So the day is nearly here, where my house and garden will not only be filled with delicious smells and scrumptious Syrian cuisine but also a number of willing guinea pigs (a.k.a. friends and family) eager to eat it!
Over the past few months I have been making my way through many of the recipes in the #CookForSyria cookbook and have been raising money for Unicef along with way. If I have learnt anything throughout the process it’s that Syrian cuisine play host to some of the most delicious flavours I’ve ever experienced. It also makes for great dinner party food; with loads of ‘prep in advance’ dishes, slow cooker favourites and social platters that everyone will tuck into and love!
The recipes I’m going to share with you today I’ve now made on multiple occasions, and the koftas will be being shaped into burgers as one part of this weekend’s #CookForSyria BBQ (if you’re intrigued what else I’m cooking then check back next week for the aftermath edition!).
Some of you may wonder why the hell I am doing all this? Well…. Over the past few years I’ve come to realise that I am incredibly lucky; to not only live in a society where we can literally experience any type of cuisine that we dream of, but one that supports us if we can’t afford food or a roof over our heads, and provides us with an education and treatment if we get sick. Unless you live in the dark you cannot escape to know that children in Syria do not receive that same luxury, and so through sharing parts of their tradition and food culture I am aiming to raise money for the Unicef #CookForSyria campaign….. It may seem like a small drop in the ocean, but in all honesty, I love to host and share food with friends, so if I can do a little good at the same time then every little helps!
If you have ever enjoyed any of my recipes, or fancy just donating to a great cause then please please please check out my fundraising site…. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/CookforSyria-HMWM
And in the meantime, if you fancy your hand at trying some delicious Syrian food yourself then please check out these recipes below (all taken and adapted from the #CookForSyria Cook Book)….
Syrian Kofte, Pickled White Cabbage & Tahini Yoghurt Sauce Pitta
For the pickled white cabbage
- ¼ white cabbage – thinly shredded
- 2 tsp salt
- 125ml cider vinegar
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric
For the Kofte
- 300g lamb mince (I have actually found that if you have a mincer this is better with lamb leg steaks minced
- 250g beef mince (as above)
- 60g white breadcrumbs
- 1 heap tsp Aleppo chilli flakes
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 handful flat leaf parsley – finely chopped
- ¼ tsp allspice
- Good twist pepper and salt
For the Kotte sauce
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion – finely chopped
- 3 garlic gloves – peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tsp Aleppo chilli flakes
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp hot pepper paste (biber salcasi)
- 800g chopped tomatoes
- 3 tbsp pomegranate malases
- Good twist of salt and pepper
For the herb salad
- Handful dill
- Handful flatleaf parsley
- Handful mint
- Handful thinly sliced red cabbage
- 3 tbsp natural yoghurt
- Juice 1 lemon
- 2 tsp tahini
- 4 large pittas (or 8 small)
Start the day before with your pickled cabbage (as this is better leaving overnight). Sprinkle the salt over the cabbage and leave for an hour.
Dissolve the vinegar and sugar on a gentle heat and lightly toast the cumin in a dry pan for a couple of minutes. Once the sugar is dissolved, turn off the heat and add the cumin and turmeric to the mix.
Once the cabbage has salted, rinse off and place in a bowl with the vinegar – making sure it is all submerged. Allow to cool and then store in an airtight jar in the fridge until needed.
To make the kofte sauce, sweat down the onions, garlic and Aleppo chilli flakes in the oil for about 10 minutes. Add the pepper paste, salt and cayenne pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients and then cook on a low heat for 45 minutes, until thickened.
To make the Kofte, mix together all the ingredients until well combined and shape into 8 rugby shaped balls. – Let them chill for half an hour to firm up.
Preheat the oven to 170’C
Heat a large frying pan with a splash of oil and fry until browned and then if using an oven proof dish add the sauce, or transfer to a dish that will go in the oven.
Bake for half an hour
In the meantime, mix together the tahini, lemon juice and yoghurt and chill until needed.
Chop all your herbs for the salad and toss together with the red cabbage.
Once ready to serve, toast your pitas and dive in!
And for dessert…….
Spiced Orange Blossom Rice Pudding with Crunchy Granola
For the granola
- 500g oats
- 75g oil
- 300g honey
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 200g hazelnuts – toasted
- 200g pistachios – toasted
- 200g almonds – toasted
- 50g sunflower seeds
- 50g pumpkin seeds
- 50g dates
- 50g raisins
- 50g dried apricots
- 200g honey
For the rice pudding
- 200g pudding rice
- 2 tbsp orange blossom water
- 5 litres milk
- 200ml double cream
- 250g sugar
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Pinch ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- Zest of 2 oranges
Preheat the oven to 160’C
To make the granola, mix together the oats, vanilla and half the honey and spread out onto a lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes
Blitz together the nuts, seeds, and dried fruits and mix together with the oat mixture and the remaining honey. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes, stir and repeat if the mixture isn’t toasted enough. Once to your liking, remove and leave to cool until ready to eat. (HINT – if you don’t eat all this with your pudding it is lovely at breakfast!)
To make the rice pudding, combine the milk, cream, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and orange zest in a pan. Bring to the boil and then turn off to let the milk infuse for an hour.
After an hour, pour the milk into a large saucepan with the rice and cook on a low heat for 30-40 minutes (or longer if it hasn’t thickened by then), stirring frequently.
Cover the pot until it thickens, and once thick add the orange blossom water.
Divide up between bowls and top with your granola.