Middle Eastern/Turkish, Salads and Vegetables, Sides, Snack

Borek pies

My version of borek pies is so quick to make and delicious too! I usually make them into spring rolls but because I was too impatient with the dough and it broke, I just turned them into pies.

The filling simply consists of Turkish white cheese or just use feta cheese, a package of frozen spinach, Greek yogurt, one egg and spices (I just used smoked paprika, black pepper and salt). Lots of melted butter and nigella seeds on top.

I love the Turkish white cheese compare to feta because these white cheese is creamy!
Put filling in the pastry…
…And then cover with more phyllo pastry. brush with olive oil and sprinkle nigella seeds.
Bake till golden brown.
Remove from pan, let it cool a bit and then cut.
Last thing to do is to eat!

Bread and Batter, Middle Eastern/Turkish

Yemeni Honeycomb Bread

A friend of mine who’s living in Jeddah told me about the existence of this bread. It is soooo delicious that I’ve made it twice.

It’s called honeycomb bread because it looks like one. And basically, it’s a cheese bun loaf but with a sweet sugary syrup over it.

The recipe is simple. For the dough, it’s just 2 cups plain flour, two teaspoons yeast, two teaspoons baking powder, about 30ml melted butter, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 tablespoons sugar, 150g Greek yogurt. This yogurt is my addition the second time baking and boy, did the dough turn out perfect! So soft and delicious!

For the sugar syrup, melt 1 cup of sugar to 1/2 cup of water. Boil for ten minutes then stir in 1/4 tsp of rise water and 2 tablespoons of runny syrup.

I used my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer and when all is incorporated and kneaded (the more you let the machine do its thing, the softer the buns going to be), let the dough rise till double in size. Then gently punch it down, and form about 19-20 small balls. Fill each ball of dough with cream cheese and place it in a circular pattern inside a well greased 9 inch pan. Any round pan will do, but don’t use Pyrex glass!

I really am such a lazy photographer. But as you can see here, the dough is so soft! Space them slightly apart but close enough because after this, leave it to rest and rise a second time.
Look how fat they’ve become! Lovely! After the second rise, brush the tops with a mixture of egg and milk. Sprinkle nigella seeds. If nigella seeds prove to be too strong and earthy, just use sesame seeds. But I love the intense flavour from the nigella seeds. Then bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celcius fill the buns are browned. For my oven, this took about 25 min.
Fresh out of the oven. While it’s still hot, brush generously all over with the sugar syrup. I’ve seen in YouTube videos some people poured the syrup all over and there’s even a version where they poured condensed milk all over. I cannot. I don’t particularly have a sweet tooth, so the brushing generously method works fine for me and the family.
I used a loose bottom springform pan so it was easy to remove
I brought this over to my sister’s for teatime treat.
As you can see from the caption there, I should have added more cheese for some of the individual buns, some had a lot, some had just a bit too little. 😁

This is a keeper and I would definitely be making this for guests during teatime treats!

Bread and Batter, Middle Eastern/Turkish, Snack

Turkish Braided Loaf

I was watching on YouTube the Turkish Food Travel video and she was making this beautiful braided bread. And I was thinking, why not? I could use some of the dough to make hotdog buns. But first I’ll try making this potato filling bread.

The dough was easy to assemble with a mixer. I bloomed one packet of yeast into 1/2 cup warm milk and 2tbsp sugar. And once bloomed, added the other ingredients: egg, olive oil, bread flour, salt. Leave the dough to double in size and then you’re ready to fill it with the filling.

For the filling, I boiled potatoes and then over a stove, stirred them with olive oil and garlic, smoked sweet paprika and since I had some kale, added that in too. Oh, and some leftover hotdog ends.

Take some dough out and then roll thin. I wished I had rolled the dough thinner but this turned out ok too. Then place the filling in the center.

Using a sharp metal pastry knife, make slits on each side and the just fold left right, left right, left right. The bottom part was tricky and I was disappointed when it unravelled in the oven. Brush with egg and the top with nigella and sesame seeds.
See how the bottom part got unlaced? Almost perfect.
See how gorgeous the braids are? If I just ignore the bottom part.
The kids loved it. Delicious! Next time I’ll roll thinner so less carby and perhaps try a meat filling. 😃

Dough Recipe

1. One packet of yeast

2. 1/4 cup warm milk

3. 2 tbsp sugar

4. 3 cups bread flour

4. 1/4 cup olive oik

5. 1 egg

6. 1/2 tsp salt

Desserts, Middle Eastern/Turkish

Kunafa : Ricotta cheese version

I’ve always wanted to make kunafa or kunafe. The first time I baked this it was a disaster because sometimes it’s not just about following a recipe, but about using the right tools to make it a success.

I discovered this Egyptian food blogger who has beautiful, absolute beautiful, pictures posted of her baking. Definitely a professional set up but besides being a pretty blog, her recipes look very doable and simple, especially for Asians who cannot get the right kind of ingredients to make Middle Eastern fare.

However, I still made a mistake. The mistake which I made when I first made kunafe two years ago was to bake it in a glass dish. No no no. Never again. What happened was the bottom layer did not get browned and the insides pastry were not crispy. So this time round, I used a baking pan. This time round, my mistake was not raising the kataifi or kadaifi (shredded phyllo) pastry up to the sides of the pan. The result? An ugly cheese line all around the pie. Sigh.

Cosmetics aside, the end product was fantastic and I’ll definitely be making this when guests come. If we can ever have guests this year… 😞

You can find the recipe and the blog site which I’m in love with Here

Ingredients for the filling: ricotta cheese, clotted cream, sugar and vanilla essence
Spreading the filling on to the kataifi pastry. This pastry has to be covered in ghee first. Make sure to raise it to the sides of the pan!
Ready for the oven. I got exactly two round pans and a ramekin dish to bring to work.
Remove only after the pastry is golden brown and shrinks from the sides of the pan. Pour the sugar syrup all over and let it sit for 10 minutes. After that, take a knife and go around the edges to loosen the pie.
See what I mean by the ring of cheese that is exposed? 😅

Decorate with rose petals and crushed pistachios. See what I mean by the ring of cheese? 😅

Top view of the kunafa that I brought over to mom’s.
Inside view of this delicious Middle Eastern dessert that we can’t get enough of.
Best eaten warm straight out of the oven. 💓
Asian Dishes, Middle Eastern/Turkish

Saudi Kabsa Chicken

The Girl asked for Arabic rice today. I usually make mandhi rice or some form of Arabic rice other than the National Saudi dish- kabsa. Why? Because nobody has taught me how!

But today, I took out a recipe from this amazing book called Feast and followed to the T her kabsa recipe. This recipe called for meat, but I used chicken instead.

Here’s the recipe from the book:

I’ve decided to use the pressure cooker instead. First, sautée the green chilli and onions. Fry until onions are soft. Then add tomato paste and ginger garlic paste. Stir well and then add the chicken to brown. Once browned, add the tomatoes, spices and water. Then pressure cook till done.

Remove chicken and set aside. Grill the chicken in the air fryer or oven when ready to serve.

Add the soaked basmati rice, grated carrots and salt to season. Cook till done.

To serve, fry some sultanas and almonds and sprinkle over rice and chicken. And it’s done! A simple simple dish to make but very flavourful!

Firstly, soften onions and the sole split green chilli till onions are soft. Add ginger garlic paste and a tablespoon of tomato paste. Stir well.
Then add chicken which has been cleaned and quartered skin side down fill nicely browned.
When the chicken is browned, turn over the chicken pieces and add in the spices and tomatoes.

I used a pressure cooker next but you can just add some water and salt, leave it to cook. Remove chicken once they are tender.

Cover with foil and set aside till ready to serve. Just about serving time, grill chicken in an air fryer or a hot oven till they nicely grilled.

Add carrots and rice and cook. Now, this is where I failed badly. Because I used a pressure cooker, I couldn’t gauge the liquid amount. And so the rice was a disaster. It was too soft and mushy. So I made another batch of rice, cooking it in the rice cooker instead. I followed the same steps but omitted the carrots this time round because I had used up all the carrots I had for the failed attempt. The rice cooker is always the best choice! I will never cook rice in a pressure cooker again. What a waste of food and effort!

This was the second batch of rice from the rice cooker. I transferred it to a steamer to steam and keep warm.
To serve, grill the chicken in the air fryer. It gives that smoky flavour. Place rice in a serving platter. Put the chicken on top of the bed of rice. Sprinkle almonds and raisins that have been fried in a bit of oil and butter till
golden. Delicious!
And if there’s some leftover, pack a box for your loved ones. In this case, for my Mama who’s living all by herself, alone. 😌

I must say that this recipe is for keeps. I ground the cardamom myself. As well as the black pepper. I think making your own spices do make a difference to the overall fragrance of the dish. Try this Saudi National dish and your lockdown days will be a tad cheerier. Ma’assalama 👋🏽