I’ve kept the main dish quite simple and easy to make as there’s more effort on the starters which are all quite filling anyway.

MOUJDARA  or MUJADDARA  is a vegan dish made with lentils and either rice or bulgur wheat. Bulgur wheat is more nutritious than rice as it has more vitamins, minerals and fibre.

I really like the tiny tip in the video on how to cut onions even though I’ve been cutting onions for years!

 

DESSERT:

 

I’m going to round off with a simple albeit rich Arabic sweet called Basbouseh. I have made Indian sweets with semolina but this is going to be my first attempt at making Basbouseh.  I couldn’t locate a vegan recipe.  Here’s the vegetarian recipe, with some lovely music by Fairouz who’s happens to be one of my favourite singers.  Enjoy!

 

Happy eating and sharing! If you know any more Arabic vegetarian or vegan dishes, do drop in a line. We’d love to learn too :)

 

Khuda Hafiz (Goodbye)!

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Posted by on Feb 5 2010. Filed under Food, Food, Food/Diet/Meat Reduction. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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