Who does not love Claudia Roden?
“Claudia Roden was born to a cosmopolitan Jewish family in Cairo, where she grew up eating – and questioning the origin of – food from all over the Middle East. She began by collating recipes at a young age from everybody she met, from family members to virtual strangers. “Food was,” she explains, “a way of re-connecting with my culture – my lost heritage. And the discovery of a 13th century manuscript in the British Library eventually led to my interest in food sociology and anthropology.”
To read more on Claudia Roden, click here.
The recipe below, featured on the BBC’s website is from Roden’s most recent cookbook Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon
Prep Time: 3o min
Cooking time – 1-2 hours
||You can buy frozen artichoke bottoms from Middle Eastern and Asian stores. Ingredients
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp crushed saffron threads or saffron powder
¼-½ tsp ground ginger
1 chicken, jointed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ lemon, juice only
2 tbsp chopped coriander
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 small preserved lemons, peel only
12-16 green or violet olives, either stoned or left whole
9 artichoke bottoms, defrosted
1. In a wide casserole or heavy-bottomed pan that will fit the chicken pieces in one layer, heat the oil and add the onions. Sauté, stirring over a low heat, until softened, then stir in the garlic, saffron and ginger.
2. Add the chicken pieces, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and pour in about 300ml/10fl oz of water. Simmer, covered, turning the pieces over a few times and adding a little more water if it becomes too dry.
3. Lift out the breasts after 20 minutes and set aside. Continue to cook the remaining pieces for another 25 minutes, then return the breasts to the pan.
4. Stir in the lemon juice, coriander, parsley, preserved lemon peel and olives, then lift the chicken pieces and put the artichoke bottoms in the sauce beneath them. Add a little water if necessary and cook for about 10 minutes until the artichokes are tender. Serve with the olives and lemon peel on top of the meat
For those of us that grew up in homes suffused with Arabic, and “ku-lu-lu-lus,” with brown eggs and fried eggplants for breakfast, and stories of the suk in Baghdad, we’ve often wrestled with the unease of many in our Jewish communities with “Arabs.” This Arab-phobia was counterintuitive to us – or at least to me – as I understood my own heritage in part to be Arab. While I take care not to romanticize the Arab world – if one can speak in such huge generalizations – there is deep resonance on certain cultural aspects: language, food, music, passion, and a deep appreciation of “the East.”
Indeed – this is true for so many of us. We still talk in broken Arabic to our grandmother, and memories of Baba are inseparable from sounds of Arabic. We joke with cousins and aunts in Israel calling one another names (profanity excluded here) in Arabic. “Ana b’chibuk,” Nana always says. “I love you,” and of course, “B’frachik,” which basically means – “at your simcha.” (Even Nana is still pushing for a wedding!)
Ella Shohat a Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYU has written about the nature of Arab-Jewish heritage and its ‘replacement’ in a sense, by a European-Jewish vision of Zionism at length. Ella is also of Iraqi descent. Click here to read another, and less heard perspective: “Reflections by an Arab Jew.”
This rice reminds me of my grandmother’s rice – but don’t tell- Idit’s is better.
- 2 cups long grain rice
- 1 tsp. salt
- little bit of sunflower/canola oil
- 2 cups water (can use 1/2 water and 1/2 orange juice)
- 2 heaping tbsp. of tomato paste
- cumin – to taste
- ground black pepper – to taste
- 2 medium cooking onions – diced
- Soak rice in a large bowl
- Dice Onions; sautee (@ medium heat – do not burn!) in a pot with oil until transluscent
- Add salt, pepper and cumin to the onions
- Dissolve the tomato paste in the 2 cups of water
- Drain the rice & add to the pot; Stir around with the onions & spices
- stir in the water/tomato mixture
- Bring to a boil; simmer for 20-25 minutes on low heat
- Fluff and serve.
This is another dish that my kids love. It’s the ultimate comfort food. I don’t tell them how good it is for them!! This dish has dozens of variations all over Asia and the Middle East. This recipe is close to the one that I remember as a child -the ‘Iraqi Kitchri.’
Chickpeas and lentils are an excellent food choice. Their nutritional composition includes complex carbohydrates (e.g. fibre, resistant starch, oligosaccharides), vegetable protein, important vitamins and minerals like folate and iron as well as antioxidants and only very small amounts of fats. They have about twice the protein content of cereal grains. As well, a one-cup serving of Chickpeas and lentils provides almost half of the daily amount of fibre recommended for Canadians. They also have a low glycemic index, which has several health benefits
• 1.5 cups of basmati rice
• 1.5 cups red lentils
• 3 cups water or chicken broth
• 4-6 cloves garlic, crushed.
• 3 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 large (540 mL) can of chickpeas. (I prefer ‘Cedar’ brand.)
• 0.5 teaspoon salt
• 0.5 teaspoon pepper
• 3 tablespoons cooking oil, vegetable, canola or sunflower.
• 3 tablespoons olive oil, preferably Middle Eastern and extra virgin
• Plain yogurt
1. Rinse rice, drain well in colander and set aside in a bowl.
2. Rinse red lentils, drain well in colander and set aside in a bowl.
3. Dissolve 3 tablespoons tomato paste and the salt in the water (or chicken broth).
4. Drain can of chickpeas in colander and set aside
5. Heat cooking oil in pot and place in pepper. Fry for 20 seconds.
6. Add crushed garlic to oil and fry for 20 seconds. Do not burn!
7. Add rice to oil and mix well for 1-2 minutes. Add more oil if needed.
8. Add the tomato paste/salt/water (or chicken broth) mixture to the pot and stir well.
9. Add chickpeas to the pot.
10. Add red lentils to the pot and bring to boil
11. Once it boils, turn down heat to medium/half (or lower if necessary).
12. Set timer to 15 minutes.
13. Turn off and pour contents of pot into separate large bowl.
14. Add olive oil to bowl and mix well.
15. Serve with or without yogurt on top.
Rachel explains that “mhasha” in Arabic means “stuffed.” In this video she explains how to make “stuffed things,” here she uses grape leaves but you could always sub in some cooked cabbage (drawing on our Polish side here! Martha Shem-Tov has a killer recipe for those). Bon Appetit.
A favorite. The best I’ve had was in Pe’ki’in, a village in Northern Israel, where Druze, Jews and Arabs live well together. Maybe that’s part of why the labane tasted so good. Plus, the drizzled olive oil and za’atar didn’t hurt either. Below, a recipe for homemade labane from Rina Perry from this website.
Thanks Rina! To read more about Peki’in – Click here.
1-1/2 Liters Yogurt (1% or 3 % fat)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
Olive oil to cover the Labane
Put a sieve that is covered with thin cloth over a big bowl.
In a another big bowl, put all first 4 ingredients. Mix well and pour
into the sieve. Cover it and let it stand for about 12 hours.
I leave it overnight.
If the cheese looks a bit soft, tie the cloth loosely and let it hang over
a basin for another 8 – 10 hours.
Fill about 1/2 a glass container with olive oil.
With wet or (as I do) with oiled hands, create small balls and put them in
the glass container. If you need to add more olive oil do so, until the
cheese is covered. On top of all, I sprinkle some za’atar [a Middle-Eastern
spice; recipe for za’atar substitute in the groups archives. –rh].
Cover/close the container.
During summer I keep it in the fridge, even if the olive oil tends to
thicken and turn cloudy. In wintertime, you can leave it on the counter.
I take from the container only the small portion that I want to use, and
the rest I keep in its container.
Delights from the Garden of Eden is an Iraqi cookbook. The author shares a few select recipes on her site. Check it out: Delights from the Garden of Eden