Yet another dish fought over and its identity claimed by so many different nationalities! Certainly all the countries of the middle east, no exception. As well as Turkey. And ofcourse Greece.
Personally, I prefer the middle-eastern version. Whatever the filling, it is always lighter & crispier than its Greek cousin. No offense meant to my adopted country!
1pkt filo pastry
2 sticks butter melted
400 grs shelled pistachios
100 grs hazlenuts
place the nuts in a food processor and give them a couple of whirls. Do not grind into a powder, you should still be able to see and identify the nuts!
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
juice of half a lemon
place your sugar and water in a small saucepan
when all the sugar has been disolved
squeeze-in the juice of half a lemon
keep simmering until the mixture starts sticking to the back of the spoon
add one tbsp rose-bud water to give it that middleastern touch (in Arabic it is called “mazahr” as opposed to “maward” which I dislike tremendously!)
set your syrup aside to cool
separate the sheets of pastry in two halves
brush your tray with butter
start laying your pastry sheets brushing with butter between each sheet
when half the sheets have been used, spread your nuts evenly over the whole tray
continue with the other half of your pastry sheets, one at a time, brushing butter between each sheet
finish with another good brush of butter cut your uncooked baklava tray in diamond shapes
you need to cut deeply, almost all the way through before baking (if you leave your cutting till afterwards you will end up with a crumbled mess! (so sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the unbaked version!)
Bake in a 180centigrade pre-heated oven for approx. 45mns
keep checking on the colour of your baklava as every oven is different
when you’re happy with its colour remove it from the oven and immediately pour on it the cooled syrup
in order not to end up with a soggy baklava, you need to make sure that one of your two items (baklava or syrup) is hot and the other one cold. If the 2 are hot it will be soggy, and if the 2 are cold the syrup will just sit on top of the baklava without penetrating its layers. I prefer to make the syrup ahead of time and set aside to cool, before placing my Baklava in the oven. This way its ready for pouring as soon as the Baklava is out.
Its been more than a year since I last posted! Apologies to those of you that have been following and must have given up on me by now! I promise that I’m still faithful to my kitchen and to my cooking, even if sometimes “life” does get in the way. I am now left with a backlog of pictures and recipes cooked throughout the year, and frankly, I’m at a total loss as to which to post and when. So lets just start with the most recent prepared just a few days ago.
The holiday season was quite busy this year. It so happens that a lot of the expats on our island, have decided to stay put this winter, so there was a fury of parties flying back and forth, and an over abundance of super delicious food, and fantastic company.
This past Thursday we had a few friends over, for an overdue and long promised middle-eastern meal.
We started with a spread of various appetizers: hummus, homemade labneh, mehamara (my style), and tabouleh. All with arabic bread ofcourse.
I then served one central dish: Maklouba Palestinian style.
Its basically chicken, eggplant, zucchini, and rice. Each cooked separately, then assembled in layers to be presented in one dish, which gets turned over (upside down) in the last minute. Hence the name Maklouba, which in Arabic means upside down.
A bit of an ambitious choice on my part considering that I’m a one woman kitchen! Also considering that “this” one woman does not have the same energy as in the past, and tends to tire somewhat faster these days. But with some organization it can definitely be undertaken, and believe me it will be worth the effort as this is one dish that is meant to impress!!!
There are many versions of Maklouba out there: Palestinian, Syrian, or Lebanese. Some with lamb, some with ground beef, some with chicken, but all with vegetables and with rice. I happen to like this one.
Oh and I forgot: for dessert I made a Baklava with pistachio nuts, which was a great success. Recipe to follow later today or tomorrow.
Now back to the Maklouba!
2 double chicken breasts (meaning 4 individual breasts cut horizontally into two each, giving a total of 8 relatively medium pieces)
2 chicken legs (w/bones) separate drum sticks from thighs
½ a tsp of each of the following spices: turmeric, cumin, coriander, allspice, clove, paprika, salt, and juice of one lemon
rub all over the chicken pieces, cover, and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
1 large onion cut into thin wedges
4 medium eggplants sliced length wise 1cm thick
4 medium zucchini sliced length wise 1cm thick
2 large onions sliced into thickish wedges
2 large tomatoes peeled and sliced 1cm thick
2 cups rice
2 cups boiling water
1 tsps turmeric
mix together in a bowl and set aside till ready to use
Brown the chicken pieces in a bit of olive oil in a large pan till lightly coloured on both sides
remove from pan and set aside
put the onion wedges in the same pan and saute till soft-ish
put the chicken back in the pan and deglaze with some white wine
add water (a little at a time in order to roast and not boil)
cover the pan and simmer till the chicken is tender and there is enough gravy in the pan to use for later
remove the chicken and set aside till ready to use
adjust the gravy: you will need about 2 cups worth, so you may need to add some water to it, probably a soup cube as well, and bring to the boil once
set that aside as well
P.S. Up to this point the chicken can be prepared the day before.
line a couple of oven trays with parchment paper
oil the paper and sprinkle some sea salt on it
place the eggplant slices next to one another (you may need to use both trays to hold all the eggplant)
brush the top of the slices with olive oil, and sprinkle with a bit more sea salt
bake in preheated oven, set on max, with fan on
third shelf and above it
switch trays half way through
check frequently on colour. Should be slightly coloured (not brown!)
repeat above procedure with the zucchini slices (oiling & salting the parchment paper first, then oiling & salting the zucchini slices)
if there is enough room in one of the trays, place the onion wedges as well
repeat as above until slightly coloured (the zucchini will need a lot less time than the eggplant, so remember to check on it frequently
you will need a large heavy bottom pan with a lid
start assembling your ingredients in the following order to build up the layers of your Maklouba
half the eggplant slices
half the onion
half the zucchini slices
the pre-soaked rice
the remaining eggplant
the remaining onions
the remaining zucchini
pour the gravy from the chicken on top
place a flat dish to keep everything in place
cover the pan and simmer for 40 mns or until rice is cooked
Test rice for done-ness. Remove pan from heat and keep covered (about 20-30mns) till ready to serve.
Now the tricky part: Remove the lid, place a large round serving dish on top of the pan, hold from both sides, and flip over and into the serving dish.