How to make a Middle Eastern Mezze Platter!

What a fun month it has been!
Exploring realms little known, I thoroughly enjoyed myself!
Got to know quite a few histories and stories and the magic of how food connects.

So now to the Mezze platter! Referred to as the Mediterranean Mezze, the Middle Eastern Mezza or the Lebanese Mezze platter- this is a veritable smorgasbord of delights. It is made up of an assortment of chips and dips, fritters and fries, salads and relishes.
IMG_5027Edited1IMG_5893IMG_5092IMG_5891
The Food Republic explains it so completely and with a cute illustration to boot!  
Pic Courtesy- foodrepublic.com
MEZZE_2

The mezze platter (sometimes spelled meze) is one of the more malleable snack trays, varying slightly depending on where it’s being served. It’s a popular way to start a meal in Turkey, Israel, Greece, Lebanon — spanning cultures across the Middle East and beyond. However you serve it or say it, the most important thing about mezze is what it means: it’s Arabic for sharing.

Although this platter is meant to serve as a Starter to a meal, it is quite a meal in itself. I have a feeling after having feasted on these goodies, I would only head towards the desserts.
I tried to get a Mezze platter together and made

I started with making Rob-e-Anar aka Pomegranate molaases.
Pomegranate molasses, as they are an essential part of the Middle Eastern cuisine.
IMG_4969Fattoush- The fresh salad with the crunch of Pita bread croutons
IMG_4817-A delicious Watermelon,Feta Cheese and Mint salad
Edited2

Some gorgeous Middle Eastern dips
-The walnut and red pepper Muahammara
Muhm
Green Pepper Hummus
IMG_4107
-The smoky Baba Ghanoush
BG1
-The fresh cucumber yogurt Tzatziki
IMG_5858and the hot hot Harissa Yogurt dip!
Harissa21

The dips I teamed with
No fry Falafels (I have the regular  fried Falafels on the blog too)
IMG_3077
Pita Wedges/fingers
Edited1
Crisp Lavash Crackers and
IMG_5861
Spinach and feta cheese filled Sambousek
Edited1
And though not a part of the Mezze, two gorgeous desserts
The Rob-e-Anar Kaashta Ice cream
Edit3
and the Basbousa cake dessert!
Edited3
Ah!! What a month is has been ❤
Until the next one….

Advertisements

Watermelon, Feta Cheese and Mint Salad

Edited2With  temperatures touching the high 30s, salads are like manna from heaven! This quick and very refreshing Mediterranean salad comes together in a jiffy and is a treat to eat. Watermelon, Feta cheese and fresh mint – yeah that’s all! Not even salt or lemon 😀
Also enjoyed making little watermelon and muskmelon balls with my new toy- the melon baller 😛
IMG_5769I recently got introduced to feta and its salty rich flavour. The sweetness of the watermelon balances the salt beautifully and the mint adds a fresh ,well minty, tang. It’s a glorious burst of flavours and the palate rejoices!

There is not much of a recipe apart from getting the three elements together.

I look a medium sized sweet watermelon and scooped some balls out from the seedless areas of the melon.
To get nice and round balls, press the melon baller deep into the melon flesh.
IMG_5766

Rotate clockwise all the way up
IMG_5767And scoop the ball out…ta da 😀
IMG_5768If you can get the seedless variety, nothing like it.Else scoop out from the seedless part. Edited3Tear 10-12 fresh mint leaves and mix gently with the watermelon balls.
IMG_5771Cube about 50 grams of feta and top the salad with it. Serve immediately!
Heaven in a bowl 🙂
Edited1Recipe sourced from The Persian Kitchen.

Harissa Paste and Harissa Yogurt Dipping Sauce

Harissa21
Harissa is another sauce I knew nothing about till recently just like the Tzatziki. And just like the Tzatziki, reading up made me think of a chutney which is a staple in Rajasthani households –  ‘Lehsun/Garlic ki chutney’!
The same method  i.e. soaking of chillies and grinding with garlic and spices- quite a few of them that I use in my kitchen on a daily basis like the coriander and the cumin. The pungent taste and the versatility.The only difference being that lehsun ki chutney is cooked in oil and Harissa is stored under a layer of oil.

 The Kitchn says ‘This Tunisian chile sauce is a fantastic shortcut to spice up a meal and can be used with everything from meat to vegetables, couscous, roasted potatoes, scrambled eggs, as a dip for bread … the list is truly endless’

Any kind of chillies may be used. For a less pungent paste, add some charred red peppers along with chillies.
I made it with Byadgi chilli and it came out nice and just the right level of pungent.
A combination of red peppers and chilli peppers may also be used.
Harissa 3

10-12 red chillies soaked in boiling hot water for 30 mins
10 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp caraway
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
salt to taste
1 large tomato
1 tbsp olive oil plus more to cover if storing
1 tsp lemon juice
Remove the stems of the chillies   and soak for 30 mins in hot water. Store the water and use in case needed while blending the paste.
IMG_5559
Remove the seeds.
Dry roast the caraway, coriander and cumin. Let cool.
IMG_5560
In a food processor add the chillies, garlic, tomato, salt, the roasted spices, lemon juice and grind to a thick, coarse paste adding EVOO slowly.
IMG_5562
IMG_5563
Store covered with a thin layer of olive oil.
Harissa with nama
The paste stays good for a month in the refrigerator.
Keep adding some olive oil as you scoop the paste off the top.

To make a dipping sauce, stir a couple of spoons of the paste into a cup of thick yogurt.
Serve with chips,crackers or like I did, with Sambousek!
IMG_5865

Recipe sourced and adapted from The Kitchn.

Rob-e-Anar Kaashta or Pomegranate Cheesecake Ice Cream served with Cocktail Shikaf

IMG_5135

Edit3
I present Rob-e-Anar Kaashta Ice cream ,served over a bed of Cocktail Shikaf.
A Pomegranate Cheesecake Ice cream served with Fruit Cocktail, Lebanese style!
This Frozen Treat is my tribute to all the lovely Lebanese desserts I saw on this wonderful blog- Mama’s Lebanese Kitchen , which I have been closely following for  the past month in the course of my Lebanese quest.
IMG_5137
This month onward, I have joined the ‘Kitchen Divas’ and will be doing a theme based post every month. The theme for April is Frozen Treats.

I have incorporated Kaashta/Clotted milk with rose water, Rob-e-Anar/Pomegranate molasses and Cocktail Shikaf to get this gorgeous dessert.

Kaashta/Astha is clotted cream prepared with rose water and orange blossom water. To prepare it add a tsp of sugar to 3 cups of whole milk. Bring this mixture to boil and add a few drops of lemon juice. The milk starts to clot immediately. Add rose water and orange blossom water and mix well. With a strainer, collect the clotted cream (or chhena as we call it!) and transfer it to another vessel. Keep collecting till the liquid gets clear.  Add a few drops more of lemon juice if required.
To incorporate into the ice cream, I drained the Kaashta a little to get rid of the excess liquid.
IMG_4893IMG_4894
To get this frozen treat together you need

400 mils heavy cream/whipping cream (I used Rich’s heavy cream)
200 gms condensed milk
All the kaashta prepared
½ cup of mixed nuts, raisins and tutti frutii
½ cup of pomegranate molasses/ Rob-e-Anar
100 gms of digestive biscuits/graham crackers
30 gms softened butter
IMG_5062

Make sure the cream is chilled before you start making the ice cream.
I like to set the ice cream in a butter paper lined tin. It is easy to get it out neatly. Any metal or plastic container may be used.
Because I wanted to make a cheesecake style ice cream, I used a spring form tin. In fact, any tin can be lined with butter paper and used.
Crush the biscuits and mix with the butter to form a bread crumb like mixture.
IMG_5070

Spread HALF of the of the biscuit crumb mixture at the bottom of the tin and press it in nicely. Save the other half for layering the ice cream.
IMG_5071
Leave the tin in the freezer for about fifteen minutes.
Crumble the kaashta into the mixer and add about 7-8 tbsp cream.
IMG_5072
Blend till mixed well.
IMG_5073
With an electric hand mixer, mix the kaashta and condensed milk. Beat well for half a minute on low.
IMG_5074
Fold in the mixed nuts, raisins and tutti frutii.
IMG_5077
In a separate bowl beat the cream till peaks form.
IMG_5076
Gently fold in the condensed milk mixture into the cream.
IMG_5079
IMG_5080
Take the tin out of the freezer and gently transfer a layer of ice cream mixture over the biscuit layer, sprinkle with some crumb and repeat till the mixture is used up.
IMG_5081

IMG_5082
Generously sprinkle the top of the ice cream cake with slivered pistachios, cashews and almonds.
1
Seal it nicely with cling film and a layer of aluminium foil.
4
Let it set for 5-6 hours.

Remove from the freezer fifteen minutes before serving.
Prepare fruit cocktail or Cocktail Shikaf by chopping a cup of mixed fruits per serving.
I used mangoes, banans, apples, grapes,oranges and strawberries.Any seasonal or tinned fruits may be used.
Puree a few strawberries or kiwi fruits and mix well with the fruits. Drizzle some honey and throw in some chopped walnuts.
Serve a slice of ice cream over a bed of fruit cocktail and drizzle all over with pomegranate molasses 😀
Enjoy!!

IMG_5116
3edited

Check out the other #FrozenTreats my blogger friends have dished out this month!
Dolphia @ The Story of Cooks
Anjana @ At The Corner Of Happy And Harried
Jyothi @ Curry Trail
Sujatha @ Spices and Treats
Subhasmita @ The Flavours of Kitchen
Madhuri @MAD About Kitchen

Red or Green Pepper Hummus

It’s a very chip and dip kinda weather. A regular meal doesn’t seem to appeal but a snacky affair makes the palate sing! So here is a lighter and fresher version of hummus, loaded with peppers (red or green whichever you want to make it with! ) Fill it into Pita sandwiches, or simply use a sandwich spread or use it to dunk your nachos in, hummus is a healthy treat for the taste buds.

IMG_5153

IMG_5005
IMG_20141104_225409_wm

For the Green Pepper Hummus
(Or Red Pepper Hummus)

A medium size red or green pepper
1 red chilli
1 cup chick peas/kabuli chane, pressure cooked till cooked tender (save the water used to boil the chick peas)
1 small onion
2 Tbsp Lemon juice
Salt, to taste
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely pounded
1 tsp toasted cumin powder
½ tsp coriander powder
Water left over from boiling the chick peas
1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses (Find the recipe here)
1 Tsp Olive oil
½ tsp black pepper

Roast the pepper and chilli over an open flame till it is charred all over. Alternatively, char them under a hot grill.
Peel and cube the pepper and chop the chilli.
IMG_4083
Heat the olive oil in a small pan and fry the onions till tender. Add the cumin and coriander powders and take off the heat. Let cool.
Add the chilli and pepper along with the  chilli and pepper and all the other ingredients listed above.
IMG_4084
Blend till you get coarse, grainy paste adding water (saved from boiling the chick peas) slowly as required. Do not add all the water at once!
IMG_4088
Drizzle some olive oil.
IMG_4087
Garnish with paprika or some cumin powder.
IMG_4107
Serve with pita fingers, or Vegetable Crudités (carrot fingers, cucumber slices, paneer fingers, asparagus spears, sliced apple, pepper strips etc)

Recipe source- BBC Food Recipes

Baba Ghanoush and Mutabal- Middle Eastern Dips with Smokey Aubergines

BG1
My Gran makes her special special ‘bina chaaunk ka baingan bharta’ where she roasts the aubergines, peels and mashes them but does not further cook or temper them as is usually done in case of ‘Baingan ka Bharta’. She simply adds fine chopped tomatoes, onions, green chillies and fresh coriander along with some spices and serves it with a generous squeeze of lime. When I read up the recipes for Baba Ghanoush/Ghanouj, it reminded me of Naani style baingan bharta. And I got to say they are close,almost identical in fact!
I am amazed at the way food finds echoes across boundaries.
I made Baba Ghanoush with the green aubergines rather than the dark ones as they are slightly sweeter and milder than the other ones.

You need
1 medium Aubergine/brinjal , dark or green any will do
1 Tbsp Pomegranate molasses
2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
A clove of garlic
½ tsp salt (or to taste)
1 small tomato
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped (can use fresh coriander if parsley not available)
A few drops of white vinegar or a dash of lime  (Can skip if tomato is tart)

Roast the aubergine over the stove till the skin is completely charred.


IMG_4860
IMG_4863Alternatively slice into two and char it under a hot grill. Peel, remove the seeds and mash it once it cools down a little.
Leave it in a colander for about 15 minutes so that the excess liquid drains off. This will ensure a thick and creamy dip rather than a watery one.

Blend the aubergine mash and all the other ingredients in the food processor till you get a coarse paste.
IMG_4888
Drizzle with some olive oil. Garnish with some parsley, olives and a tomato rose.
BG
Serve cold with warm pita bread wedges, nachos and crackers.
IMG_5005

Mutabal is another dip which is made with smoked aubergine and the method to prepare it is similar to Baba Ghanoush
The ingredients for Mutabal are

1 medium Aubergine
1 Tbsp Tahini (find recipe here)
1 Tbsp Yogurt
2-3 cloves of garlic
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Blend the aubergine mash and all the other ingredients, apart from olive oil, in the food processor till you get a coarse paste.
Drizzle with some olive oil.

Recipe sources- Mama’s Lebanese Kitchen and Syrian Foodie in London.