Old School Middle Eastern Recipes with Some Modern Day Twists

Month: January 2020

Akil Majnoon (Braised Vegetable Stew)

Akil Majnoon (Braised Vegetable Stew)

Cauliflower, eggplant and cabbage braised in a tomato based sauce is the basis of Akil Majnoon. The warm spices of bahar, make this such a cozy winter meal. Naturally vegan, it is just as much considered comfort food like Basalia and Bamia and is recipe […]

Bamia (Okra Stew)

Bamia (Okra Stew)

Number 2 of our Timin and Marakah series (remember that means rice and tomato-based stew from our Basalia post)! Bamia (aka okra) is a beautifully tart and savory okra stew. It would always be a treat when our mom would make this dish for us, […]

Rice with Hikaka

Rice with Hikaka

Rice with hikaka is a staple in our house. But, what is hikaka (pronounced hick-ka-ka in Arabic) you may ask? Hikaka is the delicious, crispy rice that forms at the bottom of a pot of cooked rice. When ready to serve the pot is flipped upside down revealing a beautiful golden cake with a perfectly crispy out layer and fluffy interior of rice. What’s not to love?

The basic premise of making hikaka is that by adding extra cooking fat (olive oil in the recipe below) the bottom layer of the rice gets fried, while the rest of the rice gets steamed. Hikaka can be made on any type of rice. Below is the concept of how to make it with white basmati rice, which is the most common rice to eat with different Arabic Stews/sauces (known as Marakah), such as basalia and ras asfour.

Persian rice often has hikaka, which they call it tahdig. Tahdig translates to “the bottom of the pot.” Very fitting, no? The best food is always at the bottom of the pot, rice included. It is no wonder that the Persian cookbook by Naz Deravian, “Bottom of the Pot” was given such a name.

 If you have the time, forming hikaka on rice should not be a question.  It is “the best part” of the rice and has been fought over at many, a Middle-Eastern table.

Rice with Hikaka

Fluffy steam rice held together by a delicious thin layer of crispy fried rice is Rice with Hikaka. It is a treasured staple on many Middle Eastern tables.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked white long grain rice Basmati rice is recommended*
  • 2 tbsp olive oil**
  • tsp salt
  • water see instruction for amount of water to use

Instructions

  • Rinse rice 2-3x with water until water runs clear. This is to remove excess starch on the rice.
  • Heat oil in a medium size pot on medium heat
  • Add rice and salt and stir a few times
  • Add water to the pot so that rice is completely covered and about 1/2 inch of water is sitting above the rice
  • Allow to come to a rapid boil then cover and reduce to a simmer
  • Keep covered and let cook at simmer for 25 minutes
  • Remove cover and let cook for another 15 minutes
  • To serve, flip pot over onto a serving plate. This will reveal a rice cake with golden crust (aka "hikaka"). Enjoy!

Notes

*If you would prefer to use brown basmati rice instead of white, add a little more water  (3/4″ above rice instead of 1/2″) and longer cooking time (keep covered for 30 minutes instead of 25 minutes).    A crust will form, but it will not be quite as golden or crispy as with white rice.
**You can also use butter instead or a mix of butter and olive oil, any combination will render a fabulous hikaka.
Basalia (Pea Stew)

Basalia (Pea Stew)

Welcome to the first of a series of posts entitled “Medley of Marakah.” Marakah (accent on the first syllable) is an Arabic word for a tomato-based stew/sauce and there many different kinds of Marakah. Arguably the most popular Marakah in our family is Basalia and […]

Pomegranate Molasses and Blood Orange Glazed Halibut with Olives and Herbs

Pomegranate Molasses and Blood Orange Glazed Halibut with Olives and Herbs

This dish has flakey, light halibut glazed with a rich and smoky pomegranate molasses and blood orange sauce. It is then garnished with briny green olives and bright herbs. Best part though – it all comes together in 30 minutes. 30 MINUTES. Lets take a […]

Citrus Tahini Kale Salad

Citrus Tahini Kale Salad

With the holidays being over I am craving a kale salad in a major way. I mean we went from summer, to 2 seconds of fall, to a baked goods manifesto over the holidays, and now here we are. This salad is currently giving me life and is a right of passage to embracing the winter season. Mmmk?

The dressing has tahini blended with fresh citrus, standing up nicely to the leafy kale and bulger base. It also has pops of flavor from spiced pistachios and fresh mint. There you have it, your basic tabouleh/kale salad has been winterized.

Lets take a moment to talk about citrus. At this time of year, it is on point! There are so many varieties out there. I love cara cara oranges because of their slightly pinkish color and they have a little more sweetness and tang than traditional naval oranges. Blood oranges are stunning for their ruby color and notes of berry. And, tangerines, are delicious for their strong, tart flavor. One of my favorite ways to really elevate citrus is to supreme it! No I am not talking about the hip fashion line. Supreming is a technique where you are essentially removing the rind of the citrus and cutting into slices. It allows the beautiful bejeweled colors of the citrus to shine through.

How to supreme citrus:

1. First trim the end of the citrus. This allows you to see where the rind meets the flesh.

2. Next, gently wedge your knife between the rind and flesh and cut off the peel.

3. Once fully pealed, slice the citrus into pieces of desired width. Now you have bejeweled citrus!

If there is any bit of winter blues, hit this salad up. Its loaded with vitamin C, bright colors, and will fill you up from head to toe 😉

Citrus Tahini Kale Salad

This kale salad is a touch of brightness to the winter season! It has creamy tahini blended with fresh citrus and pops of flavor from spiced pistachios and fresh mint. It comes together quickly and is a stunning addition to your table.
Prep Time30 mins
Bulger Prep1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: dinner, lunch, Salad
Keyword: bulger, cirtus, kale, salad, tahini, winter salad

Ingredients

Citrus Tahini Dressing

  • ½ cup tahini
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • cup tangerine or any orange variety juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp water

Kale Salad

  • 8 cups chopped kale, any variety works
  • 4-5 of any citrus, I used cara cara and blood oranges in this picture, supreme cut*
  • red onion, few thin slices, (optional)
  • ½ lemon
  • 5-6 mint leaves, coarsely chopped or torn

Spiced Pistachios

  • ½ cup raw unsalted pistachios (if you have salted on hand, just reduce the salt)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • pinch of ground red pepper, (optional)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp honey

Bulger

  • 1 cup medium grain bulger
  • 1 cup water
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375F.

Bulger

  • Mix bulger, water, lemon juice and salt in a bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour or so, mixing occasionally. Once liquid is absorbed fluff with a fork. **

Citrus Tahini Dressing

  • Whisk together tahini, lemon juice, tangerine (or other citrus juice), garlic and water until combined.

Spiced Pistachios

  • Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. Mix cumin, coriander, cardamom, salt and ground red pepper (if using) together in a small bowl. Place pistachios on baking sheet and drizzle honey on top and give a quick toss. Sprinkle spice mixture and give another quick toss. Bake for about 7 minutes, mixing pistachios midway. Once out of the oven, add a light sprinkle of salt and mix.
  • This makes a decent amount of spiced pistachios. You can decide to use all or save some for snaking later. Either way is delicious!

Kale Salad Assembly

  • Pour tahini dressing on to kale and toss for about a minute.
  • Add red onion (if using) and bulger to kale and toss to combine. Add juice of half a lemon.
  • Plate salad and scatter supremed citrus, spiced pistachios and torn mint.
  • This salad stores well for up to 2-3 days in your fridge. Enjoy!

Notes

*What is a supreme cut? Supreming is a technique where you are essentially removing the rind of the citrus and cutting into slices. It allows the beautiful bejeweled colors of the citrus to shine through. To do so, first trim the end of the citrus. This allows you to see where the rind meets the flesh. Next, gently wedge your knife between the rind and flesh and cut off the peel. Once fully pealed, slice the citrus into slices of desired width. Now you have bejeweled citrus!
** Bulger is softened by absorbing the liquid it rests in. I prefer this method for salads, rather than cooking, as it allows the grain to maintain more of a bite. After it has soaked for an hour, spoon into salad. If there is any additional liquid, leave it in the bowl. The bulger will continue to soften as it sits in the salad.