Monday, November 22, 2010

Shakriyeh (lamb and yogurt stew)

What Arab doesnt like yogurt and rice? Ya thats what i cant think of one. Yogurt and rice to Arabs is like burger and fries to Americans....i guess. Shakriyeh is so very delicious, everyone has their own way of making it, what i love about this dish is that it is hard to mess up unless of course you dont follow directions and leave the yogurt on the stove and burn it or something. AHHHH i just remember one of the first times i made Shakriyeh after i got married. I had seen my mom make it a ton of times and i knew how easy it was but my MIL insisted i cook the yogurt and then add the starch, well a long story short i tried her way and the yogurt boiled over and curdled...i was very depressed that night. This is seriously a fool proof way of making it. I can imagine some Arabs in their heads when reading my directions for Shakriyeh saying, "OH MY GOD she is doing it so wrong" well i don't care because it tastes the same and i have never ruined my Shakriyeh before (except that once). People, we need to improve and make things easier on ourselves, why must we follow traditions of a time when they didn't know how to take easy routes? Anyways my rant is over, this is how i make Shakriyeh.
I start off by boiling lamb shanks in a pressure cooker. I leave the bone in (some people don't) and yes that is the silver skin still on the shank. Don't fret my dear ones, once you boil these shanks the silver skin will come off and the meat will stay in tact while it boils because of it.
So once the meat comes to a boil and the scum is removed i add in an onion, salt and these spices. Can you guess them? cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamon and bay leaves! GOOD JOB
So this is the meat after it is done cooking (about 1 hour in a pressure cooker because it has the bone in)
The meat should be literally falling off the bone YET it should keep its shape because youwere smart and left the silver skin ON! aren't you glad you listened to me?
So in a big pot with a strainer over it add in yogurt, 1 egg (i leave the egg yolk in but some people only use the egg whites) and corn starch. This is where people think I am screwing up this dish. Usually Arabs add in the corn starch slurry after the yogurt has heated up. The problem for me with this is they stand over the yogurt with much anxiety stirring constantly! If you turn your head for a minute the whole thing comes boiling over and curdles (my first experience) so listen to me if you want an easy Shakriyeh experience, add the corn starch in and whisk it into the yogurt BEFORE it gets hot.
So after the yogurt starts getting warm add in the lamb broth. This amount it up to you because some people like their yogurt very white so they don't add much in but i like my yogurt to taste good so i add in a few cups of the broth.
So when the meat has cooled down enough for you to handle it (but not cold otherwise you wont be able to get the silver skin and fat off) i remove the meat from the bone and I remove anything else that is not meat (i don't like fat so i get it all off but arabs do like their fat...not judging)
Serve with vermicelli rice and cracker black pepper
Some people like to eat their Shakriyeh cold served over hot rice ( it becomes like jello when cold) but i like the rice and yogurt hot. Enjoy

Written Recipe:

1 container of yogurt
1 egg
1 tablespoon of corn starch
3 lamb shanks
1 onion cut into 4
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves
5 cardamon pods
2 bay leaves
salt to taste
vermicelli rice

Yogurt Pasta

I love this pasta, Oussama thinks i am just being lazy when i suggest eating it for dinner. I absolutely love this dish because it is creamy with juicy, flavorful meat and of course one of my favorite herbs parsley! This dish is the perfect dish for kids, for a fast dinner and of course for a lazy day :-). (ok side note again doesn't that smiley look like me with the was by accident but i should make it my signature) Anyways back to the pasta, this can be made with or without the meat but i prefer it with meat. I am not exactly how this is a Syrian dish since pasta isn't in the Syrian history, it is just a dish that people started making when they found out about the yummiest of carbs. Here is how i make mine:
Start off with mixing in a bowl yogurt (i use low fat) tahini, lemon juice and garlic (same mix as when you make fateh)
I cook up my ground beef and when it is almost done cooking i add in salt and the mixed arabic spices. The meat releases juices and i let the meat keep cooking until all of the juices cook into the meat or evaporate (whatever you want to believe).
Boil some noodles, i used penne here but i have used spaghetti before and i like both.
So once the noodles are done cooking (optional) put some butter or samneh on then so they don't stick together (i don't do this, no need for the extra calories but it would taste good). I add the ROOM TEMP yogurt on top. The reason i say room temp yogurt is because otherwise it will cool down the whole dish and i like eating hot food.
Top it with the ground meat and some parsley and pine nuts if you want. You can either leave it like this or stir it up but it looks prettier like this. When you stir it the yogurt will get brown from the spiced meat.

Written Recipe:

1 pound of pasta (penne of any you prefer)
2 cups of yogurt
3 tablespoons of tahini
2 crushed cloves of garlic
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste
1 cup of ground beef
1 teaspoon of mixed arabic spices
Chopped parsley for garnish
Toasted pine nuts (optional)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sabanigh ibzayt

Ok so I am going to be very honest here, I have absolutely no idea when i first ate this and how i even know how to make it. Every time i make this dish my mind goes back to April 7th 2008. My husband and I went to Caribou Coffee to study for our exams (boards for him and a psych exam for me) My stomach kept tightening up so we decided to go home and relax and have dinner. Keep in mind i was 9 months pregnant and my due date was about 2 weeks away. I decided i was too tired to cook dinner so i told my husband i didn't feel well (ya ya people i took advantage of being pregnant) so he said he would cook and this is what he made (while i gave him the instructions). Anyways i remember this day because apparently i was in labor cause i had my son the next afternoon (i don think it was because of the spinach though).So here is how i make sabanigh (spinach in Arabic)

First i cut up an onion (i have used both yellow and red onion so use whatever you have) and cook it in some olive oil. IMPORTANT: DO NOT ADD SALT WHATEVER YOU DO!!!
So when the onions have softened you start adding in the spinach
I use baby spinach but feel free to use the big spinach just cut the stems off and chop it a little. I washed my spinach really well and then i dried it, you don't want any excess water.
So after i add in the spinach i cover it so that it wilts a bit and keep adding the spinach in small batches until it is all incorporated.
The last step is to add cilantro. Nothing goes together better than spinach and cilantro.
I always top it with walnuts but today i had pomegranate and some ground meat cooked with some arabic spices. Okay so remember when i said DO NOT ADD SALT, well it is because the spinach will release all of its water and you will be left with a spinach soup, not so bhibik ya sabanigh. Add salt while you eat, that's just the way i roll cause the spinach is going to release water anyways so why add to it. This dish is eaten with pita bread and a squeeze of lemon (i also like to pour over some dibbis rimman a.k.a. pomegranate molasses) This is a great side dish and can be eaten warm or room temp.

Written Recipe:
1 small red onion chopped
1/2 cup of olive oil (use the good stuff)
5 cups of baby spinach
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
pomegranate seeds (optional)
ground meat (optional)
lemon wedges
Dibbis Rimman (pomegranate molasses)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Well Makdoos is pretty much a stuffed pickled eggplant and it is DELISHHHHHH!!! I have always loved makdoos and i remember going to Syria and my Tehteh would be like "Oh i just put fresh makdoos in the oil for you." and Hadeel and i would be like uhh we want the old ones in Zabadani (the weekend house up in the mountains) because we (my tehteh and family) didn't go up very often the makdoos would become sour and yummy but when they are fresh in oil they still have an eggplant taste. I learned how to make makdoos when a girl named Hana came and lived with us for a year and we made a butt load of makdoos. The problem with making makdoos here in the states is that its your luck when it comes to eggplants, some are good, some have loads of seeds and some become rubbery on the outside. From my experience i will try to explain which ones are most likely to come out.

First you need to buy a load of eggplants. Look for dark black long ones; the ones that are pretty chubby and round will have a lot of seeds and will have a bad skin texture when they are cooked.
Place them in boiling water and place a plate or some weight on top so all of them are submerged in water
Cook until the tops come off easily, about 15 to 25 minutes, it really depends on the eggplant. When the top comes off without ripping it means it is cooked perfectly.
Cut open the eggplant but don't cut all the way threw. Sprinkle the inside with kosher salt.
i usually place some in a bowl and sprinkle otherwise you might add too much if you use it straight from the box
Place the eggplants in a strainer and then......
My Yebra2 weight (i got a new one cause obviously this one is breaking apart)
Then i begin to stack with as much weight as i can and let it strain for 2 days (not longer because it will mold, that is why you need as much weight as possible.
See, when i first stacked the eggplant it was coming over the strainer, now it is like half way
I got about this much liquid out 5 times
Use red Anaheim peppers and cut them really thin in small cubes. First i cut them in half and remove the seeds, then i cut them in strips and finally i cut them so they are little cubes
I like my makdoos a little spicy so i also add red jalapeno peppers and do the same as the Anaheim peppers. If you can't find Anaheim's then use bell peppers.
Add some salt to the peppers and squish them to get as much water out as possible.
Strain the peppers as well, try to get them as dry as possible.
Mix the peppers with walnuts (a few more walnuts then peppers) and garlic and salt to taste. I cut the walnuts by hand, some people put them in a blender but walnuts contain a lot of oil and you do not want to end up with a paste.
Stuff the strained eggplants with as much stuffing as possible (with them still being able to shut) and stack them in a clean jar. Turn them over and let them drain for 1 more day
Once the makdoos have drained pour over some olive oil. Make sure to try and get all the air bubbles out by tapping the container or by using a knife to squeeze the bubbles out.
The eggplants are ready after about 2-3 days. I usually wait until the oil has a red tint to it from the peppers. If you want to keep you makdoos from getting sour then cover them with oil, let them sit out for 2 to 3 days and then place them in the fridge.

yummmmmmy....and yes i eat them sour. Also sometimes people cut up tomatoes and makdoos and eat it with pita bread

Written Recipe:

4 Anaheim peppers
4 jalapeno peppers
3 cloves of garlic
kosher salt
3 pounds of small eggplants (or as many as you want)
1 cup of walnuts
olive oil