August 17, 2011

from west to east

a while ago, on Facebook, a friend of mine wrote about discovering culinary Turkey.

i ve been interested in 'mediterranean' cooking for quite some time now. not only Spanish, or Italian, or Greek... but, thinking about it, as Rick Stein so aptly described on one of his tv-shows: Mediterranean Escapes, this encompasses a vast vast area from Spain, Southern France, Italy, Greece, to Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, then Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco...! if you think about all the different food cultures, it s just mind-boggling.

of course, that mind-boggling aspect could be applied to just one country like India, or the whole of South-East Asia, and the different food cultures in China, Korea and Japan too.

however, i m not an expert, i just like to cook. and i m fascinated by spices and herbs and how people use the ones available to them to turn basic ingredients such as breads, yoghurts, vegetables, meats, etc. into something exciting.

i found a recipe for labne in one of my favorite cookery magazines and wanted to try making it. then i found a recipe for flatbreads with thyme, cheese and honey, and i had been wanting to make a very simple and delicious Moroccan carrot salad too... so i combined the three for a light supper.



300 gr natural Greek yoghurt
1 large clove of garlic, crushed with a little salt (this is optional)
cheese cloth
fine mesh sieve


mix the garlic with the yoghurt and strain through the cheesecloth and sieve for about 6-8 hours or longer for a firmer consistency.
add whatever herbs u like to make a dip. i added chopped parsley, mint, coriander and some za'atar and olive oil.

(adapted from a recipe i found on the Smitten Kitchen blog)

1 3/4 (220 gr) cup of plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil

sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
mix in the water and the olive oil.
knead well until it becomes an elastic dough (it will feel very oily, but you won t taste that once baked).
divide the dough into four balls and roll out to rough naan-shaped breads.
bake on a baking-paper lined baking sheet at 230°C for about 10-12 minutes until golden.

please do read the post on Smitten Kitchen, because here i diverted from her recipe, and instead of using the thyme and honey and the cheese, i opted for, you guessed it, a sprinkling of za'atar and sumac.


about 8 to 10 medium-sized carrots
pepper and salt
a good handful of parsley, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 teaspoons pimentón (i used the picante or spicy one)
2 teaspoon cumin seeds (i lightly roasted and crushed them)
vinegar and olive oil

i took the easy road and peeled and sliced the carrots, then steamed them in a covered bowl in the microwave for about 8-10 minutes until al dente.
then i just very lightly mashed them with the garlic, the parsley (and also some chopped coriander because i love it), the spices and added vinegar and olive oil to taste. it should taste lightly sweet and sour.


i think i will be travelling from west to east more often.

1 comment:

  1. mind boggling indeed! i had NO idea that mediterranean encompasses all those cuisines!!!! its humbling in a way. and i really want to learn about all these diff cuisines...will take a LOOONG time and gotta keep pushing myself outta the 'comfort zone' as i tend to stick with the ingredients/spices that i know!
    your labne turned out fantastic it seems! what a platter ;)