Thursday 31 December 2009

Walima Cooking Club Moroccan tour - Couscous with lamb and Ghriba

Its Moroccan cuisine for the month of December at Walima club . Sabah from Sousoukitchen and Touria from Cuisine Touria picked the challenge for this month - Couscous with lamb/ beef and Ghriba (the famous Moroccan cookies) . Here is a history of Morocco and Moroccan cuisine .

Morocco or the Kingdom of Morocco(Al Mamlaka -Al-Magribiya) translated to the Western Kingdom, is a country located in the north Africa with an area just under 447,000 square kilometres. Rabat is the capital and Casablanca is the largest city.

Morocco has a coast on the Atlantic ocean that reaches past the s
traight of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean sea. It is bordered by Algeria to the east, Spain to the North and Western Sahara to the south.Several Arabic and Berber dialects are spoken in Morocco and the population is largely homogeneous.

The Moroccan Cuisine is one of the diversified cuisines in the world. It is a mix of Berber, Spanish, Moorish, Middle eastern, Mediterranean and African Cuisines.

Moroccan Cuisine is based on the use of different spices but the most characteristic feature is the use of powder ginger in different tajines. Olive oil is also a characteristic of Moroccan Cuisine as it is the case of all the Mediterranean cuisines.Chicken is the most widely eaten meat in Morocco. The most commonly eaten red meat in Morocco is beef; lamb is preferred as it is the basic ingredient in making tajines. the Moroccan tajine can also be made with fish and vegetables.The most popular drink is green tea with mint which is accompanied with different Moroccan pastry.

Now coming to the recipes...We were given the recipe for couscous with beef, but one can even use lamb or chicken instead and I used lamb . And the recipe asked for butternut squash along with other veggies., But I used potatoes instead. because my family is not a big fan of butternut squash.

Ingredients :
1 pound couscous
1 pound meat -beef or chicken or lamb,
2-3 carrots,
2 zucchinis,
3 tomatoes,
2 potatoes,
1 big onion,
1/2 cup chopped coriander,
1 cup boiled chickpeas,
2 tbsp vegetable oil,
1/2 tsp salt,
1/2 tsp pepper,
1/2 tsp ginger,
1/2 tsp turmeric,
pinch of saffron and
1 tsp butter/ ghee.

Heat the oil at medium temperature, add chopped onion and the meat.After 15 minutes, add chopped tomatoes, parsley, coriander and the spices, let cook 10 min, add water, and cook for 1 hour. When the meat is almost done, add carrots to the meat stew and cook for 10 minutes, then add the potatoes, zucchini and chickpeas and cook again for 15 -20 minutes or untilall the vegetable are cooked.
To cook the Couscous:
Traditionally the couscous is cooked by steam, by putting the couscous in a steamer pot and placing it(the steamer pot) over the meat, while it gets cooked by the steam. But, for quick and easy way or if you don't have a couscous pot, put the couscous in a large bowl and add equal boiling water to it and cover for 2-3 minutes. Fluff it with your hands, using some butter . Add some salt and keep aside.
To serve, place couscous first on a plate, then the meat, the vegetables and the sauce.

Now coming to the cookies, Its Ghriba/moroccan cookies. Its very easy and simple.. here goes the recipe for it...


Ingredients :

3 3/4 cups flour
2 stick melted butter (230 grams)
1/4 cup oil
1 cup sugar
a pinch of salt


Mix flour, sugar, salt, melted butter, oil and mix until the mixture becomes sandy.Form small balls, flatten them a little bit, place in a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 380 F, 20 min.
The cookies should keep their white color.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Corn and Black bean Quesadillas

This is yet another recipe from Kevin's Closet cooking. I was just wondering the other day about what to cook for dinner and *blink* I just remembered seeing this on his blog and voila I had all the ingredients at home. I have tried to stick to his recipe, just doubled the quantity.....because I was cooking this for 3 people. You can find the original recipe here.


4 tortillas,
1-2 cups of grated cheddar cheese,
1 cup corn,
1 cup black beans,
1 chopped jalapeno ,
1 tsp of red chilli powder,
1tbsp of lime juice,
1 tsp cumin powder,
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions,
2 tbsp of finely chopped cilantro,
salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, mix the corn, black beans, jalapeno/green chilli, chilli powder, cumin powder,
green onions, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and keep aside.
Melt 1/2 tsp of butter in a pan, place 1 tortilla on the pan, put some of the above salsa and scatter some grated cheese and cover with another tortilla. Brown each side of the tortilla for 1-2 minutes. when both sides are lightly browned, remove from the pan and cut into wedges. Serve with sour cream or with some Guacamole.

I am sending this to Tried and Tested, hosted by Hema of Salt to taste .

Sunday 27 December 2009

Chana daal halwa/ Daal ka meetha

As kids, we used to eagerly wait for Eid..because that was when my mom always made this yummy halwa. It was one of my favourite desserts and it still is. Though its a bit time consuming and some hard work (stirring continuously) but believe me the outcome is very delicious and yummy. My mom used to use Khoya/ mawa for this dessert..but as I don't get it here, I always substitute it with condensed milk . So, here goes the recipes for this yummy dessert..


3 cups of Chana dal,

2 cups of milk,
1-1 1/2 cups of sugar,
250 grams of condensed milk,
few saffron strands,
1pinch of cardamom powder,
1 tbsp of chopped cashews,
1 tbsp of raisins,
1 tbsp of slivered and
2 tbsp of ghee.

Wash the chana daal and cook boil them and cook till they become soft or for quick method, pressure cook the daal till soft. After it cools, grind the chana daal with the milk to a smooth paste in a mixer. In a non-stick pot, put the grinded dal, add the sugar and and cook on a low flame stirring continuously for around 30-40 minutes or until the halwa has become almost thick in consistency.Add the condensed milk, cardamom powder and saffron strands . In another pan, heat the ghee and add the chopped dry fruits and saute for few minutes and add this to the halwa. Let cool and garnish with more almonds and saffron strands.

This halwa is on its way to JFI- Saffron guest hosted by DK of Chef In You and to MLLA- 18 guest hosted by Srivalli the event started by Susan.

Friday 25 December 2009

Roasted Tomato Soup

Here comes another recipe from Kevin's Closet Cooking. A perfect soup for cold winters, I came across on his blog here. I tried to stick to his recipe and and it turned out awesome and very tasty.I served this Yummy soup with toasted bread and Tabbouleh- a perfect and healthy dinner :) I am sending this to Tried and Tested hosted by Hema of Salt to Taste. Tried and Tested is featuring Kevin's Closet Cooking this month.


4 tomatoes- cut into half,
1 red bell pepper,
1 chopped onion,
2 cloves of garlic-unpeeled,
2 cups of chicken stock or vegetable broth,
1 tsp of chopped Thyme,
1 tbsp of olive oil and
salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the red bell pepper in two halves , place them on a baking sheet outside up and keep the in a pre heated oven on broil mode and broil for few mintes oruntil the outer skin has become black. Let cool and peel the skin from the peppers and keep aside.
In a baking pan, place the Tomatoes- with the cut side up, garlic and the Onions. Drizzle the olive oil on this and sprinkle the Thyme, salt and pepper powder over the tomatoes. Roast in pre heated oven on 350 F/ 175 C for 0-45 minutes. Now place everything in a saucepan and simmer for 30 more minutes. Puree with a hand blender. Garnish with some crumbled feta cheese and serve hot.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Paneer balls

I had lot of paneer cubes in my refrigerator and was wondering how to use them..Because I wanted to make something different and new this time, apart from the Chilli Paneer which is an all time favorite in my house. Then I just found this recipe in my recipe notebook. And it turned out very yummy and we enjoyed it a lot. When I was frying these paneer balls it smelled like I was frying those golden balls of Gulab jamuns :) and don't they look like Gulab juamun ? Its just that they are can even call them Savory Gulab Jamuns :D


200 grams Paneer,
2 tbsp of maida/all purpose flour,
1 tsp chopped ginger,
1 tsp chopped garlic,
4-5 green chillies,
1 tsp garam masala powder,
oil for deep frying,
1/2 tsp red chilli powder,
a pinch of red color(optional),
1 finely chopped onion,
50 grams of cashew nuts,
1/4 cup of fresh coriander leaves-chopped,
few curry leaves,
1 lime and
salt to taste.

Grate paneer, add maida, garam masala powder, chilli powder, salt to taste and a pinch of red color if using any. Mix well to form a dough and make lemon sized balls, deep fry in oil and keep aside. In a pan, heat 1 -2 tbsp oil and add the ginger, garlic, slit green chillies, onions, curry leaves and cashew and saute it for a while. Now add the fried Paneer balls and saute it for 5 more minutes. Sprinkle little water and cook till dry. Lastly add juice of 1 lime and some freshly chopped coriander leaves.

Monday 21 December 2009

Cranberry chutney

I had heard a lot about cranberry chutney from friends..and I had always wanted to try it. Few days back when I saw this recipe here on Kevin's blog Closet Cooking I decided to give it a try and I must say that I just fell in love with this yummy chutney . This is my entry for Tried and Tested featuring Kevin's Closet Cooking for this month.And the host for this month is Hema of Salt to taste.


12 ounce of fresh cranberries,
1 apple- peeled and diced,
1 jalapeno pepper/ 2 green chillies,
1 finely chopped onion,
1 tbsp grated ginger
1tbsp grated garlic,
1/2 cup sugar,
1/2 cup cider vinegar,
1/4 tsp ground all spice,
1/4 tsp ground cloves.
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon and
1/2 cup raisins.

Place all the above ingredients in a pot and cook for 10-15 minutes or until all the ingredients become soft. Mash with a potato masher if necessary . Serve with Roti, naan or as a side dish with rice.

Friday 18 December 2009

Stir fried Tuna with spices/ Tuna chikkiyathu

A few weeks back, I saw a tuna recipe on my friend Shab's blog- Shab's Cuisine. And I just loved the Indian way of using Tuna with all the spices in it.. Though I am not a big fan of Tuna..I wanted to try her version, because it looked spicy and yeah..another reason was that I wanted to finish the Tuna cans I had for month ;-) And when I tried her recipe, it turned out very tasty and spicy and Iam sure going to make it again and again. Thanks Shabs for this yummy recipe..I cooked it accordingly, only used vegetable oil instead of coconut. One can refer Shabs recipe here.


3 tsp vegetable oil,
1 finely chopped onion,
1 finely chopped small tomato,
370 grams of canned tuna/ 2 small cans,
1/3 cup grated coconut,
1tbsp of red chilli powder,
1/2 tsp black pepper powder,
1/4 tsp garam masala powder,
few curry leaves and
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a pan and add the curry leaves and chopped onions. Saute till the onions turn light brown in color. Add the chilli powder, then the chopped tomatoes and some pepper powder. Cover and cook on low flame till the tomatoes become soft and the masala becomes thick. Drain the tuna and add it to the pan and mix it well to blend the masala with it. Cook for 10 minutes or until all the water evaporates and it becomes dry. Add the grated coconut and mix again and lastly add the garam masala and cook for few more minutes. Can be served with roti and can also be used as a filling for sandwiches as I did.

My friend Asha Latha of ASRA ASHAON KA and Malar of Kitchen Tantra has passed me this cute 'Cheer-leading blog' award. Thanks Asha and Malar for this lovely gift.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Phat Thai Jay / Vegetarian Thai Noodles

Few weeks back when we had gone out for lunch, for a change we decided to go to a Thai restaurant called Chiang Mai Kitchen. We ordered Thai green curry with rice and a plate of vegetarian noodles called Phat Thai jay. And we just fell in love with those noodles. They tasted very yummy. After returning back hubby asked me if I can learn how to make those noodles? and thus began my search for the recipe on the internet, and I found this below recipe on, which gave me the same taste I wanted , the same taste as the Thai restaurant.
Phat Thai jay is basically rice noodles cooked in a mildly spicy tomato based sauce with bean sprouts, tofu, eggs and crushed peanuts.

-serves 2

250 grams of rice noodles,
75-100 grams of Tofu,
1/2 cup of bean sprouts,
1/4 cup of chopped green onions,
1/2 finely chopped red onion,
2 tbsp tomato sauce,
1 1/2 tbsp red chilli sauce,
1 tbsp of fish oil,
1 tbsp of caster sugar,
1/4 cup of coarsely crushed peanuts,
2 tbsp of vegetable oil,
1 egg and
a pinch of salt to taste.

Cut the tofu into bite sized pieces and deep fry in 1 tbsp oil until they turn crisp and light brown on outside. Keep aside. Soak the rice noodles in hot boiling water for 3 -5 minutes only, just before adding them to the pan.
In a wok / nonstick kadai, heat 1 tbsp of oil on high heat. Break an egg into the wok and scramble it. Immediately add the chopped onion and rice noodles and stir fry for just 1 minute. Now, add the tomato sauce, chilli sauce, fish oil and caster sugar to the noodles and stir fry for another 30 seconds. Now add the fried tofu and mix again. Lastly add the bean sprouts, finely chopped spring onions and the peanuts and stir for another 30 seconds or 1 minute. Serve hot.

Note: Follow the instructions given on the rice noodles packet for soaking them in water. Soaking them too long will make them soggy and sticky.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Creamy Dilled Cucumber Salad

For this months Tried and Tested event, Kevin's Closet Cooking is chosen. He has an awesome blog with many yummy recipes from different parts of the world. I love the simplicity of his recipes and yeah..I have bookmarked many things from his blog to try this month. So, here comes the very easy Salad. For the original recipe refer here.
This is my first entry for Tried and Tested featuring this month Kevin's Closet Cooking and hosted by Hema of Salt to Taste.


1 cucumber-slices,
1 small red onion-sliced,
1/4 cup of sour cream,
1 tbsp lemon juice,
2 tbsp finely chopped dill leaves,
salt and pepper powder to taste.

Mix everything in a medium sized bowl and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes before serving.

Sunday 13 December 2009

Bread rolls


6 large bread slices,
2 boiled, peeled and mashed potatoes,
1 finely chopped onion,
1 finely chopped green chilli (optional),
1/4 tsp red chilli powder,
1/4 tsp cumin powder,
1/4 tsp amchur/dry mango powder,
1/4 cup finely chopped coriander leaves,
salt and pepper to taste and
oil for deep frying.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan and add the chopped onions to it. Saute the onion until they turn light brown. Add green chillies if using and saute for few minutes. Add all the dry spices- chilli powder, cumin powder and Amchur powder. And immediately add the mashes potatoes, some salt and chopped coriander leaves and mix everything well. Set aside to cool, when it cools make 6 small balls with this mixture and keep aside.
Dip a bread slice in a bowl of water and remove immediately. Squeeze the slice between both palms to remove excess water. Place a small ball of the potato mixture in the center and fold both the sides inwards, like one does for spring rolls. Roll the other corners and seal it by pinching it, do the same with the rest of the slices and deep fry them in hot oil until they turn crisp and golden brown. Serve hot with ketchup or any chutney.

Instead of dipping the bread slice in water, one can even sprinkle some water on the slices to make them soft.
This can be made to any shape-round, oval or oblong..Just make sure that the potato mixture is completely covered with the bread.

This goes to EC's WYF:Tea time snacks event.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Kabsat al dajaj / chicken wth rice and tomatoes

Those who visit my blog regularly must have known by now,that I love middle eastern cuisine :) and I just love to try new recipes from the middle eastern cuisine and thats the reason I have become a member of 'Walima cooking club'. :)
On some idle and lazy days I just don't feel like cooking 2- 3 things(main course, side dishes and all) for dinner. And I prefer cooking 1 dish meals, which should be filling and should taste yummy and delicious. And this recipe caught my eyes the other day..for it looked easy and yummy.And most importantly I knew my husband will love it, Coz as he always says ''I am a pure non-vegetarian'' ;-) This recipe is adapted from the book'' Middle eastern cookbook'' by Maria khalife.


500 grams of Chicken,
3 cups of Basmati rice,
5-6 cups of hot water,
2 finely chopped tomatoes,
2 finely sliced onions,
300 grams of tomato puree,
4-5 cloves of garlic-crushed,
1 carrot-grated,
1/4 cup vegetable oil,
3 cloves,
3 green cardamoms,
3 cinnamon sticks,
1 tbsp of peppercorns,
4- 5 tbsp of silvered almonds,
grated rind of 1 orange and
salt and pepper powder to taste.

Wash the chicken, pat dry and season with some salt and pepper. Rinse and soak the rice in water for 20-30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a medium sized pan, add the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves and saute for few minutes, add the onions and fry till golden brown. Add the peeled and crushed garlic and saute for few minutes, add the finely chopped tomatoes and cook till they become soft. Now add the tomato puree and the seasoned chicken to the pan. And cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Add salt and pepper powder to taste, orange rind, grated carrot and mix well. Now immediately add the hot water and cook over medium heat for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken becomes tender. Remove the chicken pieces and keep aside.Add the soaked rice to the liquid in the saucepan. Cover and cook on low heat till the rice is tender.
Transfer the rice to a serving dish and arrange the chicken pieces on the rice and top with some peppercorns and almonds.

I am sending this Yummy Chicken rice to Srilekha's EFM variety rice. And I am also sending the below recipes from my archives.

ARROZ VERDE- Mexican green rice.

MUTTON BIRYANI -Bangalore style

MANSAF -Jordanian rice

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Walima cooking club (November) Lebanese cuisine- Aysh-el saraya and Sheesh barak

For the month of November Walima Cooking Club chose Lebanese cusine. As usual were given 1 sweet dish 'The Bread of the Seraglio' ( Aysh el-Saraya) picked by Joumana of Taste of Beirut
and 1 savory dish Sheesh Barak picked by Arlette of Phoenician Gourmet. Every month I try only 1 delight...either sweet or savory. But, I was soo tempted to try both the yummy delights this month. Thanks Joumana and Arlette.I enjoyed making both the dishes, they turned out really yummy. Here is a little introduction to Lebanese cuisine.

Lebnan, Le-b-nan that means the White Mountain, once called "The pearl of the middle East,” is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Israel, and Syria. At one time or another Phoenicians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Arabs, European Crusaders, Ottomans, and French all ruled and had influence over the land and its cuisine. The Cuisine of this Ancient Land is diverse and steeped in history; Lebanon is a culinary and cultural Crossroads. Lebanon is located on the Eastern most shore of the Mediterranean in the Fertile Crescent, where Western Civilization is said to have begun. Both the Eastern and Western influences in its cookery are apparent. It combines the sophistication of European Cuisine with the excitement of Eastern Spices. The food of the entire Mediterranean region is a celebration of life; it is fresh, flavorful, diverse and invigorating. The Lebanese proudly admit that the genius of their food is its simplicity, and that the food was a product of both the earth and the sea. Also the natural bond that all of the Mediterranean cuisines share, from the tip of Spain to Lebanon “the same waters equally splash all of the countries around the Mediterranean". Lebanese cuisine is the richer and the finest in the Middle East and any other Arab countries due to their milder climate, and indeed, any cuisine is dependent upon climate and geography. Lebanese Cuisine is considered a very balanced, healthy diet. The Cuisine of Lebanon is the epitome of the Mediterranean diet. The country’s cuisine characterized by the use of a wide variety of fresh ingredients which include olive oil, herbs, spices, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, grains, fresh fish and seafood; animal fats are consumed sparingly. Poultry and red meat and usually lamb, is eaten more often, either grilled, baked or sautéed in olive oil or butter, cream is rarely used other than in a few desserts. Vegetables are often eaten raw or pickled as well as cooked. Though its mainstream popularity is relatively new, the Cuisine is not; the Cuisine of Lebanon has been in the making since pre-biblical times. The influence that Lebanon has had on the world is totally out of proportion to its size; culinary contributions from this tiny Country have had the greatest impact on modern Middle Eastern cuisine.


1 loaf white bread,
2 cups of golden super fine sugar,
1 cup of water,
4 tablespoons water,
1 teaspoon lemon juice,
1 tbsp orange blossom water or rose water,
1 1/2 cups Lebanese clotted cream or Ashta ,
1 cup coarsely ground pistachios.

Cut the crust with a sharp knife and keep aside.Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and toast in an oven at 350 F until lightly brown on both sides(Turn once) about 10-15 minutes.Cool and break into small pieces .
To make the caramelized syrup, in a saucepan, put water, sugar and lemon juice and bring to boil stirring continuously, so that the sugar does not crystallize in places, for about 20 minutes or until it is caramelized.
Towards the end of the cooking time, measure 7 ounces of water and bring to a boil in a teakettle. When the sugar is caramelized, start adding the water gradually without taking the sugar mixture off the heat.
Now add the bread pieces to the pan. Stir for 3-5 minutes until the breads absorbs the sugar syrup and becomes soft. Add the orange blossom water and remove from heat.
Pour the mixture in a serving dish and spread it evenly across the dish. After it cools spread the Ashta cream / ricotta cheese evenly on the bread and garnish with the coarsely grounded pistachios.

Note: If one can't find ricotta cheese/ Ashta cream, here is a way to make home made Ashta :-
Clotted cream or Ashta: 2 slices of white bread without the crust
2 cups half-and-half
Cut the bread in small pieces and place in a saucepan
Pour the cream or half-and-half over the bread
Bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often.
Cool then refrigerate.

Source: Lebanese Cuisine by Anissa Helou and Middle eastern cookbook by Maria khalife.



For the basic dough or Ajeen :
1/2 kg (2-3 cups) plain flour,
1 cups warm water,
1/4 cup olive oil,
1/4 cup vegetable oil,
1 tbsp salt and
1 tbsp sugar.

For the filling:
1/2 kg minced meat( beef or lamb),
3 medium sized onions finely chopped,
1/4 tsp ground all spice,
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder,
1/4 cup of pine nuts and
2 tbsp cooking oil or butter.

For the yogurt sauce:
1/2kg of plain Greek Style Yogurt,
1 tbsp cornstarch,
1/2 tsp of salt,
1/4 cup water,
1 beaten egg ,
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint or some dried mint,
2-3 cloves of crushed garlic.

For the basic dough or Ajeen:
Sift the flour into a working surface.Mix in salt and sugar. Make a well in the center.Pour olive oil and vegetable oil in the well.Mix the dry ingredients into the liquid.Add water gradually. Knead the dough into a ball. Knead the dough on a floured working surface until it is smooth and elastic.Form the dough into a ball and put into a lightly floured bowl, covered with a damp cloth.
Leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.

For them meat filling:
Fry onion in butter till color changes a little. Add meat, salt, allspice and cinnamon. Stir occasionally and fry for 7-8 minutes. Add pine nuts and Mix. Drain the mixture as butter would affect closing the pastries.

For the yogurt sauce :
Strain yogurt using a smooth colander into a pot. Add egg or egg's white.Dissolve cornstarch in 1 cup of water. Stir into cold yogurt for 2 minutes.Place on medium heat, stirring constantly until it boils.

Preparing the Sheesh barak:
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to about 1 cm thickness. Using a round cookie cutter (medium size), press over dough to get equal rounds.Spread the round a little with your fingers. Place 1 tspn of the filling on it. Fold over one end to make a semi-circle. Press edges down to seal. Take the two ends from the straight side, bring them together and seal them. Press well. Repeat till rounds are done.
Place the stuffed dough and the cut pastries in a tray with parchment, Bake in a hot oven (400F) for 10 minutes or until golden. During this time prepare and cook the yogurt and when it starts to boil add the baked pastries to the boiling cooked yoghurt one by one. Let it boil over low heat for 10 minutes or till pastries are cooked.
In a separate skillet quickly saute the garlic and mint in one tbsp extra virgin olive oil and add it to the Sheesh Barak. And cook for another 2 minutes .

Source: Adapted from Antonio Tahhan.


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