Tag Archives: afistfuloflentils

Shabbat Salam: A Ramadan Favorite That’s Perfect for Shabbat

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Hanan is the creator of “Healing Table” where she prepares Middle Eastern themed pop-up dinners in order to bring individuals from all faiths and backgrounds together. A big part of what motivates her to organize these dinners is conflict resolution between Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims, through their shared history of food and culture.

On Friday, May 3, 2019, Hanan came to my Upper West Side apartment to teach me a few of her favorite Ramadan recipes while growing up in the West Bank village of Dibwan, and to show me how to prepare Qataiyif (see recipe in this blog), as well as the following chicken and rice dish. Once finished you will see why this delicious meal would work for any special occasion, whether it be for Ramadan or Shabbat!

Hanan Rasheed’s Dejaj ma’eh Batata
(Roasted Chicken with Garlic, Allspice, Cumin and Potatoes)
Yield: Serves 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS:
For Marinating the Chicken:

5 ½ to 6 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (mix of legs, breasts, and thighs)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground curry
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

For Frying the Potatoes:
1½ to 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, dried, and cut into 2-inch wedges
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup sunflower, vegetable or canola oil

For Assembling and Baking the Chicken:
1 large onion, peeled, cut in quarters, and thinly sliced
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups cold water
Fried potatoes (prepared in Step #3)
1 tablespoon sumac

DIRECTIONS:
Prepare the Chicken:

1. Rinse chicken pieces with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
Place the pieces into a large Ziploc bag.

2.  Add the remaining marinade ingredients to the bag, seal shut, and massage the spices into the chicken by squeezing the bag. Place bag in the refrigerator to marinate a minimum of 10 hours or overnight.

Prepare the Potatoes:

3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan for 2 minutes over high heat. Test to see if the oil is hot enough to fry by dropping a small piece of bread or potato into the oil. If it immediately fries, it is ready. If not, continue to heat another 30 seconds until ready. So as not to splatter yourself with the hot oil, gently place the potato pieces into the pan and mix with a large metal spoon to spread them out. Fry until golden brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

4. Spoon the fried potato pieces into a bowl or strainer lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil and set aside.

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Assemble and Bake the Chicken:

5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

6. Scatter the onion slices along the bottom of a large baking pan.

7. Arrange the marinated chicken pieces skin-side up on top of the bed of onions.

8. Combine the chicken broth and water in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup and pour evenly over the tops of the chicken pieces.

9. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place on the bottom rack of the oven to bake for 1½ hours.

10. Scatter the fried potato pieces on top of the chicken then sprinkle the whole pan with the sumac. Recover pan and continue to bake for 20 more minutes.

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11. Uncover the pan and move it to the top rack. Broil on “Hi” for 2 minutes or until chicken is a bit more browned, then remove from the oven. Serve hot on a serving platter or plate with rice on the side.

 

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Hanan Rasheed’s Riz ma’eh Sha’eriya
(Long Grain Rice with Fried Vermicelli and Pine Nuts)
Yield: Serves 6 to 8 / Makes about 8 Cups Rice

INGREDIENTS:
For Rice:

¼ cup vegetable or canola oil (for frying) plus 1 tablespoon (for final step of steaming)
1 cup vermicelli noodles
2 cups basmati rice
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
5 cups boiling hot water

For Serving:
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice
½ cup pine nuts

DIRECTIONS:

1. Pour oil into a large, heavy bottomed pot and warm over high heat for 1 minute.

2. Crumble the vermicelli noodles over the pot into the hot oil and spread out gently with a large metal or wooden spoon. Mixing constantly, fry the noodles until golden in color but not browned.

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3. Pour the rice into the the pot with the noodles and mix gently to coat with the oil.

4. Add the salt and boiling water and mix well. Bring to boil over high heat. Once boiling, cover pot, reduce heat to the lowest setting, and steam for about 30 minutes until soft.

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5. Remove lid off of rice and pour lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over the rice and fluff up with a fork. Cook an additional minute then turn off heat, cover, and let rice sit for 10 minutes.

6. Pour the pine nuts into a small skillet and toast over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes until browned but not burned. Remove from heat.

7. Spoon rice into a large serving bowl or shaped into a mound or pyramid in a large serving platter and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately.

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Sahten!

Remembering Grandma Fritzie

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On May 22, 2001, Grandma Fritzie passed away on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
I have been thinking a lot about her lately.

Only a week ago I received an email by a woman named Francine in Tucson who had purchased  a lithograph by my grandmother at an estate sale.

After doing a search online Francine came across my website and information about the life of my grandmother. She was intrigued by her strong personality and drive to be a female artist in the sixties and seventies, and was reminded of her own Brooklyn born Italian-American family, with their large family gatherings that centered around great food. When I received this email with the photo of my grandmother’s lithograph, I was happy to know that her artwork was keeping the memory of her alive. 

Unfortunately Grandma Fritzie never got to see my cookbook “A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes From Grandma Fritzie’s Kitchen” when it was officially printed in 2002. But I am so very grateful that I spent so much personal time with her while writing it. This book was what brought me into the world of recipe recording and teaching, and Syrian food was my first lesson.

 

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Painting by my grandmother hanging in my apartment, possibly a self portrait from the 1960s

Very recently I received a letter from the publisher that all rights to the cookbook had been reverted back to me. My first reaction was to feel sad because I thought that if my cookbook was no longer being printed, my grandmother’s, mother’s and family’s stories and recipes would be forgotten (which was the whole point of writing this book to begin with!). But then I realized this was an opportunity for me to take back my book and relaunch it with revised (and possibly even new) recipes. I have learned a lot about self-publishing this last year when “Too Good To Passover” was released in January, and it almost feels like “A Fistful of Lentils” has finally come back home to me in my care. 

By the end of this year I hope to relaunch a new edition to “A Fistful of Lentils” that will continue to keep my family’s stories and recipes, and the Syrian-Jewish culture alive. Stay tuned! 

 

 

 

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