Aubergine or Mtabbal badinjane served with a cracker

Smokey and nutty Mtabbal Badinjan (or eggplant’s Mutabbal)

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Mtabbal Badinjan or aubergine/eggplant Mutabbal is hands down my favourite Levantine mezze.

How you prepare your eggplants will make all the difference in this famous Levantine mezze/starter.

Before we get on with the recipe, what looks like Mutabbal for some is considered Baba ghanouj for others. The two have many ingredients in common.

So the confusion is on a worldwide scale. However, if you go to a Syrian restaurant, they will be clear on which is which (on a general note), while some other Middle Eastern countries will call this Baba ghanouj (- the yogurt)

Roasting the eggplants in a oven would not give you an authentic smokey taste. Your best bet is charcoal or over an open flame of a gas knob  and you just rotate every 4 minutes until it’s done.

Now the seasoning of the mashed eggplants is also a matter of personal preference. Some like more tahini, some like more lemon..You just have to adjust it to your own taste.

Ingredients
Serves 4
Prep: 5 min – Cooking: 20-30 min

  • 1 medium-size eggplant/aubergine, roasted (char-grill or over a gas knob is the best option)
  • 1 tbsp of tahini
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of thick natural yogurt
  • 2 tbsps of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp of vinegar
  • 1 raw garlic clove , grated (or less, depending on the garlic used)
  • Salt to taste

For garnish

  • Good extra virgin olive oil
  • Paprika
  • Parsley, chopped
Preparation
Prick the eggplant in different places. Roast it until it looks withered and charred from outside. Place in a plastic bag for a couple of minutes then remove the skin.
Scoop the flesh and transfer it to a strainer. Press the eggplant against it and discard the liquid.
If you have used a type of eggplant which has a lot of seeds inside, discard them. Some are bitter.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mash the mix with a fork or chop them transfer to a pestle and mortar. Using a food processor for this is not my thing. I like a rough texture with tiny bits of eggplant.
Garnish it and dress it with the best extra virgin olive you can get hold of, Sprinkle some paprika and chopped parsley.
Serve chilled with pita bread or crackers…

Butterless lemon curd

This light version of lemon curd is just as good as its buttery one minest the calories.

I have a few recipes calling for lemon curd but sometimes, it’s either made with butter (the traditional, as in here or here) or white white chocolate (here). They’re all good, but having good recipes with less calories is also a good thing isn’t..

 

 

I have added some lime zest and chopped basil. For a stronger note add basil essence or oil because the leaves are mostly decoratives and do not bring that basic taste to the curd. So please do not buy lemon curd because it’s done in less than 20 min with a proper lemony tangy outcome, just like a lemon curd should be.



Ingredients
Makes 1 bonne maman jar
Prep: 5 min- cooking: 15 min.

  • 2 eggs
  • 160 ml lemon juice (strained)
  • Lemon zest (of 2 or 3 non waxed lemons, plus limes if you have)
  • 100g of powdered sugar (or 30 g fructose)
  • 2 tbsp of corn starch (30g)
  • Lemon oil can be added if you have dull lemons

 

Preparation

In a medium saucepan, mix the corn starch, sugar and zest together.

Add in the eggs one by one and whisk. Add the lemon juice.

Place the pan over medium-low heat and keep stirring until the lemon curd becomes as thick as a custard. The more you cook it the more it thickens. Make it to your liking.

Leave the lemon curd to cool in a sterilised jar. Chill for up to 10 days.

So go and make these today

 

Version Française de la recette
 
 
Ingrédients
Pour un pot style Bonne Maman
Prep: 5 min – cuisson: 10-15 min
 
  • 2 œufs
  • 160 ml jus de citron (filtré)
  • Zeste de citron bio (de 2 or 3, plus le citron vert si vous en avez)
  • 100g de sucre en poudre (ou 30 g de fructose)
  • 2 cas de maïzena (farine de maïs, 30g)
  • Huile ou essence de citron si vos agrumes n’ont pas trop la force d’un bon fruit. 


Préparation

Mélangez le sucre, le zeste et la maïzena (farine de maïs). Incorporez les œufs un à un tout en mélangeant au fouet. Ajoutez le jus de citron et mélangez.

Sur feu très doux et sans cesser de remuer, faites prendre le lemon curd. Retirez du feu dees que vous sentez que la spatule devient lourde et que vous avez devant vous la consistance d’une crème pâtissière épaisse. 

Transférez le lemon curd dans un bocal stérilisé et laissez refroidir. 

Placez la crème au frais jusqu’à 10 jours.

 


Homemade Labneh: a seriously addictive Levantine strained cheese

I need my cheese every morning and whatever I eat for breakfast, my brain does not compute is as fulfilling food until cheese is part of it.

Now would you call labneh “cheese”? I think it is, it’s white, it’s dairy, it’s spreadable..Say no more, it’s cheese :).
Labneh to me is the healthiest form of cheese and it’s dead easy to make. One of traditional Levantine forms of breakfasts come in this combination : A plate of labneh (or bowl) served with flatbread (Lebanese bread, Eish balady, Pita…), a good drizzle of olive oil, a good sprinkle of za’atar mix (thyme, oregano ,sumac, sesame seeds blended all together), some mint leaves or dried mint. Then on the side, tomatoes, cucumber and black olives come in a separate plate to make a preper breakfast.
Having lived in 3 of the 6 G.C.C countries where Lebanese/Syrian food has an important fingerprint in the local Cuisine, I just got used to this white bliss.
Now I make my own labneh, twice a week and I just feel like I can’t live without it. I also know what’s in it and that’s important. I’m sure you’ll like it too..
Ingredients
Makes 1 1/2 cup of Labneh
Prep: 3 min – Waiting time: 4 to 8 hrs.
  • 500g of Greek yoghurt or a good plain yoghurt, not the light stuff
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • A cheesecloth/Muslin cloth, a thread/string
  • A strainer
Preparation
Stir the salt in the yoghurt.
Line the cheesecloth/muslin over a strainer which you need to place inside a deep bowl. Scrape all the yoghurt into it.
Bring up the sides and tie with string, leaving a length of string to hang and drip the excess whey. Hang it for 4 to 8 hours..
I like my labneh thick with most of the whey gone. Transfer it to a jar and keep it refrigerated.
Spread it on bread, serve it with crackers, make mana’eshs with it (Lebanese pizza with labneh, za’atar and olive oil topping), samosas, mini-cheese balls to be served as appetizers (see picture in the beginning of the post).

 

Version Française de la recette
 
Ingrédients
Pour 1 1/2 tasse de labneh
Préparation: 3 min – Repos: 4 – 8 hr
 
  • 500 g de yaourt nature de bonne qualité (Grec ou Bulgare)
  • 1/2 cc de sel
  • mousseline pour 
 
Préparation
 
Mélanger le yaourt et le sel et transférer dans une passoire recouverte d’étamine (2 épaisseurs de préférence) disposée sur un bol. 
 
Ramasser les bords de l’étamine et nouer le pochon avec une ficelle ou un fil. Réfrigérer pour la nuit ou faites comme moi, accrochez-le a hauteur pour égoutter le petit-lait.
 
 

Spiced carrot and curry dip

A few weeks back, I have given a bread making demo to some of my friends here in Neustadt. I also had to bring the bread (s) while my friends had to bring the dips so we could enjoy the evening with things to nibble on.

Among the spread of dips, there was this spiced curry dip which didn’t last for long. It was such a daring mix of flavours but they all came out together in a shocking way! Have you ever thought about mixing a curry paste with oranges? Well! I tried! I think it’s just the perfect new recipe for this summer. I even served it with a hot and spicy biryani instead of the usual Raita.

My friend reckons she’s got this recipe from ” SAUCES” by Christine France.

Ingredients
Makes about 400 gr (I would say)
Prep 10 min- cooking: 10 min

  • 1 onion, medium size
  • 3 carrots, medium size
  • Grated zest and juice from 2 oranges
  • 1 tbsp of hot curry paste
  • A small handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt (Sour cream instead of yogurt will give you a creamier dip)
  • 1 -2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice( to taste)
  • Tabasco sauce (to taste, but I would say 1 tbsp at least)
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Preparation
Finely chop the onion. Peel and grate the carrots.

Place the onions, carrots, orange zest, juice and curry paste in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Put the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. Leave to cool.

Stir in the yogurt, lemon juice, Tabasco, finely cut basil and seasoning. 

Serve within a few hours.