Hummus

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I did a Lebanese cuisine theme last month where I posted about pita bread, falafel and labneh. I was so tempted to replace labneh with Hummus but then I saved it for this month’s protein rich theme. Hummus is a tasty and healthy alternative to the not-so-low calorie cheese and butter. I can have it with practically anything, be it vegetables or bread or breadsticks. The main ingredient in hummus is chickpeas / garbanzo beans / kabuli chana. The beans with some tahini / sesame seed paste and olive oil brings a beautiful explosion of flavours in your mouth when you bite into a hummus dipped pita. Now it is easily available in supermarkets but making it for yourself is so simple that I would think it almost criminal to buy. Except when it is a mid morning craving, of course  – then all rules fly through the window.

There are many variations to the hummus. Beetroot hummus and red pepper hummus are quite popular. My dish, here, is the classic hummus without any additional flavour. So here goes –

Protein – Chickpeas / Kabuli Chana

Recipe adapted from here

Makes one large cup

WHAT WE NEED

Chickpeas                       1 cup

Extra virgin olive oil    2 tbsp

Tahini                              1 1/2 tbsp

Lemon juice                   1 tbsp

Garlic                               1 clove

Salt                                    1/2 tsp or to taste
WHAT TO DO

  • Soak the chickpeas in 3 cups of water for 6 hours or overnight. If you are using canned chickpeas then you can skip the soaking and cooking of the chickpeas
  • Drain the water and pressure cook the chickpeas with 2 cups of water for 3 whistles. Let it cool
  • If you have the time and patience, pinch the outer skin of the chickpeas to make a smoother hummus. If you sit with the chickpeas in front of the TV, it takes about the time for one episode of your favourite show. ( I am binge watching Suits these days).
  • Transfer the chickpeas to a blender.
  • Add all the other ingredients to the blender – extra virgin olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, garlic clove and salt
  • Blend for around a minute. Taste to see if you need little more of any ingredient. Personally I added few drops of oil and lemon juice
  • Scrape down the sides of the blender jar and blend again for a smooth paste
  • Transfer it to a bowl 
  • Enjoy with pita or vegetables or any other snack of your choice
  • It can be used for one week if stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container

This is my post for Day 4 of the Mega Marathon under ‘Protein Rich Dishes’.
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Labneh

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The third and final dish of the Lebanese cuisine theme is Labneh which stands testimony to the fact that not all awesome dishes need to have a tough recipe. Labneh is seen as Lebanese cream cheese and is just as thick and creamy. And all you need to make yourself a batch of labneh is patience – lots of it. This is a no cook recipe and so it is very easy. But if you need a batch of labneh today, you need to have started making it two days ago. Yes, it takes that long but we know it is quite worth the wait.

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Makes one bowl of labneh

Recipe adapted from here

WHAT WE NEED

Greek yogurt / thick curds                500gms

Fresh lemon juice                               1/4 tsp

Salt                                                          a pinch

Zaatar powder                                      1 tbsp

Olive oil                                                  2-3 tbsp
WHAT TO DO

  • Take a cheesecloth and line it over a bowl
  • In another bowl, mix the yogurt, lemon juice and salt
  • Transfer the yogurt mixture onto the cheesecloth
  • Tie up the cheesecloth over a ladle or large spoon such that the cheesecloth does not touch the bottom of the bowl similar to how it is done to obtain hung curd
  • This ensures that the whey drained from the yogurt will not find its way back into the cheesecloth
  • Keep the yogurt with the bowl in the refrigerator for around 24 hours
  • After 12 hours, check the bowl and pour the whey out of the bowl 
  • After 24 hours, transfer the hung curd mixture to a bowl
  • Add the olive oil and zaatar powder
  • Serve cold with vegetable slices or warm pita bread
  • Enjoy!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, ‘Lebanese cuisine’.
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Pita Bread

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This is the second recipe in the Lebanese cuisine theme. It is the classic and most popular dish – the pita. The Pita is a leavened bread made with all purpose flour. It can either be cooked on the stove top or baked in the oven. Having tried both methods, I definitely recommend baking it. The pita puffs up beautifully in the oven and the layers are well formed. It easily gives way to making a pita pocket to put the stuffing in. The pita cooked on the stove top looks well done while the baked one would leave you in doubt as to its doneness. But do not worry, if it puffs up well, it is done well.

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When you make it on a stove top you have to ensure that the skillet is very hot to cook the pita but at the same time not too hot to spoil it. You have to be very careful and vigilant to turn it over at the right time and yet it is not a guarantee that the pita would puff largely instead of small little pockets like a regular roti. But when you bake it, all you need to do is set the temperature and watch while the magic is performed. I also loved the taste of the baked version as against the stovetop version.

You can use the pita with the classic falafel or for a vegetable sandwich. If you have any leftover pitas, simply toast them with butter and garlic and be amazed.

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Recipe from here

Makes 8 pitas

WHAT WE NEED

All purpose flour                       2 1/2 – 3 cups 

Active dry / Instant yeast         2 tsp

Warm water                               1 cup

Salt                                               2 tsp

Olive oil (optional)                    2 tsp
WHAT TO DO

  • Mix the water and yeast in a large bowl and set aside for 2-3 minutes
  • Add 2 1/2 cups of flour, salt and oil to the water and yeast
  • Mix all the ingredients together to form the dough
  • Dust the counter top with some flour and transfer the dough to the counter top
  • Knead the dough well for 7-8 minutes and add some flour if needed to make a smooth and pliable dough
  • Grease the bowl with some olive oil and transfer the dough to it
  • Turn it around in the bowl so that all sides of the dough are well oiled
  • Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel or cling wrap and set aside till the dough doubles
  • It can take around 1-2 hours depending on the climate
  • If needed, the dough can be refrigerated at this point and used to make the pita at a later time
  • Once the dough is doubled, divide it into 8 parts and shape each of them into a ball

If cooking on the stovetop

  • Heat the skillet till it is very hot
  • Take each ball of dough and roll it into a 3″ thick circle
  • Transfer the rolled out dough to the skillet and cook for 30 seconds
  • Turn the pita over and cook for a minute or so till the pita puffs up well
  • Take it off the heat 
  • Repeat the same procedure till all 8 pitas are made
  • Enjoy with some falafel and salad!

If baking 

  • Preheat the oven to 230C
  • Roll out each dough ball to a 3″ thick circlular pita
  • Transfer the rolled out dough (as many as can be fitted comfortably) to the baking tray
  • Bake for 3-4 minutes till the pita puffs up
  • Take it out of the oven
  • Repeat the same procedure till all the pitas are baked
  • Enjoy it with some falafel and hummus

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 This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, Lebanese Cuisine’.

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Falafel

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My theme for this week is Lebanese cuisine. Of course, the first few dishes that come to mind are pita bread, hummus and falafel. I was wondering if it would be too cliche to make these dishes for this theme but then I figured it is unbelievable that I still don’t have these classic recipes on my blog. So I am posting recipes for three ingredients in a pita sandwich – falafel, pita bread and labneh. Get them together and it will be pure bliss. Even the husband, who does not experiment much with food, loved this. So you surely don’t need a bigger proof of the deliciousness of this awesome meal.

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Falafel is a nice balance between guilt and pleasure. It is a chickpea based dish and so good on the protein front but at the same time, it is deep fried and makes you a little guilty if you are trying to eat healthy / lose weight. You can bake them too but this is the first time I am making these and so I did not want to risk that with the family. I am researching on getting an equally delicious baked version and will update this post soon in that regard. My recipe, as usual, is more spicy and has curry powder instead of paprika and cayenne to make it more favorable to the husband and daughter. Now, on to the recipe –

Makes 20-25 falafels

Recipe adapted from here

WHAT WE NEED

Chickpeas                 1/2 cup

Onion, small            1

Garlic cloves            2

Coriander leaves    2-3 sprigs

Green chilly             1

Curry powder          1 tsp

Red chilly powder   1/2 tsp

Sesame seeds           2 tsp

Cumin seeds             1 tsp

Salt

Oil for deep frying

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Soak the chickpeas in a large bowl of water and set it aside for around 6 hours or overnight
  • Drain the water from the chickpeas
  • Take all the ingredients, except oil, in a food processor or blender and blend it to a thick paste
  • If you find it tough to blend then add few teaspoons of water but ensure that the thick paste is formed after blending
  • Heat the oil for deep frying
  • Transfer the paste to a bowl and pinch out some dough the size of a small lemon
  • Roll the piece of dough into a small ball and set it aside
  • Continue to form small balls with the rest of the dough
  • Once the oil is sufficiently heated, drop few balls of dough into it and reduce the flame to low
  • Fry till they turn golden brown
  • Repeat the same procedure to fry all the dough balls
  • Enjoy it with pita and hummus / labneh!

For a pita sandwich, divide a pita bread into two and open each half into a pocket. Apply some labneh or hummus inside the pita and fill it with falafel, tomato and cucumber slices.

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, Lebanese Cuisine.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM