In her new title Plated Heirlooms, Dima celebrates her native Falasteen cookery and its rich culinary history through generations of Palestinian cooking. “For me food is an expression of culture and is intrinsically influenced by an appreciation of the land from which it was yielded,” she says. “Palestine is such a fertile country with a rich and complex history, and its culinary culture reflects diversity.”
Dima spent three years researching and drafting the book, drawing on her childhood memories spent in the kitchens of her grandmother and mother, and sitting with family members, extended family, friends and industry colleagues. Here she shares two of her favourite inclusions. — Pratyush Sarup
Quails in Lemon and Green Chilli sauce
(Siniyet Ferri bil Leimoon wil Filfel)
12 quails, cleaned and butterflied
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1⁄2 tsp ground nutmeg
1⁄2 tsp ground cardamom
1⁄2 tsp ground allspice
1⁄4 tsp ground ginger
Salt and black pepper to taste
For the Lemon and Garlic Chilli sauce
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses |
Juice of 1-2 large lemons
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, spices and seasoning. Brush this mixture all over the butterflied birds. Pour the remaining mixture over the birds adding 1 cup water in the roasting tin. Cover the tin and roast in a 230C oven for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, mix the lemon sauce ingredients together and pour the sauce over the roasting birds. Continue to roast, uncovered, until the birds are cooked through and browned, 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour the juices in a sauceboat.
- To serve, transfer the birds to a serving dish, and sprinkle lightly with finely chopped coriander or parsley, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds for colour.
Roasted Vegetable Salad
(Salatet Khodra Mashwyeh)
3 cups assorted lettuce leaves, washed, dried and cut to bite size
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
150g cauliflower, cut into florets
200g eggplants, cubed
100g zucchini, cubed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt flakes and black pepper to taste Toasted pine nuts for garnish
For the dressing
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp olive oil
1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp apple vinegar salt and black pepper as necessary
- Preheat your oven, topside, to 200C.
- Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Place the cauliflower, eggplant cubes, zucchini cubes on the lined tray and sprinkle with olive oil, salt flakes, black pepper, cumin powder and coriander until golden brown. Turn twice throughout.
- Once done, remove from the oven and set aside to cool. In the meantime, make the dressing. In a small bowl, mix well together the lemon juice, garlic, cumin powder, vinegar, and olive.
- Dress the cooled roasted vegetables and set aside.
- To plate, line the assorted lettuce on the serving plate, top with the dressed roasted vegetables and the halved cherry tomatoes. Drizzle any remaining dressing on top and garnish with toasted pine nuts.
- Serve cold.
Lamb Kofta and Potatoes in Tahina Sauce
(Kofta o Batata Bil T’heeneh)
1kg minced lamb, thigh meat is a good option
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch of parsley, stems removed leaving only the leaves
2 green chillis, finely chopped (optional for spicy)
3 large tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and finely diced
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into thick wedges, fried until golden
1⁄2 cup tahina juice of 2-3 lemons
2 cups meat broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Finely chopped parsley for garnish
- Fry the potato wedges until slightly golden. Drain on kitchen towels and set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 cloves garlic crushed and season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Mix well to combine. Brush this mixture along the bottom and sides of a deep baking tray and set aside.
- Make the Kofta meat by placing, the lamb mince, chillis (if using), minced garlic, chopped onion, parsley leaves, and seasoning in a food processor.
- Process until all are finely minced and combined.
- The minced mixture must be smooth. Remove from the processor and divide into equal sized balls and top with the finely diced tomatoes and season lightly with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Roast, covered, in a 230C oven for 15-20 minutes, shaking the tray twice throughout.
- In the meantime, make the tahina sauce by mixing 1⁄2 cup tahina, salt and black pepper with the juice of 2-3 lemons until a paste forms. Thin the tahina paste with the heated meat broth, mixing well to combine and scraping the bottoms as you mix. You should end up with a smooth, slightly thick but runny tahina sauce. Set aside.
- Pour the tahina sauce over the kofta and potatoes and continue to roast, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until the tahina sauce is thickened. Garnish with finely chopped parsley and toasted sesame seeds.
- Serve hot with some warm pita bread, green olives and garden salad.
Rose and Cardamom Infused Milk Pudding
(Mhallabiyyeh bil Hail wil Ward)
(Makes 6 cups or 12 mini-dessert cups)
1 Ltr milk
4 tbsp corn starch
4 tbsp ground rice|
1 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp rosewater
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
White chocolate shavings, for garnish (Dima's personal addition, not a traditional Palestinian ingredient)
Fresh or dry Damascus rose petals, for garnish
- Place the milk, ground cardamom, sugar, ground rice and corn starch in a blender and blend until smooth and incorporated.
- Pour the mixture into a medium pot and place over medium heat. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring constantly. Once boiled, reduce the heat and continue to simmer until the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat add the rosewater and stir then set aside to cool slightly.
- Pour the milk pudding in dessert cups or small serving bowls, filling only up to two thirds of the cup. Cover the surface with cling film to prevent the formation of skin. Then refrigerate to cool and set.
- Once ready to serve the chilled and set pudding, sprinkle the top with a few shavings of white chocolate then with some roughly chopped toasted pistachios and top with a Damascus rose petal.
- Serve cold.
Plated Heirlooms will be available in all good bookstores in the UAE in February 2016. Online pre-orders can be made here, or in person at Dima’s stand every Friday at The Farmers’ Market on The Terrace, Bay Avenue, Business Bay.