Bahrain is home to some talented food bloggers. So we got in touch with Farah Abu Maizar, the creator of the Every Little Crumb blog and a lover of Middle Eastern food to share some of her star dishes and recipes for Ramadan. She has prepared a full-course menu for you to show off at your Iftar! Give them a go!
Drink – Karak Chai
This Karak Chai is irresistible. It’s creamy and rich, with warm spices and just enough sweetness. The secret is in letting the sugar caramelize before adding the rest of the ingredients. I promise, you make this and you’ll never need to go to your favourite chai spot again! This is just how I like to end my meal, with a hot cup of chai, and something sweet to nibble on.
· 4 tablespoons white sugar (50 g)
· 4 cups of hot water
· 2 tablespoons loose black tea or 3 tea bags, like Lipton red label or English breakfast
· 6 pods of whole cardamom
· 3 whole cloves
· A pinch of (5-6) saffron threads
· 3 slices of whole ginger root, or a pinch of ginger powder (optional)
· 2/3 cup evaporated milk (170 g)
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the sugar. Let the sugar melt and caramelize without stirring or disturbing it. Once it has turned a golden caramel, slowly stream in the hot water. (If some parts of the sugar clump and harden, don’t worry they’ll melt as the water boils).
- Add the tea, cardamom, cloves, saffron, and ginger. Boil for 5-7 minutes or so until the spices are fragrant, then add the evaporated milk.
- Lower the heat slightly until the tea is at a steady, low simmer. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until the tea thickens slightly.
- Transfer the tea to a teapot, using a strainer while pouring so you can separate the tea leaves and spices.
- Enjoy hot! Utter comfort.
Appetiser – Lentil Soup
No one has made this lentil soup without singing its praises. It’s so comforting and thick that it can be a meal in and of itself, but it’s my favourite way to break my fast! I like adding potato and carrot to the soup base, which is what makes this so creamy.
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· 1 yellow onion, finely diced
· 1-2 carrots, finely diced
· 1 peeled potato, finely diced
· 1 cup red lentils
· 6 cups water
· 2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes
· 1 tablespoon dried mint
· 1 teaspoon cumin
· 1/4 teaspoon paprika
· 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
· A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
· 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus any extra to taste
· 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
· 1 heaped tbsp flour
· 1 1/2 tablespoon butter
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion, carrot and potato. Sautee for about five minutes until onions have softened, stirring occasionally.
- Rinse the lentils well, removing any debris. Add to the saucepan, and saute for three minutes, stirring constantly so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the six cups of water, the stock cubes, and all the dried herbs plus the salt and pepper. (The dried mint all the way through to black pepper). Let the soup come to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to medium and let the mixture cook uncovered for 25-30 minutes, or until lentils and vegetables are cooked through.
- In a separate small skillet, add the butter and let it melt over medium heat, then add the flour, and whisk constantly until the mixture bubbles and thickens slightly. Add this to the lentil soup pot.
- Once the soup is totally cooked through, use an immersion blender or a normal blender and blend the soup (in batches) to desired consistency. I like it creamy and smooth but with a few chunks of veggies.
- Serve hot, with a slice of lemon, and green olives on the side.
Main Course – Lebanese Chicken and Rice
This is Hashweh rice – a spiced rice pilaf with ground beef and peas, topped with shredded chicken and lots of toasted nuts. A comfort dish that hits the spot!
· 1 chicken or 4 chicken breasts or assorted chicken pieces see notes
· 1 onion, cut into wedges
· 2 bay leaves
· 1 cinnamon stick, or a pinch of cinnamon powder
· A big pinch each of salt and pepper
· 2 teaspoon olive oil
· 2 small red onions, diced small
· 3 cloves garlic, crushed
· 500 g ground beef or lamb* 1 lb
· 1 teaspoon all-spice or seven spices
· 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
· 1/2-1 teaspoon salt
· 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to taste
· 2 cups basmati rice
· 3.5 cups water or chicken stock from cooking the chicken
· 200 g frozen peas
· A pinch each of salt, pepper, and seven spices/all spices
· Toasted pine nuts and slivered almonds
· Fresh chopped parsley
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Once hot, add the diced onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened, stirring continuously.
- Add the crushed garlic, and cook for a further minute or so, then add the minced lamb.
- Cook for a minute, breaking apart any clumps of meat with a wooden spoon, then add all the spices (seven spices or all-spice, cinnamon, salt and black pepper). Continue cooking, for a good 6-8 minutes until the lamb is all cooked through and brown with no pink bits remaining. Keep stirring and breaking apart clumps of meat throughout – you can even use a potato masher to break the meat apart a little.
- If desired, drain any extra fat. Taste the mince and adjust for seasoning.
- Place the chicken in a large saucepan. Add the onion wedges, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper. Cover with water until chicken is submerged.
- Bring to a boil, then scoop off any foam that forms on the surface. Boil uncovered for 20 minutes or so until the chicken is cooked through. Turn off the heat, and transfer the chicken to a plate. Keep the stock to use in the rice.
- Once the chicken has cooled enough to handle, use your fingers to shred the chicken evenly. Set aside.
- Soak the basmati rice for 15-20 minutes, then drain and rinse with water until water runs clear.
- To a large saucepan, add the minced meat (I don’t always use all of it, I usually use around 300 grams or so), plus the drained basmati rice, the frozen peas, and 3.5 cups of water. Sprinkle with a big pinch of salt, pepper, and some additional all-spice or seven spices. Stir to combine.
- Bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil, uncovered, then cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce heat to a low simmer, and simmer for 20 minutes or until water is all absorbed. Remove pan from heat but let it sit covered for an additional 10 minutes, then uncover and fluff with a fork.
- Garnish with toasted pine nuts/almonds and chopped parsley, if desired.
Dessert – Berry trifle
One of the most popular desserts I make – layers of ready-made pound cake, cream, and lots of fresh berries. SO easy and a showstopper!
· 2 containers thick cream or table cream 8 oz or 250 g each
· 1 sachet dream whip powder 1.3 oz or 28 g
· 1 sachet creme caramel, powder only (not syrup) 2 oz or 50 g
· 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 120 ml
· 3 tablespoons milk
· 7 oz sweetened condensed milk 200 g, 1/2 large can
· 1 pack strawberries, halved 227 g, 8 oz
· 1 pack raspberries 6 oz, 170 g
· 1 pack of blueberries 6 oz, 170 g
· 1 pack of blackberries 6 oz, 170 g
· 1 Sara Lee vanilla pound cake, thawed 10.75 oz (300 g)
· Whole strawberries
· Mint leaves (optional)
- In an electric mixer, add the thick cream, dream whip, creme caramel, heavy cream, milk, and condensed milk. Beat until thick and fluffy, with soft peaks, for about 3 minutes or so.
- Gently rinse the berries and pat dry, and cut the pound cake into large cubes.
- Layer a trifle dish like so: 1 layer of pound cake cubes, 1/2 the cream, and half the berries (a mix of all the berries). Repeat with the second half of the pound cake cubes and the second half of the cream and top with the remaining berries. Optionally, add whole strawberries and mint leaves to garnish.
- Let the trifle set for a few hours or overnight before enjoying it!