Since I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, here are a bunch of them - a mix of African and Middle Eastern flavours.
I had written recently about the new addition to my cookbook family (read Of a Memorable Brunch and New Cookbooks) – the very entertaining The Married Man’s Guide to Creative Cooking by Samar Halarnkar. The book is filled with interesting anecdotes and recipes that will make you want to venture into the kitchen even in this infernal October heat! Written in his usual chatty style, the book is a bit heavy on the meats and fish dishes rather than the veggies. Also, there are some great recipes for condiments that you can easily make at home instead of relying on preservative-laden store-bought stuff.
Harissa is one such recipe mentioned in the book and I tried it out recently in this delectable prawn dish. It was quite a hit with the husband and I made it again last night for a potluck dinner with some girlfriends – who also made the right noises about it ;) Harissa is a condiment of disputed origin but it’s popular in North African and Middle Eastern cuisine – from Tunisia to Morocco, harissa is used to flavour meats, stews and vegetables.
Recipe #1 – Harissa
Here’s how you can make it at home. This recipe makes about 200 gm of harissa.
- 20 dried red Chillies
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 3 tsp Coriander powder
- 2 tsp Cumin powder
- 1 tsp Caraway seeds
- Boil a pot of water and soak the chillies for about 30 minutes. The chillies must be completely submerged in water.
- Remove the softened chillies and discard the stems and seeds.
- Grind the chillies along with half the olive oil and salt.
- Then add the spices and grind with the rest of the oil. You’re looking for a paste-like consistency so add some more olive oil if the mixture is too dry.
- Store in a glass bottle. Add a layer of olive oil on top and it should stay for a couple of weeks.
Recipe 2 – Harissa Prawns
- 20 medium Prawns, cleaned and de-veined
- 1 medium Onion, chopped lengthwise
- 1-1 ½ teaspoons of Harissa
- Salt & Turmeric
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- Olive Oil
- Coriander for garnish
- Rub the prawns with harissa, some salt and turmeric. Add the lemon juice and allow to marinate for a while.
- In a pan, heat some oil and fry ¾ of the chopped onions.
- Once they soften add the prawns and fry till they are cooked through.
- Transfer the prawns onto a bed of Hummus (recipe below) and garnish with the remaining chopped onion and coriander. Add a squeeze of lime. Serve with warm pita bread.
Recipe 3 – Hummus
- 100 gm chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked (Tip – preferably refrigerate the cooked chickpeas for a few hours before using)
- 1 tbsp Tahini (recipe here)
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1-2 green chillies, slit lengthwise (or 1 tsp red chilli powder)
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- Olive oil (extra virgin)
- Salt to taste
- Put all ingredients in a food processor. Add some water as well and blitz till you get a smooth consistency. Adjust the seasonings as per taste.
- Sprinkle some red chilli powder on top and drizzle with olive oil. Scatter some olives on top. Serve with warm pita bread.