Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What's in a middle eastern kitchen pantry?

Are you into Middle Eastern cooking yet? Then you'll probably need to stock up on those nine middle eastern pantry stables.

middle eastern spices

1- Tahini

Also known as "hardah" here in the Arabic Gulf area. This thick, earthy sesame paste is used in sauces, especially with Shawarma , hummus and baba ghanoush. Or simply enjoyed as a dip with dates. It is also the main component of a famous Kuwaiti sweet Rahash.


2- Saffron

You probably guessed this one. The most expensive spice in the world is a stable here in Kuwait and the other Arab gulf countries. It's the main flavoring in almost every traditional dessert. Also used with rice, stews and even tea. The proper way to use this delicate spice is to grind it with a little bit of sugar then to soak it with a bit of hot water.  


3- Za'atar

Native to the Levant countries, this popular middle eastern herb mix is made from a blend of dried earthy herbs such as oregano, thyme and basil, plus sesame, sumac and salt. There are probably hundreds of kinds and recipes all based on the main components but with different ratios. But the best za'atar still comes from Palestine and Jordan. The common way to eat za'atar is to mix it with olive oil as a spread or a dip.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Carrot, barberry and pine nuts rice topping

I wrote the basmati rice recipe a few months ago with the intention that I would follow it with this topping post. But due to many circumstances ( pregnancy, Ramadan and Eid, back to school preparation) it got pushed further and further down the list.


Now with the kids back to school and the house is in order for the first time in three months, I am  back to routine. Also,  I finally designated a small place in our house to be my "studio" for food photography which I am finding makes taking pictures a lot easier and quicker.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Bibi making Legaymat : Good bye Ramadan

Bibi is what I call my grandmother. It's an Urdu name I think, but Iranians use it too. It means miss and they usually use it when they want to address an elderly women out of respect.

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My bibi was born in Iran but she grew up and has been raised in Kuwait with frequent trips to Iran and Iraq. She did not go to school because schools were thought to be  inappropriate for girls to attend at her time. She was taught basic reading and writing by her kids after they attended school. At the age of fifteen she married her cousin (my grandfather) and gave birth to 5 boys and 3 girls, one of which died in infancy.

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She cooks the wholesomest, most delicious food I know of. It's the one I miss the most when I am away, homesick or just want to visit my childhood for a moment.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How to make middle eastern steamed rice : Always Ask Never Assume

Saffron Rice (last)
At the heart of Kuwaiti and Iranian cooking is rice. Long grain basmati steamed and fluffy rice. We eat it almost everyday at lunch with a protein dish [ lunch is the main meal in the middle east, often eaten at around 2 P.M]. It is usually prepared with cardamom, bay leaf and saffron to make for the most fragrant and delicious side dish.

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I still remember when I first got married, I was discussing my non-existing cooking skills with my sister-in-law and she told me that the most important dish to master is rice. "If you can master making rice then you'll be fine." She told me. And I remember thinking to myself; What??! I can make rice!  It should be easy, right? Nine years of cooking later proved me wrong. I didn't master making "nath'ri" rice until a few weeks ago.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Salad recipe from My Foodie Auntie

I have an aunt who is always bringing in new dishes, trying new recipes and finding exotic food in the supermarket (I think I got my "foodieness" from her). She's that person that is always giving away recipes after the meal is finished and asking everyone what they had in their dishes and what ingredients they used.

Sweet and Nutty Salad

She's a math teacher and she has the most sincere, easy going , down to earth personality, and I've always enjoyed chatting with her. What I always admired about her is the fact that she is able to take criticism for her food even though she put her time and energy in it. She would just laugh about it, move on and try again.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Chicken Biryani : The Bridge to India

One can't really talk about Kuwaiti/Khaleeji cuisine without mentioning Indian food. It just has a strong presence and a big influence on our diet. We eat chapati for breakfast, biryanis and tandories for dinner and samosas for, well, anytime snack. Indian restaurants are all over the city, from high end to small street little shops. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Where have I been? What I've been doing..? And my come back

It's been a while since I last posted on this blog. Six month! A lot happened during that time. We moved from the States, started a new life in Kuwait; new home, new schools, new job for my husband. I went to Hajj, which was such an amazing transforming experience.

The reason I haven't posted something for a while, aside from the move and the new home, is that I was having doubts about me having this blog and this life. I wan't sure if this is the right thing for me to do. I wondered if there could be something else that I could be doing that is more thoughtful, more giving to the community and more purposeful. What if I volunteer at a daycare? Pursue my master? Apply for a job?  The questions and the possibilities were endless, and they were puzzling my mind.

Then I met two people that changed my perspective. First, a women that I met in Hajj who studied energetics ( the science of healing with energy). I noticed that whoever she speaks to , she gives them a little bit of information about the science she learned; enough that they could use it in their lives. When I was having a conversation with her she told me that she has been doing this for a few years now. She was convinced that, for her, this was the best way of giving what she learned back to the community. She is a housewife. She doesn't give lectures, doesn't write books or anything; she just informs people by interacting with them in small conversations. She also told me that knowledge has spread and reached us from the Prophet and Imams via these means : small circles and gatherings that took place in the mosque.

Seconde is Penny De Los Santos and I haven't really met her in person, but I purchase this course from Creative Live : food photography with Penny De Los Santos and it was such a good course to watch. Penny is so inspiring because she doesn't think of food photography as just "Food Photography", but instead she thinks of it as more of a food, culture, people, history all mixed in. And that's exactly what I think of food photography and it is the reason I like food photography; other than from being a foodie:). Amazingly I haven't heard this from any food photographer before.

I started this blog because I like to cook, bake, taste and test recipes. But I quickly figured that I can't post about every recipe that I test and every cake that I bake, this is not the place for that. I wanted my blog to be more than a collection of recipes, because you can find tons of recipes all over the internet. I want my blog to tell stories. To be a gateway to Middle Eastern, Khaleeji food, culture and lifestyle. I want to give you a taste of what it is like to be living in Kuwait, and this this my new plan and resolution for the new year. Another resolution of mine is to get better at food photography so I can better convey my stories dishes.
So no recipe today, just a little story but I hope that  you stay tuned for the  upcoming posts and recipes.

Note : Instagram is probably the only social media that I am keeping up with at the moment. If you are not already; follow me @moonface20. I am quiet active there. If you don't have Instagram you can watch my feed online here