Sunday, June 26, 2011

A mouthwatering taste of the Middle East

During my recent trip to Brazil, several friends hinted that I should prepare them a true Middle Eastern dinner, filled with goodies that are actually very popular in Brazil as well, especially due to the huge presence of Lebanese immigrants and descendants in the country: kibbeh, hummus, moutabel…

Unfortunately, I am very lousy cook, so I guess they will never see that dinner materialize if it depends on me!

On the other hand, I am a very good friend, so I talked to some people over here and managed to get a few recipes, which are supposed to be easy breezy – even for me.

Let’s all give them a try? If you do, remember to let me know how they turned out!

Kind of like a fried meat ball. Can also be baked.

  • 1 kg (about 2 lbs) finely ground beef, divided
  • 200 g (about ½lb) bulgur cracked wheat
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 2 medium onions, (1 finely chopped and 1 coarsely chopped)
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • vegetable oil for frying
In a medium bowl, soak wheat for 30 minutes in cold water. Remove and drain, leaving no excess water.

Place into medium bowl and combine with 500g (about 1lb) meat, coarsely chopped onion, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Combine well and place small amount into food processor until it reaches a dough-like consistency. Place mixture aside, covered.

In a medium frying pan, sauté the finely chopped onion in olive oil. Add pine nuts if desired. Add beef and chop well with wooden spoon or spatula. Add allspice, salt, pepper, and cumin. Once beef is light brown, remove from heat. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

To assemble the kibbeh, take an egg sized amount of the mixture and form into a ball. With your finger, poke a hole in the ball, making a space for filling. Add filling and pinch the top to seal the ball. You can then shape it into a point, or football shape, or leave as a ball.

Fry in 350 degree oil on stove top or in deep fryer for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

A very popular dip made of chickpeas. Goes amazingly well with pita bread!


  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • ¼ cup liquid from can of chickpeas
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can. Combine the chickpeas with the lemon juice, garlic, salt and olive oil in blender. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas. Blend for 3 to 5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.

Place in serving bowl, and create a small hole in the center of the hummus, so you can add a small amount (1 to 2 tablespoons) of olive oil. Garnish with parsley (optional).

A dip, very similar to hummus, but made with eggplants.


  • 3 eggplants
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ to ¼ teaspoon pepper depending on taste
  • 1 to 3 green chili pepper (depending on taste)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place eggplant on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes - or until eggplant is tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool, so you can peel the skin. Set aside.

In a food processor, combine the garlic and peppers. Add in eggplant and blend well. Add in olive oil.

Remove from food processor and place in serving bowl. Stir in lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

A dough, similar to pizza, topped with – basically – whatever you want: cheese, thyme, lamb, meat, chilli…

  • ½ package active dry yeast
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Mix the yeast, 1 tablespoon of the flour and 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl and let stand until mixture turns into a creamy foam (+/- 10 minutes).

In a large bowl, stir together the salt and 3/4 cups flour. Add yeast mixture and remaining 1/4 cup of warm water. Stir until smooth. Add 1/2 cup flour.

With floured hands, place the dough on a floured surface. Work the dough until it is smooth, soft and elastic (+/- 10 minutes).

Form dough into a ball, then generously dust with flour and put in a medium bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm, place until it doubles in size (about 1 to 1-1/4 hours).

When the dough has fully risen, place it onto a floured surface and press down to make a disk shape. Spread your favorite topping (thyme, cheese, lamb, meat, chilli, etc.) and place on a pizza stone or oiled pizza pan.

Cook in a 350-degree oven for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the dough is crispy and brown. Serve warm.

A dough, sort of like the Brazilian ‘pastel’, commonly filled with meat, cheese or spinach.

  • 3 cups all purpose flour or
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ cup softened butter
  • ¾ cup water
Place flour in a deep bowl, add sugar, salt, butter and mix well with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Gradually add little quantities of water and mix thoroughly until a dough forms. Cover with kitchen cloth and set aside for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, decide your stuffing. You can use minced meat or lamb, or you might opt for cheese or spinach.

Roll the dough into around 3 millimeters thin pastry. Using a medium size cup, or dough cutter, cut round pieces of the dough. Place 1 tablespoon of the stuffing in the center of each piece and seal the edges by pressing them with a fork.

Deep-fry the sambousek in 190°C preheated oil for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil and place in kitchen tissues to absorb excess oil then serve.

Shortbread pastries filled with dates, pistachios, walnuts, almonds…

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup semolina
  • 2 sticks salted butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon water
  • 2 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ chopped dates or nuts (pistachios, walnuts, almonds)
  • Powder sugar for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and semolina. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, beat butter for 30 to 45 seconds. Slowly add in flour mixture until combined. Stir in milk, allspice and water.

In a small bowl, combine nuts and sugar. Set aside.

Roll dough into small circles. Place about 1 teaspoon of nut mixture on top of dough. Fold and press dough together to seal the filling.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.



  1. Que delícia!Esse post deu muita fome!!!Bjs Marina

  2. Então vai experimentar as receitas e depois me conta como ficaram! bjs