Friday, 27 June 2008

Veiled Beauties ;-)

Fateerah or Mahjubah (pl. Fataayer, Mhaajeb)

1kg semolina flour (I've tried both fine and coarse, coarse is less sticky in my opinion)
1tbs salt

Add water to the semolina and salt.

Mix it into a dough.

Start kneading by lifting the opposite side of the dough into the middle and pressing with the base of your palms.

More power is put into the kneading, if you sit on the floor, with the dough in front of you, in a big tray or plate (traditionally they use a big wooden "qas'ah").

And it takes a lot of strength to do these. I normally knead for at least half an hour, slowly adding a hand ful of water at a time.

When the dough is wet, it's easier to work the water into the dough with your knuckles, until it stops playng around.

Knead until the dough feels soft and elastic. Let the dough rest.

For a classical Mahjubah, fry some sliced onion, garlic, then add peeled, seeded and cut tomatoes, (animal fat - but I left that out) and hot chilli. Season with salt and pepper. Cook together and put aside.

Divide your dough into balls the size of golf balls, or a little bit larger. Fill a cup with vegetable oil, and pour some of it on your work top. Take one ball, put it on the oily surface. Press it on the work top, drizzle some oil over it, and press until it has a diameter of approximately 35-40 cm, and is very thin. Use the base of your palms and work from the middle out, press the edges, where needed, with your fingers. It doesn't matter if it tears a little.

Some bake them like this.

We fold them like this.

When we make Mhaajeb, we put the spicy filling on the first fold. I tried eggs too, this time, but it didn't work so well. I'll have to practice it more, or look for a better way of doing it.

First fold goes from the bottom to the middle. The second, from the top and over. It's really tricky to keep the right size and thickness with the fillings inside. It helps to wait with the folding to the last second, just before tossing it into the pan.

When folded twice, you fold in the sides.

If need be, press it back into shape after the folding (it's very elastic). Be careful if it has stuff folded into it. Put it in a pre-heated pan over medium heat. Drizzle some oil on it. When it has changed colour on the top, you know it has cooked through and can flip it over to give both sides a golden-brown surface. I use a teflon pan, which helps me cut the amounts of oil used. Traditionally, an upside-down tagine base over a gas fire is used.

There you have it! Delicious with some honey melted on top, accompanied with some tea or a glass of milk. Mhaajeb can be served as a light lunch.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Dsheeshah Soup شربة دشيشة

These pictures are really ... blah ... This is a very simple soup, takes about ten minutes to make, and is pretty colourless ... a bit of a challenge for an amateur photographer like myself. There's lots of texture, so it has potential to be quite interesting, but I don't have the right background and lights...
1/2 medium sized onion, peeled
1 l water
1/2 l milk
1 cup dsheeshah or barley grits(?), in French it's called semoule d'orge
salt to taste

Put all the ingredients in a big pot, bring to the boil and let simmer while stirring for about ten minutes. Done! Very simple, and a life saver, in hectic moments :)

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Gratin de poisson, Fish Bake

Approximately 730 g Coley or other white fish
2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
500 ml milk
salt and pepper
parsley, chives or preferred herbs (I did it with parsley today - the recipe called for salad cream and gherkins, and on top of the béchamel, sliced tomatoes)
5 ml lemon juice
1 kg potatoes, peeled and cooked
fresh milk for the mashed potatoes
grated cheddar cheese

Cook the potatoes, and make the béchamel sauce in another small pan: melt the butter and add the flour, while stirring (it's a good idea to sift the flour into the melted butter). Add the milk little by little, while stirring. Don't let it burn, and keep it smooth. Season with salt and pepper and your chosen flavouring.
In a greased oven proof dish, put the fish, cover with the béchamel (here goes the tomatoes, if you want that) and top of with mashed potatoes (mixed with some milk, and maybe a pinch of salt) and grated cheese.
Bake in the oven at 190˚C, mark 5 for 30 minutes, or until the cheese has become golden.
Serve with a green sallad.

3+3+6=12 (more or less)

3 eggs
3 dl flour
6 dl milk

optional: a pinch of salt, 1 tbs sugar

makes approximately 12 pancakes.

Mix the batter. Melt some butter or margarine in a frying pan. Take one soup ladle of the batter and pour into the medium hot pan. When the batter has stiffened, flip it over to bake the other side too. And repeat until all the batter is finished.

Serve with sugar and cinnamon, syrup, ice cream, berries and cream, honey, or jam.