Monday, April 12, 2010
Egyptian Inspired Dinner
As you may remember yesterday we were having dinner with our friends Walid and Jackie at their new house. We spent the day talking and catching up. As with most of our gatherings there was a bunch of talking and carrying on. We all had a great time.
Walid and Jackie used to live a block down the street from us but moved to the suburbs. Suburbia is a serious departure from where we live. My husband would love to move back to suburbia but we have gotten used to being able to walk to the grocery store. Our friend Walid is still getting used to living in the burbs, but we think he will learn to love it. The burbs are a bit departure from the hustle and bustle of living in Cairo and then in the city here. Not to mention 5 foot long snakes take a little getting used to.
Since our friend Walid is from Egypt I wanted to make something to take with me that had a familiar flavor and aroma for him. He only goes “home” once a year so anything that I can do to bring a little Egypt to him is a bonus. I combined three different Egyptian recipes to make this dish my own. Here is what I did:
Egyptian Inspired Fava Beans – my way
2 cups mini fava beans, picked through and soaked overnight
2 bay leaves
Water to cover beans by double
½ red onions, quartered and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic
¼ cup water to sauté onions and garlic
28 ounces diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon cumin
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 small pieces mastic gum (aka mastica), or somewhere between ¼ and ½ teaspoon
½ teaspoon gray salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 limes, zested and juiced
¼ cup parsley, finely minced
Simmer the beans until they are tender, then drain and reserve two cups of the cooking liquid.
Water sauté the onions and garlic until soft. Add the remaining ingredients, except the lime and parsley. Add as much of the reserved bean liquid as is necessary to cook the beans so that they don’t get dry. Simmer for at least 15 minutes to blend the flavors.
I refrigerated the mixture at this point for service the next day. If you want to eat it right away add the lime juice, lime zest and parsley just before serving. I think this would be great with crispy flat bread but we had it with brown rice and a dollop of tofu tahini sauce. Even Walid liked the tofu tahini sauce, and he isn't a fan of tofu.
Amount Per Serving
Calories From Fat (5%) - 11.4
Total Fat - 1.36g
Saturated Fat - 0.19g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 138.36mg
Potassium - 911.97mg
Total Carbohydrates - 39.03g
Fiber - 15.35g
Sugar - 6.77g
Protein - 14.88g
Since I am certainly not an expert on Egyptian food I am going to tell you what Walid thought first. He said the dish was very close to what he would get back home. His only suggestions were a little more garlic (I am going to try double the amount next time) and a slightly thicker tomato base (I am going to add a tablespoon of tomato paste to the next batch). Overall he said it was very good. Since he had seconds I think this assessment was honest.
Dan and I enjoyed this quite a bit. The aroma is so different from what we are used to, but very pleasant and inviting. The aroma from the mastic grains is intoxicating. I had read they were used for their aroma and now I know why. Then add a fragrance that is very distinct but difficult to describe. I think it is lovely. I found mine at “The Mediterranean Bakery” in Alexandria, Virginia. They do a big Middle Eastern business so I thought they would carry them and they did. For those of that are in the area you have to ask the cashier for them. They are kept behind the counter.
This will definitely be something that I make again. Everyone really enjoyed this, included Dan and me.
Next Recipe: Brown Rice with Pine Nuts
To go with the fava beans I made a brown rice. I scoured my Egyptian cookbook and most of the rice dishes used either meat or meat broth. Since that I was out I got creative with some of the ingredients to mimic a meaty flavor. One interesting thing I noticed was that they used vinegar in the rice which I decided to use. Additionally a couple of the recipes used pine nuts so that sounds like a good idea too. Here is what I did:
Brown Rice with Pine Nuts
1 clove garlic, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons water to sauté garlic
1 ½ cups brown basmati rice
3 cups water
2 tablespoons date vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (to mimic bitterness since many of the authentic recipes used ghee)
1 large pinch saffron threads, crumbled (to mimic a meaty color)
2 pinches grey salt (any sea salt)
¼ cup pine nuts
Water sauté the thinly sliced garlic until it softens. Add the remaining ingredients and bring the water to a boil. Cook on low covered, for 35 to 45 minutes. The exact time will depend on the cookware and power of your stove you use. When I use my enamel coated cast iron on my high heat burner the rice cooks in 35 minutes.
Amount Per Serving
Calories - 216.64
Calories From Fat (21%) - 44.73
Total Fat - 5.2g
Saturated Fat - 0.55g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 101.4mg
Potassium - 143.78mg
Total Carbohydrates - 36.68g
Fiber - 1.84g
Sugar - 0.62g
Protein - 4.48g
The date vinegar adds a wonderful background to the rice. Both Dan and I immediately liked the vinegar addition. Overall the rice has a mild flavor. Next time I may add a little more saffron and nutritional yeast (maybe 50% more). This is definitely a recipe I will be playing around with to be used with other dishes. The vinegar addition will be showing up in future rice recipes.
Even Jackie liked this and she isn’t a fan of brown rice. I definitely think this is a winner and I will be making variations of this in the future.
To go with the beans and rice Jackie made a few items these were:
Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Spicy Tomatoes and Onions
Wilted Spinach with Garlic
Big Green Salad with Tomato, Radish, Green Onion, Carrot and Celery
We definitely got our veggies yesterday.
After we got the tour of the house I had to take pictures of the wee ones at the house. In this case they are four footed wee ones. Here is a picture of Buddy relaxing on the guest bed.
This is little brother Skipper lounging on the rug in the family room.
They are the sweetest boys. Jackie is the only person I know that treats her animals the way we do. She and I got along instantly from the first time we met.
Today is going to be a bit of mixed bag at our house. There are some errands to run and things to accomplish at home. We have run out of seitan in the freezer so that is a situation I need to correct. I will be back later with a post. I hope you guys are having a good Monday. Talk to you soon.