Archive for middle eastern

Baba ghanoush

There is no end to my love for baba ghanoush: good for you, easy to make, and hard to resist. I almost think it shouldn’t qualify as lenten…but it does.

This recipe is from Desert Candy.

Baba Ghanoush

2 large eggplants (about 2 lbs), pricked all over with a fork
2 garlic cloves
3/4 teaspoon sea salt 
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini

Preheat oven to 450 F and roast the eggplants for 40-45 minutes, until the skins are black and the flesh is soft and collapsed. 

Meanwhile, smash the garlic with the salt in a mortar and pestle until paste-like. (In lieu of a mortar and pestle–although I keep telling myself I need to get one!–I have used a small food processor for this step.) In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and tahini until thick and lighter in color. Add the garlic paste.

When the roast eggplants are cool enough to handle, split them in half and scoop out the soft flesh. Puree the eggplant flesh in a food processor until smooth.

Add the eggplant puree to the garlic/tahini mixture. Taste for seasoning. Allow to rest until cool.

To serve, spread in a platter and drizzle with olive oil and any of your desired toppings. 


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Mujaddara is one of my favorite things. I love to make it during the fasts because everyone in my family enjoys it, even the children, and it’s very easy, inexpensive, and one batch makes a whole lot! My godmother taught me how to make it a couple of years ago and I can never get it to turn out quite as delicious as hers, but it’s close. I am not sure how accurately I remembered what she taught me so maybe I am doing something different (I know she doesn’t use the pine nuts so there’s at least one variation), but whatever I’m doing, it’s working. Here is what I do.

2 cups rice
2 cardamom pods
1 1/2 cups green or brown lentils
4 sweet onions
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cumin
olive oil
toasted pine nuts (optional)

Put a large skillet on the stove and heat it up over medium heat. While heating, slice the onions, then add some oil to the pan and then the onions. Stir occasionally as they cook until they are soft (15-20 minutes?), and then turn the heat up to medium-high and stir frequently until they are caramelized to a nice deep brown. This should take about 20 or 30 minutes, I think. When they are done, add a splash of water to deglaze the pan.

While the onions are cooking, cook the rice and lentils. You can cook them according to package directions, but my preferred way for the rice is to cook it in the oven. Here is how I do it. Preheat oven to 350. Place the 2 cups of rice into an oven proof dish, about 2 quarts in size, and on the stovetop boil 2 3/4 cups of water along with a pinch of salt and a little oil. When it boils, pour it into the dish with the rice and cover the dish tightly with a double layer of foil. Bake in the oven until the water is absorbed and rice is tender; this should be 45 to 60 minutes. Remove and fluff with fork. For this recipe, put the 2 cardamom pods in with the rice as it bakes.

The lentils can simply be boiled on the stovetop until they are tender but not too mushy.

When all these things are cooked, mix the rice, drained lentils, and half the caramelized onion in a pot, along with about half a cup of water and a little olive oil, plus the spices, salt, and pepper, and stir and heat on the stove over medium heat until it’s all combined and smelling delicious.

Then place it all into a serving dish and top with the remaining caramelized onions and the pine nuts, if you’re using them. This is delicious served with chopped cucumbers and tomatoes drizzled in olive oil–or if it’s not a fast day, I like to have it with Greek yogurt.

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Here is how I make hummus. I’ve gotten lots of compliments on it from people who should know! It’s very easy. This is what I do.


1 can* chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
1/3 c. tahini
1/3 – 1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
additional olive oil
paprika (optional)

Put it all in a food processor and whip it up till it’s very smooth. To get a really smooth consistency, you can remove the skins from the chickpeas, but of course, that’s pretty time consuming!

While it’s being pureed you can add more liquid as required: olive oil, reserved liquid from the chickpeas (if using canned), maybe slightly more lemon juice. You really want a consistency that’s not too thick; it shouldn’t be like cookie dough, more like yogurt.

I like to serve it with paprika and olive oil drizzled on top. I think it’s also great with za’atar.

* I’ve also used dried chickpeas but I can’t remember the equivalent, and I like to have the extra liquid to add in if needed.

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Shourabit Djaj Mah Hummus

(Lebanese Chickpea Soup)

1 Lg. or 2 Med. Onions, Diced
1 Head Garlic, Minced
2 Carrots, Diced
2-3 Stalks Celery, Diced
1 Squash, Zucchini or other, Diced
2 – 3 Potatoes, Diced
A bit of oil
1 Box or Several Cans Vegetable Broth (or better, homemade vegetable stock)
1 Med. Can Diced Tomatoes & Juice
4 Cans Garbanzo Beans & Juice
1 or 2 Cinnamon Sticks (3 – 5″ long)
1 Tsp. Thyme
Salt & Pepper, To Taste
Fresh Parsley, Curly or better, Italian, Minced
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Lg. Bag Baby Spinach
Red Pepper Flakes, Optional – A pinch in each bowl for those who like it.

Sauté onion and garlic in a bit of oil. Add other vegetables & sauté until softened. Add vegetable broth or stock, tomatoes, garbanzos and cinnamon stick. Add spices. Cook for 1 hour or more, until flavors meld. Just a few minutes before serving, add parsley, lemon juice and spinach. Stir in well. Allow to cook until greens are wilted. Serve with Pita on the side, or over rice.

This normally contains chicken, but it was altered into a vegan dish.


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