Ablama (Stuffed Zucchini)

ablama 2

I’m back home in Lebanon and I plan to post more regularly! After a long vacation in Abu Dhabi with the family, I feel relaxed and ready to cook again 🙂 Today I made zucchini stuffed with meat; this dish is called Ablama, which means “ahead of time” though I don’t know why. Previously, I’ve made Ablama served with yogurt, you can find the recipe here, however this time I’ve cooked it in tomato sauce. Every time I make it, I’m reminded of my best friend M. About twenty years ago when M was newly wed, she invited me and my husband for lunch and prepared Ablama. She  is french educated and followed the instructions in a french cookbook. While we were eating, we noticed something different in the taste and when we asked her, she replied with her adorable french accent ” Oh! J’ai oublié  le 3ement”. Translated, it means “I forgot to do the third instruction” which consists of frying the zucchini. Now, every time I cook this meal, I remember M and the look on her face when she forgot to fry zucchini. Don’t forget to fry it when you try it yourself 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo of baby zucchini
  • 200 grams minced meat
  • 1 medium onion, finely shopped
  • 1 handful pine seeds
  • 1 tablespoon tomato pureé
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon 7 spices
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • frying oil

Preparation:

  • Wash the zucchini, cut the head and remove the inside with a corer; don’t throw them, you’ll use them to make omelette with them (stay tuned, it will be in the next post)

ablama

  • Heat the frying oil in a saucepan and fry the zucchini until slightly colored, then place them on a kitchen towel to absorb the excess of oil and allow them to cool

ablama 1

  • In another saucepan, heat the canola oil, fry the pine seeds until golden color then put the onion and cook until the onion is colored, add the minced meat and let it cook. Season with one teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon seven spices
  • Fill the zucchini with the meat, place in a pot, cover with about 3 cups of water and tomato paste; season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of spices
  • Let it boil, then reduce the fire and let it simmer for about 25 minutes
  • Serve it with cooked rice, and enjoy

ET VOILA..C’EST TOUT 🙂 BON APPETIT!

Rice and Chicken (Lebanese Way)

Arabs love this dish! If you have an Arab friend, make this dish when you invite them over; it will guarantee to make them smile 🙂 Every Arab country has their own variation of it and is generally cooked during special occasions. The combination of the rice cooked with chicken stock and the fried nuts spread on the top of the plate gives it a special flavor and texture in your mouth. Some people like it covered in gravy but personally, I like it with yogurt. Try it both ways, tell me which way you prefer 🙂

Ingredients: for boiling the chicken

  • 1 whole chicken (about 1 kilo)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon seven spices
  • 1/2 teaspoon clove
  • few bay leaves
  • 1/2teaspoon whole cardamon
For cooking the rice:
  • 200 grams minced meat
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon seven spices
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon corn oil

For the decoration:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • handful of each: halved almonds, pine seeds, pistachios, cashew
  • a pinch of ground cinnamon

Preparation:

  • Place the chicken in a large pot, cover with about 2 liters of water, place on fire and let it boil.
  • Skim the white foam. Then put the salt, cinnamon stick, clove, cardamon and seven spices and let it boil until tender (in pressure cooker it will take 15 minutes)
  • When boiled, drain the chicken from water (but keep the stock) and tear the chicken meat from the bones and keep aside
  • In another pot, heat the oil and fry the minced meat until brown, season with salt and seven spices
  • Add the rice and cover with 4 cups of chicken stock, cover the pot and let it simmer on a low fire until the rice is cooked
  • In a saucepan heat the butter and fry the nuts until nice golden, stirring constantly to prevent them from burning then place on a kitchen towel
  • To serve place the rice in a large plate, put the chicken pieces on the top, sprinkle with cinnamon then cover with the fried nuts
  • Enjoy eating with a side salad (and yogurt or gravy, whatever you prefer)

ET VOILA..C’EST TOUT!

Baked Kibbe (Kibbe Bilsaniya)

Kibbe is a famous Lebanese traditional food. It is made out of meat and bulgur with stuffing inside it from minced meat onion and spices. There are many ways to cook it: it can be baked in the oven, or rolled into balls with the stuffing inside it then fried and even cooked with yogurt. All these recipes require the same ingredients to make the Kibbe mixture and stuffing, however there are some variations. For instance, there is a vegetarian form of Kibbe made from pumpkin.

It’s a bit complex to make this dish, so I tried my best to simplify it for today’s post. Don’t be discouraged and feel free to post any questions in the comments if you need some clarification on any point, I’ll answer as soon as I see it. Together, we’re going to make Kibbe like rock stars! 😀

1.For the Kibbe:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of fine brown bulgur
  • 600 grams beef meat
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon seven spices

Preparation:

  • Wash the bulgur and drain it from water
  • Grate the onion until very fine
  • Mix the meat with bulgur, add the salt and seven spices with the grated onion
  • Place the mixture in a food processor a bit at a time and keep blending until the mixture becomes creamy and all the meat and bulgur is used

Now your Kibbe is ready, put it in the fridge until you prepare the stuffing.

2.For the Stuffing:

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams minced meat (better fresh not frozen)
  • 3 medium onions finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon seven spices
  • 1/2 cup pine seeds (this is optional, but it is traditionally added and enhances the flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon grenadine molasses
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preparation:

  • In a large saucepan,  heat the oil and fry the onion until golden brown
  • Add the meat and fry with the onion for about 15 minutes
  • Now add the pine seeds, season with salt, seven spices and the grenadine molasses
  • Cook for about 10 minutes or until the pine seeds becomes golden color

Let the stuffing cool. Now you have all the ingredients to make the Kibbe in the oven. All you need to do now is assemble them.

3.Putting it all together:

You’re going to need one more additional ingredient: 1 tablespoon of corn wheat.

  • Preheat the oven to 200C and butter a baking pan.
  • In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of corn wheat with 1 cup of cold water. Wet your hand in this corn wheat solution when handling the Kibbe.
  • Take enough Kibbe and spread it on the bottom of the pan to make a thin layer. (Remember to keep your hand wet with the corn wheat solution when handling the Kibbe!)
  • Add enough of the stuffing on top of the Kibbe to just cover it.
  • Afterwards, add another thin layer of the Kibbe over the stuffing, the same way you did for the bottom one. With your hand still wet from the corn wheat solution, press gently down on the top layer with the palm of your hand to flatten (not squish) it
  • Divide the tray into four equal parts with a knife (go through each of the layers)
  • With the knife still in hand, lightly make diagonal lines on the top layer to form small diamonds. This adds texture to the dish and also helps it bake properly
  • Spread 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the upper crust. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until you see it become a nice brown color
  • Serve it with plain yogurt, or yogurt salad: crush one clove of garlic with a pinch of salt and mix it with yogurt. Peel and dice 5 cucumbers. Mix with 1 tablespoon of dried mint.

ET VOILA..C’EST TOUT:)

Rice and Meat Balls

Today I made rice and meat balls, and I would like to show you how it’s done! It’s very easy and everyone likes it 🙂

Rice and meatballs

Ingredients: 

  • 500g of lean minced beef
  • 2 big onions chopped in thin strips
  • Pine seed (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of all purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper (as desired)

Preparation: 

  • Mix the meat by hand with salt and pepper, and shape the meat in medium sized balls
  • Put a little bit of cooking oil in a pot and fry the meat balls until golden brown all around
  • Remove the meat and fry the pine seeds until golden pale, then add the onion and fry until it’s tender and transparent
  • Put the meat again with the onion and mix the ingredients well
  • Dissolve the flour in a cup of water and add salt and pepper. Pour it over the meat and let it boil on high heat until it starts boiling
  • Cover the pot and let it simmer on low fire until the sauce thickens
  • You can serve it with cooked rice, and a salad
  • Et voila!

JARRBOUHA RAH THEBBOUHA 🙂