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Arabesque: Main Courses

April 2007 Cookbook of the Month: Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon, by Claudia Roden.

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the sections on main courses here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

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  1. Chicken Pie with Onions and Sumac (Musakahan) - I think this was in the Lebanese section. This is made with chicken thighs, and I made the filling ahead of time. I messed up a bit with the filo - I used a smaller size sheet, and think I let it thaw out a bit too long so it was tricky to work with. As you can tell from the photo, there wasn't much filo on top - if the sheets had been the right size, there would have been a lot more, since you line the bottom with sheets and then fold over the excess on top (and I had v. little excess) before adding two sheets to the top. I think you also need more melted butter than called for. But, absolutely delicious - loved the flavor - and great to have as leftovers.


    15 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      I made the tomato rice pilaf with chicken amdsifinshed with sumac.It was okay. I think I would like to tweak some of the flavors

      1. re: Candy

        I am making the Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives tomorrow night.... I will post all the details! :) So excited!

        1. re: Candy

          I made just the tomato pilaf last night, to go with some other dishes, and I thought it was awfully bland ... maybe needed some more salt, and more tomato ...

        2. re: MMRuth

          I posted a main course description on the meze thread, because I made a whole meal and didn't want to break it up. Also made a different chicken and onion filo pie. I've actually made the musakahan before, sans filo. You sprinkle pine nuts on tip and crumble toasted lavash on top...it's the same thing, just more informal, I guess. Got it from, I think, Wolfert's Med. Greens and Grains.
          That sumac tast is delicious, isn't it. I also agree about the leftovers!

          1. re: oakjoan

            We made Moroccan Chicken with Caramelized Baby Onions and Honey. A very wonderful dish. I used cippolinis because the shallots available here are as large as regular onions. It was a great substitute.

            Because I'd made variations of this dish before I made a few adaptations to the Arabesque recipe. After browning the chicken I poured off some of the fat. I could have poured most of it away. You can see in the photo, there is still some left. I also used chicken stock instead of water, because I had some good stock that needed to be used.

            After the chicken was done and the sauce was reducing, I broiled the chicken pieces to crisp the skin. That's the way I've done it cooking in restaurant kitchens. We like crispy skin!

            The sauce reduced nicely and caramelized just like Claudia Roden described. It did indeed take a generous amount of black pepper to balance the sauce.

            We served it with roasted yellow finn potatoes tossed with fresh mint. It was a very enjoyable meal.

          2. re: MMRuth

            That chicken pie sounds good MMRuth - I think I'm going to make it this week.

            1. re: MMRuth

              One of my FAVORITE morrocan dishes is the Bastilla... After reading Ruths report and seeing how simple the recipe I was... I just had to try it... Everything went great... even the one little mistake... turned out pretty good...

              First, I prepared the chicken. Added the cinnamon and gingern and other spices... the aroma was just INTOXICATING! I could not help but take a few bites from it... I could have just eaten the chicken this way over rice and been a happy woman...


              I tossed in the Almonds and then took my Philo Dough... As I removed it from the box I realized I had made a big mistake! I had bought the wrong kind!! Still I continued and hoped for the best... I popped in the oven and when it was all done the baking made my mistake even more glaring... here... take a look at yourself..


              Yes, the Philo is GREEN... I picked up Pistachio Philo by mistake. I admit, I was mortified by it at first, but luckily P. is a good sport! :) Especially once he took a peek inside and how good it all looked despite the greeniness... :



              I served it along side TJ's Whole Wheat Couscous mixed with Zucchini and Golden Raisins. P. called it my Green Plate Special.


              And when he took the first bite of the Bastilla... he went WOW! Actually with the Cinnamon and Ginger, the Pistachio Philo dough worked!!! The flavor was slight, but he suggested I use Pistachios instead of almonds next time and it'll be even better! Hurrah!!

              And so we ended up this cookbook of the month learning a lot of things... like when it comes to Bastilla...It's always all good! :




              1. re: Dommy

                I love that, Dommy! Priceless.

                1. re: Dommy

                  Wow, I didn't even know you could get pistachio filo (or anything but plain). Was it a local brand, Dommy?

                  Oh, and by the way, I wouldn't hesitate to dive into your green bastilla - it looks delicious!

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    I don't think it was a Local Brand, but I got it at the Restaurant Supply Store called Surfas... It was Pegasus Brand


                    They have serveral different flavors such as Chocolate and Corn and several different textures, such as Country Style (Which I was hoping to get!) and Fine.


                    1. re: Dommy

                      I wish I knew where this brand was sold in my neck of the woods (the site doesn't list retail outets) - I'd love to get my hands on chocolate filo and country-style filo. What fun!

                2. re: MMRuth

                  I made this (the chicken with onions and sumac - Lebanon, pl 293) planning to do her homey variation of stuffing it in pitas. But we were too full of the appetizer to even contemplate bread, so we just had it as is. Delicious. And very easy. It was Lebanese night here - we were celebrating Lulu's return to school and LulusDad got a bottle of rose champagne and a bottle of sparkling grape juice so that Lulu could pretend she was having champers too. We sat waiting for the tennis to start (the main reason I was going for the homey variation was that I'd decided we were going to sit in front of the tv watching the men's final ... oh well) and had a GREAT meal. Starter was Little puff pastry cheese pies and side was zucchini with vinegar, mint and garlic - will post on appropriate thread about those.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    LulusMom -- Thanks for the review. I am going to try this, the homey pita version. Do you recall about how long it took to cook the chicken? Maybe 15 to 20 minutes? I so rarely cook with boneless/skinless that I have no idea on the cooking time, but in the bastilla recipe she suggests cooking the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes, adding the raw chicken to the pot after the onions have cooked for 30 minutes already.

                    It seems like this would be good with some yogurt splashed into the pita too. Mmmm.

                    1. re: twilight goddess

                      Oh gosh, Twilight, I really don't. I just cooked it until it looked and felt done. I would say 15 minutes should do it? It really is tasty. Sorry I can't help more.

                3. Roast Cod with Potatoes and Tomatoes (p.76): I really loved this, although the next time I'll use a little more of both the potatoes and tomatoes, and slice them a little thicker, because they cooked a little too much. I also couldn't find cod (or another similiar white fish) with the skin on, so I used skinless. It was still good, but I think it would have been better with the skin on. I'd also double the amount of the chermoula (the cilantro/garlic/spice marinade), because it was really good, and I wished that I had more.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: JasmineG

                    I had big plans of making the Tagine of chicken with olives and preserved lemons tonight- I was also going to make the orange, onion and olive salad and yogurt salad to go with it all. My fiance just called and is feeling very fluish! :( Poor guy- I am now changing my menu to some kind of soup. I usually do old fashioned chicken soup but since i have my book at home i thought i would ask if anyone who has their book with them could post the name and key ingrediants for a yummy soup recipe that would help in feeling better. If there are not any then i will go back to good old chicken! :)

                    1. re: gastronomy

                      Here is the list of soups, hope it helps! Let me know if any appeal, and I'll be more specific with the ingredients:

                      barley with yogurt (with chicken, saffron, parsley, and mint)
                      chickpea and lentil (beef/lamb broth with tomatoes, saffron, parsley, cilantro, and orzo)
                      cold yogurt with chickpea and bulgur
                      cream of dried fava bean (garlic, chicken bouillon, cumin/paprika)
                      green vegetable (w/celery, zucchini, dried mint in a chicken/veg stock)
                      pumpkin (chicken stock/bouillon base with pureed pumpkin)
                      red lentil and rice (chicken bouillon, cumin, and lemon)
                      tomato and rice (chicken bouillon, finished with egg and lemon)

                      1. re: Rubee

                        chickpea and lentil please! That sounds wonderful! I think i will use chicken instead of beef/lamb- what do you think? If you wanted to help a cold would that sound nice??
                        Thank you so much for listing them!

                        1. re: gastronomy

                          Sounds good to me! It's a Moroccan soup called "Harira".

                          Reading through, she does say you can use 1 lb of chicken - pref boneless/skinless thighs, and 3 bouillon cubes - instead of meat. The ingredients I'm going to list make a big batch - it serves 10. She says you can make it ahead of time and just add the pasta 10-15 minutes before.

                          2 large onions
                          1 cup chickpeas soaked overnight
                          3/4 cup large brown lentils
                          1 lb ripe tomatoes
                          4 celery stalks
                          tomato paste
                          black pepper, ground ginger, cinnamon sticks, saffron or tumeric.
                          5 oz orzo or vermicelli
                          cilantro and pasley

                          1. re: Rubee

                            The soup was wonderful!!!!! I halved the recipe and it still made a ton! Thats fine by us because it is so yummy and we will eat for lunch. I did stray on a few minor areas....
                            I used chicken thighs on the bone simply becasue thats what i had on hand- I took the skin off so it wasnt to much to skim. I put them in a pot with one onion roughly chopped and 8 cups of chicken stock instead of water and boulion as suggested in the variation. After that simmered for 45 min. I skimmed the tp and added diced tomatoes, tomato paste, lentils, chickpeas (canned that i rinsed and drained) and spices. While that simmered I made a batter of flour and water over a med. heat that i poured into the soup to make a wonderful texture and consistancy! I added orzo, lemon juice, cilantro and parsley. simmered for 10 more min, adjusted the salt and pepper and served with lemon wedges and dates. SO terrific! :)

                    2. re: JasmineG

                      I made this (Roast Cod with Potatoes and Tomatoes-Moroccan section) last night with some skin-on halibut. The flavors were terrific, and the dish very simple to make. If you don't mind the approximately hour of cooking time, it could easily be a weeknight meal because the prep is easy-peasy.

                      Halibut was not one of the fishes recommended, but I think that any reasonably thick fillets would be great cooked this way (even salmon). I would also make more of the chermoula next time to pour over the top at the end of cooking. I cooked it an 10" braiser with the amount of potatoes and tomatoes the recipe called for but less fish (about 1 1/4 lbs). I was happy with how the potatoes cooked, but the tomatoes (romas) fell apart. Next time, I may try adding the tomatoes half way through the vegetable cooking time to see if they hold together any better.

                      1. re: Megiac

                        I made this (Roast Cod with Potatoes and Tomatoes) last night. I also used less fish relative to the potatoes and tomatoes. (I had about 1lb tomatoes, 1lb+ of potatoes, and 1.5lb of fish). I used regular tomatoes ("on the vine") and did not peel them first, and that was fine as they become very soft anyway. I'd use more tomatoes next time. If you're doing this, rearrange the instructions and get the potatoes and tomatoes in the oven first as they take 50 minutes and the fish only needs to marinate 30 minutes. This was very good and everyone in the family liked it. Like Megiac said, this is very simple and once you've done about 10 minutes of prepwork there is nothing more to do for an hour. I used the recommended amount of marinade for the full recipe of about 2.5-3lb of fish, but only had 1.5 lb.

                        1. re: DGresh

                          Roast Cod and Tomatoes - not totally true to the recipe!
                          I made this last night - didn't have any Fresh Coriander (cilantro) so I substituted mint which is abundant in my garden right now and increased the number of tomatoes. It worked really well, very flavourful and *as another poster noted ) easy enough for mid week if you have the time.
                          I served it with roasted cauliflower (if I'm going to switch the oven on then I want to fill it :) served with the tahini cream sauce in the New Book of Middle Eastern Cooking - basically tahini, lemon juice and garlic - simple but very good.

                          As someone else noted the recipe is written in rather an odd order - you need to get the toms and potatoes in the oven before starting the fish in order to make it 'flow'. Also the English to American translation seemed weird - I'm a Brit living in the US and have plenty of cookbooks from both countries - the mix of coriander (for fresh cilantro) and new potatoes with cup measurements seemed strange - not exactly a problem but not a good a translation as other books I have.

                          This is my second COTM - the first was a couple of years ago and I only cooked a couple of things. These books seem really interesting and have a lot of recipes that sound like they can use some of the local produce available here in CT, so hopefully I'll cook a little more!


                      2. re: JasmineG

                        Made the Roast Cod with Potatoes and Tomatoes last night. Thanks to all previous posters who suggested doubling the chermoula, because that is what makes this dish. We really liked it a lot, although the 12 minutes was way way too long for the fish in my (admittedly fickle) oven. But our guest and the family all loved it - really beautiful flavors. Can't really add much; just repeat that it is worth doubling the chermoula. Oh, and I wish she'd told me to use a more significant amount of oil (she just says something like lightly cover roasting pan with oil) because I've got a big clean up job on my roasting pan sitting soaking and waiting for me.

                      3. I made the Chicken with Chickpeas and Yogurt (something like that) from the Lebanese section. It's the first of the Fettat recipes. It was delicious and very unexpected. The Lebanese food I've eaten in the past has been primarily street food while travelling in Europe, so I did not know what to expect.

                        You start out cooking a whole chicken covered with water with vegetables and spices added. I cooked the chicken for 1 1/2 hours and then pulled it out of the water (which was by then a very light stock). After it had cooled, we pulled the meat off in chunks (discarding the skin and bones).

                        I broke up some toasted pita in the bottom of a baking dish, poured some of the stock (with vinegar added) over the pita until it was soggy, then added canned garbanzo beans over the pita. I couldn't find the best beans-- they were in a geltinous liquid -- so I rinsed them before adding. Then, over the beans, went the chicken. This was covered with foil and put in the oven. The book just says to put it in a "warm" oven -- nothing more specific -- so I put it in at 350 degrees. After it was hot all the way through, I poured over a yogurt mixture (greek and whole milk yogurt with raw minced garlic and mint--the recipe called for dried mint, but I used fresh, which I think was the way to go). In retrospect, I would use about 25% less of the yogurt mixture.

                        We served it with the Lebanese zucchini slices, which were incredibly potent (more raw garlic). All said, the dish was very tasty and refreshing. Ideally, I'd like to make it again on a hot day because I loved the way the yogurt cooled the whole thing off and it just struck me as summer food.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Megiac

                          Chicken and chickpeas with yogurt (p. 298 - Lebanon)

                          Bo-ring. The first recipe I've cooked from this book (at least in this second round) that I didn't like. And I really didn't like it at all. Blah. And worst of all, it seemed to take a lot of work. Poach the chicken; wait for it to cool and then get the meat off, toast the pitas, tear apart, make the yogurt sauce, toast the pine nuts ... and, as mentioned above, she never gives you a temp. at which to cook this. Also, this is another recipe that is written in very odd order. Why on earth make the yogurt mix first when you have up to 90 minutes while the chicken cooks? And about that yogurt - She wants you to use 4 cups of yogurt plus 3/4 cup of greek style yogurt. I cut this back to about 2 cups yogurt and 1/2 cup of the greek stuff, but kept the 2 garlic cloves and mint the same. And it was still really not enough to liven it up. Wish I'd used more because aside from that, there really isn't much flavor in this dish. Yes, the chicken is poached with an onion, carrot and some spices (cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cardamom) along with S&P, but really, how much of that is going to come through later? For me, not enough. For me, this was like hospital food - boring. "Where's the bowl of jello?" Lulu didn't much like it either, but my husband liked it enough that he's taking the leftovers in to work for the next two days. In fact he said "No, really, this is pretty good." Served with eggplant with vinegar and garlic - now THAT was really tasty.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            Oh, how disappointing! Especially after having put a lot of work into it!


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Thanks TDQ. It really was a disappointment, although when I think back on it, I should have realized that there just wasn't much in there to bring the "kabang" that I usually like in my food. My batting average on this book is still huge.

                        2. Chicken and Onion Pie (Bstilla Bil Djaj), p. 66.

                          This came out great. A simplified version of the classic Moroccan dish, this made a nice dinner accompanied by the Jerusalem Salad from last month's Leite's Culinaria.

                          I made the filling yesterday (onions, chicken, ginger, cinnamon, and cilantro), and put it together tonight. I didn't have large sheets of phyllo to overlap, so I put put more small sheets on top as is suggested. I ended up using one sheet, topped it with the fried chopped almonds, and then three more layered with butter. I didn't cut the overhang, just tore it and tucked the ragged edges in. The top is brushed with egg yolk, baked, and the finished product dusted with cinnamon and confectioner's sugar.

                          Jerusalem Salad:

                          Pics of Bstilla

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: Rubee

                            Your pictures look amazing!! I am definitely making this.

                            1. re: nissenpa

                              Yes - beautiful - I'll also have to retry making the Lebanese version with sumac - with either the right filo dough size or making up for it with extra sheets on top.

                              1. re: MMRuth


                                MMRuth - I want to try that Lebanese version too. If you find out what brands make the large size, will you post ? I bought Athens at the grocery store, which turns out is 9 x 14.

                                1. re: Rubee

                                  Just saw your post - yes - that's the same one I found - I'll keep my eyes open at the market for the larger sheets and let you know.

                            2. re: Rubee

                              Thanks Rubee! That's on my list to make too! Hope it tasted as good as it looks... YUM! I love Bastillas... :)


                              1. re: Rubee

                                Mine was too ugly to take pix...any anyway, I forgot. What a delicious dish, though. Not too hard to make and no matter what you do with the filo, it looks great when it's all golden coming out of the oven. So don't worry too much about it ripping or drying out, etc. Just be sure to paint it with butter.

                                1. re: Rubee

                                  Chicken and Onion Pie (Bstilla Bil Djaj), p. 66.

                                  (Reposting pics):

                                2. Chicken with Tomato Pilaf - Turkey (pg. 194)

                                  This was terrific. The whole thing was nice and buttery. The rice is cooked with a tomato sauce (I used fresh but I think canned would also work) and butter is added at the end. The chicken dish looked a bit bland so I improvised. The recipe calls for a sauteed chicken pieces with butter, oil and S&P. I also threw in garlic pieces and cayenne pepper for a little bite. Serve the chicken over the rice and sprinkle the whole thing with lemon juice and parsley. It's a simple dish but very creamy. It was extremely good comfort food.

                                  I was starving and forgot to take pictures. FYI, the leftovers also heated up well.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                    Made the Chicken with Tomato Pilaf, and liked it very much. Two things: first, I'm really happy (as usual) that I read bb's review. The chicken was great with the addition of garlic and a bit of cayenne. Second thing: my rice came out a bit more al dente than it should have. I almost never have a problem making rice, and stick with the "don't move that lid!" rule. But in this one she has you check to make sure there is enough liquid, which there wasn't - it was drying out - so I added more. But still, it was *almost* crunchy. I think this means that there should be more watered added right from the start. Anyway, the flavor was so good, really nice with that bit of butter mixed in with the tomatoey rice, that it didn't matter at all. Everyone left the table with a clean plate, husband had seconds. I'd make it again in a heartbeat, but add a lot more liquid at the start of the rice's cooking time. Anyway, another hit.

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        I've had problems with rice cooking in acid-ish liquids, it seems to harden it somewhat. Needs more liquid and longer cooking to overome it.

                                        1. re: buttertart

                                          Good to know. I really loved the flavors so much, and want to make this again, so knowing what might help cook that rice more makes it more probable.

                                    1. Roast Cod with Potatoes and Tomatoes - Morocco (pg. 76)

                                      This was another hit. Simple in preparation but it did take longer than expected. My fault though for not looking at the cooking times.

                                      I also didn't make the full recipe because it served 6 and there are only two of us. I made a little less than half for the fish and potatoes. I used almost the full amount of tomatoes because I like saucy things.

                                      Slice the potatoes and tomatoes and roast for about 50 minutes. I saved some tomatoes to throw in about 30 minutes into it. Then, I placed cod fillets on the top and roasted a bit more. The spices of cumin, paprika and chili pepper slowly infused both the fish and the veggies. The mild fish had so much flavor in it and the potatoes were nice and soft. It was great.

                                      1. Roast Lamb with Rice, Ground Meat and Nuts - Lebanon (pg. 316)

                                        This dish was out of the ballpark great. It's opening day here in Boston and even, the non-baseball person, get caught up in the excitement.

                                        Anyway, I made this for easter dinner. The lamb roasts in the oven for about 3 1/2 hours and let me just say, waiting for that thing to come out was sheer torture. The smells in the house was just out of this world. Slow roasted lamb that had been seasoned with cinnamon, allspice, cumin and salt and pepper. And, the recipe calls for water to be added with an onion and a head of garlic. No matter where I walked in my small apartment, I could smell the lamb.

                                        With the lamb, I made the rice pilaf with ground meat and roasted nuts. This was an excellent complement to the lamb as the rice also contained many of the same spices. What made it really interesting was the added meat into the rice as well as the nuts. It just made the rice heartier and nuttier without overpowering the lamb at all. On top of it all, there was alot of broth which I poured over the lamb and will later turn into gravy.

                                        The first picture is the cooked leg of lamb, the second is the lamb slices on rice. The dish was a little brown and I should have sprinkled parsley on top. But, I couldn't wait any longer before I dove headfirst into the food.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                          Oh wow does that look fantastic! I'm reading all your posts, and it's a good thing I just took the kibbe out of the oven because you have me drooling and my stomach growling.

                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                            That lamb looks incredible! I was flipping through it over the weekend thinking it would be great for easter, but alas my MIL was cooking Easter dinner. I'll have to try it soon...

                                          2. I made the couscous with Spring vegetables (p. 114, Morocco)

                                            This was wonderful. I chose it primarily because I wanted a reason to try the author's method of dealing with American-market instant couscous, and didn't have time for a more elaborate tagine (one of the lamb tagines is on deck for company this weekend though).

                                            The assortment of vegetables I used differs from the book, and though for most recipes I'd not change them so much before posting a "review" I think it's keeping with the spirit of this recipe to use available fresh young vegetables. Since this recipe lacks both spices and fat, it's important.

                                            Cooked some small young carrots, green beans, scallions and peas in chicken broth. Cilantro, mint, and parsely stirred in at the end. Drained the vegetables and served with a bowl of the broth to pass, along with the couscous. This was simple, fresh and aromatic.

                                            As to the couscous... the method involves adding warm salted water to the couscous and letting it swell for 10 minutes... then breaking it apart and loosening it with the hands, followed by 20-30 minutes in a 400 degree oven. The couscous turned out just fine, but I have to say it didn't turn out that dramatically better then the (much shorter) box instructions. A little fluffier... slightly dryer and it needed a touch of additional oil. The broth helped. I'm going to try it a few more times...

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Pincho

                                              Really interesting - thanks for that report, l've been wondering how the couscous done Roden's method would differ from the usual way.

                                              1. re: Pincho

                                                I made the Couscous with Lamb, Onions, and Raisins (p. 117); it was quite good (particularly the topping of carmelized onions, honey and raisons). I did the couscous the recommended way, and I have to agree with Pincho that I don't think it's dramatically better than the very easy five minute version which I like just fine (The author specifically recommends this method as a way to reproduce "traditional" couscous texture using the widely available instant couscous in the US). It is a bit less glumpy, but quite a bit more steps.

                                              2. Baked Kibbeh with Onion and Pine Nut Topping (Kibbeh Saniyeh - Lebanon), p. 311

                                                I love kibbeh in all its variations (layered with pine nuts, everything mixed, kibbe nayeh - raw, etc.). This didn't disappoint. Delicious. I LOVED the crispy/sweet/sour topping of the onions, pine nuts, and pomegranate molasses. Earlier in the day, I made the fried onion, pine nut, cinnamon and allspice topping, adding the pomegranate molasses when I reheated it to serve on the kibbeh. I only had medium bulgur, not fine (Arrowhead Mills from Whole Foods). Reading MMRuth's tips (since it wasn't fine grind bulgur), instead of soaking it in cold water, I poured boiling water over it, let it soak for a few minutes, and then drained/squeezed dry. With a food processor, the rest was surprisingly easy - process one onion into a puree, add lamb (I used 1 lb of ground lamb), s&p, and cinnamon. Blend. Add bulgur and blend to a paste. Pat into a greased pan, cut into wedges, and bake for about 25 minutes. That's it.

                                                I served it with, once again, the Jerusalem Salad from the Leite's Culinaria thread. My husband usually won't eat any type of salad except for spinach or Caesar, so I'm happy to find another one he likes! It went very well this meal. I also made a nice yogurt sauce with some whole-milk yogurt, zaatar, olive oil, and a little salt. Definite keeper for us. Looking forward to the leftover kibbeh stuffed in a pita with the chopped salad, and yogurt. The only change I would make is to double the onion topping, it was so good.

                                                16 Replies
                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                    That has got to be one of the most tantalizing food photos I have seen. I am DEFINITELY making this now.

                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                      Baked Kibbeh with Onion and Pine Nut Topping (Kibbeh Saniyeh - Lebanon), p. 311

                                                      (reposting pic):

                                                    2. re: Rubee


                                                      I'm going to make this on Sunday. Did you (can you) use a tart pan....you know, the kind in which the disk in the middle can be removed? Also, what is the white drippy topping in the picture? Yogurt? What did you do? Your picture is tantalizing.

                                                      1. re: onefineleo

                                                        Ha - yes, the drippy stuff is yogurt. I used whole-milk yogurt and thinned it with olive oil, and added some za'atar (Lebanese spice mix of sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds) and a bit of salt, though plain yogurt would be nice too. I'm sure you could use any pan, I had no problems with sticking at all. I used a 10 inch tart pan and greased it with butter. It's the same one I used for the bastilla above -

                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                          Rubee (and others), a question about your experience: was the top of the kibbeh crispy? I made this last night, and it was good, but not earth-shattering, and I realized that part of the problem was it was missing that crispy shell I LOVE about kibbeh. I rubbed 2 T. of olive oil on top, like she says, but it had to sit a bit while I finished preheating the oven, and I wonder if the oil soaked in and kept the top from crisping?

                                                          1. re: AppleSister

                                                            If it helps, mine wasn't crispy either (though instead of oil I used clarified butter). If you're thinking of those football shapes ones that are always crispy, I think the ones I've had have been deep-fried.

                                                            1. re: AppleSister

                                                              I don't think of baked kibbeh as being "crispy." For that you need to fry it in little footballl shapes.

                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                Yes, it's been an education to learn how many kinds of kibbeh there are! I looked up the 50-kibbeh list in Paula Wolfert's "Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean," and was properly amazed.

                                                          2. re: onefineleo

                                                            I was quite taken with the photo of the quinces stuffed with lamb. A local store managed to get in some quinces from Chile. They were not quite ripe but the recipe said to roast the whole quinces until soft 1-2 hours the split, core and then remove part of the flesh and mix in with the ground lamb, pinenuts etc. Both Pickawicca and i made the dish this week. I ended up with lamb and quince hash which was tasty abut after an hour they were too over cooked and after splitting i could not get the core out. She had a similar experience and ...i thought I'd have a nice photo to post. Next fall when local quinces are in season, I will make the dish again and I think I'll halve and core the quinces before the initial baking. Pikawicca has also found somoe errors in the book (Cindy you need to post them) luckily she was an experienced enough baker that the pistachio cake did not end up going down the disposer.

                                                            1. re: Candy

                                                              re: errors in the book, I had a quibble about a recipe I tried-- the couscous with lamb, onions, and raisins. It wasn't an error, but this was a case where the ingredients are on one page, and the instructions on the next, so I was flipping back and forth. The instructons say--"add the salt and pepper, the ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon, and the cloves". Ok, I should have seen the "1 tsp cinnamon" as a warning, but in my mind I said "get the ginger, cinnamon and cloves" switched back to the first page, and added the 2 1/2 tsp of cinnamon listed there. Not until later in the recipe I saw, "add the rest of the cinnamon..." did I realize I screwed up. Is it so hard to say 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon divided??? Just a pet peeve of mine.

                                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                                Totally agree! I can't tell you how many times I've made similar mistakes. The word 'divided' would be entirely helpful.

                                                          3. re: Rubee

                                                            I just made this last night - loved it, as did my 1/4 Lebanese husband - who was wary of my cooking middle eastern food again as he's been travelling there a lot. I still couldn't find the finely ground bulgar and (though I'd not read her post!) did exactly what Rubee did to my regular bulgar wheat. Also, mine wasn't crusty on top either. I served it with yougurt and cucumber sauce, the tomato pilaf from a chicken dish, zucchini with vinegar, mint and garlic and eggplant slices with walnuts and garlic. My husband kept saying - why did you make so much food!!

                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                              I just had a slice of this for lunch, and I think that next time I'd make it with a little less cinnamon.

                                                          4. I made Lentils with Pasta and Caramelized Onions. We ate it hot. I really liked it, but I modified it by increasing the proportion of the onions immensely relative to the pasta. One large onion (as the recipe suggests), once caramelized, is *not* enough for 4-6 people in my opinion. I probably used 5-6 medium onions (lacrosse ball sized) and even more would have been ok in my opinion.

                                                            1. Tangine of chicken w/ preserved lemons and olives (p. 93) Morocco

                                                              Very good. I followed the recipe, using legs and thighs. It's simple and came out fine. At the end though I saw that the chicken wasn't done so cooked another ten minutes not realizing there's more cooking time ahead. But dark meat is forgiving.

                                                              I did the variation w/ some fresh chili peppers since, well, I love fresh hot peppers. Very lemony, and turned out fine. It was better first time; cold leftovers were too lemony for moi.
                                                              I would make again, but next time probably w/ artichoke bottoms (p. 95) Also, next time I think I'd make my own preserved lemons in salt rather than the brined ones I purchased. Not bad, but if you make the roast potatoes to go w/ it, don't add lemon or you'll have lemon overkill!

                                                              1. Prawns in Spicy Tomato Sauce (Kimroun Bil Tamatem - Morocco), p. 84

                                                                This was an easy, tasty recipe. I'm sure it would have been even better with the king prawns the recipe calls for. I used what I had in the freezer, which was a pound of medium shrimp. To make the sauce, saute one chopped onion, add garlic, and then add chopped peeled tomatoes (I used an undrained 14-oz can of diced tomatoes), ground ginger, and chili pepper (I used a hefty pinch of dried red pepper flakes) and simmer. I also added the optional saffron (Kashmir "Mogra Cream" saffron from Penzeys.com). I made the sauce earlier in the day, along with shelling the thawed shrimp. For dinner, I reheated the sauce, added the shrimp, and mixed in some chopped cilantro and parsley. Voila - main course done in 5 minutes. I served it with the Eggplant Slices with Pomegranate (p. 261).

                                                                Link to recipe:

                                                                1. Okay, my Arabesque dinner. Baba Ganoush, I cheated and bought some hummous whih was deicious, my DH made the pitas I made Shrimps with garlic and cliantro (p 274) and the grilled chickn winngs with lemon and garlic


                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Candy

                                                                    I think I'm going to make the shrimp with garlic and cilantro tonight too, but was wondering what is the brown sauce in your pic? I love that pomegranate molasses and was wondering if you did some variation on that?

                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                      It may just have beeen the lighting. I followed the recipe exactly. i want to try the Moroccan version (p.84) soon too.

                                                                      1. re: Candy

                                                                        Well, it looks delicious either way!

                                                                    2. re: Candy

                                                                      That is the wrong photo, i didn't check. That picture is from the Vietnamese book we have been talking about. Here is the Arabesque dinner. Sorry I did not check.


                                                                      1. re: Candy

                                                                        Glad I asked - that looks like a great meal, everything looks so good!

                                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                                          Ditto! Looks great. I always forget to take photos until the plates only have crumbs on them.

                                                                    3. Geez, so many mouth-watering photos and reports on this thread!! Well, it looks like I'm the first to report on the Kofte Kebab w/ tomato sauce and yogurt (Turkey, p. 203).

                                                                      After several days of primarily vegetarian eating (see Mezze thread), husband and I were craving meat. We both enjoy lamb so the kofte kebab looked great. The book picture made it look so homey, like a clever way of using up odds and ends from yesterday's meal. I loved the different layers of flavor and texture...the crispy pita chips; the warm, sweet tomato sauce; the cool, creamy, tangy yogurt; the meaty, slightly smoky lamb "cigars"; all garnished w/ toasted pine nuts and a whisper of sumac. A Turkish "mess" of goodness. Next time I will grill the kebabs as opposed to broiling though.

                                                                      Photo: http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...

                                                                      Um, speaking of mess, a stiff warning to those who make this: Don't toast the pita rounds (halved lengthwise) on a bare rack in the toaster oven. The first couple were fine, but the third one went up in flames and made a mess of my toaster oven. Having to react quickly and reach for something at hand, I squelched the flames w/ flour. Worked just fine, but then husband was like, "Why did you have to use the GOOD flour?" Me: "Um, that's because all I have." ;-)

                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                        I made these last night and really liked them. I made half beef and half lamb but only plated half of them. I realized, that I would have plenty of leftovers but didn't want a soggy cold mess in the fridge. These were great but I didn't put enough tomato sauce on top of the pita layers. I agree with CL about grilling these v. broiling them. My cigars were alittle fatter than called for and I broiled at the minimum time. I thought they were slightly overcooked and slightly scorched but still tasty.

                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                          Glad to see that you've tried them too. From the photo, looks like you used whole wheat pita. Did you toast in a pan? I'm going to crisp in a pan next time after my fire fiasco.

                                                                          I only plated about a third of the kebabs in the photo because it was just for the two of us, although my husband ate alot of the reserved ones later in the meal. Broilers really vary, as mine took longer than she stated and just weren't getting charred enough. The broiler is def. lower maintenance, but I really prefer the flavor and control of grilling.

                                                                          1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                            Good eye. That was whole wheat pita and I toasted them in the oven. I just laid them out onto two sheets of foil. The oven was on from roasting the beets so I just threw these in afterwards.

                                                                            There are also only two of us. But, we are pretty piggy so I plated half of the meat/pita/yogurt/tomato sauce. We ate the entire plate. Leftovers will either be tonight or tomorrow. I also liked the lamb ones better but C liked them both equally. I also added the onion and parsley to both (probably more than called for too).

                                                                            My broiler runs hot and when I opened it the second time, I thought I saw fire sparks in the fat dribbles. But, I did get the requisite char on both lamb and beef cigars.

                                                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                                                              I made this last night - and we were piggy too - I plated almost all of it and we ate almost all of that - I made the kofte with lamb.

                                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                Oooh, pretty. I forgot how much I liked these meat cigars. Now that the weather is getting cooler, I'll have to request this book from the library again. There is something irresistable about this dish.

                                                                        2. re: Carb Lover

                                                                          Rotfl. Please ask your husband where he buys "Fire-Squelching Flour" so that I won't use up my more refined flour for this purpose.

                                                                          1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                            I made the Kofte Kebab with tomato sauce and yogurt this weekend. I also used 1/2 beef and 1/2 lamb which I liked quite a bit. I made the mistake of making the full recipe for two people, but it is way too much, and now I have a soggy mass of it in the fridge while I decide what to do with it.

                                                                            I loved this. I really love the contrast of the cool yogurt with the warm tomato sauce and meat (I also loved the use of yogurt in the fettats from the Lebanon section). We had a hot day on Saturday, so it was perfect. Sadly, however, my husband has determined that he does not like the use of cold yogurt in meat dishes, so I need to invite some yogurt loving friends over next time.

                                                                            1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                              I made the kofte with tomato sauce and yoghurt for a Mid Eastern dinner party last night. We thought it was pretty tasty as well and it looked beautiful in the serving dish. I'd probably add a little aleppo pepper to the kebab mix next time as well as more salt and pepper as I felt the meat was a little bit underseasoned. I'm being picky though - everyone loved it and there wasn't a scrap left.

                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                Your whole dinner party sounds fantastic, GG. I may just copy your whole menu.

                                                                                1. re: mebby

                                                                                  Thanks mebby. It was pretty inexpensive too, which is a bonus. We finished off the evening with a selection of cheeses, and an apple and cinnamon sour cream cake using fruit from my friend's garden.

                                                                            2. Chicken Tajine w/ preserved lemon & olives

                                                                              I made this about a week ago and thought it was ok. To be fair to Roden and the recipe, I didn't have preserved lemon on hand but had everything else so really, really wanted to make it. I subbed in lemon zest for the preserved, but I know it's not the same.

                                                                              My main issue w/ the recipe is that she doesn't call for browning the meat at all before braising which leads to that soft, flabby skin and a too greasy saucy for my palate. I know that I generally prefer browning meat before braising in liquid but thought that I'd be true to the recipe and maybe be pleasantly surprised. Nope. I would use the general ideas from this recipe, but def. brown the chicken first and drain some of the oil before proceeding. I also thought she called for too much onion, and I would prefer them sliced as opposed to diced. I did like the fragrant seasoning from the saffron and ground ginger.

                                                                              Photo of some in serving dish:

                                                                              Photo of a thigh plated w/ couscous:

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                Does anybody have the recipe for kofte with yoghurt and tomato sauce pictured and described above? Since we were out of town for much of April, I took mine back to the library. Wah, wah, wah all the way home.

                                                                                I'm going to look for website recipes, but in case I can't find them...will somebody post the general idea if the recipe is too long to reproduce?


                                                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                  Dommy has linked to the kofte here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/38706... If you look above Dommy's post, I posted a ton of online recipes in addition to the ones she found.

                                                                                  1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                    Thanks Katie.

                                                                                    Btw, I have the Wolfert recipe for muhammara - the walnut, red pepper, pom. molass. dip if anybody wants me to post it.

                                                                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                      Is the one you use the same as the one on Leite's? You are right, it was deeeelicious.


                                                                              2. Grilled Poussins with Sumac (Farrouj Meshwi Bil Sumac - Lebanon), p. 294

                                                                                Another easy recipe, though no grilling for me since we live in downtown Boston. Butterfly two poussins (I ordered these from Dartagnan.com) - my first time cooking these little birds. Rub them with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and marinate for half an hour. I used the broiler, flipping them once, for about 20 minutes in total and they came out tender and juicy. Sprinkled with sumac and served with pita bread. Nice healthy dinner served with peas, asparagus, and carrot with EVOO, garlic, and dill - a variation of the Artichokes Stewed in Olive Oil with Peas and Carrots (p. 174) on the Meze thread.

                                                                                1. Meatballs with Pine Nuts in Tomato Sauce (Lebanon pg. 310)

                                                                                  These were wonderful and easy to throw together. Mix finely chopped onions with ground lamb, s/p, cinnamon, allspice and pinenuts. I threw the pinenuts in with the meat v. stuffing each meatball individually - I don't have that much time on my hands. Form into meatballs and roll in vegetable oil. My batch was about 26 meatballs. Bake for about 15 minutes.

                                                                                  Meanwhile, puree tomatoes, sugar, garlic and s/p. I also threw in cayenne pepper for a bit of zip. Pour this over the meatballs after the first bake. Bake together for about 35 minutes.

                                                                                  Note: the recipe calls for the meatball to be baked until the color changes and then to pour the tomato sauce and bake some more. The meatballs, after the first bake, emitted a lot of fat. I meant to drain this some but didn't because I had two dishes of meatballs and they were heavy. The fat did incorporate nicely into the tomato sauce but there was still too much fat.

                                                                                  I served this with rice pilaf (Turkey, page 193)

                                                                                  This was another quick recipe. I halved it because I didn't want 6-8 portions of rice. I wish I didn't because the above sauce was tasty and we ate alot of the rice. There was a nice buttery component to it.

                                                                                  Note: the ingredients are rice, chicken stock or water, butter and salt. As I was prepping the rice, I just followed the directions without any real thought. When I tasted the rice, I realize I forgot to add the salt. Looking back at the recipe, the salt should have been added with the rice but there were no directions to do so. I added salt onto the individual serving plates and it tasted fine. This was an excellent complement to the meatballs.

                                                                                  I do wish that I found an appropriate greens dish to serve with this because I felt the lack of veggies with my dinner.

                                                                                  PS. Don't be fooled by the serving size. We went back for seconds and ate a total of 5 meatballs a piece. They weren't that big.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                    Does anyone think these would be good with a mixture of pork and beef? That's what I have on hand and I really want to make this!

                                                                                    1. re: oaklandfoodie

                                                                                      I say go for it. I think there are recipes in the book with beef kebab like items with the same kind of spices. Not sure about pork though, but it's worth a shot.

                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                        Well, you're not going to find many pork recipes in middle-eastern recipes, but for those of us non-halal/kosher cooks, pork works very well in most beef/lamb dishes.

                                                                                  2. And with the side dish done…


                                                                                    Now it was time to focus my attention on to the main course! To make the most of my new bottle of Pomegrante Molasses, I choose Little Meat Pizzas!


                                                                                    I could not wait to try them except for one thing….. I don’t do dough…


                                                                                    And so this part of the meal was taken over by the baker in the household, P. I gave him the recipe, I gave him the lamb… and he went to town…

                                                                                    First thing he noticed… I gave him a wonky recipe…

                                                                                    Step #1: 1. Put the pot of yoghurt into a bowl or pan of hot - not boiling - water for about 1 hour


                                                                                    We figured she wanted to heat up the yoghurt for some reason… but keeping it hot but not boiling for an hour? Being a stickler for recipes and good eats fan, after thinking it over… he decided to make this contraption…

                                                                                    A casserole Dish filled with water while the Yogurt is covered in a bowl… in a warm oven… Kinda like a double boiler slow cooker thing… that looked something like this…


                                                                                    Everything else, kinda was easy after that. He made his dough, which was very spongy, he wished he could roll it out flatter, but was happy with these sized disks…


                                                                                    He then made the Lamb Paste, which looked pretty scary looking…


                                                                                    And spread it on the little disks… To be honest, it didn’t look any better there either… LOL!!


                                                                                    But I must admit, they were cute when they came out! They really did look like little meat pizzas! :D


                                                                                    All in all, it made for a wonderful dinner! The texture of the dough was VERY pita like. The meat was spiced well and the spices and pomegranate molasses worked well with the gameiness of the meat (We used Lamb Shoulder) My only other addition was to swirl some yogurt on top to add a creamy taste to it. :


                                                                                    We really enjoyed this meal and just like all pizzas, these mini pizzas still tasted good cold the next day! :)


                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Dommy

                                                                                      Nice Dommy!

                                                                                      This is one of the recipes I still plan to make, though I'm going to do the meat/yogurt topping variation. Like you, I hate making dough; however, unlike you, I don't have a dough-making man in this household ; )

                                                                                      So do you think making the dough with the warm yogurt is key? It does look delicious. I was planning on using puff pastry.

                                                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                                                        You know, I'm not sure if it is the key and why she has us heat it for SO long. If anything it takes away moisture from the yogurt and makes for a somewhat dry and tangy dough...

                                                                                        Also it looks like I forgot add the picture of the whole plate! Ta Da!!



                                                                                    2. Sorry ... half a month late in getting to this. I lurked all last month with my mouth watering. Finally made a meal from this book last night. I made chicken smothered in vermicelli (but the couscous variation). Delicious! Everyone in the house is sick and we still loved it. My only issue is that if you're using the couscous variation, there is a "wait a minute, where does the rest of the butter come in ..." moment while reading the directions. Served this with the orange, olive and onion salad. A really wonderful meal.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                        I'm glad people are still cooking from Arabesque. I have lots of recipes I still want to try, that being one of them. Sounds delicious!

                                                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                                                          I have to admit that I didn't follow her directions for the couscous - as I may have said in my previous post, the whole family is sick, and I took the easier way out - just did the "add water" routine, but also added toasted almond slivers and dates to the couscous before mounding it on the chicken. It really was absolutely delicious. I can't wait to cook more from this book.

                                                                                      2. I'm making Fish and Rice with Onion Sauce for dinner tonight with some sole that I had flown in from Seattle. It sure smells good in here!

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                          This was a disappointment: the sauce was extremely watery, despite the fact that I simmered it the entire time the rice was cooking.

                                                                                        2. Lamb Stew with Eggplant Sauce (Hunkar Begendi ([although I know this dish as Imam Bayildi]).

                                                                                          Made the eggplant component as written, and it was very good. I used ground lamb and canned tomatoes, as that is what I had. Her recipe calls for NO spices, which is just not right, IMO. To the ground lamb and onions, I added freshly ground cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, and coriander, along with a big pinch of Aleppo pepper. Also threw in a big quirt of tomato paste and about 1/2 cup water. Left it all to simmer away for about an hour. It was great, but I would not make the lamb part as written.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                            Those spices sound like a great addition! I actually have Iman Bayildy marked to make this month, although it's the vegetarian Turkish stuffed eggplant dish I'm more familiar with (p. 168).

                                                                                          2. I made Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Dates and Almonds with a jazzed up Cinnamon-Scented Couscous.

                                                                                            After nearly 2 hours of simmering and sputtering, sometimes being watched, oftentimes not, we were able to enjoy this succulent lamb tagine. It was wonderful. The lamb was melt-in-your-mouth and the cinnamon, honey and dates made a delicious sweet and savoury sauce. Roasted almonds add the finishing crunch.

                                                                                            As a side to the tagine, we served couscous. But this wasn’t any couscous. I always thought you made couscous by adding boiling water, covering for 10 minutes and then fluffing it with a fork. I always found it bland and dry, so I was hoping to spruce things up a bit. I noticed Roden had a different way of preparing basic couscous, including a 15-20 minute bake in the oven, and I also added in cinnamon and raisins to the mixture. It was definitely not bland and dry. It was mighty tasty.

                                                                                            For pictures and a longer review check out: http://tastespace.wordpress.com/2010/...

                                                                                            1. Fish with Rice and Onion Sauce - wow, this was great. I used sturgeon. Couldn't find fish bouillon cubes, so used fish stock. When you go to process the caramelized onions, puree them, then add some water, about 1/4 cup, a tablespoon at a time.

                                                                                              1. Puff Pastry Meat Pies with Raisins and Pine Nuts - Talaş Böreği (Turkey), p. 201

                                                                                                Loved these. For Bostonians, I miss the borek at Sultan's Kitchen and these satisfied my craving. I made the filling the night before with ground lamb, onion, cinnamon, allspice, pine nuts, parsley, currants, and s&p. Puff pastry is rolled out thin, sealed with egg white, and brushed with egg yolk. I halved the portion, but wish I hadn't - next time I'll double the batch and try freezing them or just having them for weekday lunches since they're good warm and at room temperature. I used half the recipe to make four (using one sheet of store-bought Pepperidge Farm puff pastry), and served with a salad for lunches.

                                                                                                Recipe link:

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                  Oh wow. Those look absolutely delicious. I either need to buy some puff pastry or head to Sultan's Kitchen....

                                                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                    Try this if you feel like attempting the pastry - easy and fun:

                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                      Thanks so much buttertart - I like the key words easy and fun. I was just thinking I hate to spend the $$ on storebought puff pastry but have been intimidated to make my own. I might try it this week. Thanks!

                                                                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                        It works very well and really is fun to do. I made Julia's puff pastry precisely once - when I was a teenager - and it worked surprisingly well (puffed brilliantly). Have tried other recipes but this one is the equal or better of any others.

                                                                                                  2. re: Rubee

                                                                                                    I made these today, but adapted them as little handheld pies to go with a reprise of the puff pastry cheese pies we made last week (p.278) as a snacky, halftime Sunday lunch. Hadn't seen that you had already done them, because your gorgeous photo would have convinced me to do it exactly as written.

                                                                                                    They were delicious, but I found them a little dry/dense and wondered if they might benefit from a splash of pomegranate molasses. Also, I did my usual move with Arabesque and kept the spices at the amounts written even though I halved the rest of the recipe (was out of allspice, so subbed in ras al hanout). On a handful of the pies we added a little of the cheese/egg mixture to the meat filling and those were nice because they lightened up the pies overall, but still let the flavor of the lamb shine through.

                                                                                                  3. Kefta Kebab - Ground meat kebab p.99

                                                                                                    I made these as burgers rather than the traditional way on metal skewers and cooked them over the grill rather than broiling them. Lots of flavor with three fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley and mint) and four spices (cumin, cinnamon, ginger and chili powder). Served them in pita bread pockets with a tomato & red onion salad and cacik (cucumber and yogurt salad).

                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: JaneEYB

                                                                                                      Oh yay. Glad to hear it as this is our dinner tonight. I was a little worried that I might need to up the spicing (I'm using ground turkey, so still might) but it sounds like you liked them.

                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                        It depends how you like them - they certainly aren't spicy, there is just a pinch of chile powder and 1/2 tsp of the other spices. I liked the herbiness of them - I think if you added a lot more chile powder you may overwhelm the herbs and more subtle spices. I would have thought the relative blandness of turkey against lamb would allow the flavorings to shine more, so I don't think you would need to up the spices, but of course that's a matter of taste.

                                                                                                        1. re: JaneEYB

                                                                                                          I tossed together the meat this morning - I had a 1.3 lbs of turkey and left all herbs and spices the same (and yes, was a little heavy handed on the cayenne - we like spicy food). So we'll see how it goes.

                                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                            If you used mideast aleppo pepper, rather than cayenne and increased the amount you could significantly up the pepper flavor in the kebabs without increasing the heat. I would think this less spicy but very flavorful pepper would be preferred anyway.

                                                                                                            1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                              I *like* the heat though. And even with upping it, these weren't really very spicy. But yes, I should probably have some aleppos around the house. We go through cayenne and RPF like normal people go through salt.

                                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                the thing about the aleppo is that it is very flavorful in addition to adding some heat. You could put a tsp or more in your dish and you would get a very nice flavor add.

                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                    The Turkish Urfa pepper is also v good for the same uses (from basically the same neck of the woods as Aleppo pepper).

                                                                                                      2. re: JaneEYB

                                                                                                        Made the Kefta Kebabs (Morocco chapter, p. 99) but with ground turkey. Obviously, it would have been better with ground lamb (even I, a non-red meat fan and person not thrilled with lamb can say that for sure). Still, we all enjoyed it. Two issues for me cooking this: 1) my broiler doesn't work, and 2) she says to cook it 10 minutes under broiler, leaving middle pink. OK, so I can still cook things at 500 and get them plenty hot, but you definitely don't want to leave turkey still red in the middle. So I just figured I'd do them 20 minutes at just under 500. They were probably a bit overdone, but better safe than sorry. Still very tasty. As noted above, instead of 2 lbs of ground meat I used 1.3 lbs. I'm very glad that I stuck to the original recipe's amount of spices - maybe because it was turkey it needed more spice, maybe because I like my food more heavily spiced. Can't really say for sure (although the second is true). Served with the suggested salad of tomato, cucumber and red onion with lemon and olive oil (also added some parsley); heated some pitas on the side and it was an easy meal. I've been more in love with other ground turkey preps I've made over the past year (the one during Indian month that Gio paraphrased for me/us, and the on in Gourmet for the asian turkey burgers) but this was tasty and fun. Pictures to come tomorrow.

                                                                                                      3. Seared Tuna with Lemon Dressing (Turkish, p. 191)

                                                                                                        Absolutely lovely. My husband's night to cook, and he's pretty amazing with tuna, so I picked this out and not very subtly pushed him to make it. He loved it, and said it was very easy to make. A dressing of lemon juice, s&p, olive oil and chopped parsley or dill (he went with the parsley) is served over seared tuna. He made roasted potatoes (absolutely killer) and green beans - a very very nice meal.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                          That does look lovely, adding it to the list!

                                                                                                        2. Chicken and onion pie - Bstilla Bil Djaj p.66

                                                                                                          Loved this though neither of my teenagers were impressed. I thought the filling was really flavorful - the onions are cooked right down to "pale gold" and cinnamon, ginger and cilantro adds lots of flavor. The filo pastry crust was great - crisp and crunchy in outer layers and melting on the inner. The egg wash made for a lovely golden topping, I didn't do the confectioners sugar and cinnamon topping as that would be a step too far for my kids. If I had their childhood over again I would make them eat everything so I didn't end up with unadventurous eaters. Too late now!

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: JaneEYB

                                                                                                            It's too bad, the topping really makes that dish.

                                                                                                          2. Tagine of Chicken with Preserved lemon and olives (Morocco, p. 93)

                                                                                                            This was easy to make, and tasty. Grate or finely chop 2 onions, saute in olive oil, then add crushed garlic, saffron and ground ginger. Add chicken. I used 8 bone-in thighs with the skin removed - she doesn't call for browning the chicken and I didn't feel like having to eat around flabby skin. Let cook for about 40 minutes, then add juice of 1/2 lemon some chopped coriander and parsley and peel of preserved lemon and olives (she wants whole olives, but with a kid you want to make things as easy as possible to eat, so I used pitted and chopped a bit). The chicken stayed very tender. Served over couscous with currents. Everyone was very happy with this.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                              I made the same dish tonight and liked it a lot. I was happy with my preserved lemons - I had made the quick 4-day version. Served it with plain couscous and the Spinach with garlic and preserved lemon from NBofMEF. Rather a lot of preserved lemon but I thought it worked. I made the dish with bone-in breasts and the sauce gave a lot of flavor to the chicken.

                                                                                                            2. Last night we took a culinary journey to Lebanon. In addition to the lovely dish below, we started the meal with Baba Ghanouj and the Aubergine and Tomato Salad. Both dishes from Arabesque and reviews posted under Starters.

                                                                                                              Roast Lamb with Rice, Minced Meat and Nuts (Ouzi)

                                                                                                              p. 328 – First use of this recipe produced a remarkable meal, a definite keeper. Truly scrumptious, this dish exceeded my expectations, thrilled my guests and I’m happy to add this to my list of favorites! Cooking of roast is straightforward. The only change I made was to add some garlic powder to the rub mix. I was a bit concerned that hubby would dislike the cinnamon in the dish since he’s turned his nose up at certain Greek dishes in the past for this reason. No worries though, he loved this dish as all spices blended to produce an exotic, homogeneous flavor. Frankly, I don’t think he even realized there was cinnamon in the dish!! I made the rice as set out with a couple of minor changes, I added 1 tsp of cumin to mirror the roast seasonings and approx 2 tsp of chopped garlic. (yes, there’s a theme here…we’re garlic lovers!!). The wonderful aromas wafting from the oven during the roasting process were intoxicating. I was glad I’d prepared some appetizers to hold us over until the roast was ready!! The jus from the roast lacked the depth of flavor I was hoping for so I removed the fat, and dumped it into a pan to reduce while the roast was resting. Next time I’d pull out the Bamix and puree the garlic and onions into the jus to thicken. I served the jus on the side so folks could add to their tastes. The jus added an additional layer of meaty flavor, which further enhanced the overall dish. The other addition I made was to garnish the final dish with pomegranate seeds, thinly sliced green onion and chopped parsley. I really enjoyed the addition of the fruit to the suggested nut topping and would definitely repeat these additions which, also added some color to an otherwise brown/beige dish.

                                                                                                              19 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                Beautiful! I wish E's family liked lamb - they stay over every weekend, and this looks like it would be a perfect dinner. Maybe one of these days....

                                                                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                  Thanks Rubee, you're right about lamb though, I think for some it's an acquired taste. I'm always struck w how frequently tv chefs suggest it as a perfect company dish. We have very few friends or family members that actually like it.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                    I'm wondering if this is an American thing? In the UK I don't remember anyone not liking lamb but here it seems to be one of those meats you have to check about first. Per capita consumption in the USA is 0.8 lbs p.a. whereas in New Zealand it is 57 lbs! And the UK/Ireland is about 20 lbs p.a.
                                                                                                                    Is it lack of availability or the taste that puts Americans off? Particularly bearing in mind the US are the largest consumers of meat worldwide.

                                                                                                                    1. re: JaneEYB

                                                                                                                      Interesting data Jane, I'd expect Canada to be somewhere in the middle b/w UK and USA but on the lower side as well. Our friends and family are ethnically diverse and what I tend to find is that there's at least one person in the couple/family who like lamb and one that loves it. Access to fresh lamb seems to be far greater in the major city centres here whereas, to your point, when I lived in England, fresh lamb was available everywhere.

                                                                                                                      1. re: JaneEYB

                                                                                                                        I eat almost no red meat, but will occasionally have a bit of beef. I have tried, really, really tried, to like lamb. It just doesn't seem to work for me. I did, weirdly enough, have a lamb carpaccio that I loved. Go figure. I think for me it was being traumatized by very gamey tasting lamb when I was a kid. It was my mother's favorite meat, and so she served it whenever she could get away with it (she was the only one who liked it in the family). So I tried it over and over as a kid, and instead of making me more open to it, it just made me dislike it more (unusual). Also - dreaded lamb burgers served by a babysitter. Oh god, those were just awful. Anyway, yes, I do think it is an american thing.

                                                                                                                        1. re: JaneEYB

                                                                                                                          Call me un-American, but I'll take lamb over beef any day and it's actually a favorite of my super picky kids as well. I think sometimes people don't like lamb because they have ideas about it being gamey (which I don't find good quality lamb to be at all) or they can't get past those images of innocent little lambs (cows just aren't as cute). And there is something fundamentally American about beef and all it stands for -- big slabs of meat, wide open ranges, cowboys, etc. I love that stat about the New Zealanders and their 57 lbs of lamb -- that's crazy.

                                                                                                                          1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                            Something else of interest about lamb, I've been told its the easiest meat for humans and animals to digest. We had a (precious, beautiful) Golden Retriever that had severe digestive issues. Only after taking him to a teaching hospital did we learn to feed him lamb for that reason. His issues never re-surfaced after that (and 1tbsp of pro-biotic yogurt daily).

                                                                                                                            1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                              Yes, I def. think the lamb nowadays is much less gamey than what I was served as a child. But the memory remains.

                                                                                                                              We're off to New Zealand in a few months ... wonder if they can manage to change my point of view.

                                                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                I have to say growing up I HATED lamb. However, that all changed when I was 22, traveled to New Zealand, and we were invited to a new friend's house in Whangarei for a lamb dinner. I was dreading it. Of course, like a good guest, I didn't let them know and I knew I had to eat it. Well, let's just say I've loved lamb ever since. It was nothing like the gamey leg o' lamb I grew up with, it was just delicious. Hopefully you have the same experience!

                                                                                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                  What a great story, Rubee. I do hope my feelings will change there. I promise to try lamb at least twice.

                                                                                                                                  Funnily enough, the picture of Lulu on my current avatar is of her happily eating a lamb sausage. She doesn't have any problem with lamb at all, I'm happy to say.

                                                                                                                            2. re: JaneEYB

                                                                                                                              In New England, lamb was the most common red meat on tables until just 50 yrs ago. By the time my Mother had had her four children [1965 or so], the wool industry in the region had been overtaken with new and more water-resistant materials, and the number of herds of sheep dropped dramatically.

                                                                                                                              What was once a local and inexpensive protein option, became more expensive and had to be trucked in. And since lamb was not a "glamour" meat, as people had more money for food, and the difference in the cost of beef and lamb diminished, the amount of lamb eaten has just not rebounded.

                                                                                                                              Personally, most times I will choose lamb over beef these days for anything other than throwing a slab of meat onto the grill.

                                                                                                                              1. re: JaneEYB

                                                                                                                                I think its a function of whether its served in the home and whether its cooked well. Sometimes the fat esp on some of the NZ lamb products is a little much and needs to be trimmed or seared off.

                                                                                                                                During my kids growing up years, we frequently cooked shoulder lamb chops seasoned with garlic and rosemary (fairly rare) and made small roasts as well. I also used it in Indian dishes as well. They all developed a liking for it and in fact my now veg adult daughter announced once that she wanted to become a vegetarian - except for lamb chops. Kefta kebabs and kheema are also good intro uses of lamb.
                                                                                                                                Moms, please serve lamb, its a great meat option!

                                                                                                                                1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                                                  Oh, believe me, I have tried to ... and my daughter is not the problem - I am. But then again, I eat almost no red meat, so she doesn't get much of it at home anyway. But I will continue to try cooking it myself, at least every 6-9 months. And I have no problem with her getting it at restaurants (in the avatar she's eating lamb sausage).

                                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                    Consider giving it a try when you're in NZ to see if the quality and freshness there make a difference to you. You could also try it in smaller doses as part of a larger meal, like in a pastichio or even those meat cigars. But the bottom line may be that you simply don't like it -- and so be it. You can always make it occasionally for Lulu's lunches, etc. without necessarily eating it yourself. My daughter, for instance, loves hard-boiled eggs, which I despise, but I make them in the dead of night when my son can't smell them and tuck them into her lunches.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                      I'm with you on the hard boiled eggs (although, weirdly enough, I like deviled eggs).

                                                                                                                                      Lulu and I go out for "ladies night" usually about once a week, and I always encourage her to try new things, so she sometimes gets lamb. I sometimes try it, but rarely like it. I've tried it a lot in Indian restaurants, thinking the spicing will appeal, but it seems to be one of those meats best eaten less cooked and in those indian places it is usually in a stew, and very cooked. I keep trying.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                        Do you like rare beef? Rare lamb chops made me change my mind about lamb. Lamb tenderloin would be ideal because it has very little fat (where the lamb-y taste resides).

                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                          Oh yes, I agree. I especially love them on the grill w some lemon, rosemary, garlic and evoo! A little tzatziki on the side. YUM! I do think that in Ontario we're fortunate to have some fabulous spring lamb which doesn't hurt either.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                            I'm not crazy about red meat in general, but yes, the only way I want my beef is rare. And, as your post suggests, the lamb I've liked best over the past 10 years has been lamb carpaccio (of all things). Had it two different places and loved it each time.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                              Then get yourself some nice rib chops, trim off all the fat, and give them a whirl. Or a nice piece of tenderloin. The loin chops I've had are a bit more lamby-tasting than the rib. Even a leg or part of can be scrupulously trimmed and butterflied and cooked like a steak. (I add the meatier scraps to beef for grinding for keema to lamb the meat up a bit but obviously that's not useful to you.)

                                                                                                                          2. Today I was delighted to discover a fabulous new Persian Market in my neighborhood. Imagine my excitement as I meandered through the isles picking up ingredients I’ve been reading about in Arabesque! So tonight, we were off to Turkey, here’s what we ate:

                                                                                                                            Kofte Kebab with Tomato Sauce and Yoghurt (Yogurtlu Kofte Kebabi)

                                                                                                                            p. 212 – This was the first time I’ve used this recipe and

                                                                                                                            I did make a few modifications to the Kebab mixture as I suspected that it might be under-seasoned for our tastes. Note this recipe calls for salt and pepper only. After consulting with a few of my other cookbooks I decided to add some sumac, cumin, chili powder and fresh garlic to the meat mixture. Also, my ground lamb was freshly butchered, and it seemed to be a bit lean/dry so I added about half an egg just to give the mixture a little moisture. We chose to grill the Kofte to add a layer of smoky flavor. I made the tomato sauce per the recipe and did give it a few pulses with the immersion blender just to smooth out the texture. The sauce was very flavorful and we really enjoyed the sweet heat. I decided to forgo the recipe’s suggestion to add sugar and instead decided to sweeten the sauce with some Manuka honey. A variation suggested in the recipe has you heating the yogurt. While that seemed a bit odd to me, it did inspire me to bring my yogurt to room temperature prior to plating and I’d do this again as I love my food piping hot. Each component of this dish is good on its own but it’s the combination that really shines. The crunchiness of the pita, the sweet heat of the sauce, the creamy cooling effect of the yogurt, the buttery toasted pine nuts and the smoky, exotic flavors of the meat are a real treat for the palate. The verdict: a tasty recipe that I’d definitely make again . . . 2 forks up at our house!

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                              I love this book, but I agree that some of the recipes seem underseasoned (again, just to our tastes, so others might feel differently). I've been upping the ante on a few of the recipes.

                                                                                                                              Your meal looks incredible.

                                                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                Thanks LM! It really was scrumptious...pity we gobbled it all up, I was thinking that if there were any kebabs leftover they'd be great in a pita w some fatoush for a lunch.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                  Not the worst problem to have - your meal was so great that no one left any! (still, I know *exactly* what you mean.)

                                                                                                                            2. We continued our culinary journey this evening with our first stop being Turkey for our Meze of Cacik and the Courgette Fritters (review posted in Starters). We had to resist the temptation to stuff our bellies with these tasty treats and save room for our next stop in Morocco for our main course of Prawns in Spicy Tomato Sauce which I served with a variation of Couscous with Spring Vegetables.

                                                                                                                              Couscous with Spring Vegetables – (Keksou L’Hodra)

                                                                                                                              p. 121 – This was the first time I’d used this recipe and, after doing a thorough read-through, I did make modifications. The final dish was good but, in our estimation, nothing more or less than what you’d expect from a couscous side dish. Since all my veggies were fresh and, I intended to serve the shrimp dish over the couscous, I opted not to cook the veggies in a broth, which is eventually supposed to be served over the couscous. Also, because my hubby doesn’t consider shrimp to be ”real meat,” I opted to infuse some additional protein into the meal by adding lentils to the couscous. This also ensured leftovers could be used for lunches. Speaking of leftovers, here’s another little nit of mine relative to this book; serving quantities are not specified. I halved this recipe which called for 500g of couscous….enough to feed my entire neighborhood!! I made the couscous in advance and prepped my veggies then, just stirred everything together when I got home and popped the dish into the oven to warm while I made the shrimp. I used a homemade chicken stock to make my couscous (does Claudia Roden get a kick-back on the sale of bouillon cubes…I’ve never seen a book call for so many!!). This dish was nothing special, but a good accompaniment to the shrimp.

                                                                                                                              Prawns in Spicy Tomato Sauce – (Kimroun Bi Tamatem)

                                                                                                                              p. 91 – Again, first use of this recipe and it was good but not something I’d flag as a “do-again”. If I’d been making this dish for myself alone, I would have replaced the “ground ginger” with fresh but since my hubby isn’t a huge fan of ginger in the first place, I left well enough alone and made this dish as suggested. I did kick up the heat by adding about ½ tsp of an Indian chili powder. I used fresh tomatoes from the garden and ended up having to boost the liquid in this dish (any excuse to add a little white wine!!) because my Roma tomatoes are very meaty this year. The final dish was simple, a tasty tomato sauce with shrimp (not King shrimp, black tiger) in it…nothing unique. We served it over the couscous.

                                                                                                                              1. Chicken with Dates Djaj Bil Tmar (half recipe) p. 89

                                                                                                                                Sliced onions are cooked in oil and butter (we skipped the butter) until they color and add ginger, cinnamon and saffron. Next add seasoned chicken (we used 2 thighs and a breast) to brown lightly. Add water and cook covered until done and set chicken aside. Onions are reduced to a rich brown then almond stuffed dates (quickly blanched raw almonds to remove skin) are cooked for a few minutes and then chicken is added again to heat through. This was a good dish. We liked the deep, rich flavors from the onions and the spices, especially cinnamon, in a savory dish. And this was a pretty "safe" dish for my comfort food loving SO. He is wary of unfamiliar spices and textures.This dish would have been even better if my dates had been sweeter. I think it really would elevated the dish.

                                                                                                                                1. Roast Chicken with Pine Nut and Raisin Pilaf (Pilavli Ve Tavuk Firinda) p.196

                                                                                                                                  Finally, a meal this month that the kids liked (almost) as much as I did. Very simple roast chicken, almost a bit too simple. With a very tasty pilaf - basmati rice with golden onions, pine nuts, chicken stock, allspice, cinnamon, and currants. The rice took 10 minutes longer than the recipe said to be done. I served it with Peas and fava beans with mint and garlic on p.61. For dessert made Vietnamese coffee ice cream with mocha sauce from David Lebovitz's Perfect Scoop. Excellent meal.

                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: JaneEYB

                                                                                                                                    So does that "almost too simple" thing mean it was slightly boring? Under-spiced? Or am I reading something into it?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                      Just that it was a very basic roast chicken - salt, pepper, olive oil and some water in the pan. So no lemon, garlic, herbs, the types of flavorings I would normally add to a roast chicken. It was perfectly OK and moist but just a roast chciken and nothing more. Even my 15 yo daughter commented on how basic it was.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: JaneEYB

                                                                                                                                        That's kind of a shame (although it sounds like it was just what your household needed after a little too much exoticness).

                                                                                                                                  2. Tonight we returned to our journey through Arabesque with a dinner from Morocco and Turkey. Two dishes start the evening, both from Morocco, the Mashed Aubergine and Tomato Salad and, the Orange, Olive and Onion Salad served with some flatbread on the side. (review under Arabesque - Starters) For our main course, we were off to Turkey with the Lamb Shanks with Egg and Lemon Sauce. (reviewed below)

                                                                                                                                    Lamb Shanks with Egg and Lemon Sauce – Terbiyeli Kuzu Incik

                                                                                                                                    This is a meat and vegetable soup-like dish. The final addition of the lemon/egg sauce changes the flavor profile of the dish but does not thicken the broth, which is quite thin.

                                                                                                                                    I prepared the dish as directed with no changes to the suggested ingredients.

                                                                                                                                    A note in the recipe suggests you may want to start a day in advance given that the lamb needs to cook for 2.5 hours. This seemed like a good way to save some time for a weeknight dinner so I did cook the lamb shanks on Sunday. I would definitely recommend doing this, with one exception to the process. The recipe has you simmer the lamb shanks for 2.5 hours and then remove from the heat. At that point I allowed the dish to cool down and then, placed the pot into the fridge. On Monday it was easy to remove the fat from the top of the stock and, remove the shanks. Recipe instructions have you remove the meat from the shank bones. I found this to be a nasty, slippery task with cold lamb and would recommend removing the meat when the lamb is warm. Another note regarding the prep, all the vegetables are cooked simultaneously in this recipe however Roden instructs the cook to quarter the potatoes yet slice and cube faster cooking vegetables like carrots and celeriac – the latter two would be over-cooked if prepared in this manner and boiled for the prescribed 20 minutes.

                                                                                                                                    The sauce is made by mixing egg yolks with lemon juice, sugar and some stock. Once again Roden does not provide a quantity for the lemon juice, she simply states “the juice of 1 lemon.” Since I had no prior experience with the dish and had no sense of the flavor or consistency I was aiming for, I had to refer to the Internet to get a better sense of the proportions required. FYI, ¼ cup of lemon juice is appropriate.

                                                                                                                                    I tasted the broth prior to the addition of the sauce and really enjoyed it’s earthiness, it had balanced flavors and there was a richness. It had an almost buttery flavor that wasn’t “lamb-y.” The lemon in the egg sauce really draws out the flavor of the lamb and I significantly preferred it without the egg sauce. I found the lemon and lamb flavors to be too overpowering. I love lamb but did not love this dish. Mr bc really liked the “lamb-y” flavor but found the lemon to be too much. Without hearing my perspective, his view was the dish was good but not something he’d want again. I share that view.

                                                                                                                                    Photos of before, and after the egg sauce was added.

                                                                                                                                    1. Cod Steaks in Tomato Sauce with Ginger and Black Olives (Hout Bil Tamatem Wal Zaytoun), p. 81

                                                                                                                                      A couple nights ago I gave my husband a choice of this or the Roast Cod with Potatoes and Tomatoes on p. 76 that's been widely reported on upthread. Shockingly, given that he doesn't love olives or piquant things as much as I do, he picked this one. In looking at the recipe, it struck me like a kind of Moroccan puttanesca -- tomato sauce with black olives, preserved lemon and garlic, with a sweet/spiciness from ground ginger, sugar and fresh chile pepper. Intriguing. But, as it turns out, problematic.

                                                                                                                                      So, first off, I feel like this is an odd review -- I didn't love this dish, but I don't know if it's my tastes, my modifications or the recipe. First, I am not a big tomato sauce fan (so, why, you might ask, did I make this dish? perfectly fair question). Second, I made some modifications, so am not necessarily reporting on the dish as intended. Third, it may just be user error from some poor decision-making (not as experienced as many of you). So take it FWIW....

                                                                                                                                      Recipe calls for heating EVOO with garlic and fresh chile (optional, but I used) for moments, then add tomatoes, salt, sugar and ground ginger and simmer for 20 minutes. Then add chopped preserved lemon and olives and the fish steaks/filets and simmer for 3-8 min or until done, turning fish once.

                                                                                                                                      Liberties I took with this dish:
                                                                                                                                      First, I used pretty thick halibut fillets, as the cod was not as good-looking and we are generally big halibut fans. I also halved the recipe, since there were only two of us (no way my kids would eat this!). So, modifications -- first, in eyeballing the tomatoes, 1 lb. seemed a bit light to create enough sauce to cook the fish in, as opposed to sort of lying around in, so I plussed it up by about 1/2 lb. (1.5 lbs total for 1/2 portion). Second, when I tasted the sauce at 20 minutes, I felt like it was missing depth, but that may have been my prejudice about what it should taste like. I also added another teaspoon of ginger at that point, as I felt the sauce was too subtle. I also threw in 1-2 generous pinches of aleppo pepper. I let it simmer another 10 minutes or so. Then I added the preserved lemon and olives and the fish. Cooking the fish was a bit odd -- I felt like the tomato sauce wasn't deep enough to cook the fish in a way I'd love, but also prevented the fish from searing in a lovely way to add the tomato sauce on top of. Again, may be my prejudices, which led to different decisions. Overall, I cooked the fish longer and didn't love the resulting texture -- sort of undercooked -- not seared, not beautifully poached/braised, just an unfortunate in-between. Added more aleppo and ginger and the sauce was improved, but I left some of that lovely halibut on the plate. Sad given how very expensive and lovely it was.

                                                                                                                                      Again, however, others may have a better reaction to this dish and I would be interested to hear your experiences.

                                                                                                                                      I do have a happy Arabesque meal to report on from last night, which I will do shortly.

                                                                                                                                      Happy cooking!

                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                        Cod Steaks [Hake Fillets] in Tomato Sauce with Ginger and Black Olives, p. 81

                                                                                                                                        I made this a couple of nights ago, without having first read this report. I enjoyed this dish. I made a half recipe, with about a pound of fresh roma tomatoes, which I peeled and chopped prior to making the sauce, and a pound of hake fillets. I made this over two days, first peeling, chopping and simmering the tomatoes with garlic, chiles, sugar and ginger to make a quick sauce. The next day, I heated up the sauce and added chopped preserved lemon, black olives and the fish, which simmered in the sauce. I thought the sauce was really sweet, zingy and delicious, and didn't need extra ginger or aleppo pepper, but it could have been my summer tomatoes.

                                                                                                                                        I recently made a similar dish from Melissa Clark (scallops with tomato and preserved lemon). That dish was quite a bit easier. But I thought the flavor in this dish was better. The sauce just had a bit more depth since it was cooked a bit longer, plus the peeled tomatoes are nicer in texture. However, I have to give MC the edge in terms of choice of seafood as the scallops are certainly more delicious than hake (a fish I am trying to love as it is abundant and sustainable, but in truth it is not my favorite). I think shrimp would also work well in this dish.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                          Here is a perfect example of why I love people cooking and reporting on/from old COTM books. I really love this book and this is a recipe I haven't made from it. I have made the Melissa Clark recipe and liked it very much. And I think I have similar tastes to Westminstress and mebby, so I need to look into this recipe! Thanks for the post/reminder.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                            Yes, though in this case mebby did not love the dish....

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                              Take it with all the caveats it was offered with though -- if it tells you anything about how far I've come, I'm no longer even married to the then-husband who selected that dish that evening.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                              Agreed. And I bet making the sauce the day before helped deepen the flavors that I felt were a little lacking. I also think the shrimp suggestion Westminstress makes would be good. Although oddly enough, I had no recollection of having made this dish until seeing this! I do love this book though.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                                The shrimp suggestion is brilliant.

                                                                                                                                                I have that no recollection thing happen way more than it should! Once you've had pregnancy brain once, it kind of never goes completely away, right?

                                                                                                                                        2. Roast Chicken with Couscous, Raisin, and Almond Stuffing (Djaj M'Ammar bil Kesksous), Morocco, p. 92

                                                                                                                                          We loved this. The chicken is seasoned with evoo, honey (I used orange blossom), lemon, s&p, ground ginger and cinnamon. I roasted a 4-1/2 pound chicken with half a lemon in the cavity, starting it breast side down first and then flipping it at about 45 minutes, basting once. For the stuffing, I made regular couscous (RiceSelect brand) on the stove - boiled water with butter, salt and sugar, and then added the cinnamon, almonds, and raisins with the couscous. I stirred in the orange blossom water after it was cooked.

                                                                                                                                          We thought the flavors were delicious. I especially liked the couscous with the fragrant orange blossom water, sweetness of the raisins, and crunch of the nuts. E doesn't like couscous, though did try a bite and said "I can tell that it's really good even though I don't like it". Ummm...okay ; ) I served the chicken with the honey sauce after skimming the fat, and a cucumber salad with Greek yogurt, rice vinegar, chives and Aleppo pepper. I loved the sauce with the chicken, but E said "it's delicious the way it is" and ate it plain.

                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                            Rubee, wow - this turned out beautifully! Your chicken is magazine cover worthy!! Sounds like E and Mr bc are very similar indeed!! I'll definitely make this next week, if not on Sunday. Thanks for mentioning the orange blossom honey, I would have just used on of my pantry honeys but I''ll pick this up at the market now.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                              Another one going on my list. And another glorious chicken photo -- I have this image in my mind of a gallery of your fantastic roast chicken photos lining your kitchen.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                                Hee hee. I do make a lot of roast chickens. And just filled the freezer again when they went on sale at 57 cents a pound. Hope you guys like this recipe!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                  Roast Chicken with Couscous Raisin and Almond Stuffing – Djaj M’Ammar Bil Kesksou

                                                                                                                                                  This was my first attempt at this dish and while we were very happy with the final outcome, I did need to adapt the recipe to suit our tastes.

                                                                                                                                                  The chicken was wonderful. I was a little tentative about using cinnamon in the rub since some of our guests have a bit of an aversion to it. In the end I decided to go ahead and include it and I’m so glad I did. The flavors of the “rub” really did permeate the flesh of the chicken and made it fragrant and delicious. I hesitate to call the mixture a rub only because its quite liquid. In reality, I poured it over and inside the bird then massaged the mixture onto the skin to ensure the chicken was evenly coated. I also placed a quartered lemon and some garlic cloves inside the cavity of the bird. Aside from being scrumptious, the chicken was beautiful as the honey coating had caramelized and produced a mahogany crust on the bird.

                                                                                                                                                  Note that although this recipe identifies the couscous as a stuffing, in reality it is a side dish that is not cooked or placed inside the chicken. The couscous calls for the use of orange blossom water. I was fortunate to find this at my local market, or so I thought! Having never used the product in the past, I started by adding only 1 tsp to the sugar-oil sauce for the couscous as it was extremely perfumed and, quite strong in flavor when I tasted it alone. Even after combining the water with the sugar and oil, I still found the flavor to be overpowering. I asked for a couple of other opinions before tossing out the mixture and deciding to make the recipe without it. Roden does note that there is variety in the strengths of this product. I’ve dined in Morocco and at Moroccan restaurants and don’t recall having a dish where this flavor was prominent. Given that Roden called for 1 tbsp in this recipe I’m wondering if I had an exceptionally strong product or, whether the quantity called for in the recipe is excessive though I note Rubee had a positive result above. The brand I purchased was Cortas – a product of Lebanon. Our couscous was delicious but not true to the recipe since I ended up adding some caramelized onions and of course, omitted the orange blossom water.

                                                                                                                                                  I’d definitely make the chicken again.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                    Hi Breadcrumbs!

                                                                                                                                                    My husband hates the taste of orange blossom water (no matter how little I use) because it's too perfumey. When I made the couscous and had him taste it, it was actually before I added the orange blossom water. I used Indo-European (another brand from Lebanon). It is definitely a strong component, and that's a good tip for others - add sparingly to taste. If you don't like it in food, try it in cocktails! (though E doesn't like that way either).

                                                                                                                                                    For rose water, I actually have two brands - Cortas, and one that is less strong called Swad (India). He dislikes this even more than the orange blossom. I think I made a dessert once and it was so overpowering, that he can sniff/taste it now even in the smallest amount.

                                                                                                                                            2. Pan Fried Mullet (Tilapia) with Tahini Sauce (Lebanon, p. 290).

                                                                                                                                              This is very similar to a recipe I used to make a lot from epicurious (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...). As I did with that one, I bumped up the garlic and lemon juice a bit in the tahini sauce on this one. I used the variation - floured the fish along with some cumin and then pan fried it. This was really very good. Husband raved about the whole meal (served it with Peppery Bulgur salad from the Turkey section), and Lulu could get enough (she wanted the tahini sauce on *everything.*

                                                                                                                                              My only comment would be on the tahini sauce - I'd add a bit less water, and, as mentioned above, bump up the garlic and lemon juice. Otherwise, wonderful.

                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                That fish sounds great -- and a great way to use tilapia. It just may be dinner tonight.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                  I basically copied LulusMom for dinner last night -- also used Tilapia and the floured fish variation, bumped up garlic and reduced water in sauce as suggested. I did season the fish with cumin as suggested and also added some aleppo pepper. I also replaced the flour with chickpea flour to underline the mideast flavor a smidge.

                                                                                                                                                  It was a quick weeknight dinner, served with roasted cherry tomatoes over sauteed spinach with garlic. While I did really enjoy it, my husband liked it more than I did -- something about the fish and tahini sauce flavors didn't quite gel for me as well as I hoped. I think next time I would add more lemon juice to the tahini (tried to up it, but I would go further) and I would also bump up the cumin in the fish seasoning -- I think it would bridge the flavors better. The tahini sauce was, however, outrageously delicious over the tomato/spinach mix -- I could have devoured an entire plate of just that.

                                                                                                                                                  Also, FWIW, it was a family-friendly dish even in my picky house -- just left the sauce off the kids' food and dialed down the cumin on their fish a little and they raved about the fish. And many, less difficult kids (even those not as adventurous as Lulu) would probably love the sauce as well.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                                    Yes - that sauce is outrageously good (when bumped up) isn't it?? Lulu ate the rest of it dipping vegetables in it for her lunch.

                                                                                                                                                    sorry it wasnt' a home run for you - I do think upping the cumin and lemon helps make it extra good. FWIW, it *looks* really good!

                                                                                                                                                2. Little Puff Pastry Cheese Pies, p. 278 (Lebanon)
                                                                                                                                                  Zucchini Fritters, p. 164 (Turkey)
                                                                                                                                                  Fish Cakes, p. 62 (Morocco)
                                                                                                                                                  Chermoula (from Roast Cod with Potatoes and Tomatoes recipe), p. 76

                                                                                                                                                  Sunday evening we had a nice mezze feast of the items above. I had also planned the roast eggplant with pomegranate molasses and pine nuts, the cucumber mint salad and a thematically inspired dessert of roasted figs and pistachio gelato, but those items went by the wayside when friends dropped by unexpectedly and my prep time was greatly reduced. So I focused on the items that I thought all four of us would eat – not coincidentally probably the least healthy, most fried, cheesiest items on the menu. My “feast” was a little browner than planned, but highly delicious nonetheless.

                                                                                                                                                  Puff Pastry Cheese Pies – As good as Lulu’sMom said they were – no one said no to these. My kids had fun rolling out the pastry, cutting the dough and assembling the pies. Basically puff pastry with a combination of mozzarella and feta and a lightly beaten egg, brushed with butter and baked. I wouldn’t mind just a smidge of green in the cheese mixture next time – maybe a bit of scallion and/or fresh mint? – but will definitely make these again.

                                                                                                                                                  Zucchini Fritters – Also delicious, although less well received by the kids. This was, however, my 9 y.o. daughter’s first foray into the land of sharp knives and never has anyone looked more excited when cutting zucchini. Onion and finely chopped zucchini are fried until soft, then combined with eggs, pepper, chopped mint (also called for dill, but I left it out) and mashed feta. I also had a bit of snafoo when I discovered that I hadn’t bought enough feta, so improvised by adding some greek yogurt to the feta and a little grated parmesan to keep it cheesy. It actually worked much better than it should have and the dish overall was a keeper.

                                                                                                                                                  Fish Cakes – Another hit. I used halibut and left out the optional preserved lemon, which I think would actually be quite good, but less popular with the rest of my family. Fish is chopped in the FP with cumin, chili pepper (aleppo), salt, garlic, egg, parsley and/or cilantro (I used both), formed into patties, dusted with flour and fried. Served with the chermoula sauce from the roasted cod recipe on p.76, which made a great extra flavor boost for the adults. Very good – everyone voted it a keeper.

                                                                                                                                                  This book is really working well for our family overall and I’m very excited to continue cooking from it. While some of the flavors aren’t everyday American, it also doesn’t feel that exotic and actually has achieved the highest success rate with my kids of probably any book I have.

                                                                                                                                                  EDIT -- Oops, should have posted this in Starters -- sorry!

                                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                                    >never has anyone looked more excited when cutting zucchini.
                                                                                                                                                    Now THAT is really funny. BTW, took your advice and had Lulu measure out things for the sticky toffee pudding we made over the weekend, and she was SO thrilled. She also cracked the eggs (me watching very nervously - her father didn't learn how to crack an egg until he was in his 30s).

                                                                                                                                                    I'm really glad you liked the cheese pies too, and agree that a bit of green would be a nice touch. And happy to hear about your success with the zucchini fritters (want to send your daughter over for chopping duties?) as I have them on the menu for next week. And I'd somehow missed the fish cakes. That sounds totally up our alley. Think one could make a meal of them, along with some vegetable side dish and the chermoula?

                                                                                                                                                    Sounds like you had a great, great meal. And we, as a family, are having the same reaction to this book. The flavors might not be middle of the road, but they're also pretty comforting and delicious.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                      LOL on your husband not learning how to crack an egg until he was in his 30s! I'm sure your Lulu was a great helper -- really I found my kids to be much more useful in the kitchen than my husband.

                                                                                                                                                      Re: fish cakes...I think you could definitely do meal of them. You might want to make them slightly bigger to give less of that finger food feel and serve them with a more substantial side like the bulgur you did, but definitely.

                                                                                                                                                      Full disclosure on the zucchini chopping -- she got it to the half-round stage and I took it from there. My husband was hovering over her giving her *safety tips* that had her getting flustered and nearly taking her finger off, so we had to banish him from the kitchen, but she was so proud of herself!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                                        My husband ... he's brilliant, but sometimes a little hopeless. He couldn't wink either (how is that possible?). He's now a wonderful cook though, I have to give him that.

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the info on the fish cakes. I'm guessing if it is just the 3 of us your suggestion is perfect. And I like the idea of serving them with that chermoula.

                                                                                                                                                        Tell your daughter that your chow friend is very proud of her too, and asked for her services!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                                          One thought on the fish cakes. If they get too big, they don't cook properly. Past a certain size I can't get the outside to not burn before the interior has cooked sufficiently. So I just serve two on a plate, usually on top of some crispy greens that have been lightly dressed with lemon. Just a thought.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks smtucker - that is definitely useful info.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                              I was thinking of that -- that's why I was saying slightly bigger. As written they are quite small nibbles and very thoroughly cooked through -- not as much fish cakes as small flattened fish balls. I think they could plus up without being too raw in the middle and have more of that "main" feeling. But I also am no expert at fish cakes -- and I think you are in the NE area, so probably much more so!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                                                Hey, I'll take any and all advice! I can't believe I overlooked these.

                                                                                                                                                                Had my first "...eh" (if even that - for me it was like hospital food, although LulusDad liked it pretty much) recipe from the book tonight. More tomorrow ... just finished the dishes.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                                          Sounds like a wonderful time with friends and family, and a delicious meal. I'm making the cheese pies for Football Sunday and now think I'll add in the fish cakes.

                                                                                                                                                        3. Back to Arabesque yesterday evening for a dinner from Lebanon. By far, this was the best-received meal that I’ve cooked from this book with a unanimous request to have this again some time!!

                                                                                                                                                          We started with a wonderful Bread Salad with Sumac and for our main course I did a variation on the Grilled Poussins with Sumac by using chicken breasts vs the Cornish Game Hens and I served this with the Lentils with Pasta and Caramelized Onions on the side. Chicken reviewed below, other dishes reviewed under Starters.

                                                                                                                                                          Grilled Poussins with Sumac – Farrouj Meshwi Bil Sumac

                                                                                                                                                          Unfortunately my little hens hadn’t defrosted in time so we moved to plan B and I tossed some boneless, skinless chicken breasts into this marinade. I have to admit, I did add some freshly chopped garlic because, at my house, it’s a crime to grill anything without garlic!! The chicken turned out beautifully, it was tender, juicy and the flavor of the marinade was subtle but present throughout the meat. This rec’d two thumbs up from all on hand and I would definitely make this again. I think it would be wonderful with some tzatziki or cacik but unfortunately we had gobbled that up earlier in the week!!

                                                                                                                                                          1. wonderful to see all these reviews on this book.

                                                                                                                                                            Tonight, I made from the Morocco section

                                                                                                                                                            Chicken with Caramelized Baby Onions and Honey (p.85)
                                                                                                                                                            Cucumber and Yogurt Salad (p.156)
                                                                                                                                                            with rice and an improvised eggplant side dish.

                                                                                                                                                            The chicken dish turned out very well, though I didn't reduce the sauce down as much as Roden suggests, because I wanted some gravy for the rice. The smell of the seasonings was wonderful (ginger, cinnamon, saffron), and it was a pretty straightforward recipe. Added bonus: kids liked the chicken (honey and cinnamon). One of the eaters, who doesn't like onions, went for an extra helping of the carmelized baby onions because they were so tender.

                                                                                                                                                            The yogurt I made without dill or mint because they weren't readily available, but it was still a nice foil for the chicken and eggplant. Also, we're suffering a heatwave here, and I really appreciated not having to turn on the stove for that dish.

                                                                                                                                                            Would definitely make these again, and maybe try the chicken variation with pears.

                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: redwood2bay

                                                                                                                                                              Hey, redwood2bay, great to see you joining in. Can you believe we've been doing this COTM for four years now?

                                                                                                                                                              I was admiring that Chicken with Caramelized Baby Onions and Honey dish but worried it might be too sweet and dessert-like. You didn't think it was too sweet?


                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                Hello, TDQ!
                                                                                                                                                                I am delighted that COTM is going along... and going so well. It warms my heart to see the chowhound community cooking together and swapping recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                The Chicken was a little sweet, but no one seemed to notice. (Keep in mind that I cook for two kids, so "too sweet" is a rarity ; ) I added less honey than Roden suggests because I wasn't able to add as much pepper. The other dishes were a spicy eggplant dish and yogurt sauce, so there was nothing else sweet on the plate. That helped us adults.

                                                                                                                                                            2. TAGINE of LAMB with CARMELIZED BABY ONIONS and PEARS (p. 186)

                                                                                                                                                              This is a wonderful lamb dish. I bought lamb shoulder, braised it for a little over 2 hours, and it turned out meltingly tender. Couldn't find baby onions so substituted sweet onion slices.( I also made four side dishes, posted on the other thread. ) Interesting note: kids liked lamb, in fact preferred it over pears. Go figure!

                                                                                                                                                              I'd made the chicken tagine with almost the same spices a few weeks earlier, and I have to say I prefer the lamb. Roden says that the effect is quite different, and she's right. This dish is much less sweet than the chicken. The spices mask some of the gaminess of lamb. Definitely a keeper.

                                                                                                                                                              1. "New-Style" Shish Barak - Lebanon, p. 305

                                                                                                                                                                This is called new style because classic shish barak are dumplings served in yogurt sauce. For this recipe phyllo (I used regular store bought phyllo instead of the Lebanese rakakat) is stuffed with ground lamb, onion, pine nuts, s&p, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and pomegranate molasses, and rolled into coils. I added a little extra pom and some chopped parsley. Yogurt is mixed with garlic for a sauce, and a mint-olive oil with dried mint. Another winner from the book.

                                                                                                                                                                Recipe link:

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. I made the Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives last Friday, served it up with couscous and a zucchini dish from Nigel Slater's new book on vegetables "Tender". All were keepers to do over again.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. This is, perhaps, my favorite COTM. I return to it again and again, especially in summer.

                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                      What have been your favourite, most successful dishes so far pikawicca?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                        Sweet Potatp Salad, p. 52
                                                                                                                                                                        Little Pies with Fresh Goat Cheese & Olives, p. 63
                                                                                                                                                                        Peppery Bulgar Salad, p. 159
                                                                                                                                                                        Celeriac with Egg & Lemon, p. 160 (unusual & delicious)
                                                                                                                                                                        Roasted Eggplants & Bell Peppers with Yogurt & Pine Nuts, p. 161 (a favorite)
                                                                                                                                                                        Lentils with Pasta & Caramelized Onions, p. 271 (excellent rendition of a classic)
                                                                                                                                                                        THE BEST: Eggplant Slices with Pomegranate, Yogurt, & Tahini, p. 261

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks pika, I'll take a look at the starters you've mentioned as the only one that I made from your list during the COTM was the lentil dish. . . which we thoroughly enjoyed btw. That Eggplant cover dish seemed to be a fairly divisive recipe w folks firmly planted in the yay or nay camp. Not much middle ground if I recall.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                            Funny, the Eggplant w/ Pomegranate, Yogurt & Tahini is my favorite from Arabesque too. But I only started liking dishes made with Tahini when I switched from the brand generally available in supermarkets around here (don't know the brand name, comes in a brown & orange & white re-sealable tin) to one I found at our local Lebanese store. It made a world of difference.....