I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: baking bread is not my strong suit. But this recipe? I couldn’t stop eating it. Adapted from my well-worn Baladi cookbook, this Palestinian bread is full of herby za’atar and is perfect dunked in tart, thick labneh. Serve this as a breakfast or even an appetizer. It’s well worth the effort.
2 envelopes of instant yeast (1/4 oz each)
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup avocado oil
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup za’atar
labneh, to serve
Mix the yeast with the warm water and sugar until it bubbles, 5-10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil and 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Mix the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl, adding a little more water if needed. Knead for 5-7 minutes; it won’t be as bouncy as regular bread dough because of the oil content. Leave to rest for 40 minutes.
Make golf-ball-sized pieces of dough and set aside.
Mix the za’atar with the remaining 1/4 of olive oil and rub each dough ball in the mixture until coated. Arrange the dough balls in a bundt pan, cover with a dish towel, and leave to rise for another 20 minutes. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and puffy. Serve with labneh.
I’d never had sujuk, or Palestinian-style spiced beef puffs, until I adapted this recipe from my Baladi cookbook. They reminded me of southern Iranian sambuseh, which, as the name suggests, taste a lot like Ethiopian and Eritrean sambusa and South Asian lamb samosas. Basically what I’m trying to say is (a) I love observing patterns of migration and travel through food and (b) meat encased in puff pastry is always delicious.
1 sheet of store-bought puff pastry
2 eggs, beaten
Handful of sesame seeds, to sprinkle
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 pound ground beef or lamb
Combine paprika, coriander, cumin, red pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, garlic, onion, pomegranate molasses, and ground beef in a bowl and set aside.
Lay the pastry flat so that you have one large rectangle, with the long side closest to you. Place some of the meat in a sausage shape along one long edge of the rectangle. Carefully roll the pastry over the sausage, just until the meat is covered. Brush the edge with egg to seal it, brush the top with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds, the cut the roll away from the rest of the pastry. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Continue filling, rolling, sealing, brushing, sprinkling, and cutting until you have used up all of the filling and pastry. You should have 3-4 long longs of pastry-covered meat. Place the logs in the fridge to firm up for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Remove the logs from the refrigerator and bake them for 25-35 minutes until the meat is cooked and the pastry is golden. Slice into 12-14 pieces and serve.
I didn’t grow up eating khoresh-e qarch but I love anything with mushrooms so I had to try this. Adapted from a Najmieh Batmanglij recipe, this khoresh is super savory, thanks not only to the musrhooms but the the slow-and-low browning and braising of lots of onions and chicken. Serve this with basmati rice and fresh herbs on the side for a comforting meal.
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 pounds boneless chicken thighs, cut into one-inch cubes
5 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound cremini mushrooms, washed and trimmed
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
1 egg, beaten
1. In a dutch oven, brown onions, garlic, and chicken in 3 tablespoons oil. Add salt and pepper. Pour in 1/2 cup water, cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Slice mushrooms and sprinkle with flour and saute in 2 tablespoons oil.
3. Add mushrooms, lime juice, and saffron water to the meat. Cover and simmer 10 minutes over low heat.
4. Taste the stew and adjust seasoning. Add beaten egg. Simmer 5 minutes over low heat, gently stirring.
Crispy potatoes, creamy spiced eggs, and a handful of herbs make this an easy breakfast I can’t stop thinking about. Adapted from Baladi, this dish is Palestinian, but it reminds me of an equally delicious potato and egg dish my baba makes that’s greater than the sum of its parts: crispy-on-the-outside-but-creamy-on-the-inside potatoes and perfectly cooked eggs. Comfort food at its best.
This recipe serves two but quantities can easily be doubled.
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
Flatbread, to serve (optional)
1. Parboil the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes; drain.
2. Heat the oil in a pan and saute the potatoes until lightly browned. Add the shallots and garlic until softened, then add the spices and mix to combine.
3. Separate the ingredients in the pan into four portions and crack and egg on top of each. Move the mixture around over low heat and gently stir together. Try not to overscramble the eggs so that you have bigger pieces of cooked egg.
4. Season with salt and pepper, add the cilantro, and serve warm.
My parents have a giant shahtoot (Persian mulberry) tree and every year, we look forward to staining our fingers (and our clothes) from picking the juicy, crimson berries. This year, I used some to make a fresh, not-too-sweet and super healthy jam. Paired with hibiscus, this jam comes together in minutes and is bound by chia seeds. I use sugar very sparingly here, so this is a jam that won’t keep forever, even in the fridge. (Don’t worry, it won’t last long anyway.)
1. Put the hibiscus in a heatproof bowl and cover with 1/2 cup boiling water. Let steep for 10 minutes. Strain to remove the dried flowers, pressing down to release their flavor.
2. Put the mulberries in a saucepan and slowly heat, roughly crushing the berries with the back of a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until the juices have run. Stir in the chia seeds and hibiscus water, then cook for another minute. Add honey and sugar, tasting to adjust if needed. Remove from heat and set aside to cool and thicken. Cover and store in the fridge.