mostly about food and cooking, but also the stories about the Bread and the Butterflies!

Preserved Labneh (Labneh Korat)

In Dips and Spreads, on the side, Preserves, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on May 28, 2016 at 4:08 pm

 

labnek korat 10

Labneh is a staple in my fridge. It is versatile and we love to lather it on to toasted bread or roti for a quick breakfast on the run, or serve it with crackers over drinks. Imagine my delight when on my recent trip to Jordan I discovered that it was possible to ‘pickle’ it! This meant I could share my love for both, labneh and pickles, with friends in one jar!

At home, we are not drinking much milk these days and I end up turning most of it into dahi.  When I run out of containers to make dahi in and it’s staring at me from every shelf in the fridge, it’s time for labneh-making. Now, it seems I have an even better deal with these labneh balls. I have served them earlier as cheese balls rolled in nuts and spices but didn’t know that I could put them in a jar, drown them in olive oil and have another pickle of sorts on my hand. They have their own name too – Labneh Korat (Balls of Labneh!). They make a handy addition to a breakfast or mezze spread.

So here is this traditional Levantine recipe for my pickle and preserve loving readers. To prepare the labneh for making balls it needs to be drained longer than for making a regular creamy spread; 12 hours or overnight should do the job. Place a large piece of muslin over a non-reactive pot and tip dahi into it, mix in a good amount of salt – most of it will drain away anyway with the whey. Tie into a bundle and hang to drain overnight. Untie and transfer the drained dahi into a bowl. Taste and mix in more salt, if needed. Labneh served in Jordan is extremely salty which also helps preserve it for longer. Preserved this way it can stay for six months to a year!

Eating my way through Jordan – A Day in Amman

In Road Trip, Road Trip, Travel on May 26, 2016 at 6:42 pm

Up until last month my travels through the Middle East had been restricted to the airports of some of the bigger cities there – Dubai, Doha, and Abu Dhabi – when flying back and forth between the US and Delhi during my 3 years of grad school. But earlier this month I got an opportunity to visit Jordan and it became my window to the Arabic world.

For neighbours it has Syria, Iraq, and Israel, countries associated with war and disturbance. The region that was once the Cradle of Civilization might as well be called the cradle of instability today. Murmurs within the family doubting the wisdom of my choice for travel were only natural with even the son voicing concern (wow, he’s all grown up!).

And here I am, after spending a week in the gorgeous desert country of Jordan to tell you that it is as safe as traveling to those places for which there are no advisories. The people there are friendly, most speak English, there is lots of fresh vegetarian food to chose from (yes, I do prefer to eat mostly vegetarian), and the US Dollar is as legit as the Jordanian Dinar. Mental conversion is also quick and easy for us Indians; 1JD=₹100!

We took off on an early morning AirArabia* flight and arrived at the Queen Alia International Airport (Amman) via Sharjah absolutely sleep deprived. There was no time to waste. A quick shower fixed us up for the moment and we reported promptly for lunch. We were spoiled for choice at the lavish buffet lunch at the Crown Plaza Amman. The centerpiece of the spread was a pilaf – lamb shoulder with rice. But before that I piled my plate with all the mezze fixings – got to eat your salads first! There was an entire counter devoted to pickles – imagine my delight. Pickled olives, chillies, cucumbers, gerkins, and even eggplant stuffed with chillies! The black olives on offer here were surely the best on the trip.

Hemp Seed Pesto

In Dips and Spreads, on the side, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on March 2, 2016 at 2:42 pm
hemp pesto 04

hemp pesto

Last week I made this pesto, my first, for dressing the fresh pasta we were planning to make later for the Simply Italian Workshop. I didn’t realise till I opened the blog that the previous post had also featured this little-used ingredient. The pesto is very good and I’m going to go ahead and share the recipe here anyway. Get your hands on native bhangjeera, many times cheaper than the nuts of the Pinyon Pine (some species of which are now threatened). It is also a great way to use up all that wonderful basil growing in your pots right now because spring will be over soon and the basil gone all to seed. It’s handy for making a quick sauce for pasta, to use in sandwiches, and also for spearing on fresh dinner rolls.

red and green pasta

red and green pasta

red white and green pasta

making fresh pasta

Red, white, and green – we made three kinds of pasta (no pasta machine) for the workshop!

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