Synia: a Palestinian Culinary Treasure

Well, that’s another dish I would die for but can’t spell. It’s the Arab Sinia in it’s Palestinian version. Make way for another REAL recipe.

Some of the readers of this blog are vegetarian or health freaks, or people who are fond of hummus and tahini mainly because of their famous nutritional virtues. Some of the recipes already posted here, were more suitable for them.

This recipe is not for those people, I’m afraid. It involve the use of tasty animals, and forbidden practices such as frying in oil (!) and, all in all, I can’t guarantee that’s it will improve anybody’s health – contrary to hummus or tahini.

On the other hand, it’s absolutely delicious. Know what, just look at at it:

Palesinian Synia
My very own Synia. click to enlarge.

I just wish you could also smell how good it is.

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Falafel with Dada, Hummus with Nasrallah

Berlin hummus special, part II

After a week in Berlin, without real hummus, I was ready to go a long way – literally – to eat my favorite dish. Finally, after some scary experiences, I got what seemed like a second best: a great Falafel.

In the second week of our current visit to Berlin, we met David, a former Israeli who lives in Berlin for many years now.

David was very sympathetic to our sad story about not being able to find good hummus in the city. He suggested we go to Casalot, a Palestinian place in the Mitte quarter, serving traditional Arab dishes (here’s their German site).

חומוס ופלאפל בקסלוט

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Are Falafel and Tahini nutritious too?

OK, so hummus is good for you. But what about falafel and tahini? And all that olive oil? Lets shed some light.

In a recent posts I already explained how nutritious Hummus is (I’m talking about REAL hummus of course, freshly made from dried chickpeas. Here’s the recipe).

Recently, a few people asked me about the nutritional benefits of other middle-eastern dishes, such as falafel, tahini and olive oil. So here are the basic facts.
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Quick Tahini Recipe

Tahini is very simple and easy to make. Do it for a few times and you’re bound to get to the desired flavor and texture. Only make sure you are using the best raw tahini you can.

Tahini is a thick dip, made of raw tahini which is a sesame paste. It is eaten with hummus, all sorts of salads, burgers and meet, and go wonderfully with many kinds of casseroles. Read more

The 3 basic variations of hummus

In future posts I’ll present other variations of hummus. This time, lets talk about the basic threesome.

There are lots of variations to the basic hummus with various additions, such as hummus with mashrooms, ground meat, chicken liver and so on. But this time we’ll stick to the basic threesome (photos will be added sometime soon):

Hummus. the basic dish is traditionally served with some chopped parsley and olive oil, sometimes with some cooked chickpeas and tahini on top. By the way, “Hummus” is the Arab name for chickpeas, and the full and correct name of the dish is “Hummus bi’Thina” (hummus with tahini).

Hummus Ful. hummus with cooked broad beans (“ful”). The broad beans, of the small and brown variety, known as Ful Masri (Egyptian broad beans) are soaked and cooked like the chickpeas, and have a doughy texture. It’s usually mixed with cumin, lemon juice and salt.

Mesabha. though being made of the same ingredients as hummus, the mesabha (or mesabeha) is very different in texture. The chickpeas are not ground but rather mixed with the tahini, olive oil, garlic etc.

And there’s also the…

Meshuleshet (“triplet” in Hebrew). a mix of hummus, ful and masabha, on the same plate. As far as I can tell, this is not a traditional course but more like a commercialized combination, invented for new customers who want to taste everything at once.

Hummus instead of Prozac

A recent research conducted by Israeli scientists, has interesting findings concerning the popularity of Hummus. It’s all about mood they say – chickpeas are the ancestors of Prozac.

It is a known fact that Chickpeas, as well as other legumes, contain a large dosage of Tryptophan, an amino acid which is an important building block of serotonin. The latter, is a neurotransmitter, the lack of which modern biochemistry and psychiatry agree is strongly connected with “mood disorders” such as anxiety and minor depression.

Nowdays, the lack of serotonin is treated with SSRI (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Medicines such as Prozac, Seroxat, Cipralex etc.) which increases the amount of serotonin in the brain. A Tryptophan rich diet has a similar effect.

The Cicer Arietinum (a.k.a chickpea) is the richest in Tryptophan specie throughout it’s genus of plants.

What the researchers (Professor Avi Gopher, Dr. Zohar Kerem, Professor Simcha Lev-Yadun, Dr. Shachar Abbo.) say, is that the chickpea was probably cultivated due to its’ rich Tryptophan content. Ancient men were better skilled than us in recognizing healthy foods and getting their nutritional needs from foods – very much like we can see in animals.

Thousands of years better, hummus is a common dish in a growing number of countries because it tastes good – but also for it’s nutritional value. Ironically, in both cases, people tend to say eating hummus makes them “feel good”…

The A-Z of Hummus in Israel

Ask any Israeli to point out one thing that embodies “Israeliness.” Chances are that nine out ten will say “hummus.” What is it about that pale chickpea paste that is eaten everywhere, anytime, that evokes passionate discussions, fan-clubs and embodies Israel? Ynet presents the (almost) complete guide to hummus

Hummus is the common denominator for all Israelis. Ask an expatriate what he misses most, watch two Israelis argue for hours about where the best hummus is served, or try driving through the hummus-eateries filled streets of Jaffa on a Saturday and you’ll understand: Israelis simply love their hummus. That is understandable considering the fact that an average Israeli consumes about 10 kg (about 22 lbs.) of hummus a year.

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