What to cook?
I love cooking. But thinking of what to make each day is quite a chore. I generally get out some vegetables from the fridge and make them into anything that comes to my mind. It’s like following my instincts and the ingredients are always throw as you go. That was the main reason for me to start blogging and maintaining a record of recipes which otherwise I would never be able to recreate. Unable to recreate a recipe especially if it turned out wonderfully good the first time is a frustration that I’d experienced several times in the past. But not any longer!
It’s understandable that a vegetarian like me wouldn’t be able to replicate much of world cuisine in her kitchen, given that meats are a substantial part of many an ethnicity. This led me to a search of vegetarian recipes from around the world. My first stop being Lebanon. With a broadband connection and a laptop, you don’t need a visa or tickets to do this thing called arm chair travelling. And what better way than cooking up a meal from there to complete the experience?
Lebanese food quite resembles a healthy Mediterranean cuisine. Fresh vegetables, fruits, olive oil, garlic and white meats form the base of this cuisine. Ingredients unique to this ethnicity are Tahini (sesame seed paste) and pomegranate seeds. The latter is probably related to the fact that Pomegranates were first found and grown in the Persian regions.
The meal starts with a mezze – which includes hot and cold starters. A typical mezze would include Baba Gannouj (Roasted eggplant with sesame paste), Hummus, Falafel, Shanklish (Goat cheese served with salad) and Kibbenayeh (Ground lamb’s meat served with cracked wheat).
Main course is generally meat based so that is quite beyond the scope of my experiements 🙂 Desserts like baklava are ofcourse extremely popular and well-loved by most of us. There is another popular dessert called Mahallabiye that is a kind of milk pudding made with almonds and pine nuts. Sweets are generally had with strong sweet cardamom flavoured coffee!
My love at first bite with Lebanese food started in Basha which was a Mediterranean eatery in Rochester. Sadly, its no longer open now. The Mezze, a Basha rice full of raisins and other exotic flavours, their lentil soup was so good that any time we had to go out for dinner, I didn’t have to think twice. It was in London that I had the Fattoush for want of something vegetarian and I wasn’t at all sad for choosing it. If yoy happen to be in central London, this is one of the VFM places serving fresh salads, falafel, pita breads and loads of other stuff.
Since I make Baba Gannouj pretty often, I thought I’d make Fattoush and a variation of the roasted eggplant dip.