This past weekend I set out to make a mezze based meal. It was inspired by the recipes and stories in Yasmin Khan’s thoughtful cookbook “Zaitoun” and Tara Wigley and Sami Tamimi’s “Falastin.” I had some friends coming over so I decided to make hummus, labneh, m’tabbal (a charred eggplant dip), batata hara (spicy potatoes), and grilled chicken skewers. I had hoped to also make some homemade mana’eesh – a middle eastern flatbread – but realized quickly it would become too much. The thing is that cooking new recipes in peace is one thing, cooking with three kids doing laps around the kitchen bar is quite another. I always seem to forget this detail when I make my lofty plans (sigh). I thought I’d share some recipes notes:
Based on the recipes I read, the key to getting a creamy hummus is to allow it to really blend in your food processor. Both recipes called for around 5 minutes, which seemed long to me, but ended up giving me a silky hummus similar to ones at my favorite restaurants. The chickpeas had been soaked overnight with baking soda and then boiled till completely soft, but not falling apart. Other than that, it’s having good tahini on hand, some garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil, plus a spice, like za’atar or paprika to sprinkle atop.
I used a full-fat Greek yogurt and a cheesecloth to strain. I started by hanging it on the faucet of the kitchen sink, but then quickly moved it to my basement sink, right off the cold room, to be extra safe. Alternatively, you can strain the yogurt in the fridge by placing it in a colander with a bowl underneath and perhaps something weighted on top of the wrapped yogurt to help with the draining – this is probably the best, safest option.
M’tabbal/Charred Eggplant with Tahini:
Roasting eggplants takes a little time. It can be done on the stove or even on the BBQ, but I found the oven to be the easiest. I just rotated them every 20 mins to make sure they were cooked through on all sides. I knew they were done by how soft the flesh felt when I pressed my finger to the charred skin. Once the eggplant was cooled, I scooped out the flesh, placed it in a colander to drain the excess fluid, then mixed it with tahini, garlic, salt, and pepper. I toasted some pine nuts and added chopped parsley per Yasmin’s recipe.
Batata Hara/ Spicy Roast Potatoes:
Yasmin’s recipe called for parboiling the cubed potatoes and then roasting them with garlic, salt, pepper, and Aleppo pepper/pul biber – chili flakes work just fine if you don’t have the latter. As soon as the potatoes come out of the oven you need to douse them with a hefty squeeze of lemon, and oh my gosh, they are so good and I know I’ll make them again and again.
Here are links to both cookbooks!
Zaitoun by Yasmeen Khan
Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley
Thanks for following along! X