The Iraqi Family Cookbook

The Iraqi Family Cookbook
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Friday, March 29, 2013

Fried Rice Kibbi-Kubbat Halab. كبة حلب

Have you thought of what you could do with leftover cooked rice? This is a traditional appetizer recipe that we make with boiled long grain rice, and we add saffron or turmeric to it while rice is boiling to give it a yellow color. We also add golden raisins and almonds to the filling. Sometimes, we add chopped parsley to the filling when cooled.
I was able to alter the recipe a little since I am using leftover rice, and the result was very delicious and successful.
3 cups cooked rice, leftover, room temperature
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ pond ground lamb or beef
½ cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Arabian spice (bahar)
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
2 cups vegetable oil for frying
Heat oil in a sauté pan, and add the meat. Cook the meat for 5 minutes and add the onions, salt and spices and stir. Lower the heat to simmer and cook until onions are soft. Add the pine nuts and set the meat filling aside to cool.
Put rice and one egg in a food processor and process for a few minutes until rice becomes a soft dough. If the rice is still hard, add the second egg and pulse to make nice smooth dough. If dough has a lot of moisture, add cornstarch to the dough and mix.
To form the kubba, or kibbi, have a small bowl with vegetable oil to wet your hand for shaping the bubba.  Take a small piece of the dough the size of small egg. Roll it in your hands and make a hole in the middle to form a cup. Fill the hole with one teaspoon of the filling and seal it. Shape it like a football.
Heat 2 cups of oil in a small deep pot.  Drop 4 kubba in oil, and fry for about 3 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
Serve them with pickles. You can freeze them, and reheat them in the oven when needed to serve.
For a vegetarian filling, saute onions and add peas and chopped mushrooms. Add salt and spices.
Cool before filling the dough. Drain the filling from any liquid.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tahini Pistachio Halva-Halawat Tahini bil Fistuq حلاوة بالطحينة

Halva is candy that resembles fudge.  Growing up in Iraq, my mother made a variety of halva, and we used to snack on it. We serve halva with a cup of Arabic coffee too. In order to serve it with coffee, I decided to stuff pitted dates with halva, and serve them as candy.
This halva is made with sugar syrup, but I prefer to use honey. You can use any type of nuts. Walnuts and pistachios are preferred for this recipe.
½  cup tahini
½ cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
¼  cup whole pistachios, shelled
½ cup toasted sesame seeds
Pout the tahini and honey into a bowl. Whip it for 3 minutes. Add cardamom, sesame and pistachios and stir with a wooden spoon. Remove it from the bowl and plate it on a fruit dish. Decorate with pistachios. You can refrigerate it and serve it when ready.

For the date halva candy, take one teaspoon of halva and fill the pitted date. You can arrange the dates on a plate. When done, I decided to arrange a few pieces in a foil container to give to friends.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cheese Bourek- Bourek Bil Jibin بورك بالجبن

This is my mother’s recipe that she used to make very often to serve with afternoon tea. You can use any type of cheese, but feta cheese is very close to the farmers cheese we had.
Bourek is simply a turnover that is savory or sweet filled with cheese, vegetables or meat. You can use the same dough recipe to fill them with apricot or fig jam.
Traditionally, we use the following dough recipe, but for convenience, you could use puff pastry or phyllo dough. You can fill the bourek and bake them or freeze them and bake them when needed. We usually fry the bourek, but I prefer to bake them, and serve them warm, or put them in a freezer bag, and when you need to serve them, put them in a toaster oven for 10 minutes.
2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup water
1 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, whisked

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt and set aside. Measure ½ cup of warm water, and add the sugar and yeast and stir. Set aside to activate the yeast for 5 minutes
Add the oil and the yeast mixture to the flour and kneed it by hand for 5 minutes. You could use a food processor for the dough. Add a few tablespoons of water if you find the dough a little hard. (some flours absorb more water). When the dough feels smooth put it in an oiled bowl, cover it with a towel and leave it to rise for 30 minutes.
Prepare the Filling:
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg, whisked
1 teaspoon dry mint
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out the dough on a floured board. Use a glass or a wide round cookie cutter to cut circles. Put one teaspoon of the filling in the center of the circle. Fold the circle to make half moon. Crimp the edges by twisting the edges, or use a fork to press down the edges to seal the dough. 
Arrange on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and brush the top with egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes.
Make 18 turnovers.