Our mom loves her afternoon tea. Along with the Iraqi custom of enjoying cups of tea any time of the day, she also appreciates the English tradition of afternoon tea. This is a tradition she experienced spending summers in England with her family and friends. …
Month: October 2019
Einjarada, meaning “the eye of the grasshopper” in Arabic, gets its name from the main ingredient that gives this salad its distinctive flavor – dill seed, which resembles (you guessed it) a grasshopper’s eye. But the question remains – who made this salad best? Was it Jido/Papa or Tata/Mama? The answer to this question varies depending on which of the five Tarazi boys you ask. Recently, my Baba (#3 of 5) and Uncle Ned (#2 of 5) joined me in my kitchen along with my Uncle Eddie (#5 of 5) via video chat to settle this epic battle.
While both of my paternal grandparents have been gone from this life for some time now, attempting to recreate each of their versions of this flavorful salad with my Dad and uncles brought me back to the many times in my childhood when we would spend time in my grandparent’s home and kitchen. I can still vividly remember my Jido with a big smile on his face greeting us at the door each time we arrived and before we had a chance to even ring the doorbell. And then there was my Tata always cooking away in the kitchen pretending not to listen as my Dad and uncles told me, my sisters and cousins crazy stories of all the trouble they got into as children. It was a very energetic, loud and absolutely wonderful time that made me completely nostalgic and a little sad as we were recreating these dishes the other day. As time has gone on, The Tarazi clan has grown up and moved around the country making the moments we are all together few and far between. But I guess that’s the main reason we started this blog in the first place – to keep these memories alive for generations to come while creating some new ones of our own along the way.
So I want to especially thank my Dad, Uncle Ned and Uncle Eddie for helping me relive those treasured moments through cooking and food. It was a short time together, but one I will truly treasure and pass along.
And now back to the moment you all have been waiting for, the winner of the battle of best Einjarada goes to (drum roll please) …… BOTH Jido and Tata. We tasted each separately and then ended up combining elements of both for the very best! Recipe of this combo is below and variations between the two versions are in the notes.
It’s a salad with quite a punch and best enjoyed with some grilled pita. Happy eating and reliving of your own childhood memories.
- 8 tbsp Dill Seed (whole)
- 2 Green bell peppers chopped
- 6 green onion chopped
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 6 persian cucumbers (or 3 pickle cucumbers)
- 4 roma tomatoes medium
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 cup lemon juice (about 4 fresh squeezed lemons)
- 7 cloves garlic
- 1 jalepeno pepper
- 1¼ tsp sea salt
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup whole parsley leaves for garnish
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
- red pepper paste (optional to taste)
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- With a mortar and pestle, grind 4 tbsp of dill seed until fully ground, add 1 tbsp of red pepper flakes and continue to grind until mixed. Add 7 cloves of fresh garlic, sea salt, chopped jalepeno pepper (remove seeds) and continue to grind until fully incorporated and ground to small bits.
- In a separate bowl, emulsify olive oil and lemon juice (with immersion blender or speedy whisk), then whisk in the spice mixture from the mortar and pestle until fully mixed.
- Chop green peppers, yellow onion, tomatoes, and cucumber to similar sizes. Finely chop green onion (discard 1/8 from top and 1/8 from bottom). Combine all chopped veggies in a bowl.
- To the bowl of veggies, add garlic powder and 4 tbsp of whole dill seed. Mix.
- Add the dressing to the salad and mix thoroughly.
- Mix feta cheese in lightly.
- Garnish with parsley before serving.
This salad comes together quickly and is so refreshing and flavorful.The freshness comes from the mix of parsley, mint, lemon, cucumber and tomato. This is a common side salad that greets many Middle Eastern tables and can pair with about any dish, such as kabob, kufta, or musakhan or it can be enjoyed proudly on its own.
The great thing is, that although produce is at its peak in summer, we make this all year round and it continues to taste fantastic! Many areas of the Middle East have slight variations on this salad. Feel free to let this recipe act as a base and change it up as you like!
Middle Eastern Salad
- 5 vine tomatoes
- 7 Persian cucumbers
- 1 large jalapeno, seeds removed, diced
- 2 cups parsley, chopped, stems removed
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1 cup mint, chopped, stems removed (fresh or dry mint works – if dry reduce to 1/3 cup)
- 5 lemons, juiced (about 1¼ cup)
- 1.5 tsp salt, more or less to taste
- ⅓ cup and 1 tbsp olive oil
- Slice cumber vertically into 3 equal parts
- Chop cucumber to size as shown in picture
- Separately chop tomatoes (cut to slightly bigger pieces than cucumber), green onions, parsley, jalapeno and mint. Gradually add each chopped ingredient to a large bowl.
- To the bowl mix in lemon juice, olive oil, salt. Adjust to taste.