Middle Eastern

Baba Ganoush

Ohhhhh man, do I ever LOVE baba ganoush – like seriously!  I think I might actually like it better than hummus.  Yes, I said it – baba is better than hummus.  I mean, I will always love that garlicky chick pea dip but something about baba just makes my heart sing!  Something about the roasted eggplant flavor, creamy greek yogurt, and tahini combined with garlic and lemon juice just makes me giggle with joy – give me some solid Naan to use as transportation mechanism and I am SET!  Look out summer BBQs – you’re getting a new side dish!

This recipe is FAB-U-LOUS.  Seriously.  It tastes just like the stuff that we got at a Lebanese bakery when I was a kid – the stuff my Lebanese-craving dreams are made of.  I’ve never quite found anything that compared to my childhood memory until I tried this recipe – its just about spot on!

Now apparently traditional baba doesn’t have yogurt in it?  I didn’t know that, but I read it in the same cookbook that I got this recipe from.  Throw that thought out the window because this dip wouldn’t be quite the same without it.

Take a break and try your hand at Baba Ganoush – you might not like hummus as much as you think!

  • 2 eggplants (about 1 1/2 lbs. total)
  • 3 TBS tahini
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 3/4 c. Greek yogurt
  • 2-3 small garlic cloves, crushed
  • Sea Salt
  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBS chopped flat leaf parsley (Which I forgot in the picture above.  Whoops!)

Prick the eggplants in a few places with a knife or fork to prevent them from exploding.  Place them on a rimmed baking sheet under the broiler for 35-45 minutes or until the skins are wrinkled and the eggplant are very soft.

When cool enough to handle, peel the eggplants and place them in a fine colander or strainer.  Press out as much of the liquids as possible.  Still in the colander, chop the flesh with a pointed knife, then mash with a fork or wooden spoon, letting the liquids escape through the holes.  Add a tiny squeeze of lemon juice to keep the puree looking pale and appetizing.

In a bowl, beat the tahini with the lemon juice (the tahini stiffens at first then softens), then beat in the yogurt.  Add in the mashed eggplants, garlic to taste, and some salt.  Beat vigorously and taste to adjust the flavoring.

Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with parsley.

Recipe Courtesy of Arabesque by Claudia Roden

Categories: Appetizers, Condiments, Middle Eastern, Recipes | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

SUCCESS: Coconut Chicken Curry!

Okay, so if you have ever visited or lived in Athens, Ohio, you hopefully have had the pleasure of eating at Salaam, a Middle Eastern restaurant that is absolutely incredible!  When I first moved to Athens, Salaam was an eclectic hookah bar in the basement of a building in an alley that happened to serve the best food.  A year or two later, the state of Ohio passed a smoking ban (which I actually really appreciate because I have asthma AND a bad smoke allergy) and Salaam had to choose between being a hookah bar and a restaurant.  THANKFULLY, they chose the later because this was seriously one of my favorite restaurants there (I still go every time I return to Athens for a visit).

I kid you not, this place has incredible food.  Branden and I always start with a mezze platter of fresh hummus, warm baba ganoush, roasted red peppers and kalamata olives.  OH, and don’t forget piping hot pita bread!!  If that’s not enough, then we always order the coconut chicken curry which is unlike any other curry I’ve ever had…which leads me to the point of this post (and its not to praise Salaam although I do encourage you to visit if you ever find yourself in Athens).  The point is, I crave this delicious dish – like big time!  I have been trying for years to recreate it and have come really close before.  This time is different because this time, I think I’ve nailed it!

I made this for Branden’s birthday this year along with homemade Naan and baba ganoush (both of which you’ll see recipes for really soon).  This was one of those meals that made me really sad when it was over because there was so much love in this meal and I never wanted it to end!  So for all you Salaam lovers out there, eat your hearts out!

Salaam serves there’s with a beautiful trio of cilantro chutney, cucumber raita, and toasted coconut on the side…you can bet that I did the same!

Salaam’s Coconut Chicken Curry (not the restaurant’s exact recipe, but one that I changed to mimic their’s)

  • 2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 to 4 jalapenos, seed removed and finely chopped
  • 1 dried ancho chile pepper, rehydrated in boiling water, chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground tumeric
  • 1 TBS ground coriander
  • ½ TBS cayenne pepper
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, separated from skin and bones
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 c. chicken stock
  • 2-3 TBS coconut cream (Reserve some of the creamy part of the coconut milk if you can’t find coconut cream)
  • 3 dried kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • salt to taste

Heat oil in a large dutch oven and add the onions. Sautee until soft. Add the garlic, chilies, tumeric, coriander, and cayenne. Reduce heat, sautee for another 2 minutes or so.  (NOTE: At this point, I threw my coconut milk in the blender and then added the above ingredients.  I gave it a few pulses and then continued on with the recipe – this isn’t necessary, but I wanted my sauce a little more uniformed).

Add chicken, coconut milk, stock, and lime leaves to a dutch oven and and cook on low for about 45 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Stir in them lemon juice and coconut cream. Salt to taste. Remove leaves.  Serve immediately over jasmine rice.

This was adapted from This Primal Life

Categories: Entrees, Middle Eastern, Recipes, Restaurants | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce

Oh gosh, Branden’s aunt gave him one of the most incredible cookbooks for Christmas, called Plenty.  If you’re a vegetarian, this book is a must to liven up your life.  Even if you’re not a vegetarian but appreciate vegetables, you should probably consider this book, too (we also made these sweet potatoes out of the book).  Seriously, if nothing else, the pictures are to die for.

This particular recipe jumped out at us right away…because it was on the cover!  It just looked SO good!!  And it was; we were not disappointed at all!

We served this as a side to grilled lamb chops and garlic bread that I rubbed with garlic and dusted with Za’atar before toasting.

Enjoy!

  • 2 large, long eggplants
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. lemon thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs to garnish
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 tsp. za’atar

Buttermilk Sauce

  • 9 TBS buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 400º.  Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise.  Use a small, sharp knife to make three or four parallel incisions in the cut side of each eggplant half, without cutting through to the skin.  Repeat at a 45 degree angle to get a diamond-shaped pattern.

Place the eggplant halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet line with parchment paper.  rush them with olive oil – keep on brushing until all of the oil has been absorbed by the flesh.  Sprinkle with the lemon thyme leaves and some salt and pepper.  Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavorful, and nicely browned.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool down completely.

While the eggplants are in the oven, cut the pomegranate into two horizontally.  Hold one half over a bowl, with the cut side against your palm, and use the back of a wooden spoon or a rolling pin to gently knock on the pomegranate skin.  Continue beating with increasing power until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl.  Once all are there, sift through the seeds to remove any bits of white skin or membrane.

To make the sauce, whisk together all of the ingredients.  Taste for seasoning, then keep cold until needed.

To serve, spoon plenty of buttermilk sauce over the eggplant halves.  Sprinkle with za’atar and plenty of pomegranate seeds on top garnish with lemon thyme.  Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Categories: Middle Eastern, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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