taste arabia




taste arabia

March 4, 2011


preface breakfast appetizer soups main courses accompanimants desserts drinks glossary index acknowledgement 7 9 17 31 37 55 65 75 84 91 93

As-Salamu Alaikum
Rapid globalization is the dominant reason that the world has become smaller in terms of politics, economy and last but not least culture. One of the benefits of globalization is that it has given us the opportunity to explore other cultures through food. The cuisine and traditions related to food in individual countries have spread all over the globe. That is to say eating pizza in Brazil, foie gras in China or sushi in Scotland has become rather normal. The Arabic kitchen is an outstanding gastronomical experience and just one of many exciting cuisines to explore. Agriculture, the turbulent history and trading routes in Arabia have all played a huge part in shaping the Arabic cuisine. With no more than eight inches of rainfall annually it is impressive that Egypt was one of the earliest nations in which agriculture was made possible. In ancient Egypt the people in the Nile Valley discovered that they could exploit the annual river overflow for their own benefit. Soon crops such as wheat and rice grew with ease. These and other ingredients such as molokhia have been staple food in Egypt from the days of the Pharaohs. Nations and empire that have invaded countries in the Arab world have left footprints in Arabic gastronomy. These empires include The Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire. In modern history nations such as Great Britain and France have invaded Arabic land. To a certain extent these Western countries have contributed or rater refined the Arabic cuisine.


Between 1600 and 1800 there was active trading tradition in Oman and Yemen. Traders from both countries loaded their boats with dates, pomegranates and figs when they sailed to Zanzibar, countries in East Africa and the Indian Ocean. They returned with spices including cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and chilli. Till this day these spices are fundamental in Arabic cooking. Hospitality and generosity are two of the highest held virtues in the Arabic culture and are strongly associated with food. As the Old Persian saying and the Arabic proverb states: “A guest is God’s gift” and “Three things are no disgrace to man, to serve his guest, to serve his horse, and to serve in his own house.” It does not matter whether the guest is a neighbor, sibling or a stranger – he or she should be welcomed with open arms. During a meal the host will encourage the guest to taste all the served food and to eat more than his or her filling. Arabic hospitality and generosity can seem overwhelming at first, but once you get familiar with it you feel that it is a gesture that comes from the heart. This book is intended for people in non-Arabic speaking countries or for those without Arabic background, as I would like for people outside the Arab world to be familiar with and be able to cook authentic Arabic dishes. When I tell my friends that Arabic cuisine is one of my favorites they usually nod and eagerly talk about an amazing place to eat shawarma. Though shawarma tastes delicious I think of more than just this dish when I mention Arabic food. Several recipes in ‘A Taste of Arabia’ are well known including hummus and falafel, but there is also focus on less known areas of the Arabic cuisine. This books allows you to take the time to journey through one of the most colorful, tasteful and unique gastronomical cuisines. It is time to have a taste of Arabia.

Yasmin Al-Modhwahi


manakish bil zaatar
makes 12 dough 150 ml milk 125 g butter 25 g fresh yeast 3 eggs, beaten 500 g plain flour 1 tsp. salt topping 1 tbsp. olive 1 tbsp. dried zaatar
Heat milk and butter in a small pan until lukewarm. Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a big bowl. Add the yeast and blend well. Beat in the eggs and add salt. Sift the flour into the yeast liquid, knead the mixture to a soft dough and leave it to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll each piece out to a thin round circle. Brush each circle with olive oil and sparkle with zaatar. Put the forn on and when burning hot, place one bread at a time on top of the oven. Leave the bread for a few seconds or until the bread can be taken off the forn with ease. Move the bread with a metal spatula into the oven, close the door and leave for few seconds until the topping of the bread sizzles. If not using a forn, bake the bread in a preheated oven, 230°C, for 5 to 8 minutes or until the topping sizzles and the bread is firm.


When baked place the bread on a rack. Serve warm.


4 - 6 persons 2 dl olive oil 1 dl zatar

4 - 6 persons 1 L yoghurt natural ¾ tsp. salt olive oil

Mix oil and zatir. Eat with khubz (p. 62) by dipping the bread into the zaatar.

Drain the yoghurt through a piece of cotton in a colander for 24 hours in a cold place. Mix the drained yoghurt with salt. Serve the lebnah in a deep dish. Make a cavity in the center of the cheese and fill it with olive oil. Eat with khubz (p. 62).


4 - 6 persons 4 tbsp. olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 can of broad beans (450 g) 2 tomatoes, chopped 1 dl parsley, chopped ½ tsp. chili (optional) 3 tsp. cumin ½ tsp. salt ½ tsp. pepper olive oil
In Egypt fava beans are used instead of broad beans. The dish originates form Egypt and is considered a naitonal dish of the nation. It is believed that the dish dates back rom the days of the Pharoahs, as fava beans have been found in pharaonic tombs.


Heat oil in a deep pan. Add onion and sauté for two minutes. Add the broad beans, inclusive the water from the can, and the tomatoes. Leave to simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Mash the bean mixture with a fork. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Serve in a deep dish and drizzle generously with olive oil. Eat with khubz (p. 62).



makes 60 500 g chickpeas 2 dl parsley, finely chopped 2 dl coriander, finely chopped 1 dl dill, finely chopped 10 garlic cloves 2 onions 4 tbsp. sesame seeds 2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. sodium bicarbonate 1 tbsp. cumin 2 tsp. chili powder cooking oil garnish chopped herbs

Soak chickpeas for 24 hours and discard water. When chopping the herbs do so using a knife. If chopped in a food processer the juice of the herbs will be extracted.This will make the dough fall apart when frying the falafel. Quarter the onions and put them in a food processer with chickpeas and garlic. Blend until a smooth paste. Mix all the ingredients and leave the dough to rest for 4 hours. Form the dough into 60 balls at the size of a walnut. Deep fry the falafels in sizzling oil to a brown color. Remove onto absorbent paper. Garnish with chopped herbs. Serve warm or cold.


Falafel have become a character trait of the Middle East and have gained global popularity. These delicious vegetarian-friendly balls are not just enjoyed at breakfast. Sometimes they are served in khubz (p. 62) with some type of tahina or yoghurt sauce (p. 61). Otherwise they are usually a part of a mezze table. In Egypt falafels are known as tamiya. Tamiya are not made of chicpeas, but fava beans.



makes 25 shell 75 g bulgur 350 g minced meat 1 onion, grated 1 tbsp. olive oil ½ tsp. salt fill 1½ tbsp. olive oil 1 onion, finely chopped 150 g minced meat 35 g pine nuts ½ tsp. salt ¼ tsp. pepper
Rinse bulgur in a sieve and squeeze out any excess moisture. Transfer the bulgur into a bowl. Add meat, onion, oil and salt to the bulgur. Knead to a thick paste. Divide the shell mixture into 25 balls. For the filling, heat olive oil and fry the onion till golden. Add the minced meat and cook until evenly browned. Add remaining ingredients and leave it to cook for a few minutes. Remove the filling from the heat and divide into 25 portions. Shape each raw meatball like an egg. Hollow the meatball from one end to the other with the index finger. However do not make a hole all the way through. It is important to hollow it so that the wall of the ball is as thin as possible without cracking. Stuff each ball with one portion of the filling. Close the kibbeh and reshape the ends to resemble an American football. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the kibbeh on a tray. Leave space between each one of them. Bake them in the oven for 15 minutes or until evenly brown. Serve with zabadi bil nana (p. 61).


The national dish of Lebanon is kibbeh. There are several versions of the dish including kibbeh nayye, raw kibbeh similar to paté, kibbeh bil-sanieh, kibbeh on tray that is layered and baked, and kibbeh krass, fried kibbeh that has a shell and fill consisting of minced meat and bulgur. These kibbeh are alternative kibbeh krass, as they are baked rather than fried.



4 - 6 persons ½ dl bulgur 2½ dl cucumber, finely chopped 3½ dl tomatoes, finely chopped 1 dl spring onion, finely chopped 2 dl parsley, finely chopped 1 dl mint, finely chopped dressing 1 dl olive oil 1 dl limejuice 1 garlic clove 1 tsp salt
Soak the bulgur in water for 2 to 3 hours and drain. Chop vegetables and herbs with a knife. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing. Just before serving mix all the ingredients for the salad. Pour the entire dressing in the salad and toss well.


baba ganoush
4 - 6 persons 3 eggplants 5 garlic cloves 2 dl tahina 1 tbsp. paprika powder 1 tbsp. cumin 2 tbsp. vinegar Juice of 3 limes 2 tsp. salt ½ tsp. pepper garnish olives chopped herbs

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Prick eggplants with a fork and roast them on a rack for 45 minutes or until the skin wrinkles.Remove the eggplants from oven and leave to cool for a while. Half the eggplants and scoop out the flesh. Blend the flesh and garlic till a smooth paste. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Garnish with chopped herbs and olives and eat the baba ganoush with khubz (p. 62)


The Sultan’s harem of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th and 17th century refers to an enclosed quarter of women. The quarter included the Sultan’s mother, wives, concubines and daughters. The Valide Sultan, the Sultan’s mother, and the hasekiks, the Sultan’s favorite, were highest in the harem hierarchy and they had great political influence. The women of the harem competed with one another to become hasekiks by for instance impressing the Sultan with new exciting dishes. According to the legend that is how Baba Ganoush was invented.

4 - 6 persons 1 dl mint, finely chopped 1 dl parsley, finely chopped 8 romaine leaves, chopped 2 tomatoes, diced 2 small cucumbers, diced 2 spring onions, finely chopped 1 big loaf Arabic bread dressing ½ dl olive oil Juice of 1 lime 2 tsp. sumak ½ tsp. salt
Roast Arabic bread in a 200°C preheated oven until the bread is golden and crisp. Break the bread into small pieces of 1-2 cm squares When chopping herbs and vegetables do so using a knife. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing. Just before serving mix all the ingredients for the salad. Pour the entire dressing in the salad and toss well.


warak einab
makes 120 400 g rice 500 g minced beef 6 big tomatoes, finely chopped 3 medium-sized onions, finely chopped 4 tbs. lemon juice 1 tsp. salt 5 tsp. cinnamon 2 tsp. black pepper 5 tsp. bokharat 2 big bunches parsley 2 big bunches mint 5 tbs. olive oil 1 pack/glass wine leaves stock 1 can peeled tomatoes 3 tbs. tomato paste 2 beef stock cubes
Remove parsley and mint leaves from the stalk. Rinse thoroughly and chop finely. Mix all ingredients except wine leaves in a big bowl. Place wine leaves in a pot and cover them with water. Boil them for 5 minutes. Place one wine leaf on a work surface at a time with the shiny sight down. Cut off the stalk. Spoon some of the mixture on the stalk end of the leaf. Do not spoon too much of the filling as the wine leaf will cut when cooking. Before placing it on the leaf, make sure to squeeze the juice of the mixture into another dish. First fold the stalk end of the leaf over the mixture, then the sides. Finally roll the wine leaf tightly towards the tip. Blend the peeled tomatoes in a bowl. Add tomato paste and stock cubes. Put the rolls in a pot. They must be packed closely. The juice from the filling is poured over the wine leaves. Afterwards the stock is added until the wine leaves are completely covered with liquid. Cover with a lid and boil on low fire for 2½ hours. If there is any stock left add it to the wine leaves during the cooking time. If no stock is left add water. Eat the wine leaves warm or cold and serve with zabadi bil nana (p. 61). YASMIN’S WORD: If there is space for a dish, place it over the wine leaves before the lid is put on. This is in order to prevent the wine leaves from expanding too much and thereby becoming too soft.



kousa mahshy
Remove dill, parsley and mint leaves from the stalk. Rinse thoroughly and chop finely. Mix all ingredients except zucchinis and green pepper in a big bowl. Cut off stem end of the zucchinis and green pepper. Remove the inside of the pepper and hollow the zucchinis using a corer. The wall of the hollow zucchini should be no more than 2 to 3 millimeters and the rounded end of it should be kept intact. Stuff the zucchinis and the green pepper with the mixture. Leave about 1 cm without filling so that the vegetables won’t crack when cooking. Blend the peeled tomatoes in a bowl. Add tomato paste and stock cubes. Place the green pepper in the centre of a pot and encircle it by standing zucchinis as shown in the picture to the bellow. Cover the vegetables with the stock and leave to boil on low fire for 1 hour or till tender. Serve with the warm stock.

Makes 60 400 g rice 500 g minced beef 6 big tomatoes, finely chopped 3 medium-sized onions, finely chopped 1 tsp. salt 5 tsp. cinnamon 2 tsp. black pepper 5 tsp. bokharat 2 big bunches parsley 2 big bunches mint 2 big bunches diill 5 tbs. olive oil 60 small zucchinis 1 green pepper stock 1 can peeled tomatoes 3 tbs. tomato paste 2 beef stock cubes


4 - 6 persons 1 can chickpea purée (430 g) ½ dl tahina 1 dl yoghurt 3 garlic cloves, crushed 1 tbsp. red chili 2 tbsp. vinegar Juice of 2 limes 1 dl chopped parsley (optional) garnish Chopped parsley 1 can chickpeas

Mix all the ingredients to a very smooth mixture. The hummus should have a creamy and soft consistent. If too thick add water. Garnish the paste with chopped parsley and chickpeas. Serve with khubz (p. 62).


After more than three months of planning and five hours of mixing, 300 cooks presented a 10.452 kg plate of hummus in May 2010. It earned a Guinness World Record for the heaviest plate of hummus.



asabi gullash bil gibna
makes 50 125 g halloumi cheese 1 dl parsley, chopped 1 dl mint, chopped 240 g mozzarella cheese 250 g domyati 2 eggs 1 pack spring roll dough (50 sheets) cooking oil

Grate the halloumi cheese into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to mix. Divide the cheese mixture into 50 balls. Place one spring roll dough sheet on a working surface and put a ball of cheese near the bottom middle it. Shape the cheese as a 3-5 cm long sausage. Cover the cheese with the bottom part of the sheet. Fold in both of the sides and gently press to seal. Roll the roll towards the top. Deep fry the cheese rolls until golden brown and crispy. YASMIN’S WORD: The sheets of spring roll dough can become dry and dull, because making the asabis can take some time. To keep the dough nice and moist, wet a tea towel and cover the unused spring roll sheets as well as the rolled asabis. Another problem that you might experience when folding the asabi is that the dough won’t seal. To solve this problem I sprinkle the sides as well as the top of the sheet with water.



shorbed ads
4 - 6 persons 1 middle-sized onion 4 tbsp. oil 1 middle-sized onion, diced ½ zucchini, diced 1 big tomato, diced 2 carrots, diced ½ kg split lentils 3 chicken stock cubes 1½ L water 2 tsp. salt ½ tsp. black pepper 2 tbsp. cumin 2 limes

Cut one onion into thin slices. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion until golden brown. Remove onion from oil, but keep oil aside. Put the diced vegetables in a pot together with the remaining ingredients. This does not include the two limes. Leave to boil for 20 minutes. Before blending the soup add the oil from the fried onion. Just before serving garnish with fried onions and add juice from lime according to taste.



shorbed el-crema
4 - 6 persons 1 chicken c. 2 kg 1½ L water 20 cardamom seeds 30 g cinnamon stick 2 stock cubes 2 tsp. salt 3 onions 1 tbsp. butter 1 dl milk 5 tbsp. flour 4 mestika 1 tbsp. butter 160 g pasta (star)

Clean chicken. Boil in water with cardamom seeds, cinnamon stick, stock cubes, salt and onions. Leave on low fire for 45 minutes. Remove chicken and sieve the stock. Melt one tablespoon butter over low fire in a pot. When melted add flour and stir. Gradually stir in the stock and milk. Crush the mestika between two spoons and put it in the soup when boiling. Leave it to boil on low fire. Meanwhile melt one tablespoon butter in a pan. Fry the pasta until golden. Remove pasta from the pan and add to boiling soup. Leave it to boil till pasta is cooked. Before serving, skim the soup. YASMIN’S WORDS: When I was younger I knew this soup as the ‘star-soup’, because star shaped pasta was used. Actually any type of small pasta can be used. Keep in mind that I drank litres of this soup already in a young age. The question is who is to thank? The lovely flavours of the soup or those stars?


Soak chickpeas in water for 48 hours. Discard water and skin the chickpeas. Soak lentils for half an hour. Remove any impurities. Heat the oil in a pot. Fry the onion and celery for 5 minutes or till golden brown. Add spices, water, stock cubes, tomatoes, tomato paste and chickpeas. Leave to simmer for half an hour. Stir in lentils and simmer for thirty more minutes or until lentils and chickpeas are easily chewable. Add vermicelli and leave the soup to simmer 5 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. If soup is too thick dilute with water.

4 - 6 persons 2 dl chickpeas 1 dl brown lentils 1 tbsp. oil 1 large onion, diced 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced 1 tsp. ground ginger 10 g cinnamon stick ½ tsp. cayenne pepper pinch saffron 2 tsp. paprika 1½ L water 3 stock cubes 5 big tomatoes, diced 3 tbsp. tomato paste 120 g vermicelli Salt Pepper 2 bunches coriander, chopped 1 big bunch parsley, chopped


Just before serving stir in chopped herbs. Harira is a Moroccan soup, but it is well known throughout the Arab countries. The soup is nourishing, rich and full of flavor and is thus very popular especially during the fasting month, Ramadan.


main courses

makaroni bil forn
4 - 6 persons 500 g pasta (penne rigate) meat 25 g butter 500 g minced meat 1 can of peeled tomatoes 4 garlic cloves 2 tbsp. tomato paste ½ dl water 1 tsp. salt ¼ tsp. pepper béchamel sauce 40 g butter 8 tbsp. flour ½ L milk ½ tsp. salt tomato sauce 1½ tbsp. olive oil 1 onion, coarsely chopped 1 green pepper, chopped 2 tbsp. tomato paste 2 dl water 1 stock cube 3 tbsp. breadcrumbs 25 g butter
Boil pasta according to packet directions. Melt butter in a pan. Fry the minced meat until brown and crunchy. Blend the peeled tomatoes and garlic cloves. Pour half the amount over the meat. Set the other half aside. Stir in tomato paste, water and add salt and pepper to the meat. Leave to simmer until all liquid is evaporated. Heat butter over low fire. Add the flour and stir until a smooth paste. Pour the milk gradually while stirring. When the sauce has come a boil, reduce to low fire and leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt. Grease a 20x30 cm roasting tray with butter. Coat the entire tray with breadcrumbs. The dish will consist of four layers: Half of the pasta in the bottom, the meat sauce, the other half of the pasta and finally the béchamel sauce. Cover the béchamel sauce with a thin layer of breadcrumbs. Cut butter into small cubes and place them on top of the dish. Bake in preheated oven, 200°C fan, for 30 minutes or till the top layer is crusty and golden. Meanwhile heat oil in a pot. Brown chopped vegetables. Pour in the remaining tomato and garlic sauce as well as the tomato paste, water and stock cube. Simmer for 10 minutes. Blend the mixture to a smooth sauce.


Serve the pasta dish with the warm tomato sauce.



roz il-basilla wa lahma mafrouma
4 - 6 persons meat 1½ tbsp. butter 500 g minced meat 1 tsp. salt 3 tsp. cinnamon rice 400 g rice 1 tbsp. olive oil 1½ tsp. cinnamon 1 tsp. salt 6½ dl water 3 carrots, diced 150 g peas nuts 100 g almonds, shelled 75 g pine nuts 2 tbsp. olive oil
Heat the butter in a pan. Add the meat when the butter starts to sizzle. Fry until brown and crispy. Sprinkle with salt and cinnamon and mix well. Melt olive oil in a pot. Rinse rice through a sieve. Make sure that all excess water is removed before adding the rice in the hot oil. Stir until rice is dry. The latter takes about 4 minutes. Pour in water and add cinnamon, salt and vegetables. When the water boils, cover the rice with a lid and put the pot on low fire. The rice is cooked when all water is evaporated. Mix the rice and vegetables gently when cooked. Heat the olive oil in a small pan. Halve the almonds and fry. Stir continuously otherwise the almonds will burn. Add the pine nuts as soon as the almonds change color. Stir until almonds and pine nuts are golden. Transfer to an absorbent paper. Spoon the rice and vegetable mixture on to a dish. Cover it with the crispy meat and decorate with almonds and pine nuts. The dish can be a little dry thus it is always served with zabadi bil khiyar (p. 61).


4 - 6 persons 1¼ kg lamb shoulder 35 g butter 1 garlic, sliced 3 onions, sliced 900 g haricot beans 2 cans peeled tomatoes 2 tbsp. cinnamon ½ tbsp. salt ½ tbsp. pepper 2 stock cubes 2 tbsp. tomato paste cinnamon salt pepper

Ask the butcher to cut the lamb shoulder into 5x5 cm cubes. In a big pot melt the butter. Add the meat, garlic, onions and haricot beans. Cover with a lid and leave on medium-high fire until all the liquid from the ingredients evaporates. Stir in the cinnamon. Blend the peeled tomatoes and add them and the remaining ingredients to the pot. Leaver to simmer for about an hour or until meat is tender. Add cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with khubz (p. 62), roz bil shariya (p. 59) or plain rice.


samak makli
4 - 6 persons marinade Juice from 2 lemons ½ dl olive oil 2 garlic cloves, crushed 2 tbsp. cumin 2 tsp. salt ½ tsp. pepper fish 1200 g halibut wheat flour

Mix all ingredients for the marinade. Cut fish into serving pieces. Marinate for at least 8 hours. Remove fish from marinade before frying. Coat fillets with flour. Fry fish in half butter, half oil to obtain the best flavour. Served with roz ahmar (p. 58) and hummus (p. 27). YASMINS’S WORD: Any white fish can be used. Another variation of the dish is to use 2 tablespoons of ground coriander instead of cumin.


4 - 6 persons meat 1.2 kg lamb neck 700 ml water 2 onions 20 cardamon grains 30 cloves 1 tsp salt rice 350 g rice 1½ tbsp. butter 6 dl water 1 tsp. salt sauce 15 g butter 1 garlic, peeled 3 tbsp tomato purée 6 tbsp water 2 tbsp vinegar bread 1.5 arabic bread 25 g butter 1 tsp. cloves, grounded

Ask the butcher to cut the lamb neck into 1½ cm slices. Boil 700 ml water in a pot. Add meat, onions, spices and salt. Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until meat is tender. Remove meat from broth and grill in oven until brown. Sieve out remaining ingredients and keep the broth for later use. While the meat is boiling, cook the rice. Melt butter in a pot. Rinse rice through a colander. Make sure that all excess water is removed before adding the rice in the hot butter. Stir until rice is dry. The latter takes about 4 minutes. Pour in water and add salt. When the water is boiling, cover the rice with a lid and put the pot on low fire. The rice is cooked when all water is evaporated. Melt butter in a pan. When the butter is warm crush the garlic into it. Fry for a couple of minutes or till golden, stir once in a while. Stir in tomato purée, water and vinegar. Bring to a boil and keep aside till later use. Cut bread into small pieces approximately 2x2 cm squares. Spread evenly in an ovenproof dish and place knobs of butter on top of the bread. Sprinkle with cloves. Toast the bread in a hot oven. Keep an eye on it as the bread can burn all of a sudden. Immediately after the bread has been taken out of the oven, pour 1½ dl of the broth over the brad. Spoon the rice on top of the bread and pour the tomato vinaigrette so that the rice is completely covered. Top the dish with the grilled lamp neck.


YASMIN WORD: The remaining broth is delicious to drink hot.


4 - 6 persons meat and vegetables 800 g chicken dru m sticks 6 carrots 500 g pumpkin 350 g rutabaga 35 g butter 2 onions, chopped 3 tbsp. ras-el hanout 2 tsp. paprika ½ tsp. saffron threads water 1 tbsp. salt ½ tsp. pepper 1 bunch parsley 2 bunches coriander couscous 7 dl water 2 tsp. salt ½ kg couscous 6 tbsp. olive oil sugar sauce 35 g butter 1 small onion, finely chopped 2 dl black raisins 2 tbsp. sugar 2 dl water 1 can chickpeas, drained
Remove the skin of the chicken. Cut the carrots, pumpkin and rutabaga in 5 cm long stalks. Melt the butter on high fire in a big pot. Fry onion until it is soft. Blend in ras-el hanout, paprika and saffron threads. Leave for a minute. Add chicken legs, salt, pepper and pour water until the legs are covered. When boiling, reduce to low fire and leave to simmer for 20 minutes. Move pot back to high fire and add the vegetables. If necessary add water until everything is covered. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low fire and simmer for 15 minutes. Add chopped herbs. For the couscous boil water and salt. Add couscous and simmer until water is absorbed. Toss the olive oil evenly. In a small pot melt butter with onion. Stir in raisins, sugar and water, when onion is soft. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Place the couscous on a serving dish and form it into a mountain. Well the center and spoon sugar sauce in here. Remove chicken and vegetables from broth. Surround the couscous with the chicken and vegetables. Garnish the dish with chickpeas and serve with warm broth.



lahma bil forn

4 - 6 persons

meat 1 tsp. salt 1½ tsp. cinnamon ½ tsp. pepper 4 lamb shanks vegetables 30 g butter 2 big onions 6 big tomatoes 3 green peppers
Mix salt, cinnamon and pepper. Rub lamp shanks with the mixture. Place the lamp shanks in a roasting tray and put the dish in a 230° preheated oven for 30 minutes or till golden brown. Cut onions and tomatoes into thin boats, while the green pepper is cut into thin slices from the top to the bottom. On the stove melt the butter in another roasting tray. Brown onion and green pepper. Add tomatoes and cook for five minutes. Place lamp shanks on top of vegetables and cover tray with silver paper. Leave on stove to simmer for approximately 2½ hours or until meat is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep in mind that all of the liquid might evaporate. If so, add water during the cooking time. Serve the meat and vegetables with roz bil shariya (p. 59).


4 - 6 persons okra 1 tsp. olive oil 1 onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped 400 g okra 1 chili, chopped Juice of 1 lime 1 tsp. salt ¼ tsp. pepper meat sauce 25 g butter 3 garlic cloves, chopped 1 onion, chopped 500 g minced meat 4 tomatoes, grinded 2 tbsp. tomato paste ¼ tsp. pepper 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. bokharat 1 dl water 1 tomato, sliced

Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Fry onion and garlic until golden. Add okra and chili and leave to fry until the okra turns into a brighter green. Pour limejuice and add salt and pepper to the pan. Put off the fire. In another frying pan melt butter and fry onion and garlic till golden. Add meat and fry until brown and crispy. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour the meat sauce in an ovenproof dish and cover it with the okra. Place the tomato slices on top of the okra and cover the dish with tin foil. Place in the middle of a 175°C preheated oven and cook for 1 hour. Serve with plain rice or roz bil shariya (p. 59).


4 - 6 persons koushari 2 dl brown lentils 4 tsp. cumin 2 tsp. salt 6 dl water 3 dl rice fried onion 3 onions 10 tbsp. oil tomato sauce 1½ tbsp. olive oil 3 garlic cloves, crushed 1 onion, diced 1 can peeled tomatoes (400 g) 2 tbsp. tomato paste ¼ tsp pepper 1 tsp salt 2 dl water 1 stock cube 250 g pasta (1 cm penna rigata)


Rinse the lentils in water the night before and spread them on a tea towel to dry. Remove any impurities. Cut the onions into thin slices. Fry them to a rich brown color. Be aware that the color change from brown to black can occur rapidly. Remove to an absorbent paper. Keep the oil for later use. Boil water with salt, cumin and oil from the onion. Add lentils and leave to boil for half an hour. Add rinsed rice. Do not stir the ingredients. Simmer until all water is absorbed. Heat the olive oil in a pot and fry garlic and onion till golden. Blend peeled tomatoes and add it and the remaining ingredients to the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes. Cook pasta according to direction on pack. To serve stir the rice and lentils gently. Place on dish and spoon pasta on top. Spread tomato sauce and sprinkle with fried onion. Serve with dakos (p. 60)




4 - 6 persons chicken 1 chicken (1.2 kg) 1 onion 2 stock cubes ½ tbsp. salt 25 cardamom seeds 25 g stick of cinnamon 1 L cold water taqliya 20 g butter 15 garlic cloves, crushed 4 tbsp. ground coriander molokia 400 g frozen molokia 4½ dl broth of chicken topping 1 middle-sized red onion 4 tbsp. vinegar
Clean chicken. Boil in water with cardamom seeds, cinnamon stick, stock cubes, salt and onions. Leave on low fire for 45 minutes. Remove chicken and sieve the broth. Keep the broth for the molokia. Roast chicken in a 200°C preheated oven until the skin is crunchy and golden. Melt butter in a pan. Sauté garlic and add ground coriander. Fry the taqliya for a couple of minutes. Boil broth. Add frozen molokia and leave to simmer until the molokia is defrosted. Toss in the taqliya and leave to simmer for 3-5 minutes. Pour the molokia into a bowl. Chop the red onion finely and mix with vinegar. The vinegar sauce can be used as topping over the molokia. Serve the molokia as a sauce to roz bil mikassarat (p. 56).


Molokhia is found in countries such as India and the Philippines, but it is a traditional Egyptian dish originating from times of the Pharos. During the reign of Caliph al-Hakim Abu Ali Mansur, 985-1021 AD, the consumption and the cooking of molokhia in Egypt was forbidden, because he believed that molokhia could be used as a sexual stimulant. Fortunately After his death the ban was lifted.



roz bil mikassarat
4 - 6 persons nuts 1 tbsp. oil 75 g almonds, peeled 50 g pine nuts rice 1½ tbsp. oil 400 g rice (basmati) 6 dl water 1 tsp. salt
Heat the olive oil in a small pan. Halve the almonds and fry. Stir continuously otherwise the almonds will burn. Add the pine nuts as soon as the almonds change color. Stir until almonds and pine nuts are golden. Transfer to an absorbent paper. Heat oil in a pot and add vermicelli. Stir till golden brown. Rinse and sieve the rice before adding to vermicelli. Stir for 4 minutes or till the rice is dry. Pour in water and add salt. Let the rice boil. Move to low fire, cover with a lid and leave to simmer until water is absorbed. Serve with molokhia (p. 53).



roz ahmar
4 - 6 persons 1 onion, finely chopped 2 tbsp. oil 400 g rice 6 dl water 15 cardamom seeds ½ tbsp. salt
Rinse and sieve the rice in a colander. Heat oil in a pot. Sauté onion. Add rice to onion and stir for 4 minutes or till the rice is dry. Pour in water and add remaining ingredients. Let the rice boil. Move to low fire, cover with a lid and leave to simmer until water is absorbed. Remove cardamom seeds before serving. Sere with samak makli (p. 43)


roz bil shariya
4 - 6 persons 2 tbsp. olive oil 100 g pasta (vermicelli) 400 g rice 7½ dl water 1½ tsp. salt

Heat oil in a pot and add vermicelli. Stir till pasta is golden brown. Rinse and sieve the rice before adding to vermicelli. Stir for 4 minutes or till the rice is dry. Pour in water and add salt. Let the rice boil. Move to low fire, cover with a lid and leave to simmer until water is absorbed. Served with among other things bamia (p. 49), fasoulia (p. 42), molokhia (p.53).


4 - 6 persons 3 medium-sized tomatoes 1 red chili 1 tsp. vinegar ½ tsp. salt

Quarter the tomatoes and cut the chili into 4 pieces. Blend the vegetables, vinegar and salt to a sauce. Serve with koushari (p. 50) or add to harira (p. 35) for a more hot flavour.


zabadi bil khiyar
4 - 6 persons ½ cucumber ½ L yoghurt 2 garlic cloves, crushed 2 tsp. cumin
Half the cucumber and cut it into cubes. Mix all ingredients gently in a bowl.

zabadi bil nana
4 - 6 persons 4 dl yoghurt natural 1 dl mint, chopped
Mix yoghurt with chopped mint. Eat with kibbeh (p. 18).

Serve with roz il-basilla wa lahma mafrouma (p. 41).


makes 14 24 g yeast 7 dl water, lukewarm 2 tsp. sugar 3 tsp. salt 18½ dl wheat flour

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water and mix in sugar. Leave for 10 minutes. Add salt. Blend in flour gradually and knead the dough for 10 minutes. Let the dough rise 3 hours or overnight. Knead the dough. Divide into 7 rolls and leave to rise for 15 minutes. Roll out the rolls to ½ cm thick circles on a lightly floured surface. Cover the breads with a dry tea towel and leave to rise for a further 10 minutes. Preheat pizza stone on the lowest rack in a 230°C oven. Place one of the breads on the pizza stone and bake till bread can be removed from the stone with ease. The latter takes about 4 minutes. Cool on a rack. Repeat until all breads are baked. If not using a pizza stone cover a baking tray with baking paper. Place the breads on top of the paper and bake on the lowest rack in a 230°C preheated oven. Serve warm.




roz bi laban
4 - 6 persons ½ dl water 1 dl pudding rice 6 dl milk 1 dl sugar 2 tsp. mestika 1 tsp. blossom water 1 dl pistachio nuts, chopped

Boil water in a pot. Stir in rice until water is absorbed. Pour in milk. Cover the pot with a lid and boil rice on the lowest fire for 35 minutes. Crush the mestika between two spoons and blend in to rice with sugar and blossom water. Spoon the rice pudding into four serving dishes or glass and eave to cool. Sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts. Serve cold.


om ali
6 - 8 persons 3 sheets buff pastry 9 dl milk 2 dl cream 75 g pistachio nuts, shelled 75 g almonds, coarsely chopped 6 - 8 persons 75 g hazelnuts, coarsely chopped 75 g raisins 150 g sugar 2 cans puck crème (340 g)

Cover a baking tray with baking paper. Place the buff pastry on the tray and bake in a preheated oven, 200°C. When pastry is golden remove from oven. Separate the middle layer from the top and bottom. Keep the golden top and bottom layer aside and bake the middle layer until it has the same color as the top and bottom. Mix the milk, cream nuts, almonds, raisins and sugar in a bowl. Break the pastry and place half of it in the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Pour the milk mixture over and cover the milk with the other half of the pastry. Finally spread the puck crème over the pastry. Bake in the preheated oven till the top layer golden brown. This takes between 15 and 20 minutes. Serve warm.


Om Ali literally means ‘The Mother of Ali’ in Arabic. It is said that it was the first wife, who was mother to Ali, of the Egyptian Sultan Ezz El Din Aybek who invented the dish. After the Sultan’s death there was a fight between Om Ali and the Sultan’s second wife. After many obstacles Om Ali finally had the second wife killed. To celebrate Om Ali made this sweet dessert. I interpret it as sweet revenge.


makes 20 - 25 160 g shelled pistachio nuts 240 g filllo dough 2 tsp. sugar 1 tsp. rose water 2 dl oil 2 portions cold syrup (p. 70)

Chop pistachio nuts. Do not grind them. Mix with sugar and rosewater. Use a 15x15 cm ovenproof dish. Brush base and sides with oil. Cut the dough into sheets that have the same size as the dish. Place one sheet in the dish and brush with oil. Cover with another sheet and brush with oil. Continue to do so until half of the fillo dough is used. Spread the pistachio and sugar mixture on top of the dough. Place a fillo sheet on top of the mixture, brush with oil and cover with another sheet, which surface is brushed as well. Continue the procedure with the rest of the fillo dough. Use a sharp knife to cut about 20 diamonds shaped baklawas. The baklawas must be cut all the way through to the bottom of the dish. The easiest way to make perfect diamond shaped pastry is to cut the baklawa into 5 verticle lines and 4 or 5 diagonal lines. Bake in 180°C preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the baklawa’s are crispy and golden brown. Take the sweets out of the oven and pour syrup over them. Leave to cool and absorb syrup overnight.



1 portion syrup 2 dl sugar 1 dl water 2 tsp. lemon juice

Mix water and sugar in a pot. Bring to a boil and then leave to simmer for 3-5 minutes. Blend in lemon juice and simmer for another 5 minutes. Let the syrup cool. YASMIN’S WORD: For a sweeter taste, add 1 teaspoon of blossom water when you blend in the lemon juice.


4 - 6 persons ½ pack amar el-din 4 dried dates 4 dried apricots 4 dried prunes 8 small dried figs ½ dl raisins 1 dl blanched half almonds ½ dl pine nuts
Cut amar el-deen into small pieces and place in a pot. Pour water in to pot and leave to simmer. Quarter the dried fruits and add them to the water, when the amar el-deen is dissolved. Halve the almonds and stir in the remaining ingredients. Let the sweet simmer for 20 minutes. Pour into serving glasses and place them in the refrigerator to cool. Serve cold.


makes 10 batter 12 g yeast 3 dl water, lukewarm 1 tsp. sugar 4 dl water cooking oil filling 1 tsp. cinnamon 1 tsp. icing sugar 120 g walnuts, chopped garnish pistachio nuts, finely chopped
Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water and set aside for 5 minutes. Stir in sugar and floor until there are no more lumps. Cover with a damp tea towel and let the batter rise for 2 hours. Meanwhile prepare the filling. Mix all ingredients for the fill. The walnuts should not be grinded. Lightly oil a thick-bottomed pan. When burning hot reduce to low fire. Pour ½ or ¾ dl of batter into the pan and spread to a circle 10 cm in diameter. Fry pancake until surface is relative dry. Remove the pancake to a rack and repeat the process with the rest of the batter. Place filling in the center of the uncooked side of the pancake. Take care not to stuff the pancake so much that it will break when being fried. Usually 2 teaspoons of filling should do. A rule of thumb is if the pancake is not sealed with ease there is too much filling. Fold the pancake so it looks like a half moon. Pinch the edges tightly to prevent ataif from opening. Deep fry ataif and turn occasionally. When they are golden in color they are done. Dip them in cold syrup (p. 70) and arrange on a plate. Pour remaining syrup on top of all the ataifs. Sprinkle with finely chopped pistachio. Serve warm or cold. However the ataifs are best when they are crispy. Thus eat them within a few hours after being cooked and dipped in syrup. YASMIN’S WORD: A more calorie friendly method of cooking the ataifs is to bake them in the oven. Brush ataifs with oil and place them next to each other in a greased baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven, 200ºC, till they are golden and crispy, about 20 minutes. After filling the ataifs they can also be frozen.




makes 2 liters 160 g hibiscus petals 1 L water 400 g sugar 35 g dried tamarind

Rinse hibiscus petals through a colander. Pour water in a big pot and add petals as well as tamarinds. Bring to a boil and leave to simmer for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and dissolve sugar in juice while still hot. Dilute until the juice makes two litters. Serve ice cold.


On warm days this bright-red drink is served cold and fresh on open cafés and vendors all over Egypt. Actually the entire plant, except the roots, is eatable and used in cooking. In addition to cold drinks the hibiscus petals are used in food coloring, jellies and tea. Hibiscus tea is said to be one of the best types of tea, as it lowers blood pressure, is caffeine free and is rich in C vitamin.


asiir lamoon
makes 1¼ L 8 limes 2 dl sugar 11½ dl water, ice cold 1 bunch mint (optional)

Cut the unpeeled limes into cubes. Blend sugar and water till sugar is dissolved. Add lemon. If using mint, add mint leaves to the blender with the limes. Let the blender run on highest setting for 4 minutes or until water is green. Sieve the juice and serve immediately.


amar el-deen
makes 1½ L 1 pack amar el-deen 1½ L water 120 g sugar 2 tsp. rose water 1 dl pine nuts 2 dl blanched halved almonds
Rinse the amar el-deen, cut into small pieces and put in a pot. Pour water into the pot. Bring to a boil and leave to simmer for half an hour. Put off fire and dissolve sugar in the hot drink. Blend when drink is cool. Add the rest of the ingredients and put drink in a refrigerator. Serve cold.


shai bil nana
makes 1 L 1 L water, boiled black tea 10 branches mint, fresh sugar (optional)

Place mint in a pot and pour boiling water over. When the water turns green, remove leaves from pot. Add tea according to taste. Let the tea draw according to taste. Pour into teacups. If using loose tea sieve the tea before serving. Add sugar for a sweeter taste.



makes 2 cups 2 brown sugar cubes 2 cardamom seeds 1½ tbsp. Arabic coffee 1½ dl water

Add all ingredients to a kanaka (coffee pot). Bring to a boil. As soon as the coffee rises, remove from heat. Let the coffee settle. Return kanaka to heat, bring to a boil, remove when coffee rises and let it settle. Repeat one more time. Serve in Arabic coffee cups or in Espresso cups.


There are several legends suggesting the invention of coffee as a beverage. According to one legend it was the Abyssinian goatherd Kaldi who discovered coffee in 850 AD. As the sun went down Kalid was exhausted from looking after his flock of goats. In contrast the goats were full of energy. Kalid noticed that they had been eating some red berries. Kaldi collected the berries and reported his findings to the local monastery. The beans were put in water and the beverage drunk by the monks. The drink was regarded as a miracle as it kept the monks awake for their evening prayers. A similar myth describes how a Yemeni man, Sheikh ash-Shadhili, discovered the coffee beans on a journey to Ethiopia. It is said that he exported the beans from Ethiopia to Yemen.


glossary A
ads: lentils ahmar: red ahwe: arabic coffee amar el-deen: apricot leather, apricot drink asabi gullash: fillo pastry fingers asiir: lemonade ataif: pancakes with filling

baba ganoush: eggplant dip baklawa: dessert made of thin layers of fillo dough, nuts and syrup bamia: okra stew with minced meat and tomatoes 84

bokharat: ready made mixture of the grounded species cinnamon, black pepper, paprika, cumin, coriander, cloves, nutmeg and cardamom.

couscous: baby pasta coated with wheat flour crema: crème

dakos: chili sauce

falafel: fried chickpea patty fasoulia: haricot beans fatta: grilled lamp neck on top of roasted bread, rice and tomato-vinaigrette sauce fatoush: salad with roasted bread 85

foul: bean salad forn: oven


gibna: cheese

harira: moroccon soup hummus: chickpea dip

khiyar: cucumber karakadé: drink made of dried hibiscus petals khubz: bread kibbeh: meat-bulgur balls with meat and pine nut filling 86

kousa mashy: stuffed zucchinis


koushari: brown lenils, rice and macaroni served with tomato sauce

laban: milk lamoon: lime lahma: meat lebnah: yoghurt cheese


manakish: bread with topping makaroni: macaroni makli: fried mikassarat: nuts molokhia: leaves of corchorus species 87

nana: mint


om ali: a warm dessert combined of puff pastry, nuts, raisins and milk

roz: rice

samak: fish shai: tea sharbat: syrup shariya: vermicelli pasta shorbet: soup 88

tabouleh: parsley and mint salad tahina: paste of ground sesame seed


warak inab: wine leaves stuffed with rice and meat

zaatar: a mixture of sesame seeds, sumac and herbs such as oregano and thyme. zabadi: yoghurt



ahwe 82 amar el-deen 79 asabi gullash bil gibna 29 asiir lamoon 78 ataif 72 baba ganoush 22 baklawa 68 bamia 49 couscous 46 dakos 60 falafel 15 fasoulia 42 fatta 44 fatoush 23 foul 13 harira 35 hummus 27 karkadé 76 khubz 62 kibbeh 18 kousa mashy 26 koushaf 71 koushari 50 lahma bil forn 48 lebnah 12 makaroni bil forn 34 manakish bil zaatar 10 molokhia 53 om ali 67 roz ahmar 58 roz bi laban 66 roz bil shariya 59 roz il-basilla wa lahma mafrouma 41 roz bil mikassarat 56 samak makli 43 shai bil-nana 80 sharbat 70 shorbed ads 32 shorbed el-crema 34 tabouleh 21 warak einab 24 zaatar 12 zabadi bil khiyar 61 zabadi bil nana 61



Without the incredible contribution form the following individualts this book never would had been written: First and foremost a big thank to my supervisor Ms. Karen Hornshøj-Møller who has supported and encouraged me, yet kept a tight rein on me throughout the project. Thank you for reading, re-reading and giving feedback on my personal statement. This project has truly been a pleasure and I will miss our lunch meetings. I owe my deepest gratitude to Ulla Mervild, chief publisher at Politikens Forlag, for finding time in her busy schedule for an interview. Ulla provided me with a lot of useful and relevant information that helped me to create a good looking and good content wise cookbook. A thank goes to aunty Iman, aunty Hiba and Teta for your wonderful help and ideas. I can not wait to prepare these dishes for you especially as you have cooked and introduced them to me in my childhood. Thank you for making me fall in love with my Arabic background in terms of the cuisine among other things. I would like to thank my lovely cousin Lamis for her interest and thoughts on the project. Your helpfull and supportive e-mails are greatly appreciated. I am thankful to Ayten who gave me the beautiful teacup. The picture of shai bil-nana never would have looked like this without the glass! I am grateful to my parents who have been interested and supportive in my project from day one. A thanks goes to my father for eating and suggesting improvemnt to the dishes. Thank you for reading and editing my personal statement as well. A special thank to my mother for being the greatest help one can imagine. Without your assistance when things went wrong I never would have finished this project on time or created this quality of work.


This is the first cookbook by 16-year-old Yasmin Al-Modhwahi who was born and grew up in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her mother is from the Faroe Islands, whereas her father is from Arabia. Her father grew up in a number of Arabic countries including Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq. He has therefore been used to food from each of the 22 Arabic countries. When Yasmin’s mother married her father they moved to the Middle East for a couple of years. Yasmin’s mother learned how to cook authentic Arabic food during her stay in Arabia. Yasmin has grown up in a multicultural home where traditional and delicious Arabic food has been served frequently. The author’s love for the Arabic cuisine expresses itself in the 94 pages long ‘A Taste of Arabia’.

The term Arabia covers all Arabic speaking countries from Morocco in East to Iraq in West and from the Mediterranean Sea in North to the Indian Ocean in Southeast. In total the Arab world spans over 22 countries. Each country has specialties, but in general the cuisines and recipes in these countries are somewhat similar. Yet there is local nuance to every dish depending on in which nation the course has been prepared. This book consists of more than 40 authentic recipes that are focused on the Egyptian and Levantine kitchen.

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