Chami

  Ramadan Kareem! Ramadan is going on in the UAE, during this month Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and when the sun sets they break the fast. It is also time to be more grateful and patience, time for charity. Many families and friends get together to break their daytime fast, that evening meal is called iftar. The meal most often starts with a date and a glass of water; then usually soup or salad is served, numerous appetizers (mezze), which includes olives, hummus, and of course cheeses.Chami
 In my opinion, cheeses are loved by many people and every country has their own varieties and names, and Arab region is not the exception. One of the traditional Emirati cheeses is called Chami, which is similar to cottage cheese. I can even say more, it is a cottage cheese. The legend says that an Arabian bedouin traveled somewhere across the desert, and took some milk with him in a goat’s stomach, and while he was traveling, extremely hot sun and his movements (or his horse) caused the milk to separate into curd and whey; thus the first simple cheese was discovered. 
 Most probably that time it was goat’s or sheep’s milk and thus the cheese, but nowadays it is usually prepared by simmering cow’s laban (local dairy drink,  similar to Russian kefir or buttermilk). Chami is usually drizzled with ghee (clarified butter) and eaten with dates. In my home country, homemade cottage cheese is often made the same way: by simmering the soured cow’s milk that caused the milk to separate. I love cottage cheese, not only to eat it as is, I add it into cakes or sweet one-dish bakes (you can find numerous recipes if you write “cottage cheese” in the search line on the right). So I make it quite often at home, but I prefer to simmer local yogurt, which is sold in large one, two and larger liters buckets. thus I have the bigger quantity of the cheese.

Monastery beetroot salad with coriander seeds

 Hello guys! How is your foodie-blogo-life going on?
I’ve wanted to post this recipe for so long that almost forgot about it. When I was a student I didn’t want to spend much time cooking, so the food was usually prepared well ahead of time, and then reheat, or simple dishes were all the time favorite, like boiled potatoes served with homemade pickles or macaroni a la flot, or famous salad vinegret was cooked pretty often. So, the recipe of this salad I read in one tiny little book with few recipes suitable for the Lent diet, when you’re not allowed to eat meat and dairy products; and I liked it from the first spoon (even though first time I didn’t use neither honey or coriander seeds) and since then I prepare it. I highly suggest not to omit coriander seeds, as they give so much flavor, and the simple beetroot salad turns into something special. And I love the idea that this bright salad can be made all year round and served whether as a starter or a healthy main dish (add some roast fish steaks on a side for the more nourishing meal).

MonasteryBeetroot Salad

Monastery beetroot salad with coriander seeds

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: very easy
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You’ll need 
450-500g beetroot
2 medium brown onions
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1.5 tbsp whole coriander seeds, crushed
150g prunes, without stones
100g walnuts, raw or dry-roasted
2 tsp runny honey
some chopped parsley or dill, for garnish, optional
How to make it
  1. Boil or roast beetroots until ready to eat. Peel, cut into cubes or wedges.
  2. Saute onions in oil until translucent, add coriander seeds and fry for 1 minute more.
  3. Chop prunes and walnuts, combine with honey. Mix into beetroot.
  4. Drizzle with extra oil and honey, if desired. Sprinkle with some more coriander seeds and (optionally) with fresh chopped parsley or coriander.
Enjoy!
MonasteryBeetroot Salad with coriander seeds

 

Millet bitochki

 Bitochki or bitki is the name for round-shaped, flattened cutlets (côtelettes/patties) in Russian cuisine, which are prepared from chopped meat or grains. Originally in old Russia, a good and expensive cuts of meat were flattened, cooked and called bitochki, but lately people adapted the recipe and began to use cheap meat. Any remaining meat was chopped, mixed with other ingredients and then served fried or baked. Poor people even used grains.MIlletBitochki
 Nowadays, not only poor one can make such bitochki. I used millet for mine. Bitochki are not only tasty, but healthy and it is a good option for a meatless day. Millet is one of the healthiest grain, moreover is considered to be one of the digestible and non-allergenic grains*. It contains lots of fiber and low simple sugar. Finally, bitochki have such a nice texture inside (it reminds a white fish a bit) and crispy outside.
 You can serve them with a lettuce-tomato salad on a side. I made mushrooms sauce, but if you are run out of time or lazy – serve with a good dollop of sour cream (or creme fraiche).
MIlletBitochki with mushroom sauce

Millet bitochki with mushroom sauce

  • Servings: 12 pieces
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Instead of mushroom sauce you can serve bitochiki with sour cream.
Bitochki as well as mushroom sauce can be made a day or two ahead and then gently reheated.
 
*You can use both cream and sour cream, or any one.
Ingredients
150g millet
500ml hot water
1 medium egg
2-3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 medium onion (any sort you like)
300g mushrooms (I used oyester and champinions), chopped
1 tbsp butter+ 1 tbsp olive oil, for mushrooms
20g butter
15-20g plain flour
100ml 35% cream*
2-3 tbsp sour cream*
150ml hot water
salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive or sunflower oil, for frying
some chopped parsely, for garnish, optional
Preparation method
  • Wash millet throughly under running water, cover with hot water, season with some salt, bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until millet is ready. You need to cool it completely. To make it faster, spread millet on a large plate and put in a fridge for 10-15 minutes, while preparing the mushrooms and sauce.
  • In a frying pan, heat butter and oil, add onion and fry for 5 minutes (set aside half of onions for millet ). Add mushrooms and fry on a hight heat for 10 minutes or until all liquid is evaporated (if there is any). Season to taste. Set aside 3-4 tbsp mushrooms for millet; then chop it finely.
  • Meanwhile, in a small pan, add butter and flour, stir on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir into mushrooms.
  • Pour over cream along with sour cream, give it a good stir. Pour in hot water. Check the seasoning. Simmer on a medium heat for 5-8 minutes. Add more hot water to reach desired consistency. Keep the sauce warm.
  • Transfer cooled millet in a mixing bowl, add egg, parsley, season with salt and pepper. Mix in fried onion and mushrooms. Combine the mixture. I didn’t use any flour, but if the mixture seems doesn’t want to resemble into a patty, add a tablespoon or two of plain flour.
  • Generously spread breadcrumbs on a large plate. With a tablespoon take a millet mixture and make a ball, pat it down with your hand or spoon. Cover in a breadcrumbs. Repeat with all millet mixture.
  • In a large frying pan, heat oil, put bitochki and fry on both sides until golden. To keep it warm while preparing others – put them in a preheated 120-150C oven.
  • Serve with mushroom sauce and sprinkle with extra parsley, if desired.
Enjoy!

Fish with spiced lentil ragout

 Happy Valentines Day!!! 
I’d like to represent a very delicious main course, that looks elegant and suits perfectly to this special day. A healthy and tasty fish is complemented here by aromatic lentil ragout and fresh fennel shavings. Another secret weapon in this sensational dish is aromatic spices: turmeric and ginger, that really burst the lentils with lots of flavour. And of course don’t forget the final touch – a drizzle of lime juice.
 Simple! Healthy! Sensational!Fish with spiced lentil ragout

Fish with spiced lentil ragout

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
Fish
2 x 150-200g white fish fillet (I used sea bass)
2 tbsp lime juice
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
some homemade breadcrumbs and flour, for coating
1 tbsp olive oil or other veg oil, for frying
Lentil ragout
100g dried green/brown or Puy lentils
1 rosemary sprig
water
1.5 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small carrot, cut into fine cubes
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 medium tomato, chopped (without liquid and seeds)
1.5 tbsp tomato puree
zest from 1/2 lime
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
Garnish
lime juice
lime wedges
fennel shavings
fennel or parsley
Preparation method
  1. Rinse and drain lentils. Put in a saucepan with rosemary, cover with water (do not season) and bring to boil on a medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Add extra water if all absorbed, or drain some if there is any left.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a small frying pan, add onion and carrot and saute for 6-7 minutes until soft and golden. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric and saute for a minute more. Stir in chopped tomato and puree. Turn off the heat.
  3. Discard rosemary form lentils. While lentils are still warm season with salt and pepper, then mix in lemon zest and vegetable mixture; give it a good stir.
  4. Drizzle fish with lime juice, season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle skin side with breadcrumbs and flour. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry skin-side down for 2 minutes, then turn and fry for 1-3 minutes more (depends on fish thickness), until golden and cooked.
  5. Arrange lentil ragout on a serving plate, top with fennel and fish fillet, drizzle with lime juice. Garnish with fennel (or parsley) and lime wedges.
Enjoy!

Masoor dal (red lentil) Soup

Masoor dal is a split red lentils, widely used in Asian cuisine, particularly in Indian. Lentil is a good source of protein and fiber. These lentils do not need to soak overnight, they cook very quickly, so the recipe is perfect for everyday cooking. Adding aromatic Asian spices enhances lentils’ taste and brings loads of flavour to the soup! Rich, amazingly good vegetarian thick soup; you should give this recipe a try! 🙂Masoor Dal (red lentil) Soup

Masoor dal (red lentil) Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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You can skip chilli if you don’t want the soup hot, or add more if you like it really spicy.
The longer you cook the soup – more creamy it’ll be.
Ingredients
300g red lentils, washed
200g (2 small) potatoes, cut into small cubes
2 Tbsp olive or sunflower oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/3-1/2 tsp chilli seeds, optional
1 clove
2 bay leaves
5-6 pink peppercorns, crushed
sea salt, to taste
3-4 Tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
naan/flatbread, to serve
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add mustard seeds, chilli (if using), cumin, bay leaves, clove and fry until fragrant. Add onion and garlic, cook for 5-7 minutes until soft. Stir in potatoes – fully coat it in oil and spices. Sprinkle with turmeric, pink pepper and salt, stir.
  2. Stir in lentils, add water to cover the mixture. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until vegetables are cooked. Add more boiling water or continue to simmer further to achieve your preferred consistency. Adjust the seasoning.
  3. Stir in fresh coriander. Serve with bread.