Tag Archives: Libya

Libyan Butternut Squash Pudding: The trick to this treat.

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If you’ve always liked the idea of traditional American pumpkin pie, but simply never became much of a fan, this Eastern version might be for you. The trick is to use fresh butternut squash instead of pumpkin for a richer texture as well as a more natural sweetness (with a little spice from the ginger), and because it’s dairy- and gluten-free, the overall texture is lighter. It’s a nice way to end a heavy meal, and if you really miss the richness from the dairy, you can always serve it with some fresh whipped cream on top!

Helwat al Yaktin 
(Libyan Butternut Squash “Pudding” with Cinnamon,
Ginger, and Vanilla)

Yield: SERVES 8 / Makes eight 1/2-Cup servings

For Preparing Pan or Ramekins:
8-inch square or round baking or pie pan
(non-stick, glass, or ceramic preferable over metal)

2 to 3 tablespoons safflower or vegetable oil

For Pudding:
2 tablespoons safflower or vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds fresh butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes,
(already peeled and cut cubes okay,
but please don’t substitute with frozen or canned purée)

1/2 cup vanilla or regular almond milk
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Baking and Serving:
1 to 2 tablespoons safflower or vegetable oil (for greasing the bowls or pan)
1/2 cup reserved cooked butternut squash cubes
(you will need about 8 small cooked cubes so that each serving
gets a piece on top)

Ground cinnamon

STEPS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.; Grease pan generously with oil and set aside.

2. Warm oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat for 1 minute. Reduce to a medium-low heat and mix in the butternut squash cubes. Cover, and cook until very soft and slightly browned, about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent burning.

3. While the squash is cooking, whisk the milk, egg yolks, ginger, cinnamon, sugar, salt, and vanilla together in a medium bowl.

4. Pour squash cubes into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Scrape the puree into the bowl with the liquid mixture and gently mix to combine.

5. Scrape mixture into your prepared baking pan, spreading it out with the spatula to make it even. Place pan onto the middle rack of your oven and bake 1 hour until center is slightly firm and edges are pulling away from the pan. (Note: Mixture will still be a bit soft to the touch — but not liquidy, and overall top color will turn a deep orangey-brown.) Remove from heat and cool for 30 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and chill in refrigerator for 2 hours, or overnight.

6. Serve cold sprinkled with cinnamon.

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Shrab (Libyan Golden Raisin “Wine” with Cinnamon Sticks)

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From Libya to Georgia, several individuals described to me the process of making their own special wine or unfermented grape juice for the Passover holiday. Some said that as children they couldn’t wait to stomp on the fresh grapes that were used to make actual wine, while others remembered helping their mothers or grandmothers combine dried grapes (raisins) with sugar and water to create a syrupy treat. Either way, it was a great activity for kids who looked forward to it year after year, and a new tradition that I started with my two girls this Passover.

Yield: Serves 12 / Makes 12 eight-ounce cups

1 1/2 pounds golden raisins (black raisins may be substituted)
20 cups cold water
3 cups sugar
3 to 4 cinnamon sticks, about 4 inches long each

1. Soak the raisins with the cold water in a large pot for 12 hours or overnight, covered.

2. Bring pot of soaked raisins  with the sugar and cinnamon sticks to a boil over high heat.

3. Reduce to a medium heat and slow boil until the liquid reduces by about a third,
approximately 2 1/2 hours.

4. Remove from heat and cool completely before pouring into two large pitchers.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or preferably 12 hours or overnight.
Drink will keep in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

©Jennifer Felicia Abadi:  www.TooGoodToPassover.com / jabadi@FistfulofLentils.com

Did you know?: The Libyan Seder Basket

Did you know that not every community uses a Seder plate?
The Libyans instead place large portions of each symbolic food
into a large basket-like tray with handles called a Sabadj.

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