Posts Tagged indian

Achievement Unlocked: Epic Tabbouleh

Part of the Middle Eastern picnic spread!  My personal favorite part.  (This and the falafel post were written side-by-side, so apologies for any time-related inconsistencies.)

Tabbouleh, or however you care to spell it, is, in my humble opinion, the universe’s best salad.  And that’s coming from a girl who loves salads.  It’s based on bulghur wheat, which is a pain in the buttocks to find if you don’t live near a Middle Eastern grocer or specialty foods store.  I scored some from a friend who’s trying to go gluten-free.  If you really can’t find it, quinoa is a perfectly acceptable substitute, unless you’re me and you’re kind of picky about your tabbouleh.  I give you fair warning.  🙂

To the soaked wheat, add tomatoes, a whole bunch of chopped parsley, some garlic, lemon juice, and salt.  Let marinate, and try not to eat the whole bowl at once.  After all, when you’re making falafel and your own pita to go with them, might as well savor the treat.  😀

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Tabbouleh

  1. Shop around for bulghur wheat before realizing that your quest is futile in your part of the city.  Score delivery of some from friend – awesome!  Since that little delivery won’t be arriving until tomorrow, prep your salad the night before.
  2. Chop one large cucumber into somewhere between a chop and a dice.  Scoop into salad bowl.  (Seed before chopping if you’re picky, but I’m not.  I like seeds in my cukes and tomatoes.)
  3. Add three large tomatoes, chopped reasonably small.
  4. Throw in about two cups of parsley, chopped.  On the list of “kitchen skills I do not have yet” is chopping big bunches of greenery in any sort of neat manner.  I didn’t worry about it too much.
  5. Realize that your bowl is far too small for this much salad.  Frantically search kitchen for larger bowl.  Realize that you cannot find larger bowl because that’s where your pita dough is rising.  Sigh and go back to making salad.
  6. Add a handful of chopped green onions (about three stalks).  Pause to slice up rest of onions for flash-freezing, because these onions are looking pretty sorry.
  7. (Very quick flash-freezing instructions: spread food to be frozen into single layer on plate.  Stick, uncovered, into freezer for about twenty minutes or until most pieces are solid.  Store in labeled plastic bag in freezer.  This way, you don’t get a whole giant brick of onion.)
  8. Throw in four minced cloves of garlic.  Don’t be shy with the garlic in this salad.  It’s not first date food.
  9. (Take a break to go peel the rest of your household supply of garlic, because apparently this is Tabbouleh And Housecleaning Day.)
  10. Add a couple tablespoons of dried mint, in place of the fresh mint the recipe calls for.  (If you have fresh, throw in about a third of a cup.)
  11. Realize you’re out of friggin’ lemon juice, throw up your hands, stir your salad, cover it, stick it in the fridge, and come back to it later.  Sheesh.
  12. When you return from the store later, add half a cup of lemon juice, stir again, re-cover, and stick back in the fridge.
  13. The next day, soak two cups of bulghur in enough boiling water to cover it.  Stir into your salad, chill long enough to cool the bulghur, and serve.  🙂

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Achievement Unlocked: Pita-Esque Flatbread

Homemade pita.  Ambitious, but who am I to shy from ambition?  I’d be a poor blogger indeed if I didn’t share something new with you all, whether or not it’s a success.  (The picnic got rained out, but we just moved it inside and saved the trouble of schlepping around a basket.)

The key to getting the pita just right is figuring out how to make them puff.  Smitten Kitchen saved the day once again with a handy little tip: it’s all about the moisture.  She spritzes her pita with a spray bottle two or three minutes before cooking each one on a hot cast-iron skillet or baking stone.  Learning from the best, I scrounged up my roommate’s spray bottle and got to work…except it really didn’t work for me.  They bubbled, sure, but they never got that balloon-like puff I was looking for.  Lacking both time and a particularly picky audience, I left the batch as-is and merely served my falafel with tasty flatbread.  Someday, I’ll make this again and figure out what I did wrong.  For now, I’ve got a picnic to cater.  🙂

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Homemade Pita (makes 12)

  1. Start these the day or night before you’re planning to serve them.  Mix three cups flour, two teaspoons salt, two teaspoons olive oil, and a packet of rapid-rise yeast (or two teaspoons of instant).  Add one-and-a-quarter cups water, and stir and squish the mixture until it forms a soft dough lump.
  2. Turn the dough out onto your kneading surface (again, marble baking board for the win!) and knead for, oh, five minutes or so.  I pay very little attention to the kneading times given in recipes.  When the dough is smooth, the dough is smooth.
  3. Let sticky dough rise, under the overturned bowl, for twenty minutes or so.
  4. Knead some more, then plunk into oiled bowl and press down.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate.
  5. Every couple of hours, check the pita.  Punch the dough down (gently) the first two times, then let it rise.
  6. (Mess up your evening’s proceedings briefly by having used the wrong bowl.  Leave the pita where it is and go do dishes.)
  7. The next morning: remove your lovely pita lump from the fridge.  Divide it into twelve pieces and roll each piece into a ball.  Flatten each ball and leave them on your baking board to rest for twenty minutes or so.  Go have some tea.
  8. Grease your cast-iron skillet and heat it to medium (6, on a gas stove).  Fill a spray bottle with water.
  9. Roll out your pitas nice and thin, and relatively round, and spritz them with water.  Let the water soak in for two or three minutes.
  10. Cook your pitas in the skillet.  They should first start to bubble, then lift around the edges.  Flip ’em around a bit so one side is flat and slightly browned and the other side is bubbly and cooked.
  11. Slide your pita-flatbread-things onto a plate, cover with a towel, and serve with falafel and tabbouleh.  🙂

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Achievement Unlocked: Full of Falafel

The kitchen floor desperately needs a sweeping, the cook needs a shower, but by golly, I’m getting the picnic food made.

So, the day before my weekly excuse to try out new recipes (read: D&D), the boyfriend planned a picnic with me and one of our other gamer friends.  As awesome as that is, the food I had planned for the next day wasn’t exactly a snap, so around four pm, I went into Turbo Mode and whipped up a Middle Eastern spread to make my mom proud.  (They’re not her recipes, but she’s the one who introduced me to them growing up, so I credit her.)  This and the next two posts cover those specific recipes.

For anyone who’s not familiar with falafel, they’re immensely tasty chickpea croquettes that are normally served shoved into a pita with some sauce or salad.  There are a number of pre-made falafel kits out there, and I may have actually used one once – the memory is fuzzy.  These are a bit more work than just shaking out a mix and adding oil, but I really hope they’re worth it!

Recipe from Allrecipes, because I don’t have my mom’s.  I think hers have an egg in them, while these are vegan.  I did bake them rather than frying them, both because I’m scared of deep-frying and for healthfulness reasons.  Also, I fudged the proportions because of the amount of chickpeas in my pantry.  The original recipe makes about 24; this makes 35, and I will be shocked if they all get eaten tomorrow…wait.  On second thought, between the DM, the cleric, the fighter, and visiting nibblers, no I won’t.  🙂

On an unrelated note, I’ve been getting into drinking (store-brand) seltzer rather than soda and have actually grown to like the taste.  Tonight, though, Safeway was all out, so I came home with a bottle of diet tonic water instead.  Blech.  Needs a crapton of lime juice before I will consider this even mildly palatable.  Still, it’s better than brandy.  Slainte!

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Baked Falafel

  1. Drain, rinse, and empty three fifteen-ounce cans of chickpeas into a bowl.  Mash the ever-loving hell out of them with a potato masher.  Try not to wake up sleeping roommate in the basement.
  2. (Realize that you’ve had Pandora on for the past hour and were singing along to “Barrett’s Privateers.”  Reason that, if roommate is still asleep from that, the potato masher will make no difference.)
  3. Add chopped onion to taste.  The original recipe called for two small onions for this much chickpea mash; I substituted one large  shallot and one medium one.  I like my croquettes a little less onion-y than most.
  4. Add four minced cloves of garlic, AFTER figuring out where you put the bag you just peeled not four hours ago.  Question wisdom of housecleaning-type behavior.
  5. Add generous shakes (about two tablespoons each) of dried parsley, cumin, and cilantro.  Upon encountering cilantro after ten-minute hunt, pause to dream of the day when you and only you will organize your kitchen.
  6. Add teaspoon or so of turmeric and teaspoon of baking powder.
  7. Add two cups of “fine” bread crumbs; I used panko, because that’s what was around.  Stir the whole mess together.
  8. CAREFULLY.  Pause to clean spilled breadcrumbs from counter.
  9. Add drizzle of water and sprinkle of pepper, then move to table for assembly.
  10. Squish mixture into little balls and lay out on baking sheet.  I wound up with thirty-five, slightly uneven balls.
  11. (Panic for a moment and check the ingredients on your breadcrumbs.  Reassure yourself that there are no eggs.  Continue.)
  12. Slide tray into fridge overnight (if you’re planning ahead) and go take a shower.
  13. The next morning: preheat oven to 375.  Bake tahini for about 15 minutes; remove from oven, flip balls over, and bake for another 15.  Serve with delicious things!  🙂

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