Saudi Arabia Creamy Tomato and Chickpea Soup {Recipe}

I was sent the cookbook The Arabian Nights Cookbook: From Lamb Kebabs to Baba Ghanouj, Delicious Homestyle Middle Eastern Cooking by Habeeb Salloum from Tuttle Publishing.

 

It focuses primary on recipes in the Arab Gulf region and has to be one of the most beautiful cookbooks I’ve seen in a long time.

 

I was pressed for time this week to look for dinner options for our Mawlid al Nabi celebration tonight and took the cookbook with me on the bus to work. {Mawlid al Nabi commemorates the birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), in Saudi Arabia. This annual Islamic holiday is celebrated by many Muslims around the world.}

 

On the bus, I caught my seat mate leaning in, reading over my shoulder and by the time we reached our destination, she had already asked where she can buy it.   The photos were so eye catching that she couldn’t resist.

 

The book is broken up into the traditional chapters (salad, soup, chicken, seafood, drinks, desserts, etc) and includes an opening chapter on popular condiments and pickles.  The intro is a well written explanation of the diversity of modern Arab Gulf cooking, followed up with useful tools and essential ingredients. Reading the chapter on the spices, nuts and vegetables unique to the region made me long for the smells I experienced in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey.

 

The recipes include tips and notes on everything from how to stuff a lamb to which meals are best served family style. The stunning chapter introductions explain the dishes and their influences from surrounding regions. Finally, the resource guide includes Arab stores country wide where tools and ingredients can be found.

 

I’d like to share the recipe for the Creamy Tomato and Chickpea Soup. But you don’t have to wait for the annual Mawlid al Nabi to enjoy this yummy delicious meal, you can make this anytime.

 

(Readers of the blog will note the similarities of this dish to the Egyptian Tomato and Chickpea Soup we made a few years ago.  This version includes a few differences, most notably, the addition of fresh cilantro, an herb introduced historically by Western Asia to the area.)

 

Ingredients

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 minced onions
4 cloves garlic, crushed to paste
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
6 cups water
2 cups stewed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Pinch of ground red pepper

Pour the oil into a large saucepan with a lid and place over medium heat. Add the coriander leaves and onion and saute for 10 minutes, uncovered.

Add the remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool, slightly.

Purée, then return to the saucepan, adding more water if desired. Reheat and serve.

We served our soup with a side of naan bread.

To enjoy more Arab food we have tried, please check out

Egyptian Ful Medames {Recipe}

Hot Algerian Lasagna {Recipe}

Lebanese Lentil Soup {Recipe}

Or stop by A Crafty Arab on Pinterest to see out more recipes from the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region.

Be sure to check out the book The Arabian Nights Cookbook: From Lamb Kebabs to Baba Ghanouj, Delicious Homestyle Middle Eastern Cooking by Habeeb Salloum from Tuttle Publishing or ask for it a your local bookstore, library or Amazon.

Eid Party Fruit Snack {Recipe}

How was your Eid Al Adha gathering this past weekend? I hope you had a fabulous time with family, friends and of course food!

 

We got together with friends after prayers for a potluck play date with a toy exchange and craft table, plus this cute station where the kids made fruit snacks in the shape of a palm tree with a sheep enjoying it’s shade.

 

We were inspired from creating them last year at girl scout camp. When we got home, we gathered all the ingredients so we can show you step by step how to make them.

 

Supplies

Icing
Spreader knife
Banana (2)
Blueberries
Cheese stick
Grapes
Clementines (2)

Since kids are doing this, we found spreader knives that were able to cut the fruit, but not each other!  First we had a quick lesson on knife safety.  Once the kids each had a knife, they were told to cut the grapes, lengthwise, to resemble the “grass” at the bottom of the plate. They also cut the banana lengthwise.

After placing the cut banana on the plate, nestled in the grass, the kids used the knives to create cuts in the tree trunk.

Once the banana looked like a palm tree “trunk”, the kids worked on the palm “leaves” by peeling the oranges and placing them in a fan shape on top.

Now that the grass and tree were done, the kids started working on the “sheep” by cutting the other banana into thin slices. They placed a few in a circle and added more on top to resemble “wool.”

Next came the “face” which is made from cutting the blueberries.

For the “eyes” the kids were given the cheese stick and told to cut out small circles.  They can cut as many as they need until they can get two small enough to fit on the face.  Then they used small left over parts of the blueberries for the final touch.

The final touch was writing EID in frosting. Some kids wrote their name, or added balloons and other shapes. You can also add a cup of slightly warmed peanut butter or Nutella for dipping the banana slices!

Here is our final version, which lasted for about two minutes before it was totally gobbled up! This snack is also fun to eat with toothpicks, but be conscious of the kids ages before you bring those out.

If you enjoyed making this fun snack, be sure to follow A Crafty Arab on Pinterest for other recipes, tutorials and downloads that teach about the Arab world.

Egyptian Ful Medames {Recipe}

My book club met to discuss an Egyptian book, so I decided to make an Egyptian dish, ful medames.

 

Ful medames is a meal of cooked fava beans dating back to Ancient Egypt then exported to other parts of the Arab world, such as Djibouti, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

 

It seemed the perfect accompaniment to our lively discussion of banned book, War in the Land of Egypt by Yusuf Al Qa’id to commemorate Arab American Heritage Month.
The book was difficult to read at times due to it’s too close to home subject matter, but unanimously loved by everyone. Right away it was noted that, despite it being written about the eve of the 1973 October war, it was very timely due to our current politically nepotism.  It showcases a case of the privileges bestowed upon those with money and power.  From Amazon review:

This book tells the story of Masri (the only character with a name), a young Egyptian peasant who is sent into the Egyptian army on the eve of the 1973 Yom Kippur war in place of a rich man’s son. Al-Qa’id tells his tale from several different perspectives: that of the village headman (the Umda) whose son Masri will replace; the broker who finds Masri; the hapless young man’s father; his friend; his commanding officer; and finally, the investigator sent to look into the switch. The one character we do not hear from is Masri.

It soon becomes apparent why this book was banned in Egypt, as Al-Qa’id uses the events surrounding the war to indict the bureaucratic corruption and social inequality rife in his country. Each character represents a different facet of Egyptian society with Masri himself, by virtue of his name (which, in Arabic, translates as “Egyptian”), standing for Everyman. Political this novel doubtless is, but it is also a masterfully crafted piece of fiction and a genuine page-turner as well. –Alix Wilber

 

The ful medames was also a hit and everyone helped themselves to seconds, which to an Arab is the highest compliment.  I had never made ful before but had eaten it hundreds of times growing up. It was my father’s favorite meal and simple one he mastered When my mother was at school studying for her PhD, he would make it for us. All. The. Time.  I got so sick of it that I never ate it again once I left home for college.

 

But because it’s such a staple known Egyptian food, it would have been wrong to serve anything else with such an adumbrate political book.

 

Ingredients

Fava beans
Garlic
Cumin
Olive oil
Tomatoes (optional)
Boiled eggs (optional)
Feta cheese (optional)

 

Add the fava beans, cumin and garlic in a pot with a cup of water and let it boil. You can buy the beans whole or cheat and buy them canned (in which case, just use the water from the can).

Lower the temperature to simmer and let sit for two hours, stirring occasionally. The beans are cooked until very soft.  In ancient times, the ful was left simmering in large copper jars throughout the night, to be served from the next morning.

While the beans are cooking, chop up the tomatoes, boil the eggs and crumble the cheese. Place all in separate bowls with spoons to have available for toppings.

 

Once your ful is ready, Scoop it up in bowls, top with olive oil and pass on to family and friends to pick their own individualized toppings.

Enjoy with a side of couscous with grilled veggies.

 

We ended our evening with a healthy dessert of halwa and fig crackers.  Please stop by A Crafty Arab on Pinterest to see more recipes from the Arab world.

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