Posts Tagged ‘Lemon’

Tabbouleh Salad with Chickpeas

I can’t believe we’re coming to the end of August. Soon, schools will reopen, traffic will build up and the weather will begin to get cooler. I can’t say I’m not relieved. It was a hard summer of trying to entertain a spritely three year old indoors and fending off questions about why we won’t be going to the beach in the near foreseeable future.

I am so ready for the new school year to start. For Maryam, it will be a new school, a new environment, new friends and lots of new adventures. I am so excited for her and so is she. We are both looking forward to this new journey and settling into a routine.

Routine. Something I thrive on. Something that has been missing on this blog of late. My intention was always to blog once a week but it seems I have been apologetic on numerous occasions for not being able to as often as I’d like. I do think about it often though and have a whole notepad  full of ideas and recipes begging to be tried. 

But today I bring you something that I’ve been making for the past five years. That’s right- five. I’m surprised I haven’t blogged about it before. This tabbouleh was one of the very first Middle Eastern dishes I learnt to imitate when I first moved to Dubai.

The abundance of parsley and torn specks of mint  not only make it vibrant but the perfect palate cleanser when paired with meats and poultry. Recently I have been eating it on its own as lunch and to make it a bit more hearty and satisfying, I added chickpeas (you can omit this if you wish to be more authentic).

On a separate note, I have finally joined Pinterest, although sometimes I almost wish I hadn’t! So many beautiful things like this ceramic cake stand. And wouldn’t you want to live in this house? Oh and I’ll definitely be making this cake soon.

Tabbouleh Salad with Chickpeas

1/2 cup fine burghul (cracked wheat)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup chickpeas
1 tomato, finely chopped
few torn sprigs of mint

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt to taste

To make the dressing, add all the ingredients to a jar and shake vigorously. Set aside until ready to serve.

Add the lemon juice to the burghul and let it sit for ten minutes. Use a fork to separate the burghul. In a bowl, put in all the salad ingredients including the burghul. Drizzle the dressing and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Note: Make sure the parsley is completely dry before chopping (do not use the stalks). Chop with a knife and do not use a food processor as this will bruise the herb.

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Cantaloupe, Lime and Mint Slushy

‘Are we going to Abu Dhaaaaabi tomorrow?’ Maryam asked in her sing song voice. Those that know her will know what I mean when I say her sing song voice. Akber gave me that look- the one questioning me why I tell her these plans so early.

We both knew the consequences. That is all she asked the whole day, every hour! Not only did she wake when the first flitter of morning sun seeped past her blinds the next day, she was ready to leave by 7am. Yes, that is right. And so, at a more respectable 10am, both kids were packed into the car and one picnic basket of snacks that Akber remarked could feed an army in the desert.

I had been meaning to visit the Grand Mosque (or Sheikh Zayed Mosque) ever since I arrived as a tourist in Dubai more than five years ago. One failed attempt two years ago occurred when the imposing structure was within arm’s reach but the spaghetti off roads surrounding the mosque meant it still remained elusive.

Not this time though. We carefully planned our route. Akber had some work in town so it was about 4:30 or so when we reached. Perfect time for a sunset tour of the mosque and the best time to take photos. Although still very hot, the mosque was bathed in a golden aura. Through the heat, it looked as though the numerous minarets were dancing.

As my feet burrowed into the plush, plump carpets, I was taken in by the light and colors. The light that bounced off the shimmering chandeliers, the light that was reflected off of the jeweled scriptures, that amazing, dreamy light. It took my breath away.

At every step, there was a sight to inspire, rows and rows upon rows of gilded columns, enchanting calligraphy, stories behind every corner. I had many questions that our guide automatically knew the answer to without hesitation.

As I sat near one of the many reflective pools, I took in all the beauty, the peace and calming atmosphere. Around me, I saw faces of every culture, every color, every age all gathered as equals. Beautiful. I highly recommend you to visit this marvelous structure if you are in UAE.

And this drink? Well, after a long and hot day taking photographs at every opportunity, this is exactly the kind of cooling drink I needed. We all needed actually. It is a forgiving recipe- all the ingredients can be varied according to your taste.

The best part is- we have had it as a slushy, a popsicle, a sorbet, a granita. Same recipe, many ways to enjoy it. I hope you will give it a try in some form before summer slips away. Ramadhan Kareem everyone.

Cantaloupe, Lime and Mint Slushy

sugar syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

1 cantaloupe- I used half honeydew and half cantaloupe
juice of 5 limes
3 tbs chopped mint
1 tbs lime zest
sugar syrup to taste
3 cups ice cubes

To make the sugar syrup, boil water and sugar until the sugar has just dissolved. Depending on the sweetness of the melons, you will not use up all the sugar syrup which can be frozen as ice cubes to use some other time.

To make the slushy, blend all the ingredients at high speed in a blender. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

Makes 5 glasses.

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Mung Bean Soup

As I sit here typing this post, the clouds outside are swelling up again. Whether they will rumble and pour rain is a different matter. Even though I mentioned in my last post that I probably wouldn’t be seein stormy skies for a while again, it surprised me with another unexpected visit.

I do enjoy the cooler weather- it gives me a small time frame within which me and Maryam can do our outdoor activities. But with this change in weather also comes the abundance of bugs, viruses, nasty colds and poor health. Maryam came down with a fever which then passed on to the rest of the family like falling dominoes. There was no stopping it. What started off as mild quickly escalated into one of the highest temperatures she has ever had. That was followed by a runny nose and sore throat.

And of course I was next in line. I don’t know if it’s the pregnancy but I find it much harder to recover from any minor coughs or colds at the moment. Being pregnant and sick with a toddler who is also ill is never fun and during times like these, I love a hearty soup that will mend everything.

I have mentioned plenty of times that soup doesn’t grace our tables often enough but slowly and surely, I am trying to change that trend. I learnt this particluar soup my my mom BUT my love of mung beans started at my mother in laws house.

She always says ‘mug ne pug che’ which is a Gujarati saying that literally translates into ‘mung beans have legs.’ What it means is that mung beans have the necessary nutrients to give you strength, health and vitality. Put you back on your feet, nurse you to health.

And so we’ve been making this often. Actually, beans are Maryam’s favorite meal, always have been. Especially now that she’s going through a vegetarian phase. I’m not sure how long it will last, the vegetarian phase as well as the sore throat! I’m hoping both vanish as abruptly as they put in an appearance.

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Pomegranate Molasses and Arabic Fattoush Salad

Did I tell you I have been having a lot of cravings lately? Not all healthy I’m afraid. There’s coffee ice cream with chocolate fudge sauce, nutella doughnuts. Do you see a trend here- anything with chocolate will do.

However, there is one healthy snack I’ve been munching on guilt free. Nature’s jewels, I like to think of them a nature’s rubies. Pomegranates. Even their name sounds regal. Did I tell you my mum’s name means heaven’s pomegranate in Farsi- Anar.

Although it’s a messy affair trying to get these treasures out of their shells, especially when a keen 2 year old helper is involved, the results are worth it. Maryam loves to peel them because that means she can eat them straight away. Raw and fresh. Other times, we coat it in some thick, creamy yoghurt infused with vanilla seeds.

Since moving to Dubai, pomegranates have featured commonly in our meals- as garnishes on hummus and pilafs, as refreshing cocktails, as tangy marinades. But my favorite use of this is in a fattoush salad. My very own individual salad as Akber describes it. Yes, I eat this solo when I make it or order it at a restaurant. It really is too good to share.

The crackle of the Arabic bread, the marriage between sweet and savory, the crunch from every mouthful of peppery radish, the juicy explosion of each cherry tomato. That is how I would describe fattoush.

I have included a recipe for pomegranate molasses too, an essential part of this salad. Although it is readily available in Middle eastern countries, it is so easy to make at home.

Pomegranate Molasses:

4 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup sugar
juice of 1 lemon

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer on medium heat. Keep stirring once in a while for approximately 1.5 hours until the liquid has reduced by half and has thickened. Allow to cool before storing in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Recipe minimally adapted from Alton Brown and makes approximately 1 cup.

Arabic Fattoush Salad:

2 cups chopped lettuce
1 cucumber chopped
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup torn mint leaves
1/2 cup torn flat parsley leaves
4-5 radishes thinly sliced
handful of pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup deep fried or toasted phyllo dough/ pita bread

1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbs pomegranate molasses
juice of 1 large lemon
salt to taste

Mix all the salad items in a bowl and toss to mix (except the fried phyllo dough). Prepare the dressing by mixing the oil, molasses and salt. Stir vigorously but you will notice that the molasses and oil will not mix due to differences in viscosity.

Apply the dressing just before serving and sprinkle with the fried phyllo dough.

Serves 2.

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Lemon Bundt Cake

I’m not sure if it’s because Imelda has left and I am taking care of the whole house again or just because, but March just passed me by. Where did it go? Last week began with a birthday in the house and a drumming session at Maryam’s nursery on the same day. Oh, and did I mention we had Maryam’s aunty visiting us as well! All this in one day as well as my weekly Monday craft class.

I don’t generally cope well under pressure and with a mile long list of things to do, I put all work and thoughts aside and did something comforting, familiar- baking. Cracking eggs, sifting flour, leveling butter- I find comfort in this. The smell of freshly grated lemon zest, the whirring of the Kitchenaid mixer. Maryam was busy practicing dancing and drumming in her tutu skirt and I managed to take a picture as she swirled in the background. Blissful start to the week.

It was my father in law’s birthday and he had requested a plain vanilla cake with no frosting. Like father like son as Akber hates frosting too. My first thought was, ‘Oh no, a plain cake with no frosting won’t look good on my blog.’ But beauty is found in the simplest of things, no? I decided to bake him my Mom’s bundt cake- simple, cozy and delicious.

Mummy usually makes this as a marble and orange cake but since I didn’t have any oranges on hand, I decided to flavour it with lemon. I felt nostalgic as it brought back memories of eating this cake on the sofa, toes curled and hands wrapped around a cup of tea or warm milk

Some things just get better with age such as wine (so I’ve been told), men and……bundt cakes. This cake needs to be prepared a day in advance as it really does taste much better the next day. The lemon and vanilla flavours really seem to age overnight. We had a simple celebration at home in the evening and Maryam graciously helped her Dadu cut the cake. After all, she had patiently waited all day to have a bite.

Happy Birthday Papa.

Lemon Bundt Cake

250 gms butter, room temperature
230 gms sugar
zest of 1 large lemon
4 eggs, room temperature
250 gms all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup buttermilk
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Butter and flour a bundt pan. Mix sugar and lemon zest together. In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. In a third bowl, mix the lemon juice and vanilla extract to the milk.
Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until very white and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition and scraping the bowl when needed. Turn the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients mixture alternating with milk in 3 separate additions. Pour batter into bundt pan and bake on the middle rack for approximately 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

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