Showing posts with label middle eastern food

Semolina Cake Recipe

by Food Like Amma, July 17, 2012
Semolina cake (Basbousa, Hareesa), also known as Revani in Turkey, Ravani or Revani in Greece, is a decadent sweet treat. Made from a combination of semolina and flour this cake is soaked in a citrus infused syrup  ̶  much like gulab jamuns  ̶  it too has a golden brown shell encasing a soft syrupy internal section.

Semolina is often  an unlikely ingredient in cakes, maily because of its rough grainy texture. The process of  soaking the cake  in syrup however   does tame the semolina resulting in a smoother, softer cake texture. The combination of yogurt , oil and eggs contribute  to the density and richness of this cake. There are several variations to the traditional recipe some using equal amounts of semolina and flour, or butter instead of oil. The syrup sometimes contains orange essence or fresh citrus peel.

For this recipe I have opted for oil instead of butter, more semolina than flour and fresh citrus peel for the syrup and topping. Semolina cake is best made the day before you intend  serving it  - this way the cake can absorb the syrup. Also best made for special occasions catering for many guests (to avoid overindulgence). Optionally one can omit the use of syrup for a less caloric cake.

This recipe is suitable for a 30 x 30 cm square pan.

Semolina Cake Recipe
Recipe by Georgia
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Yield: 20 3cm x 3cm squares

  • 2 cups semolina *
  • 6 level tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • half cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  •  5  eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or orange essence
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange  or orange zest (optional)
  • pinch of salt (optional)
* Note: It is best to use finer grains of semolina e.g Tasty Wheat.

Cooking Directions
    1. Make the syrup 2-3 hours before you intend baking the cake. Add the 1.5 cups water and sugar in a pan on medium heat. Boil for 5-7 minutes until the sugar appears to be dissolved. Squeeze half a lemon into the syrup. Then add the half lemon into the syrup. Add remianing lemon zest. Boil for another 4-5 minutes. The lemon will prevent the sugar from crystallizing. Remove from stove. Allow to cool until needed.

    2. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
    Whisk the eggs, vanilla essence and sugar then add the oil and yogurt. Mix to form a creamy consistency. Sift in the dry ingredients. Add 2 tablespoons orange zest.

    3. Mix to form a smooth batter. Pour into a lined baking pan.
    4. Bake for 20- 25 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. The crust should be light golden brown.
    5. Remove from oven. Pour the cold syrup over the cake. Top with citrus peel or pistachios. Place in the refrigerator until needed.

    Eggless Semolina Cake

    Looking for an eggless Semolina Cake try this one by  My Kitchen Diaries.

    White Bean Dip

    by Food Like Amma, May 09, 2012

    Apart from serving as a mainstay of the perfect Durban Beans Bunny -  white kidney beans also serves as  a delectable  spread  or dip when puréed . The neutral taste of white beans enables their versatility of taste sensations when combined with different spices. This simple white bean dip involves braising white beans with cumin seeds and chili flakes then blending with garlic and lemon juice to form a creamy- guilt free snack or filler for pita breads.

    Spicy White Bean Dip Recipe

    Recipe By Georgia
    Preparation Time: 10 minutes
    Cooking Time: 10 minutes
    Total Time: 20 Minutes


    • 300g canned or pre boiled White Kidney Beans
    • 1 leveled tablespoon cumin seeds
    • Half teaspoon chilli flakes (or desired limit )
    • Juice of one lemon
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • Half teaspoon garamasla
    • Half teaspoon salt
    • Half teaspoon olive oil for braising
    • Additional olive oil for topping
    • 75ml lukewarm water or plain yogurt
    • Optional Coriander

    Cooking Directions

    1. Heat a pan on medium heat. Toast cumin seeds.

    2. Add oil. Add the kidney beans. Add chill flakes and crushed garlic. Retain on heat until the beans start to brown slightly. Add garamasala and salt. Braise for 2-4 minutes on low heat.

    3. Remove from heat. Allow cooling for 5 minutes then add lemon juice and water or yogurt. Blend to form a smooth paste.

    4. To weaken the consistency of the bean dip add boiled cooled water or yogurt.Top with olive oil. Serve with toasted pita bread or sliced vegetables.

    How to Make Pita Bread

    by Food Like Amma, May 09, 2012

    Pita Breads are pocket like flat breads, not only are they easy to make but also versatile. Pita can be stuffed with nearly any filling desirable - often serving as the perfect  lunch. Like most flat bread pita  requires a few basic ingredients but the secret to making this  flat bread successfully lies in the method and cooking techniques. Although you don’t need a tandoor to make perfect pita bread at home-the modern equivalent simply requires a preheated oven – I recommend at least 45 minutes before you intend cooking the pita breads.

    This Pita bread recipe is one I’ve concocted through trial and error since eating my first Pita  at Anat in Durban. Back then this was a treat my sister and I looked forward to after scrounging  from our student pittance. Pita bread along with most Middle Eastern foods has remained my favorite foods- after all it is still both affordable and nutritious.

    Some Tips for Perfect Homemade Pita Bread:
    • Although most breads  are best baked with strong flour, I usually make Pita bread with cake flour.
    • The dough must be  kneaded continuously for 7-10 minutes. Punch, press and  fold the dough.
    • Depending on  the quantities you want to make always keep the water: flour ratio to 1 part water: 2 parts flour.

      Pita Bread Recipe

      Recipe By Georgia
      Preparation Time: 2 hours
      Cooking Time:  20 minutes
      Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
      Yield: 6 medium Pita breads



      • 400g cake flour
      • 1 tablespoon instant dry yeast
      • 1 tablespoon sugar
      • 1 teaspoon  salt 
      • 1 tablespoon olive oil or sunflower oil 
      • 200 ml lukewarm water

      Cooking Directions

      1.Combine the dry ingredients. Add the oil. Add water.

      2. Mix to form a soft dough. The key to soft bread lies in the mixing technique. The dough must be kneaded for at least 7-10 minutes continuously by punching and folding the dough over and over until the yeast and flour are thoroughly combined. For this reason I recommend making bread when angry!...punching dough can be quite an  effective mood changer. After kneading for 10 minutes cover the dough and leave aside for 1 hour. Make sure the dough is placed indoors in a warm spot.

      3. After 1 hour the dough will have doubled its size. Punch the dough down to release the  trapped air in the dough. Roll into a swiss roll…just like in my Roti recipe.

      4. Cut into even pieces then flatten to form discs. Roll each disc into a 6cm diameter pita breads. Cover and leave aside for another 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

      5. After 30 minutes turn up the heat to 250 degrees Celsius then bake the pitas. Turn after 2 minutes in the oven. Turn once more after another minute or two once the pita breads have risen.


      6. Remove from oven. Serve as desired. Pita can be stored in the freezer. Simply defrost overnight in the fridge or heat in the oven as needed.

      Baba Ghanoush Recipe

      by Food Like Amma, November 17, 2011

      Baba Ghanoush (Baba Ganush) is a humus like dish-made from grilled Aubergine. This Middle Eastern condiment is often served with pita bread and a selection of salads. Baba Ghanoush is traditionally made by grilling aubergine over hot coals, the skin is then removed revealing the delicately cooked inner core of the aubergine which is  compounded with tahani (sesame seed paste), garlic, salt and lemon juice. Similar to Humus this dish is also topped with a layer of olive oil and chopped coriander.