March 11, 2010
Hmm hmm good!
A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! This is an overdue food post. I decided (from my backlog of yummy recipes) to pick the Tunisian feast my husband prepared for me shortly after I arrived in Massachusetts.
My favorite part was helping A in the kitchen. It was really fun cooking with someone instead of being in there all alone while everyone else has a good time watching me sweat it out! :-)
This was a traditional Tunisian feast. Of course the meat of choice is lamb which I am not a fan of to be honest. It has a heavy aftertaste to me. I grew up in the south and you couldn't even find lamb in the grocery stores until about 10 years ago!
So let me run through what we made and a brief list of ingredients. My husband cooks by intuition, not recipes so it was a handful a pinch a smattering. lol His spices will change with his whims. Really he is fun to cook with masha'Allah. Oh I will also double check all the ingedients with him and will update my blog tomorrow to reflect anything I might have left out.
First I'll tell you about the tagine. This is Tunisian tagine not Moroccan so get the idea of a meat/veggie stew out of your mind. :-) You take cooked lamb cubes and grind them til they are almost a paste. Yes really a paste. Interesting concept. Then mix that with a couple of eggs and some finely diced cooked potato. This is kind of like an American hash. When I say finely I mean tiny uniform cubes. Really small. :-)
Anyway you take a large bunch of parsley and another of dill. Also some green onions. Trim the root ends and weed out obvious nasties. :-) Chop finely. I mean fine. Really really small pieces. Mix the cooked lamb paste, the eggs, potatoes and herbs. Then layer a nice thick covering of mozzarella cheese on top. I was surprised by that ingredient; I guess I thought it was only us danged old yanks that smothered everything in cheese. lol Spread into a 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for about 30 min.
We also made shorba or soup. Very simple, rustic almost in its simplicity. Sorry I didn't get a photo of it; it's not really photogenic but it's oh so good! Boil the leg bone (hacked into 2 or 3 pieces) in a large stock pot of water. For the Arabic food purists out there, save the leg bones to disgust your non-Arab dinner guests by sucking the cooked, gelatinous marrow out of the center of the bone with a loud slurping noise. Lovely, really.
Throw in any array of veggies coarsely chopped. I think we used carrot, turnip, assorted squash/zucchini, garlic, onion, tomatoes, a large bunch of dill, spinach and some other things. Salt to taste, pepper and really I am drawing a blank. lol Anyway you boil it all together til soft then puree it in batches in your blender. This is yummy and healthy and makes popular iftar fare.
We also had a lamb salad for lack of a better word. Cubes of cooked lamb tossed with parsley, onion and tomato. Little olive oil thrown in for good measure never hurts! I enjoyed this as much as a non-lamb lover can which says alot!
Now..onto the star of the show, my new all-time favorite Tunisian food: salata mishwaya. Oh y hee!!! My taste buds do a little victory dance every time it appears on our table. Insha'Allah your family will enjoy it too!
Take about 5 plum tomatoes, 3 of the long green peppers (medium heat NOT jalapenos!), 5 or so small eggplants, and several cloves unpeeled garlic and roast them til black and blistered all over. Hint: after roasting place in bag or covered dish and let steam for 15 minutes; the skins will slide off! You do NOT leave the skins on as they should be nice and burnt by this point. Charring the veggies gives the whole affair a smoky sultriness that is incomparable!
Mix these all together, throw in a little salt and a good measure olive oil. Should use enough to cover the vegetable mixture completely and have some pooled up on the top. Soooo good with crusty french bread, ya'll don't KNOW how yummy this is. As a matter of fact I had some tonight. Hmmmm!
The last time A made it he used our little grill on the patio because we are having a warmish spell; however in Jan. he just turned the stove eye on "High" and roasted them inside. Really very good idea, I wouldn't have thought of in a million years. :-)
Ok so recap: salata mishwaya, lamb salad, and tagine. Don't forget the shorba! Such a yummy meal but of course I thought how divine the tagine would be with ground beef. Hey shoot me, I like my cows.
Medium well that is. :-)