Couscous Salad

I have busy first looking for one and then moving houses for the last few weeks now. It is such a tiring process.

But I had a lot of fun looking for new furniture, Nonetheless we finally moved in our new house this weekend and I wanted to make up for all wall of silence on my blog. So here I am, back to the Middle Eastern spread on the blog, sharing an easy recipe for the couscous salad.

Couscous Salad

This is a new favorite and an easy lunch box recipe. It gets ready quickly on weekday mornings. You can chop up the veggies while the couscous is resting.

Couscous is a healthy protein rich option and also low on calories. Add any veggies you love to eat on a given day and you have colorful lunch box which you co-workers would like to dig in.

Comes Together in : 15 Minutes max
Ingredients

1 cup couscous
1 cup boiling water
1 finely chopped cucumber
1 finely chopped red onion
2 finely chopped tomatoes
6 finely chopped baby radish
2 tsp olive oil
3 tsp tomato paste
Juice of 1 lemon or more as needed
Salt to taste
Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
Handful of finely chopped dill leaves

In a wide bowl, pour boiling water over couscous and cover it with a lid for 10 minutes.

Let the couscous absorb all the water. After uncovering the lid, when all water is absorbed, use a fork to fluff the couscous and let it cool for a while.

Fluffy Couscous

You could also use vegetable stock to add flavors.

Couscous Tomato Paste

Add the tomato paste and with hands rub the paste in to the couscous.

Veggies

Add all veggies. Dress the salad with olive oil, salt, black pepper and dill leaves.

Couscous Salad1

Toss them well and let it refrigerate for a bit. Savour this on a hot summery afternoon!

Until next time happy cooking!

Hummus

Eid Mubarak everyone! I hope this festival brings in loads of joy and happiness to you and your family.

I’m sharing a recipe of hummus as I make at my place. Hummus is a popular Arabic dip perfect to be served with pita bread (khuboos) or just as a side for any appetizers.

Hummus2

Homemade hummus is much more healthier and cheaper than it’s canned counterparts. Easy to make and stores well for 3-4 days in an airtight container or a mason jar. Sometimes when I have the time and determination to indulge in batch cooking over weekends, instead of using canned chickpeas I go for the freshly cooked chickpeas.

It’s pretty simple! Soak chickpeas overnight and pressure cook them in salted water, drain the chickpeas and then make fresh hummus. Preserve the liquid in which the chickpeas are cooked and substitute the same with plain water as indicated in the recipe. It tastes fantastic and really makes a difference.

Hummus is my go to snack to carry for work. I eat this with baby carrots, cucumber sticks or just crackers. It is rich in protein, folic acid, Vitamin C and iron. Better than a pack of salty crisps any day!

I also substitute peanut butter with hummus for days when I feel too much PBJ sandwiches did no one any good!

Why add Tahini Paste to this ? Read here!

Comes Together In : 10 minutes
(Considering time taken to make Tahini Paste)

Ingredients
1 can chickpeas
1/3 cup tahini paste
5 tsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 cloves garlic coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water
Salt to taste
Olive oil and paprika to garnish

Puree the chickpeas with garlic, add little water to facilitate a smooth texture.

Chickpeas

Add tahini paste and the remaining ingredients. Keep adding water and olive oil a little at a time.

Once the texture is smooth and velvety, remove in a bowl or store well.

Hummus1

This versatile recipe can be altered to your own liking. Garnish with olive oil and add Za’atar powder, sumac powder, cumin powder or just paprika to spice up.

Until next time Happy Cooking! 🙂

Tahini Paste

Tahini

Here’s a post on how to make Tahini Paste at home! I am amazed that I am blogging about something which has sesame seeds as the key ingredient.

I have never liked sesame seeds, my earliest memories are of my mum making some cutlets dusted with sesame seed crust. This particular evening I was excited about mum trying a new recipe and I was looking forward to hog the snacks after a long session of working on a crucial college project!

But my excitement disappeared once I took a bite and the slightly bitter sesame seeds greeted me. It was one of those moments wherein you are so put off with something that you form a very strong perception. Ever since then I never tried anything which had sesame seeds in it.

Cut to 3 years back when I landed in Dubai and munching on toasted pita bread and hummus became a way of life. Initially I was quite ignorant and thought hummus is made only from chickpeas but a quick check on Google proved me wrong!

When I tried making hummus the first time, I skipped the sesame seeds and the consistency of the hummus was very off and watery. I decided to take the plunge and add the tahini paste and after seeing the difference they make when added to hummus, I was a convert!

Comes Together In : 5 minutes

Ingredients
1/3 cup sesame seeds
Water as required
1/4 cup olive oil

Dry roast sesame seeds on low heat until they have acquired a light golden brown color.

Tahini 1

Blend the roasted sesame seeds with little water and olive oil until it is a smooth paste.

Voila! Home made tahini paste is ready to be used in making the super-healthy hummus.

I love the creamy and nutty texture they give hummus. I always make a big batch one fortnight and use it during the week to whip up fresh hummus. It stays well for a month if kept in a airtight container refrigerated.

Until next time happy cooking!

The India Pavilion – Mall Of Emirates

I love Mall of Emirates, that was the first place Sahil took me to. It was my first outing when I came to Dubai some more than two and half years back. In the first week of being in Dubai, I visited the mall thrice. There are many firsts associated with this place, the first movie, the first grocery shopping, the first big splurge, the first coffee date (with the husband of course!) and so on.

That’s my go-to place for movies or shopping. On one such tiring shopping spree, we ended up at the first level food court of Mall of Emirates and visited The Indian Pavilion next to Vox Cinemas.

Papad Chatni

It offers good Indian good and the prices and service is pretty decent too. The restaurant provides complimentary fried papas with green chutney and pickle. How nice! Who doesn’t like a good crunchy one!

The restaurant has an interesting concept of ordering mains which is a complete meal or a platter in itself. It comes with an accompaniment of roti (flat bread) or pilaf rice, 2 falafels / aloo tikkis (potato patties), cucumber raita, home style split yellow lentils and mixed salad.

Baigan Bharta Platter

I ordered the Baigan Bharta, it simply means roasted and mashed aubergines cooked with spices. I loved the roasted smokey flavor of aubergine with green peas in onion and diced tomato gravy. The green peas required to be blanched a bit more, they were quite firm.

Baigan Bharta

The Bharta cooked at my place by my grandmother used to have more of tomatoes giving it a rich red color but in the restaurant it was with less tomatoes. I liked how they finished the whole dish with red chill infused oil. This was a hit!

Achari Paneer Platter

We also ordered Achari Paneer Mutter, that’s cottage cheese and green peas cooked in a spicy brown gravy of onions and spices. The cottage cheese was slightly tossed on a pan since it had browned on the edges. It was spicy and I loved the heat in the gravy, it was finished with a garnish of coriander and chili oil.

Paneer Tikka Masala Platter

We also ordered Paneer Tikka Masala on one visit, the paneer was soft and the gravy was tangy but not overtly spicy. The red onions, capsicum and tomato wedges were char grilled and we could see the sides browned evenly.

Paneer Tikka Masala
I am a gravy person and would have loved if it came with little more gravy. Nevertheless it was a good dish with a side of butter naan.

The accompanying pilaf was fragrant and mildly spiced, the dal was the best part of the platter. I can keep going back to this restaurant just for their yummy dal. It is perfect home cooked version of split yellow lentils tempered with green chillies, finely chopped onions and tomato.

The aloo tikkis (potato patties) served had a nice crust on the outside and were piping hot inside, the mashed potatoes had a strong flavor of roasted cumin. It also had soaked chana dal and grated onions.

Mixed salad and cucumber raita provided a refreshing feel to the otherwise spicy platter.

Lamb Madras Platter

Sahil enjoyed his Lamb Madras style, as per him, it was cooked nicely with hot red chilled and curry leaves. But it was quite basic, it was good but that great.

Add On

Being an ad guy, Sahil loved the packaging of their wet tissues and even clicked it as a reference. He finds them quite fragrant.

On a side note, I have also tried their Masala Dosa which was pretty soggy and not up to the mark. The restaurant has consistently disappointed us on it’s desserts. We once ordered Phirni which was served to us hot traditionally it is always served cold and the gulab jamuns they do were quite average hence we keep skipping the dessert order.

However when in MOE and in mood for good Indian food priced decently, I would visit them for more!

Locations : Level 1, Food Court – Next to Vox Cinemas, Mall of Emirates / Spinney’s Umm Suqeim

Pricing : Average AED 120-150 for meal for two

Perfect Your Pasta Cooking Class at Galeries Lafayette

I have always loved Italian cuisine. Sahil, my husband dreams of long getaways in the Tuscan countryside and whenever he speaks about the same I get all dreamy.

One day while casually sipping coffee and going through posts on Facebook, I came across a contest ‘Perfect Your Pasta’ by Good Magazine UAE. My eyes lit up and I quickly decided to try my luck, said a quiet prayer in my heart and participated.

I am a bit of a magazine junkie, having subscriptions to most of the leading magazines crowding my work desk in the first week of every month. I usually retain cut outs of favorite articles and recipes and put them in my folder.

So I was delighted when I won a spot for this cooking class. What made it perfect was that I could bring along a plus one, Sahil volunteered, it was fun cooking with him. We bonded well over pasta flour and who managed to get the consistency right. Poor guy! He struggled but he was ok after a while.

On arriving at the very plush Galeries Lafayette, we were welcomed by the PR team of the store and then were greeted by Chef Russell Imparizi, the Culinary Director for Galeries Lafayette Gourmet.

Galeries Lafayette is a French department store located in Dubai Mall. The store is aesthetically decorated. I have frequented their in-house grocery section on the second floor many times but I have never sampled the food out there.

GL

Chef Russell and his team of talented chefs took us through each and every step very patiently and were all ears to our questions. Chef Russell started by taking us through the ingredients list and introduced us to the flour used for making pasta.

Pasta Flour

I was very excited since this was the first time I got to make the pasta dough on my own and actually used a pasta machine. There were two other participants apart from us. We were divided in teams of two and were allotted different work stations.

We made basic pasta dough, the one to the left belong to moi. They came out pretty well and it’s amazing how easy and simple it is to make your own pasta.

Basic Pasta Dough.jpg

After that Chef instructed us to choose our individual preferences for making the flavored pasta dough.

Purees

Sahil chose to go for Beetroot while I stuck to my favorite Spinach. Yes! I’m the Popeye of the family.

Other options were chocolate and carrot. The purees were already made for us so it was easy to use a couple of spoonfuls of the puree to our basic pasta flour and then go ‘knead-knead’.

Pasta Filling

You can see all the different pasta doughs stacked against each other.

Flavoured Pasta Dough

After the dough was made, it was allowed to rest for around half an hour. Thereafter we moved on to working on the pasta machine, it was fun making the pasta in different shapes. We made Ravioli, Tortellini and Tagliatelle pasta.

Tagliatelle

I had fun rolling the pasta sheet, layering the filling and then shaping the Spinach Ravioli. Cynthia from the PR team was great and she ensured she went all ‘click-click’. She very sweetly shared the pictures the very next day.

Spinach Ravioli

The Spinach ravioli had a spinach and ricotta cheese filling whereas the beetroot ravioli had a sun dried tomato and goat’s cheese filling. You can see Sahil in the pictures below concentrating on getting the proportion of the filling to pasta right.

Beetroot Ravioli 2

It took me quite a while to get a hang of making the Tortellini and I have to say I just couldn’t get it right. So here’s the ugly looking Tortellini I made. Chef Russell was kind enough to pep me up and say that at least I managed to get the dough correct.

Tortellini

How could we not have dessert! So there comes Chocolate Ravioli *happy dance* We stuffed the ravioli with tiny chocolate ganache logs.

Chocolate Ganache

We then proceeded to see how the sauces are prepared. Chef demonstrated the basic pesto sauce and tomato sauce. He had marinated different types of tomatoes with garlic and some oil and let it rest for the flavors to seep in.

Tomato Sauce

The pesto was one of the nicest pesto I have ever tasted. The trick was to have more of water and less of oil said the Chef. Nonetheless the texture was creamy because of the parmesan cheese and the sauce was very fragrant and fresh.

Pesto

While the team sent the sauces to be used in the kitchen and the pasta to be dished out, Chef took us on an impromptu tour of the ingredients they retail in-store. We tasted different tomatoes, the Baby San Marzano, the Saveol Coeur De Pigeon. The latter was the juiciest tomato I have ever tasted. I also loved the Heirloom tomatoes on display looking very rustic.

Tomatoes

Chef also gave us quick lessons on how to pick tomatoes for sauces and how to peel and use garlic. I saw the most beautiful ever garlic, here see:

Garlic

He then introduced us to the different varieties of Balqees Honey on display. We tasted saffron infused, ginger honey and a whole lot of Yemeni honey.

Balqees

I especially loved the Yemeni honey, it had a wonderful after taste and felt very soothing.

Yemeni Balqees Honey

He also told us about different ways to use honey in bakes and salad dressings. He was all praises for the health benefits for honey as well.

After a couple of minutes was the most fascinating part of this cooking class, the tasting. We got to taste the pasta we had made once the Chef’s team had worked up their magic on them.

Tasting

So we started with Tagliatelle Pasta in Pesto sauce and Carrot Tagliatelle in Tomato sauce.

Tasting

The Beetroot Ravioli came with toasted pine nuts and beetroot reduction and a garnish of fresh parsley. It was the prettiest of the lot.

Beetroot Ravioli

It was followed by the ooh-so-wonderful Spinach Ravioli just doused in butter and sage. This was so delicious I wanted more and kept craving for the rich buttery flavor even on days that followed.

Spinach Ravioli

After catching up with the fellow participants and ooh-ing and aah-ing over the delicacies, we moved on for desserts. This was fun, chocolate ravioli deep fried just for close to 30 seconds, the result nicely puffed up beauties.

Chocolate Ravioli

Chef showed us how to plate up a dessert. It was served with a smear of chocolate ganache, white chocolate sauce infused with vanilla bean topped with nuts, shredded white chocolate and ice cream. Chef also showed us a few easy techniques on how to get the shredded chocolate and quenelle the ice cream.

Dessert Chef

We plated up our individual portions. Mine was overdone, I went crazy with heaping the plate with a good dollop of ice cream and chocolate ganache.

Dessert1

That’s what I call Awesomeness on a plate, Sahil plated this and Chef declared his plate the prettiest. Win!

Sahil Dessert

I came back really happy after the interactive session and a hearty meal. We also got a copy of the recipes. I’m sharing it here so that it gets easy for all of us to try these at home.

Perfect Your Pasta

Perfect Your Pasta 1

I look forward today for the launch event of Lootah Premium Foods ‘ Meet The Blogger’  Event at Galeries Lafayette Dubai Mall wherein some of the best food bloggers from UAE will be giving a cooking demonstration and showcasing their recipes. The crowd will then be able to taste their delicacies.

This is a week long event week and there’s also a grand prize for 3 days in Mauritius at a stunning resort. This prize would be given to the person who captures the best picture of the event and puts it up on Instagram tagging #LootahPremiumFoods

Lootah

I’d be attending the launch event today and thereafter would see some of my fellow food bloggers in action! This should be super fun 🙂