Friday, March 10, 2017

Week 10 - Middle East

For the Middle East challenge, I made a three part meal. The first recipe I had stumbled on was from Saveur for makhlama lahm, Iraqi eggs with lamb and tomatoes. That sounded like it would be good over rice, so I searched Iraqi rice on Google and found a recipe for timman. Finally, to round it out, I was intrigued by a recipe for quinoa salad from a falafel restaurant upstate, so that sounded like the perfect side dish. All of these would, of course, be adapted for what we had/could find in our shopping.

Iraqi Eggs with Meat Sauce

The biggest difference between our version of this and the original recipe is that I substituted ground turkey for the lamb since I try not to cook red meat at home. The recipe also referred to "bahar asfar," yellow curry powder, and since I couldn't find any packages with that name (even at Kalustyan's!), I'm not sure if the curry powder we used had everything in it that was intended.

The ingredients we used were:

- olive oil ($0.20)
- 1 lb of ground turkey ($4.30)
- 1 onion, finely chopped ($0.50)
- 1/2 batch of parsley, finely chopped ($0.90)
- 2 vine ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped ($1.15)
- salt and pepper ($0.05)
- a few tsp of curry powder ($0.75)
- 4 eggs ($0.40)

The steps for making this portion of dinner were:

1. Heat olive oil in large skillet and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add ground turkey and cook until browned, breaking up the meat as it cooks.

2. Add onion and cook until soft.

3. Add tomatoes, half of the chopped parsley, curry powder, salt and pepper, and cook until tomatoes are soft. Season to taste.

4. Grease baking pan and move turkey mixture to baking pan. Create 4 wells in the pan and drop each egg into a well. Cook until eggs are set. (Recipe suggested 7 minutes, but they weren't quite done yet. We let them go too long after that though, so I'm not sure of the exact right time to get them to be soft baked.)

5. Garnish with remaining parsley.

This tasted really healthy and after having it, I thought that we probably didn't need the rice as it wasn't really greasy or full of liquid that a starch would need to soak up. It was fine with the eggs (although probably better if we hadn't baked it as long), but I think the turkey mixture on its own, maybe with more curry powder, would be good on top of rice as a complete meal, maybe also with some more vegetables mixed in. I'll have to try that soon.

Quinoa Salad

We stuck a little more closely to the recipe on this one, other than increasing the amounts of fresh vegetables and using canned chickpeas. There was only so much space on the stove and only so much time to make dinner (which still took the two of us two hours doing it together).

The ingredients for our version of the quinoa salad were:

- 1 cup of quinoa ($1.33)
- 2 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped ($1.14)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped ($0.99)
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped ($0.89)
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed ($0.75)
- 5 green onions, chopped ($0.65)
- salt and pepper ($0.05)
- about 3 tsp sumac ($0.50)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 3 small lemons) ($0.64)
- 1/2 cup olive oil ($0.75)

The process for making the salad was pretty easy. The steps were:

1. Prepare quinoa according to package instructions.

2. Move quinoa to large bowl to cool. Add tomatoes, green pepper, red pepper, chickpeas, and green onions. Mix well together.

3. In separate bowl, mix the dressing - salt, pepper, sumac, lemon juice, olive oil.

4. Mix dressing into salad and season to taste.

This was probably my favorite part of dinner. It was so fresh and healthy, and the dressing was great with all that sumac and freshly squeezed lemon juice. I could definitely see us making this again. It was pretty simple to make and would have been even easier if we hadn't been doing so many other things at the same time.


This was really just basmati rice cooked in chicken stock, but I wanted to try following the original recipe here for the different method of preparing the rice. I was wondering if it would indeed produce different results from just cooking the rice according to the package instructions. I was originally going to leave out the pine nuts and probably could have, as they didn't add that much.

The method of making this rice was to heat some olive oil and butter in the pot, add the rice and stir it around for a few minutes over high heat, and then add a few cups of chicken stock (1:3 rice to stock ratio). The rice was then cooked over medium low, simmering for 15 minutes covered tightly. After fluffing the rice after those 15 minutes, we turned off the burner and just let the pot of rice sit near where the heat escapes the oven (since it was already on for the eggs). At this point, you're supposed to put paper towels over the top and around the rim of the pot, and then re-cover it tightly for at least 25 more minutes.

We had never really tried making the rice using this "towel method" before, but I imagined that it was supposed to result in fluffier, softer rice. It did, although I didn't think it was dramatically different from making the rice our regular way and skipping that step. It does seem to be a good thing to do though if you're making a bunch of other dishes and aren't sure how long the rice is going to be sitting around waiting, as it keeps the texture nice and fluffy.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, this was a tasty, healthy Middle Eastern meal, although we ate way too much of it late at night. The cost for the entire meal was about $16.94, which seems like a lot, but there was some salad leftover, as well as a bowl of rice with turkey topping for lunch. I was really glad that I had A's help to make this or otherwise it might have taken another hour as I went back and forth from recipe to recipe. It was a bit ambitious as far as amount of work for a Monday night, and I think if we were to incorporate any of these into our rotation, it would be the quinoa salad or the turkey skillet - separately.

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