Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Make Middle Eastern Food at Home

My daughter and I love this restaurant called Albasha.  It specializes in Greek and Lebanese food.  We especially love the falafel and tzatziki sauce there.  We order it every time we go, which isn't often because my old-school Italian husband and pickiest-eater-ever son would sooner go hungry than try something new.  However, when she and I sneak away by ourselves, we choose Middle Eastern fare.  Because we go so rarely, I decided to try and make our favorite middle eastern food at home.  I'd been putting this off because I figured I'd have to go buy a bunch of weird ingredients or spices.  But, after a little research, I found that I could make these dishes with everyday ingredients I already had on hand.  Ya know what?  They came out great!  Here's how I did it:


1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 green onions, chopped
1 small clove garlic. coarsely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
a pinch of red pepper flakes
2 TBS chopped parsley
2 TBS chopped cilantro (I was out of cilantro so I just used 4 TBS parsley)
1 egg
2 TBS lemon juice
a big pinch kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup flour (plus more for forming patties)
Oil to fry them in

In a food processor, combine chickpeas, green onions, garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes, parsley, cilantro, egg, and lemon juice.  Pulse to combine.  Season with salt and pulse again.  Mixture should not be totally smooth; it should still have some chunks in it. Add in the baking powder and 1/4 cup flour and pulse just to combine.  Remove to a bowl and cover.  Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

 It will look light green.  That's from the parsley.

After chilling the dough, remove it from the fridge.  Meanwhile, put enough oil in a large skillet to reach halfway up the side.  Heat on medium-high heat until hot.  Here's how to tell if it's ready.  Throw a pinch of flour into the oil.  If it sizzles, it's ready.  

While the oil is heating, drop balls of the dough onto a plate of flour.  Roll the balls around in the flour and gently press to form patties.

Fry in batches (don't overcrowd the skillet) for about 3 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels.

These are so flavorful!  Especially when dipped in the Tzatziki sauce.


1 cup plain yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 TBS olive oil
2 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp dried dill
1 clove garlic (if yours are small, use 2)
salt/pepper to taste

In a blender, combine yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, dill and garlic.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Blend until well combined.  Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to let the flavors marry.

This sauce is not only a great dip for falafel or veggies, it makes a wonderful salad dressing!

So, I hope you give these Middle Eastern dishes a try.  As you can see, they're easy to make with ingredients you probably have on hand.  Enjoy!

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