I really don’t like Zucchinis. I’ve tried raw, grilled, roasted, steamed all of it. Its just not for me. But one day I really wanted a creamy soup and all I had in the fridge was a packet of zucchini. I decided to give it a try. I couldn’t believe it. I gave it a taste before adding the cream and was so surprised. It was creamy and tasted really good, just like that. A remarkable transformation takes places when you boil it and blend it up into a soup. Of course, you can always add cream or coconut cream if you want it to be even more creamy. Or a bit of butter/parmesan. Cheap, quick and satisfying. A great way to use a zucchini.
350 g zucchini 500 ml stock (vegetable/chicken) 1 onion 2 cloves of garlic Squeeze of lemon
Roughly chop onion, garlic and zucchini.
Sauté and brown the onion in a pot on medium-high heat, with oil of your choice. I like coconut oil.
Add the garlic and the zucchini and sauté for about 4 mins.
Add the stock and a cup of water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and then bring down to a simmer for 15 min.
Use a stick blender to blend into a creamy consistency. You may also use a normal blender in small batches if you don’t have a stick blender.
Since white people ‘discovered’ Tahini. I’ve seen it everywhere, used in some ahem, interesting ways. It’s a creamy but dairy free product and many have used it in coffee, salads, desserts, the works. (I actually like the coffee situation but don’t tell anybody)
As much as all the innovative ways of using it are great, I feel like people don’t know how to make a basic tahini dressing (or tahina as we call it) which is its common use in ME/NA cooking. It is so damn easy and tasty and zingy. I think I miss the zing the most. None of the ways people use it in recipes nowadays has the zing of the vinegar and lemon that compliment it so well. Tahina is the sauce we would use for fish, falafel, shawarma, kofta and basically everything. It’s always on the table. Try it out and you might start using it as much too!
2 tablespoons of Tahini paste (crushed sesame seeds) 2 tablespoons of white vinegar Half a lemon A pinch of cumin and salt and black pepper.
Mix tahini in a bowl with about an equal amount of water. I start with the water because I find it mixes easier than starting with vinegar (which is what your “supposed to do”). It might feel like its not mixing properly but if you keep mixing, it will change into a creamy, pillowey consistency.
Add the vinegar and mix well. It won’t be as pillowey anymore but that’s what you want. It should be slightly runny. Add more water if it looks too dry.
Add the cumin, lemon and season. Mix well. It’s ready as this point but taste to see if you want to add more salt, cumin or lemon. It should be equally tangy and salty.
Enjoy with meatballs, falafels, grilled fish, or as a creamy salad dressing.
My favourite parts of a meal are mostly about the sides or the add-ons. Even the name of this blog is about a favourite add-on 😊 Your meal might be okay or even great, but then you add something to it that takes it to the next level. For me, an add-on is either sweet or acidic depending on the dish. This recipe is both! If you grew up liking tomato sauce/ketchup on everything but find that these days it doesn’t slap like it used to 😉 This will be perfect for you.
1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
6 dates (I’ve found 6 to be the perfect level of sweetness but adjust to your taste)
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 teaspoon cumin
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
1 chilli (optional)
Roughly chop onion, dates and chili if you’re using. Finely chop your garlic. Sauté the onion and chilli in a saucepan on medium heat. When the onion starts to brown, add your garlic and sauté for 1 min.
Add in your spices and fry for 1 minute before adding your can of tomatoes and dates. Salt to taste.
Leave to simmer for 15 minutes or until it reaches a slightly jammy consistency.
Enjoy with toast, eggs, steak, fish, or anything really!
Should keep for a few days in the fridge, add a touch of olive oil to refresh.
I’ve had way too many bad falafels in Cape Town. Knowing how fluffy, crispy and light they could be, like mom made them, makes me a bit of a falafel snob. It always looked too difficult to make so I never tried, then one day I felt brave and asked my mom for instructions. What is beautiful about this is that my mom adapted the ingredients to what she could find locally. This is such a common thing to do as an immigrant, and it paves the way for some genuinely exciting innovation at times. For me, this is one of those times. We couldn’t find fresh broad beans so instead; my mom uses dried green split peas. Yes, the type you would use for soup. The results were light and fluffy falafels that didn’t leave you bloated. With the addition of a lot of green herbs, the centres were bright green, which is how I remember the falafel in Egypt to always have. It does take a bit of time compared to other meals, but for a falafel recipe, it doesn’t get simpler. You need a food processor for this recipe.
1 500g packet of green split peas
20g fresh dill
20g fresh parsley
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
1 tablespoon baking powder
Soak split peas in water overnight. Ie. Add double the amount of water to split peas and leave in a bowl, unrefrigerated overnight.
Dry the split peas as much as possible, the more water in your mixture, the thinner your falafel mixture will be. I lay them on a towel and pat dry with another.
Roughly chop onion and to food processor. Once ground down, you want to remove as much juice as you can from the pulp. You can do this by taking the onion out of the food processor and squeezing the juice out with your hands.
Add the onion back in the food processer, then add the garlic, split peas and all the herbs. (the herbs should also be thoroughly dried after washing). And blend. Mixture should be blended well and fine, but still firm enough to shape with your hands. What is great is that at this point you could split the mixture to freeze half, it freezes really well.
Add mixture into a bowl and add the cumin, salt and baking powder and mix it well. Using your hands to mix is a good way to ensure everything has mixed together. Leave mixture for half an hour. This allows the baking powder to start working.
Shape the mixture into balls with your hands, like you would a meat ball. And flatten slightly so you get round disks. You can sprinkle some sesame seeds on at this point for decoration, but not necessary for taste.
Heat some vegetable oil in a deep skillet/pan. You need oil to be hot for the falafel to crisp up. You can test if its hot by adding a little bit of mixture into oil, if it bubbles furiously, its ready.
Add falafel into oil, careful not to splash yourself. It should brown quite quickly, maybe a minute. Turn to brown the other side. Remove when done and lay on paper napkins to absorb any excess oil.
Serve with pita bread, tahini sauce, slices tomatoes and pickles for the perfect falafel pita.
There are so many tasty vegan dishes in Egyptian cuisine because of the Coptic community, which has numerous vegan fasts throughout the year. While moussaka is commonly a meat dish around the world, in Egypt, it is a vegan staple during those fasts. It usually doesn’t include bechamel in general, like it does in Greek cuisine, so the only other animal product is the mince, which in my opinion, is not missed at all if left out.
Now, I didn’t much like this dish growing up, but when I started cooking, I started playing around with it until I got it the way I liked. My mom probably wouldn’t approve of this recipe, but honestly, I like mine better. 😉 The traditional method is quite laborious because of aubergines having a slight bitterness that you need to remove. My mom would slice them, salt them and leave them out in the sun for a bit, which would draw out the extra water and bitterness. I skipped this step. I instead, baked it in the oven, skin on and by mistake, left it in a little too long. It didn’t burn but it was pushed far. What resulted was a smoky and caramelised flavour. No bitterness. Now, I don’t know if this makes any scientific sense, but I’ve made it like that every time since and it’s been amazing every time!
3 large aubergines
2 green or red bell peppers
1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
1 70g can of tomato paste
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
For meat option: 400g mince meat
Optional extras: handful of raisins and roasted almonds
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Slice aubergines into round discs of about 2 cm thickness, keep the skin on. Lay them in a single layer in a baking tray and coat them in some olive oil. When the oven is hot, place them in for about 40-45 minutes. You want them to roast them quite long to get a nice caramelised flavour. They should be a bit brown in the centre the skin to shrivel slightly.
Meanwhile work on the sauce. Roughly chop onion and peppers.
Saute onion and peppers in a deep pan until slightly browned.
Add in the spices and the tomato paste. Fry this all together for about 2 minutes.
Add 1 cup of water and the tin of chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and let the sauce simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
Now you will assemble the layers of the moussaka in an oven dish. One layer of aubergines in the bottom, followed with half the sauce, followed by the rest of the aubergines on top and finally the remaining sauce. A trick I like to do at this stage is to add a handful of raisins and almonds to the middle layer of sauce. I like a bit of sweetness and crunch, but that’s completely up to you.