The holy month of Ramadan is coming to an end & this brings an ache to my heart. Although fasting, cooking tons of food & handling the kinds aren’t easy yet the spirit of this month makes everything smooth.
One of the best side dishes to serve in Ramadan is Potato Gratin; it is a REAL CROWD PLEASER as who can say NO to tender potatoes soaked in a creamy sauce flavored with amazing cheese. Continue reading “POTATO GRATIN”→
One of the essentials of everyday cooking is tomato juice/puree. I am one of the people who never used fresh tomato juice because it tastes bland, too acidic & not sweet. I always used canned tomato juice! If you have ever cooked with canned tomato juice, you will know the huge difference I am talking about.
Canned tomato juice has a rich sweet flavorful tomato taste versus the fresh one. The only thing which made fresh tomato juice acceptable for me was adding a decent amount of tomato paste & unfortunately, the taste became too artificial for me.
I won’t be talking much as you have 2 recipes below to read :)
I know beef shawerma is the kind of dishes that is best eaten at a restaurant but this recipe will give you street style shawerma at the comfort of your own home & without the tons of fats added to store bought shawerma sandwiches. Continue reading “BEEF SHAWERMA & CHAPATI BREAD”→
I have my freezer stacked with all kinds of meatballs! They are “life savior”; when you are busy or lazy to cook, you just get them out of the freezer, cook & lunch is served in no time! Once a month, I buy about 3-4 kilos of minced meat, mix each kilo with spices & herbs, shape into balls & freeze!
I lived in my mother’s house almost deprived of anything fried for 2 main reasons. First, she always hated the 3 steps of coating; flour then egg then breadcrumbs. Second, she hated the process of frying more than anything in the world.
Ramadan food preparation is one of the closest tasks to my heart! Although I am almost preparing food all your round but there is something so special about preparing food for Ramadan; it has a totally different feel!
The past few days I have been doing nothing but stuffing sambousak/katayef, cutting konafa, cooking tons of homemade stock, roasting nuts, making juices; basically having my fridge & freezer ready for this holy month!
I will be sharing with you as many recipes as possible, hopefully! I thought to start with my favorite recipe for homemade chicken stock because basically that’s the base for most of our food & it doesn’t make sense to be making stock daily in Ramadan!
I believe we all know how to make stock; it is basically boiling chicken with some spices in water until the chicken is cooked through, right? But lately, I have been reading a lot about making stock the professional way to have the maximum nutrients & flavor. I researched & tested so many times until I finally found the perfect recipe.
Below are some tips “that actually go against everything I knew about making stock” but they turned out to be the perfect base for a delicious recipe:
Sear the chicken in ghee/butter/oil before adding water to give the stock a richer taste; don’t worry about the fats, we will remove them at the end.
Start the stock with tap water & not hot water.
Use whole spices & not powdered spices.
Use vegetables & greens to flavor the stock; not only spices.
Stock has to be simmered uncovered on low heat. Simmer (don’t boil) because otherwise all the liquid will evaporate. A simmer is when you see a couple of small bubbles (in different spots) on the surface of the water every second or two.
Stock has to be cooked on low heat for a long period of time to extract all the nutrients & have a deliciously flavored liquid.
SALT OR NO SALT? There is a big argument about whether to add salt or not while making the stock but I went with the “NO SALT” opinion to reduce the sodium level. You will use stock in making other recipes so season the final recipe with salt & pepper & not the stock. If you decide to add salt to your stock, then add it at the end & not the beginning.
When you taste the stock, it has to taste clean, not bitter, not greasy & without any overpowering taste. Because the stock has no salt, it will be tasteless – DON’T WORRY – it is supposed to be like that! If you want to make a test, heat one cup of stock & season it with salt & pepper, you won’t believe the difference; it will be the normal stock taste you are used to.
To have a healthy nutritious stock without any fats, let the stock cool completely then remove the fat layer that will form on the surface.
Please stop using store bought stock cubes; they are just full of crap! Prepare a big batch of homemade stock & freeze in portions … it can stay in your freezer for up to 3 months!
Let’s get ready for Ramadan or actually for the whole year :)
3 French celery stalks with leaves (Karafs) (see notes for substitution)
1/4 bunch parsley (Ba2doones)
1/2 garlic head, peeled whole cloves
6 cardamom whole (7abahan)
2 large mastic pieces or 4 small (Mesteka)
3 bay leaves (Lawra)
2 dried lemon (Loumy) (see notes)
1/2 tbsp whole black peppercorn
Optional Step: Dry the chicken well with tissue paper. Heat a large pot on high heat, add the butter/oil/ghee & the mastic then sear the chicken on all sides until it takes a nice golden color. Add the rest of the ingredients & cover with water.
In case you are going to skip the above step, put all the ingredients in a large pot & cover with water.
Cook on high heat until the water boils. Reduce heat to low to maintain a simmer. A simmer is when you see a couple of small bubbles (in different spots) on the surface of the water every second or two (see above photo for reference).
Simmer UNCOVERED for about 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked through.
Skim off any foam that floats to the top of the stock. This isn’t necessary but it will make your stock clearer.
Take out the chicken & shred the cooked meat then return the skeleton back to the pot & continue simmering for about 2 more hours.
Strain all the contents of the pot through a sieve & discard the solids.
Let the stock cool completely then remove the fat layer that is formed on the surface.
Divide the stock into portions & freeze for up to 3 months.
Use the stock as a base in cooking sauces, soups & vegetables ..etc.
In case you can’t find french celery (the one with long stalks), substitute with 1/2 a bunch of local celery.
You can use chicken wings & neck instead of whole chicken.
You can find dried lemon (loumy) at any spice store.
Don’t add salt to the stock in order not to increase its sodium level. Stocks are used in preparing other recipes so season the final recipe with salt/pepper. In case you want to add salt while preparing the stock, add it at the end & not the beginning.
When you taste the stock, it has to taste clean, not bitter, not greasy & without any overpowering taste. Because the stock has no salt, it will be tasteless. – DON’T WORRY it is supposed to be like that. If you want to make a test, heat one cup of stock & season it with salt & pepper, you won’t believe the difference :)
The Holy month of Ramadan is 2 weeks from now & I can’t wait for my favorite 30 days to start :) The month of unbelievable spirituals, gatherings & food!
Unlucky me, I am one of those people who finishes Ramadan with 3-4 extra kilos on my waist line. I don’t know whether it’s the fasting or the amazing gatherings that make my appetite go crazy or the delicious food that makes me think of nothing but food!
But lately, I have been making some changes that proved to be working! For me, Ramadan is not the month of healthy food; I eat, I indulge & never deprive myself but with 3 new rules:
If you have been following my blog recently, you would notice a slight shift in my cooking approach. It’s not that I am going healthy as you will never find words like “gluten free” & “vegan” on my blog but I am trying to find lighter versions of the food I love!
This doesn’t mean that you won’t find chocolate-y & creamy recipes here but I started to believe that a “balance” is always required to maintain a healthy diet & a decent jeans size :)