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Let's travel around the North African/Middle Eastern Region!Go to page << Previous Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:38 amForum Host
Slightly larger than North Dakota, Syria lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Lebanon and Israel on the west, Turkey on the north, Iraq on the east, and Jordan on the south. Coastal Syria is a narrow plain, in back of which is a range of coastal mountains, and still farther inland a steppe area. In the east is the Syrian Desert and in the south is the Jebel Druze Range. The highest point in Syria is Mount Hermon (9,232 ft; 2,814 m) on the Lebanese border.
The oldest remains found in Syria date from the Palaeolithic era (c.800,000 BCE). On August 23, 1993 a joint Japan-Syria excavation team discovered fossilized Paleolithic human remains at the Dederiyeh Cave some 400 km north of Damascus. The bones found in this massive cave were those of a Neanderthal child, estimated to have been about two years old, who lived in the Middle Palaeolithic era (ca. 200,000 to 40,000 years ago). Although many Neanderthal bones had been discovered already, this was practically the first time that an almost complete child's skeleton had been found in its original burial state.
Syrian cuisine is a diffusion of the cultures of civilizations that settled in Syria, particularly during and after the Islamic era beginning with the Arab Umayyad conquest, then the eventual Persian-influenced Abbasids and ending with the strong influences of Turkish cuisine, resulting from the coming of the Ottoman Turks. It is in many ways similar to other Levantine cuisines, mainly Lebanese, Palestinian and Jordanian.
The Syrian cuisine includes dishes like kibbeh, kebab halabi, wara' enab, hummus, tabbouleh, fattoush, labneh, shawarma, mujaddara, shanklish, pastırma, sujuk and ba'lawa. Ba'lawa is made of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and soaked in honey. Syrians often serve selections of appetizers, known as meze, before the main course. Za'atar, minced beef, and cheese manakish are served as hors d'oeuvres. Arabic flat bread is always eaten together with meze.
Syrians also make cookies to usually accompany their cheese called ka'ak. These are made of farina and other ingredients, rolled out, shaped into rings and baked. Another form of a similar cookie is to fill with crushed dates mixed with butter to eat with their jibbneh mashallale, a string cheese made of curd cheese pulled and twisted together.
A spice mixture called baharat mshakale is endemic to Syrian cuisine.
A kind of kebab served with a spicy tomato sauce and Aleppo pepper, very common in Syria and Lebanon, named after the city of Aleppo (Halab). Kebab halabi has around 26 variants.
A variety of Syrian dishes made with bulgur and minced lamb are called kibbeh. The northern Syrian city of Aleppo (Halab) is famous for having more than 17 different types. These include kibbeh prepared with sumac (kәbbe sәmmāʔiyye), yogurt (kәbbe labaniyye), quince (kәbbe safarjaliyye), lemon juice (kәbbe ḥāmḍa), pomegranate sauce, cherry sauce, and other varieties, such as the "disk" kibbeh (kәbbe ʔrāṣ), the "plate" kibbeh (kәbbe bәṣfīḥa or kәbbe bṣēniyye) and the raw kibbeh (kәbbe nayye).
Mehshi is a famous dish served in Syria, it is essentially Kousa or Eggplants stuffed with ground beef, rice and nuts. The northern city of Aleppo is known in the Arabic world as "Halab, the mother of Mehshis and Kebbehs."
Baklava - a dessert of layered pastry filled with nuts and steeped in Atar syrup (orange [or] rose water and sugar), usually cut in a triangular or diamond shape.
Taj al-malek (King's crown) - a dessert of round dry pastry, centre is filled with pistachio, nuts or cashew.
Swar es-sett (Lady's wristlet) - a dessert of round pastry steeped in Atar syrup while the centre is covered with smashed pistachio.
Znood Es-sett (Lady's arms) - filo pastry cigars with various fillings.
Asabe'e antakiyyeh (Antioch fingers) - a finger-like rolled and stuffed pastry.
Halawet al-jeben - Cheese pastry, rolled and stuffed with cheese or thick milk cream, served with Atar syrup.
Mamuniyeh - semolina, boiled in water and added by significant amounts of sugar and ghee butter, usually served with salty cheese or milk cream (qeshtah).
Syrians are renowned for producing dried apricot paste
Zilebiyeh - thin sheets of semolina dough, boiled, rolled and stuffed with pistachio or milk cream (qeshtah).
Ghazel al-banat - sugar, toasted with a special system and stuffed with pistachio or cashew.
Halva - sesame paste sweet, usually made in a slab and studded with fruit and nuts.
Kenafeh - shoelace pastry dessert stuffed with sweet white cheese, nuts and syrup.
Ma'amoul - date, pistachio or walnut filled cookies shaped in a wooden mould called a tabi made specially for Christian holidays (traditionally Easter), Muslim holidays (such as Ramadan), and Jewish holidays (Purim).
Qada'ef - semolina dough stuffed with a paste of sweet walnuts or milk cream and honey syrup (qater).
Nabulsiyeh - a layer of semi-salty Nabulsi cheese covered with a semolina dough and drizzled with a honey syrup (qater).
Basbousa - a sweet cake made of cooked semolina or farina soaked in simple syrup.
Our cookbook ~ A TASTE OF SYRIA! #701075
*some* of the UNreviewed recipes in our cookbook:
Syrian Potato Salad (Patata Salata) #477564 by Abby Falck
Syrian Roasted Beets #345721 by keeney
Syrian Stuffed Zuchini in Yogurt Sauce (Kousa Bi Laban Souree) #464685 by Mustafa's Cook
Baklawa - Syrian Version of Baklava #95151 by Kat Rahal
Dja'jeh Mish Mosh (Syrian Apricot Chicken) #147020 by dustcatcher
Quick and Easy Syrian-Lebanese-Pocket-Pita Bread! #486447 by Val Fosburgh
Syrian Olive Pastries #130602 by Dropbear
some photos to inspire you...
A Taste Of Syria
Last edited by Elmotoo on Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total
Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:40 amForum Host
...~ Traveling Through Tunisia with NA/ME ~
TUNISIA, officially the Republic of Tunisia, is the smallest country in North Africa. It is a Maghreb country bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east.
The cuisine of Tunisia, is a blend of Mediterranean and desert dwellers' culinary traditions. Its distinctive spicy fieriness comes from neighboring Mediterranean countries and the many civilizations which have ruled the land now known as Tunisia: Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Turkish, French, and the native Berber people. Many of the cooking styles and utensils began to take shape when the ancient tribes were nomads. Nomadic people were limited in their cooking implements by what pots and pans they could carry with them. A tagine, for example, is actually the name for a pot with a conical lid, although today the same word is applied to what is cooked in it. Pork consumption is forbidden in accordance with Sharia, religious laws of Islam.
Unlike other North African cuisine, Tunisian food is quite spicy. A popular condiment and ingredient which is used extensively in Tunisian cooking, harissa, is a hot red pepper sauce made of red chili peppers and garlic, flavoured with coriander, cumin, olive oil and often tomatoes. There is an old wives' tale that says a husband can judge his wife's affections by the amount of hot peppers she uses when preparing his food. If the food becomes bland then a man may believe that his wife no longer loves him. However when the food is prepared for guests the hot peppers are often toned down to suit the possibly more delicate palate of the visitor. Like harissa or chili peppers, the tomato is also an ingredient integral to the cuisine of Tunisia. Tuna, eggs, olives and various varieties of pasta, cereals, herbs and spices are also ingredients which feature prominently in Tunisian cooking.
Tabil, pronounced "table" is a word in Tunisian Arabic meaning "seasoning " (similar to 'adobo' in Spanish) and now refers to a particular Tunisian spice mix, although earlier it only meant ground coriander. Paula Wolfert makes the plausible claim that tabil is one of the spice mixes brought to Tunisia by Muslims coming from Andalusia in 1492 after the fall of Granada. Today, tabil, closely associated with the cooking of Tunisia, features garlic, cayenne pepper, caraway seeds and coriander pounded in a mortar, then dried in the sun. It is often used in cooking beef, veal and game.
Thanks to its long coastline and numerous fishing ports, Tunisia offers an abundant and varied selection of fish. Most diners in Tunisia are also content to have their fish fillet simply fire-grilled and seasoned with olive oil, a lemon squeeze and salt and pepper to taste. Fish can also be baked, fried in olive oil, stuffed, seasoned with cumin (kamoun). Squid, cuttle fish, and octopus are served in hot crispy batter with slices of lemon, in a cooked salad, or stuffed and served with couscous.
Tunisians also love fire-grilled stuffed vegetables: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, squash and turnips. Although Tunisians do consume dairy products such as milk (hlib), buttermilk (lban), yoghurt (yaghurt) and soft cheeses (jban), these dairy products are never used as ingredients in national dishes.
Tunisia has different regional aspects. Tunisian cuisine varies from north to south, from the coast to the Atlas Mountains, from urban areas to the countryside, and along religious affiliations. For instance, the original inhabitants of Tunis (the Beldiya), do not use harissa much; they prefer milder food, and have also developed their own breads and desserts. Their dominant culinary influences are French and Italian and their diet evolves around beef, turkey and chicken. Closer to the Atlas mountain range, game is favoured. A diet may be composed of quail, pigeons, squads, partridge, rabbits and hare. In the Cap Bon, people enjoy tuna, anchovies, sardines, sea bass and mackerels. On the island of Djerba, where there is a dense Sephardic population, only Kosher foodstuffs are consumed. In Hammammet, snails are enjoyed. Organs are traditionally staples of Tunisian cooking, such as tripe, lamb brains, beef liver and fish heads.
Couscous, the national dish of Tunisia, can be prepared in many ways, and is considered to be the best couscous of North Africa. It is cooked in a special kind of double boiler called a kiska:s in Arabic or couscoussière in French, resembling a Chinese steamer atop a Mongolian pot. Meats, vegetables and spices are cooked in the lower pot. Cooking steam rises through vents into the container above. It is layered with whole herbs such as bay leaves and covered with a fine-grain couscous. The couscous pasta is therefore cooked with aromatic steam. During the cooking process, the couscous needs to be regularly stirred with a fork to prevent lumping, as risotto is cooked. Preferred meats include lamb (kousksi bil ghalmi) or chicken (kousksi bil djaj) but regional substitutes red snapper, grouper (kousksi bil mannani), sea bass (kousksi bil warqua), hare (kousksi bil arnab) or quail (kousksi bil hjall). Although there are many ways to prepare and compose the dish, a classic recipe would call for the following ingredients: salted butter, bell peppers, shallots, Spanish onions, garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, chickpeas, chili pepper, harissa, celery, cinnamon, black peppercorn, carrots, turnips and squash. The idea is for the dish to contain many vegetables and a variety of Mediterranean ingredients. The first layer consists of a mound of couscous, then a layer of vegetables follows, and finally the meat is positioned on top. The presentation is finished with a drizzle of sauce and a sprinkle of fresh parsley, basil or mint (for lamb and mutton couscous). Substituting orzo, rice, Israeli couscous or barley for fine-grain couscous is not acceptable. In some regions, a medium-grain couscous is seldom used.
Typical Tunisian dishes are brik (a fried Malsouka dough stuffed with tuna and an egg), tajin (like a frittata or a quiche), shorba (soups), slata (salads), marqua (stews), rishta (pastas), samsa (a popular pastry), kifta (ground meat), kaak (pastries), gnawiya (gombos), merguez (lamb sausage) and shakshouka (ratatouille).
Unlike Moroccan tajines, a tajine in Tunisia usually refers to a kind of "quiche", without a crust, made with beaten eggs, grated cheese, meat and various vegetable fillings, and baked like a large cake.
A popular seafood speciality is the 'poisson complet' or the whole fish. The entire fish, excluding internal organs, is prepared and fire-grilled, but it can also be fried, grilled or sautéed. It is accompanied with potato chips and either mild or spicy tastira. The peppers are grilled with a little tomato, a lot of onion and a little garlic, all of which is finely chopped and served with an egg poached or sunny side up. Finely chopped fresh parsley is sprinkled on top; a drizzle of lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt complete the recipe.
Harissa is often said to be a Tunisian sauce, but it is better described as an ingredient of Tunisian cooking or a seasoning. Harissa is made of red chili, garlic, salt, cumin, coriander, olive oil, and sometimes also caraway or mint. A Tunisian sauce deserving mention: the Kerkennaise sauce, made of capers, olive oil, tomato, scallions, coriander, caraway, cumin, parsley, garlic, white vinegar and paprika.
Our cookbook this month Traveling Through TUNISIA with NA/ME 10/13 #580467
~~Traveling Through Tunisia~~
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