Jonathan Cartu Announced: Recipes to welcome Ramadan – Middle East Monitor - Jonathan Cartu Restaurant, Baking & Catering Services
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Jonathan Cartu Announced: Recipes to welcome Ramadan – Middle East Monitor

Recipes to welcome Ramadan – Middle East Monitor

Jonathan Cartu Announced: Recipes to welcome Ramadan – Middle East Monitor

As we welcome Ramadan here are a few quick and simple, delicious recipes which you can make.

The dishes in this video are great because in addition to being delicious and easy, they require basic ingredients, many of which are pantry staples.

Our first recipe, falafel, is a crowd pleaser. Given the current lockdown, I am sure everyone is missing the falafel sandwich from their favourite restaurant. So many people are intimidated by the idea of making falafel at home and think they need special equipment, but an immersion blender does the trick and cuts down on the mess!

The most important thing about falafel is that you use dried chickpeas and soak them overnight. Canned chickpeas won’t work for this, because they will lose their texture and turn into mush! The inclusion of fresh herbs means this version of falafel is fresh and vibrant, and if you are a chilli lover, the addition of fresh chillies gives it a nice kick. Serve it on its own or in a sandwich, and if you are up to it, whip up some Ka’ak Al-Quds with it!

Our second recipe, mutabbal, is the perfect accompaniment to almost any dish, and even stands alone as a filling or dip with some pitta bread! Charring the aubergines on an open flame gives this dip its smoky flavour, but you could also wrap your aubergine in foil and roast it in the oven. Mutabbal is so versatile you could replace the aubergines with so many different vegetables, like courgettes, butternut squash, or pumpkin! Top with a generous splash of olive oil and you’re good to go!

Now for some dessert! Hilbeh is made from fenugreek seeds, which are not only delicious, but great for you! This dessert is similar to basbousa, in that it is a semolina cake soaked with simple syrup, the addition of the fenugreek, sesame, and nigella seeds give this cake such a lovely texture and some crunch, not to mention nigella seeds are said to cure everything but death! If you are worried this dessert is too sweet, don’t be. Greasing the pan with tahini paste balances out the sweetness and adds a lovely nutty flavour. Enjoy it with a hot cup of tea after Iftar and you’ll be glad you tried it!

Our final recipe is makroutah. These aromatic date cookies, spiced with fennel and sesame seeds, look pretty and complicated, but they are super simple! Rolling out your dates between two pieces of parchment paper makes the process so much easier, but be careful when dealing with the hot dates, because they are practically lava! Make sure you roll your dough into a thin layer, because you’ll be rolling it onto itself several times. Even after you’ve baked them, the cookies will still be slightly soft, so let them cool before handling, otherwise they’ll crumble. These are the perfect end to a long day of fasting or even at Suhoor, with the dates giving you the boost of energy you need for the rest of the day.

Falafel

Makes 24-30 pieces

Ingredients

  • 400 g dried chickpeas
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder
  • A bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • A bunch of fresh coriander
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • ½ onion
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 900 ml sunflower or vegetable oil (for frying)
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • Olive oil for binding (if needed)

Filling

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • Toasted pine nuts to taste
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Soak the chickpeas in water and half of the baking powder for up to 8 hours. This is best done overnight. Make sure you use dried chickpeas, as canned chickpeas will turn into a paste and will break when frying.
  2. When ready, drain the water and place the chickpeas in a food processor or use a hand blender. Add the remaining baking powder and the rest of the ingredients, except the oil. Blitz until you have formed a paste. You may need to add some olive oil to bind it.
  3. Shape your falafel into balls and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Make sure to press the sesame seeds into the balls so they stick.
  4. Carefully place the falafel into the hot oil. Make sure you do not overcrowd the pan. Turn the falafel occasionally as they cook so they are equally browned all over. Cook for about 6-8 minutes or until fully cooked through.
  5. If you want to make stuffed falafel, sauté the onions in the olive oil. Once softened, add the rest of the ingredients. Set aside to cool. When forming the balls, they need to be bigger to accommodate the filling. Use half of the mixture, flatten, making sure to make an indentation for the filling. Add the filling then top with the rest of the mixture.

Mutabbal

Serves 4–6

Ingredients

  • 2 large aubergines
  • 1  large serving spoon tahini
  • 2-3 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons
  • salt
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • pomegranate seeds, to serve

Instructions

  1. Begin by searing the aubergines. Drizzle with salt and olive oil and either cook for 30 minutes in an oven preheated to its highest setting until they are charred; or hold over a gas flame until you see the skin scorch all over – this way is quite quick, so use your judgement and take care. It is important to scorch the aubergine from the outside to get the smoky flavour.
  2. Once the aubergines are soft and browned, open the skin, scoop out the flesh and chop into smaller pieces. Put it in a sieve and leave to allow the excess water to drain away for about 5 minutes.
  3. Put the chopped aubergine in a bowl and add the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Mix it all together and taste to see if you need any more salt or yogurt – it is really down to personal taste.
  4. Add the chilli and mix through – I usually add it at the end as I don’t like it to overpower the dish.
  5. Drizzle with some olive oil and top with pomegranate seeds to serve. I usually eat this with Kubbeh Bil Saniyeh.

Hilbeh

  • 2 tbsp fenugreek seeds, soaked overnight in water (refresh the water a couple of times to remove any bitterness)
  • 250g medium coarse semolina
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 50ml melted butter
  • 2 tbsp milk powder
  • 80ml warm water
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp black cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • Sugar syrup to drizzle

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 C Fan (210oC/415oF/Gas 6–7).
  2. Drain the soaked fenugreek seeds – they should have swollen in size, which is what we’re looking for. Combine the drained seeds in a large bowl with all the remaining ingredients, except the tahini and sugar syrup.
  3. Place the tahini on the base of a cake tin and add the mixture evenly over the top. Cover with a towel and place in a warm area for 30 minutes to rise slightly. Then cut it into diagonal shapes and place in the oven for 30–35 minutes, until golden.
  4. Once cooked, take it out of the oven and drizzle generously with the sugar syrup. Leave for 45 minutes so the syrup can soak through, and then serve.

Makroutah

Makes about 25–30 large or 45 smaller biscuits

Dough

  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 450g plain flour
  • 150g fine semolina
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 150ml melted butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 11⁄2 tbsp milk powder
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

Date paste:

  • 750g pitted Medjool dates, chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Place the fennel seeds into 180ml hot water and leave for 10 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the dough, along with the drained fennel seeds, together in a bowl. Knead the mixture for about 3–4 minutes, then place in a clean bowl and leave to rise for about 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C Fan (200C/400F/Gas 6).
  4. Place the chopped dates in a pan with the olive oil, butter and cinnamon and heat gently over a medium to low heat until the dates form a paste, about 10–12 minutes. Once they have broken down, use a spoon and mash them even more, then place on a tray to cool down.
  5. Cut the dough into 3–4 pieces and roll out onto a floured surface to…

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