For the February daring cooks challenge, Manal from Manal’s Bites invited us to celebrate the most important meal of the day Middle Eastern style!
It’s always fun to try food from a very different culture from your own. And that’s what we were invited to do – to make any three or more components of a typical Middle Eastern breakfast. I chose to make hummus, pita bread, stuffed dates and Moroccan mint tea. The hummus was rustic and incredibly tasty with a lemony tang. The pita bread, made with stone-ground wholemeal flour, had a wonderful bite to it and was the perfect partner for the hummus. The extra soft Medjool dates were filled with an unusual spiced ricotta and pistachio cream. And to finish it off, a refreshing, sweet minty tea – as delicious cold as it was hot.
I borrowed recipes from a bunch of places – the hummus from Manal’s Bites, the pita bread from Veg Recipes Of India.com, the stuffed dates from Clean Eating Mag.com and the Moroccan mint tea from Food Network.com.
- 14 oz chickpeas (garbanzo beans), washed and drained
- 3 tbsp Tahini paste
- Juice of one lemon or more if you like it sour
- Salt to taste
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
- A little water
- Mix all ingredients in the food processor except for the water.
- Add water as needed to get a nice smooth texture (I didn’t add water to mine, as I preferred the rustic, nuttier texture).
- Give it a taste and adjust salt and lemon juice according to your preference.
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1-1/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
- 1-1/2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 Tbsp salt
- Pinch of sugar
- In a small bowl add ½ cup of the warm water. sprinkle a pinch of sugar. then and the yeast and stir. Keep aside for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature.
- In a large bowl mix the rest of the warm water with flour, salt and olive oil with a wooden spoon.
- After the yeast has frothed, add the yeast mixture and knead into a soft, smooth dough – the dough should be moist and soft as well as smooth and springy.
- Place the dough into a greased container or in the same bowl with some olive oil applied all over the dough. Cover with a kitchen napkin and keep at room temperature for for 1 to 1.5 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C (480F).
- Once the dough has doubled up, then remove the dough from the bowl. Put the dough on your working surface and deflate the dough (important to do this gently or else the bread may not puff).
- Make medium sized balls from the dough. Then dust the working surface with flour and roll each ball into round circles of about 6 inch about ¼ inch thick. Cover the circles with the kitchen towel loosely and let them rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
- Now place them on a greased tray and bake for 7 to 10 minutes or till puffed and light brown (mine didn’t puff much at all, possibly given the heavy flour I used, however they were easy enough to slice though to create pockets).
STUFFED DATES WITH RICOTTA & PISTACHIO CREAM
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 tsp raw honey
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 Tbsp ground raw unsalted pistachios (whiz whole nuts in a clean coffee grinder or food processor)
- 12 Medjool dates
- In a small bowl, stir ricotta and honey until well combined. Stir in cardamom and most of ground pistachios (you can reserve a little for scattering over top of the stuffed dates).
- With a sharp knife, cut a lengthwise slit on 1 side of each date. Remove pits. Using a small spoon, stuff each date with 1 tsp ricotta mixture. Sprinkle a little of the reserved ground pistachios over top.
- Arrange on a serving platter at room temperature. Keep left-overs in the fridge.
MOROCCAN MINT TEA
- 4 tsp Moroccan or green tea leaves
- 24 fresh spearmint or mint leaves plus more for garnish
- 4 to 5 tbsp sugar or to taste (or honey instead for a healthier version)
- 1 quart just short of 1 litre boiling water
- Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Add boiling water to a teapot that holds about 4 cups water, and swirl to warm.
- Discard the water and add the tea, 24 mint leaves, and sugar to the teapot.
- Pour the quart of boiling water into the teapot and swirl once or twice to dissolve the sugar.
- Allow the tea to steep for 5 minutes.
- Pour the tea through a strainer into small decorative Moroccan glasses or teacups. Garnish each with several fresh mint leaves.