Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Walima Fourth Challenge - Representing the Iraqi Cuisine

Iraqi cuisine or Mesopotamian cuisine is Iraq's traditional cuisine developed since antiquity in Mesopotamia (Sumer,Akkad, Babylonia , Assyria). It is considered one of the oldest kitchens. As Baghdad became the centre of the Abbasid Caliphate during the Islamic Golden Age, Muslims and other scholars from many parts of the world came to visit, live and study in Iraq, which gave the Iraqi cuisine new twists to its food. This is most commonly seen in the greater use of spices (e.g. Saffron) used in the Iraqi cuisine in comparison to other Arab cuisines. Iraqi cuisine has absorbed influences from all the neighboring countries and has much in common with Levantine, Persian, and Turkish cuisines. With the Ottoman rule of Iraq, influences of Turkish cuisine also became incorporated into Iraqi recipes (and vice versa). Furthermore, as the rest of Iraqi history, the Iraqi cuisine has been deeply influenced by its fertile land between its two rivers Euphrates and Tigris.[1] This influence is seen in Iraq's national dishes.

Historically, Iraq was known in Europe by the Greek exonym 'Mesopotamia' (Land between the rivers); after the foundation of the Kingdom of Iraq in 1932, it became known by its ancient endonym 'Iraq'. Iraq has been home to continuous successive civilizations since the 6th millennium BC. The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is identified as the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of writing and the wheel.

Our Savoury Dish is called Lissan Al Kadi - Eggplant wrapped Meat
A literal translation: "Tongue of the Judge"Makes about 20 pieces

2 large eggplants , 1/2 - 1 cup corn oil (if frying eggplant)
2 lbs. Lean ground meat,
1 medium onion (1 cup) finely minced,
1 tsp salt,1/4 tsp black pepper

2 tbsp corn oil,
1 large onion diced,
1 large tomato sliced (optional),
1 large tomato peeled and chopped,
14 oz. tomato sauce,
1 cup beef or chicken stock,
1/2 cup lemon juice,
1 tsp salt,
1/2 tsp pepper,
1 tsp turmeric.

Peel eggplant, trim off the top and bottom. Stand eggplant up on cutting board and slice vertically, 1/8" thin. Sprinkle generously with salt, place in a strainer for about 1 hour. Rinse off the salt and strain eggplant to dry. Heat about 4 tbsp corn oil in a frying pan and fry the eggplant slices in batches, turning once to brown both sides. Be careful not to burn. Add more oil as needed. Drain cooked eggplant slices on paper towels. Low fat alternative: Place eggplant slices on baking sheets lined with foil and brushed with corn oil. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 20-30 minutes until brown, turning the eggplant halfway. Mix together the ground meat, onion, salt and pepper. Divide the meat into sausage shaped portions 1" thick and 2" long. Place a portion of the meat stuffing at one end of an eggplant slice and begin wrapping the eggplant around it. Place the rolls in a baking dish and layer the tomato slices on top (optional). In a saucepan heat 2 tbsp oil and saute the diced onions. When soft add the chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper and turmeric. Add tomato sauce, beef or chicken stock and lemon juice to taste. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Pour the sauce over the rolls in the baking dish, cover with aluminum paper and bake for 1 hour (or until done) at 450 degrees.

We have two options for the Dessert Challenge : Cardamom Cookies and KURAT Al TAMIR - (Date Sesame Balls)

Kurat Al Tamir - Date Sesame Balls:

1 pound soft dates
1 cup walnuts
1 cup toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons tahini
½ teaspoon cardamom/cinnamon or both

Add dates, ½ cup sesame seeds, and tahini in the food processor. Pulse and add the walnuts and spices; pulse again. Take the mixture out and make small balls and roll them in toasted sesame or shredded coconuts.

Cardamom Cookies - Shakar Lama
3 sticks butter
3 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk (optional)
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2tsp. salt
1/3 cup slivered almonds


Beat the butter in a bowl for 3 minutes. Add sugar and beat the mixture until becomes light in color. Add flour, cardamom and salt gradually. Use your hand to mix the cookie dough. Take a small piece of dough the size of walnut. Shape the cookie and place and almond in the middle. Arrange on a tray with parchment paper or siltpad. Bake for 20 minutes in 350 degree oven. Makes around 2 dozens

Here are some photos from the Eggplant Wrapped Meat or Tongue of the judge

p.s.: after I baked the tray I added some Mozzarella & Parmesan Cheese and returned the tray to the oven for couple of minutes to melt the cheese....
I recommend that you try this dish, and follow the direction listed. It 's delicious and simple to prepare, and As I told my husbnad its my version of Eggplant Parmesan.

Some cheese !!! (this is optional) spinkle the cheese after the tray is completely cooked .

(my husband is not a big fan of cooked eggplant so to him this is my version of Eggplant Parmesan)

Sprinkling salt over the eggplant is the best way to get rid of the strong flavour and all the water, also they will not soak lots of oil when frying... I did mine in the oven brushed with little oil.
Stuff each piece of eggplant with the meat and roll it ,,, I have leftover meat I add them to the sauce for extra flavour.

I got field Tomatoes from the farmer's garden they were awesomely delicious.

The melted cheese is oozing all over the plate.

I want to take this opportunity to wish the Iraqi People and all the Muslims Ramadan Karim .....


Touria said...

delicious photos my dear and good work
thanks for sharing your challenge
have a blessed day

sabah said...

That looks yummy !
Arlette I posted the recipe " Stuffed
small bread ", as promise, check out my blog.
Have a nice day !

Yasmeen said...

Eggplants looks delish with cheese.thanks for the wonderful challenge dear.Have a blessed Ramadan :D

Elra said...

Wow, I can not salivating Arlette. This is truly delicious food, and my kind of food!

amal said...

Hi Arlette
How are you? that looks so delicious!
i tried kurat el tamer, i'll post it soon..
Take care!

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Chahira Daoud said...

حلو جدا يا ارليت
انا كمان حطيت جبنه على الباتنجان و كان حلو كتير
الله يكون فى عونك ..كتير بتتعبى ربنا يساعدك و يكون معاكى دايما
خدى بالك من نفسك
مجهود رائع ياللى بتعمليه علشان خاطر وليمه
بجد الله يديكى الصحه و العافيه

://: Heni ://: said...

This looks wonderful Arlette. I have not been able to get to all my emails, cooking, posting since I have been ill in my pregnancy. But there is aubergines in the fridge / this looks delish so I will make this for my family!

Wishing you a happy Ramadan as well!

Arlette said...

Hello ladies

Thanks so much for your sweet comments, I really appreciate that, all your challenge photos are amazing .... and delicious ... thanks so much for your support..

Heni.... please take care of yourself and the baby, and you can do as much as you can until you feel that you are ready for the challenges....
Ramadan Karim to all.

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