The class made mujaddarah this week. Mujaddarah is a lentil and rice dish, particularly popular in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. Some villages in Lebanon  called mujaddarah “mudardarah” and visa versa. Mudardarah is also lentils and rise but blended together as a sort of hardened soup that is usually served cold or at room temperature. Mujaddarah is a popular, daily dish and made several different ways. Our three cooking groups had the same recipe but one group added cinnamon to the dish, whose spice is principally allspire. Another group added cumin. The dish is served with burn (but not carbonized!!!) onions. We also made a yoghurt, garlic and mint side as a sort of cold soup or drink that often accompanies the dish. Again, everything was made from organic products although local South Carolina rice was just cost prohibitive.  We finally were able to SIT together and eat (or at least most of us).

We made a version of the medieval sikbaj.  Few sikbaj dishes are frequently cooked in the Arab world today although the Arabs spread it throughout Southern Europe where variations are still made. A sikbaj generally is a sweet and sour dish, cooked with some sort of sweetener (like honey or grape molasses) and vinegar. It also often involves some sort of condiment like garam, fish or soy sauce. It usually involves  meat (or meats!) and the most famous has eggplant in it. We made “rummaniyah,” which is pomegranate sauce on meat. We made our dish from a composite of several recipes along with some modern Arab cooking practices. We broke up into three groups (of five students).  Prof. Sheehi gave the students the basic recipe and then some options how the recipe can be augmented. They cooked the meat (in olive oil, garlic, onions, honey and vinegar) and then cooked the pomegranate sauce in a separate pot (pomegranate juice, crushed cilantro and fresh ginger with out own “atrab tib” spice mix of coriander, cinnamon, clove, caraway and pepper corn). The three dishes were similar but nicely contrasted one another depending on the separate choices the groups made. This was really a resounding success and all at 8 am in the morning.

Laban to Labnah

February 8, 2010

Using organic milk and a not so great starter culture, the students were instructed on how to make yoghurt at home. Most of the students succeeded in the temperamental process. As  a class, we strained the yoghurt, hanging it for at lease 24 hours and made “lubnah,” a thickened yoghurt.  The images here were taken by Samantha Hull and demonstrate her perfect luban to labnah technique.  For those whose yoghurt “failed,” we boiled it to make a curd and then strained it, saving the whey. After straining, the curd should be compact and then sliced into large chunks and put in salted whey for several days. Voila feta cheese.