Tag Archives: Quick and Easy

Kefta and Arayes

The other night I was in the kitchen making Arayes.  My kiddos kept on coming into the kitchen wondering what I was making and when I told them they were totally surprised that I knew how to make it.  They all asked me why I didn’t make them before (it has been well over 8 years?…Wow a really long time!)  and I told them that I totally forgot about it until I got a request via Facebook for the recipe.

This makes a really nice light lunch and dinner when served with a soup and some hummus and grape leaves.  You must really serve this along with hummus so don’t forget!  On to the recipe…I hope that you like it!

Arayes (A-ra-yes)

Ingredients for Kefta: 

(adapted from Kofta Kebabs http://allrecipes.com/recipe/kofta-kebabs/Detail.aspx)

 ½ kg (1 pound) ground lamb or ground chicken

1 small onion, chopped

2-4 cloves garlic, chopped (up to you how much you like)

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (you can use up to ½ cup)

1 tablespoon ground coriander

½ tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

*-*-*-*-*-*

½ cup of corn oil

12  fresh pieces of small (6 inch diameter) pita bread (the thin kind)

Make sure that the pita bread you use is fresh because if it isn’t it will be quite difficult to separate into halves.

Directions:

Place all of the kefta ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth.  Set aside.

 Open up each of the pita bread so that it forms two halves.

 Take about ¼ cup (maybe a little less) of the kefta mixture and thinly spread it on one side of a pita half.  Place other half of the pita on top and press down so that it sticks together.  Set aside.

 

Note:  you need to spread the kefta thinly so that it will cook evenly and quickly.  If you spread it on thickly it might be undercooked when the bread has turned a golden brown.

Do this with the remaining kefta mixture and pita bread.

Once you are finished with all the pita bread, you can either lightly pan fry the Arayes or you can grill them.

If you are pan frying, you will need to cook on very low heat.  If you are grilling the Arayes, then you will need to place the grill on the highest level from the coals.  I much prefer grilling them because you will get that nice smoked flavor.

Lightly brush the Arayes on each side with the corn oil and place on either the frying pan or the grill.  When I cooked them this time I didn’t brush the outside of the pita with oil.  I had just added a teaspoon of oil to the pan and pan fried them that way.

 Cook until the bottom side is a nice golden brown color.  Flip it over and cook the other side the same way.

Once done place them either in a hotpot or on a large platter covered with a clean kitchen towel to keep warm.

Serve with Laban Up, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, and a nice soup.

Enjoy!

Serves 5-6

Print the recipe here.

Pakora (Deep Fried Vegetable Balls)

Pakora’s are a delicious fried little munchie that seems to be another Ramadan staple but of course it can be enjoyed all year round.  Oh! and this is soooo delicious with Laban Up.

The Pakora’s that I either bought or ate somewhere else were always hard and heavy feeling.  I played around with the ingredients and have come up with this lighter and crunchier version that is filled with more vegetables.  I hope you try it and like it!  It is very easy to make and I will provide you with 4 variations on what to put inside.

Pakora (Deep Fried Vegetable Balls)

Ingredients for batter:

3/4 cup chickpea (besam) flour (this can be found in an Indian grocery store)

1/4 cup corn meal or rice powder (I prefer using the corn meal though)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon red chili powder (or 1 heaping teaspoon Mexican-style chili powder)

1 teaspoon tumeric powder

1 egg

1/2 cup water

In a medium size bowl, mix all these ingredients together.

Ingredients for vegetable variations:

Variation #1:  

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped cilentro

1-2 finely chopped green chilies (it is up to you on the heat…deseed if you want)

Variation #2:

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoon finely chopped cilentro

8 oz uncooked potato, shredded

1 green chili finely chopped (optional)

Variation #3

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of finely chopped cilentro

1 small raw carrot, shredded

1 small raw zucchini, shredded

1 small raw potato, shredded

Variation #4

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cups of small okra (okra zero) or 1 cup sliced okra

Cooking Directions:

Once you have chosen which vegetable variation you will use just add it to the batter.  Mix it very well.  It should be thick like in the 2nd picture below.

You can fry it now or you can place this in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (not necessary) but I like for the flavors to blend together and also I like to prepare it in advance so I can fry it 45 minutes before Iftar (breaking our fast during Ramadan).

If you let the mixture settle in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, you will notice that it has become a little runny…no worries…this is how turns out if you let it sit for a while.  You will need to add a little bit more of the chickpea flour and the cornmeal.  You can add an additional 3 tablespoons of chickepea flour and 1 tablespoon of corn meal at a time. It will be 1/4 cup total addition.

Go ahead and heat up enough oil (I like to use corn oil or canola oil) in a wok or  deep-sided frying pan.  Turn the heat down to medium-high.

Drop by tablespoonfuls into the hot oil.

Gently fry the pakoras until they get a nice golden brown color.  Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

This recipe will make around 24 pakoras.

I like to serve this with 1 cup of yogurt and 1 packet of salad dressing mix (basil & thyme).  It is sooooo yummmy!   

Enjoy!

edited (07-27-2012): to add the variation #4 and to fix up the wording of the recipe.

.

.

Herbed Lentil and Bulghur Salad

I found this recipe the other day via SparkPeople.com.  I am trying to get my family and I to eat more healthier foods so now I am on the look out for recipes that I know everyone in the family will eat.

I made this two days ago and it was so good.  It is like a tabbouli salad but with more fresh herbs, and the addition of brown lentils, a little more veggies, and some walnuts.  My husband and I really liked the salad…the kiddos…well three out of four ate it and liked it.  I will definitely make it again.

Here’s the recipe:

Herbed Lentil and Bulghur Salad (makes 4 to 8 servings)

Ingredients:

1 cup of brown lentils

2 cups of water (for cooking the lentils)

1 cup of bulghur

2 cups of boiling water (for soaking the bulghur)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

3 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped

3 tablespoons of fresh dill, chopped

3 -4 green onions, chopped

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

1 stalk of celery, chopped

1/4 cup roasted walnuts, roughly chopped (or if you prefer roasted pine nuts or roasted slivers of almonds)

1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives or sliced pimento olives

1/4 cup of lite feta cheese , used to top the salad with

chopped tomatoes for topping

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Wash and rinse the brown lentils.  Add to a pot  with the 2 cups of water.  Partially cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Drain and place into a large bowl.

While the lentils are cooking, soak the bulghur wheat in a bowl with the 2 cups of boiling water.  When the lentils are done cooking drain and remove as much of the water from the bulghur and then add to the lentils.

In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the minced garlic.  Cook for just a couple of seconds and then add to the lentils and bulghur.

Add the remaining ingredients, except for the feta cheese and tomato, and then add salt and pepper to taste.  I really don’t think it needs additional salt because of the olives.  The tomatoes and feta will be used to top the salad when you serve it.  Just put about a tablespoon of the feta cheese on top of the salad and as much as the chopped tomatoes as you want.

Yummm, this is just soooo good!  I am going to make some more for lunch today!  Oh, and I want to add that this would go really well with some grilled chicken breast.

Enjoy!

Kabsa Rice

My husband has been craving Kabsah all this month.  I have made it at least 4 times this month!

This rice dish is so easy to make and is so flavorful.  I am giving you a basic recipe (which can be easily doubled or tripled!) but it can easily be jazzed up with the addition of 1 cup of frozen green peas.  I like to serve this rice with lamb (recipe will follow…I promise).

Kabsah Rice

Ingredients:

1 cup of uncooked basmati rice (rinsing and soaking just like in this post)

1 tablespoon of corn oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

4 cloves

2 small pieces of cinnamon bark

1 teaspoon black pepper powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon caradamon powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 1/2 cups of water or stock

Directions:

In a medium-sized pot, heat the corn oil and add the onion, cloves, and cinnamon bark.  Saute until the onion becomes golden.

Add the garlic, all the spices, and tomato paste.  Mix well and then add the water/stock.  Let boil a couple of minutes.

Drain the uncooked rice and add it to the stock.  Gently stir.  (Note:  at this point you can add that 1 cup of frozen green peas if you wish to jazz up your rice a little bit).

Let the rice boil until there is hardly any liquid left that you can see from the top of the pot.

Cover and turn the fire/heat to very, very low.  And cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the cover and let the steam dissipate and then re-cover the pot.

Rice is ready after 15 minutes.

The rice is now ready to serve!  I suggest that you turn your pot upside down onto a big platter.  My reasoning is that if you should scoop the rice directly out from the pot you will break the grains of rice and it will look mushy.  So this is what I do…

Turn pot upside down onto a platter.

Turn pot of rice over onto a platter and  separate it out with a fork or gently fluff it out with a serving spoon…Look!  No mushy rice!

Not a clear pictures…but you get the idea!

Enjoy!

Chicken Makhtoum

My friend Noor over at Ya Salaam Cooking has a wonderful collection of tasty recipes available, MashaAllah.

A few weeks ago I tried her recipe for Chicken Makhtoum and let me tell you it is delicious!  I have cooked it at least twice already and my DH just loves the taste of it and this is what I am making for lunch today.

I double this recipe (it doubles very easily) whenever I make it because of my big family, MashaAllah.  I have made a few tweaks here in my version…I sauteed the tomatoes and added frozen garden peas for a little bit of color and also decreased the amount of tomato paste because my DH is not too keen about tomato paste.

I served this delicious chicken dish with Indian Vegetable Rice (recipe to follow in the next post).

Chicken Makhtoum (adapted from Ya Salaam Cooking)

2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon corn oil

1/2 cup onion, diced

1 cup of yogurt

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon Arabic spice mix

2 tablespoons corn oil

700 gram  whole chicken, cut up into 4 pieces

1 cup of frozen garden peas

In a medium frying pan, saute the chopped tomatoes in 1 tablespoon of corn oil until mushy.

In a blender, add the sauteed tomatoes, onions, yogurt, salt, Arabian spice mix, and tomato paste and blend until smooth.

In a large pot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of corn oil and once it is hot add the chicken pieces and fry until golden brown.

Add the yogurt mix.  Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes and reduce the heat to low.

Add the frozen garden peas, gently stir in and then cover and let cook for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink.

Serve with basmati rice or nice and hot parathas.  Enjoy!

And Noor is right, this recipe would be really delicious if you substituted lamb or shrimp for the chicken.

Tomato and Egg Scramble

This is a dish that I will regularly serve for breakfast and dinner.  I usually serve it with sliced cucumbers, olives, and feta cheese drizzled with olive oil.  I also serve it with either Lebanese khobuz or Khobuz Irani.  This is another favorite of my children.

 

The recipe I am giving is for just one serving.  It easily doubles and triples.  For my family, I will use 8-10 eggs, 2 ½ cups of chopped tomatoes, and I will increase the spice amounts to 1 ½ teaspoons.

 

Ingredients for one serving:

2 eggs

½ cup chopped tomato

3 tablespoons cooking oil

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground tumeric

Salt to taste

 

Heat the oil in a pan and add the chopped tomato.  Saute until the tomato is “mushy”. 

 

In a small bowl add the eggs and whisk until thoroughly mixed.

 

Add the spices and salt and stir.  Now add the eggs and with a wooden spoon slowly stir until the eggs are cooked.

 

Serve hot and enjoy!

Fried Egg Sandwich

Here is a comfort food that is sure to fill you up. It is quick to make and the kids like to eat it. I make this for suhoor during Ramadan because it is very filling.

Fried Egg Sandwich (makes 1)

2 slices of bread
Kraft cream cheese spread
thinly sliced tomato
1 fried egg

Toast your bread and as soon as it is toasted spread on the cream cheese, as much as to your liking.

Top with the fried egg and the tomato slices.

That’s it! Enjoy!