Egyptian fava beans and herbs dip (Egyptian Bessara) #Arabic_flavor

Bessara- fava bean dip

It is the 25th of the month which means it is time for our #Arabic_flavor reveal.

For the month of August, our host Rehab Elbarody took us on a trip to Egypt. She chose to share her family’s recipe for Bessara, a fava bean dip rooted in Egyptian history.  According to Rehab, bessara dates back to the pharaonic era! (which makes it a recipe that is thousands of years old !).The word Beesara is derived from Hieroglyphic Bees-oro  (bees- which means cooked) and (oro which means beans).

Bessara  is made with simple, cheap ingredients: fava beans, onions, garlic and lots of fresh herbs which give bessara its unique green color. The fact that these simple ingredients can give you a meal that packs a real nutritional punch made bessara popular.


This was actually my first time trying bessara and I have to say that it was a pleasant surprise!  Refreshingly green, creamy, with layers of flavor from the  spices and herbs, beautifully rounded by the caramelized onions. If you love hummus, do give bessara a try, it is plays along the same notes but with a more complex and layered flavor profile.

Fava beans and herbs dip

Egyptian Bessara

500 grams split fava beans (soaked in water overnight)

1 large onion, chopped

5 cloves of garlic

1 bunch fresh parsley chopped (1 cup)

1 bunch fresh cilantro chopped (1 cup)

1 teaspoon black pepper

salt to taste

For the onion topping

1 medium onion cut into strips

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon ground caraway

1 teaspoon dried coriander

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons ghee or olive oil

Egyptian bessara

  1. Soak the fava beans in clean water for 8 hours or over night , rinse and discard the water
  2. Place the soaked beans in a large pot and cover with water.
  3. Bring to a simmer, when froth appears on the surface, drain the beans and add new water to cover the beans, bring back to a simmer
  4. After simmering for 25 minutes, add the herbs and onion and garlic and let the beans simmer some more until they are completely soft .
  5.  Drain, reserving some of the water
  6. Transfer the beans to the bowl of a food processor and purée;add a little of the water you reserved if you need it to help the mix puree
  7. Place the puree beans back in the pot and add the salt and pepper and cook on medium low heat until the consistency thickens (it should be thick enough to allow you to scoop it with bread)
  8. Using a piston and mortar, grind the garlic with the caraway, black pepper and coriander
  9. Heat the oil or ghee in a skillet and fry the onion rings until golden (over medium-low heat).
  10. Add the garlic and spices and fry for a couple of minutes
  11. Remove and drain over paper towels, reserve the oil
  12. Add the oil to the thickened beans
  13. Transfer to a serving platter; garnish the surface with the fried onions and serve at room temperature with bread, green onions, pickles or olives

Broad bean dip



المقادير :
1/2 كيلو فول مدشوش
بصلة كبيرة
5 فصوص ثوم
باقة كبيرة بقدونس
باقة كبيرة كزبرة
ملح وفلفل وشطة
بصلة صغيرة مفرومة ناعم
2 فص ثوم
ملعقة صغيرة كراوية (سر الطبخة من عائلة البارودى )
نصف ملعقة فلفل اسود
ملعقة صغيرة كسبرة جافة
3 ملعقة كبيرة سمن بلدى
الطريقة :
ننقع الفول المدشوش 8 ساعات فى ماء نظيف ثم نشطفه جيدا .
نغطى الفول بماء نظيف ثم نرفعه على النار حتى يغلى وتظهر الرغوة على السطح فنصفى الماء ونعيد الفول مرة اخرى على النار بعد تغطيته بماء نظيف مرة اخرى .
نلقى فى ماء السلق مع الفول,البصلة والبقدونس والكزبرة المقطع ونتركهم حتى تمام النضج .
يصفى الخليط مع مراعاه ترك كمية بسيطة من الماء به .
يهرس فى الفود بروسيسور ثم يعاد مرة اخرى للنار مع تتبيله بالملح والفلفل والشطة ومع مراعاة تهدئة النار حتى تتكاثف الطبخة .
للتقلية :

ندق الثوم مع توابل التقلية جيدا حتى تتصاعد الرائحة العطرية للتوابل

نسيح السمن ونضيف له البصلة حتى يصفر لونها ويشف .
نضيف الثوم والتوابل للبصلة حتى تتحمر .
نصفى السمن ونضيفه للبصارة ونحتفظ بالتقلية لتجميل الوجه


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Gazan dagga “hot tomato dill salsa” #Arabicflavor

Gazan dakka (dill and pepper tomato salsa)

I have been trying to write a post for 2 weeks with no luck. What is happening in Gaza makes it very hard to write about food or anything else for that matter.

If you have not been keeping up with the news, let me fill you in. In the past 21 days, over 1000 Palestinians (mostly civilians) have been killed. Over 200 of the 1000 were children. Almost 6000 Palestinians have been injured. Nearly 166,000 Palestinians have sought shelter at United Nations facilities because their homes were either destroyed or unsafe to live in because of the Israeli attack.

The images, footage and stories coming out of Gaza are enough to give you nightmares for the rest of your life but can  you imagine what it must be like to live through it all? I have dear friends in Gaza,and I have been worried sick about them especially after losing contact with most of them after short messages saying that their houses were bombed, they are still alive but barely.

I can hardly bear to watch the news, yet I can’t stop myself from watching. Every broadcast leaves me with a cascade of emotions. I am Sad, broken, angry, furious but above all, I feel helpless. I want to do something but what?

Nisreen Al shawwa, and Mona Al Saboni, two wonderfully talented Arabic bloggers had the answer. They called upon all the Arabic food bloggers to come together and form a group. The aim of the group is to provide a true image of the Arabic world using food and recipes as a canvas.  With every recipe “Arabic flavor” (the name we chose for the group) will share a recipe from a country and every blogger will tell you a little more about that country.

Our first feature and the reason the group came together is Gaza and Nisreen suggested the Gazan Dagga. But before I get to the recipe..

Let me tell you a little about Gaza

The Gaza strip or simply Gaza is a Palestinian region on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.Gaza is a small area measuring  41 kilometers long, and from 6 to 12 kilometers wide, with a total area of 365 square kilometers (141 sq mi).  Around 1.82 million Palestinians live in Gaza making it among the most densely populated parts of the world. 1.1 million of the 1.8 million in Gaza are Palestinian refugees. They were kicked out of their homes when Israel occupied Palestine in 1948.

Gaza cuisine

As home to the largest concentration of refugees within historic Palestine,Gaza has a unique cuisine that is the result of the merging of the culinary traditions of the original Gaza residents with those brought by the refugees from hundreds of towns and villages that now exist only in memory—depopulated and destroyed in the year 1948.  Add to the mix the Egyptian influence that resulted from the Egyptian rule between 1959 and 1967 and the result is an extraordinary cuisine that is Mediterranean, Levantine, Egyptian but above all uniquely Gazan

Gazan dakka ingredients

Hot Chili and dill is one of the unique combinations in the Gazan cuisine . It is served along side grilled meat, chicken or fish for a blast of heat and flavor.  Chili and dill are also combined with tomatoes and dressed with lemon juice and olive oil to form the signature Gazan salad (Gazan dagga). Fresh green chili peppers crushed in a mortar with dill seeds or fresh dill along with lemon and salt are also served along side stews and soups for a blast of bright flavor on cold and dark winter days.Ground red chili peppers  with dill seeds are preserved in oil and sold as a condiment and ingredient, resembling North Africa’s popular harissa. In short, Gazans take pride in making you sweat :) then again, if you live in a place that is bombed by Israel every two years, you’d better learn to tolerate the heat.


Gazan dakka (dill and pepper tomato salsa)

Gazan dagga

Gazan salad or salata ghazaweh (السلطه الغزاويه او الدقه الغزاويه)


1/2 teaspoon salt

1 small onion chopped

2 hot chili peppers, roughly chopped

1 cup fresh dill, minced or 1 teaspoon of dill seeds

2 very ripe tomatoes, chopped

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil


In a Gazan clay bowl or zibdiya (or a morter or curved bottomed bowl) mash the onion and salt into a paste using a pestle.

Add chilies and continue to crush.

Add half of the dill (if using fresh dill) or all of the dill seeds if using seeds and crush them to release the natural oils

Add tomatoes and mash (you can make the salsa as smooth or as chunky as you like.

If using fresh dill add the other half along with the lemon juice and toss .

Top generously with olive oil.

Serve with flat bread on the side for dipping

Notes and variations:

  • You can substitute minced garlic for the onions.
  • For a tahini salsa variable, dd chopped cucumbers and 1 tablespoon of tahini. (This variation is from the old village of Beit Jirja, north of the Gaza Strip.)
  • A small food processor may be used in place of a mortar and pestle. Make sure to “pulse” the ingredients—don’t purée them But if you want to experience the full flavor of this salsa, do take the time and effort to make it in a mortar and pestle.

No knead olive bread

No knead olive bread Ramadan Mubarak to all my wonderful readers who observe it.

Hello everyone :) Yes, I am still here and I have not vanished off the face of the earth lol Moving  a family from one country to another is a huge adventure and regardless of how prepared you think you are, you are sure to get a few pleasant surprises along the way :) I will  do my best to reply to your emails , questions and comments soon, thank you for your patience .In my upcoming posts I will tell you more about the whole  move experience and hopefully manage to tell you a little more about Ramadan before this beautiful month is over.

In the mean time, there is nothing like a  Secret recipe club reveal date to get me out of my blogging slumber.

The assignment

For the month of July, my assigned blog was Della cucina povera. The beautiful Francesca describes her blog as being about a tuscan way of life. Using simple, seasonal ingredients and forgiving measurements. Francesca’s mother is Italian and her father is Iranian and she grew up enjoying this mix in her family’s restaurant in Washington. Later on, she traveled through out  North America, the Middle East, Asia and Europe in the pursuit of adventure. She shares the stories and recipes she came across on those foreign paths.

The recipe: no knead olive bread

After a tour in Francesca’s archives,I decided to go for her no knead bread because at the time of preparing this recipe, we were packing and anything with minimum effort and involvement seemed like the perfect choice. Added to that, I have been intrigued by the idea of no knead bread for quite some time and as always, I find that  secret recipe club assignments are the perfect opportunity to cross things off my “must try soon” list.

 The result:

The bread as the name implies requires no kneading, it relies on slow fermentation instead. All you have to do is invest 5 minutes to mix up the ingredients and then let time do the magic. The end result is a loaf of bread with a beautiful crisp walnut colored crust and a soft and chewy interior. The olives scattered throughout the crumb add color and a delicious richness to the bread.

My addition to the recipe was a tablespoon of rosemary, simply because I think rosemary and black olives are a match made in heaven, especially when bread is concerned. If you have never tried the two together, please do. You can thank me later :)

I found the process of making this bread reminiscent of sourdough bread . The wet dough, the long fermentation and the final shaping of the bread.The difference is that a sourdough starter adds a certain richness and depth of flavor to the bread in addition to being a leavening agent.

No knead bread

No knead olive bread

Recipe source: From Jim Lahey’s My Bread. Ingredients

  • 3 Cups Bread Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cup Kalamata Olives, pitted, drained, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 Teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 Cups cool water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (optional)


Preparing the dough

In a bowl mix the flour and yeast Add the drained,pitted,chopped olives and the rosemary Add the water and mix using your hands or a spoon step1 Cover the mix and allow it to rest at room temperature for 14-18 hours The dough will turn into a bubbly mess! That is actually OK because it means that the yeast is active and it has done its job step2


Shaping the dough

Scrape your dough onto a heavily floured surface (the dough will be very wet and almost batter like in consistency)

Liberally flour the top of the dough and just fold it a few times.

If you find that the dough is too sticky, add more flour

Eventually you want it to be firm enough to form a ball or loaf with it.

Take a large tea towel and sprinkle it liberally with flour, then plop your dough in the center, and cover your dough with the corners of your tea towel. (I personally proofed my bread on the baking sheet but that resulted in it spreading during baking, next time I will probably proof in in a pan and bake it in it as well)

Let the loaf ferment and proof for another two hours.

step 3 After your bread has been proofing for about 90 minutes, preheat your oven to AS HOT AS YOU CAN.

Bake  until the edges are golden brown and when you knock on the “back” of the bread, and it gives you a nice hollow sound.( it took me 30 minutes, the original recipe calls for 40-50 minutes, ovens vary. please keep that in mind) step 4 Allow the bread to cool down completely on a wire rack before cutting into it no knead bread - chef in disguiseNo knead bread


The bread spread quite a bit during baking, I would suggest making it in a loaf pan if you want it to retain its shape. It was still quite tasty but when sliced it was a little on the thin side.


خبز الزيتون بدون عجن

ثلاث اكواب طحين

واحد و نصف كوب زيتون اسود مبزر و مصفى من الماء و مفروم

ثلاث ارباع ملعقه صغيره خميره

واحد و نصف كوب ماء

ملعقه كبيره اكليل الجبل مفروم

لتحضير العجين

اخلطي الطحين و الخميره

اضيفي الزيتون و كليل الجبل

اضيفي الماء و حركي باليد او بملعقه خشبيه

غطي العجين و دعيه يرتاح من 14-18 ساعه

سيتحول العجين الى قوام سائل مليء بالفقاقيع

لتشكيل العجين

رشي كميه من الطحين على سطح العجن و صبي العجين فوقه

رشي العجين بالكثير من الطحين و اثني العجين على نفسه عده مرات

اذا احسستي ان العجين لازال لزجا و يلصق باليد اضيفي المزيد من الطحين

استمري باضافه الطحين و ثني العجين على نفسه حتى يصبح متماسك و يمكن تشكيله على شكل كره

شكليه على شكل كرة و ضعيه على صينيه الخبز و غطيه مده ساعتين

يمكنك ايضا تخميره برش فوطه بالكثير من الطحين ووضع العجين في وسطها ثم اغلقي الفوطه على العجين و دعيه يتخمر

ضعي العجين على صينيه الخبز و اخبزيه في فرن محمى مسبقا على اعلى درجه حراره يصلها فرنك

اخبزيه حتى تصبح اطرافه ذهبيه و اذا طرقتي على الرغيف من الاسفل يعطي صوت اجوف

اخرجي الخبز من الفرن و دعيه يبرد

Mediterranean couscous salad

Couscous salad   Yesterday I shared my recipe for making Palestinian couscous (Maftoul) from scratch and promised you the recipe for this Mediterranean salad, so here goes :) You can make this salad using regular couscous but making it with maftoul makes the texture of the salad much more interesting and the nutty taste added by the whole wheat flour in the maftoul adds a wonderful depth of flavor (more…)

Maftoul (Palestinian couscous): How to make couscous from scratch

Maftoul, palestinian couscous recipes

For the month of May, it was my pleasure to host the Daring Cooks challenge

A year ago I hosted my first challenge, at the time, I chose cheese making because it is a wonderful skill to add to your repertoire. This time around I wanted to choose a challenge that represents my own heritage. Something Palestinian, something fun and tasty, something challenging but worth the trouble.

You may have come across the terms couscous, Moghrabiah or Maftoul. They may seem like tongue twisters at first but they are actually three variants of  hand-rolled pasta that are versatile and tasty. What sets maftoul apart from couscous or moghrabieh is the size of the pasta granules. Couscous has the smallest granules (about 1 mm in diameter)  while moghrabiah has the largest (about the size of chickpeas). Maftoul is middle ground between the two. Maftoul’s hand rolled tiny pasta pearls are 2-3 mm in diameter  and they are made out of a mixture of whole wheat and all purpose flour rolled around a center of bulgur which gives it a nutty earthy note that is unique and a slightly deeper color.Couscous on the other hand is made out of pure white flour and it is rolled around a center of semolina giving it a lighter color and a more neutral taste.

For this challenge we will be making maftoul (also known as Palestinian couscous) from scratch.

 Why maftoul?

Well, because eating maftoul with those tiny balls rolling wonderfully on your tongue, really enhances the eating experience, even in a simple salad. It is also so easy and forgiving to cook. Unlike couscous, which can turn mushy if soaked for too long or in too much liquid, maftoul can be boiled in salted water, like other pasta, until tender but still retaining a bite (if you cook it like this, drain and dress it while it’s still warm, so the flavours can sink in and settle). But it can also be cooked using the absorption method (ideally in a good stock) much as you’d cook rice. And, like couscous, it can also be steamed over stock or water, which gives a fluffier, lighter consistency. (This happens to be my favorite mode of cooking and it is also the traditional way of doing it). Once cooked maftoul provides you with a world of options, you can add it  to soups, stews, salads or sauces, or you can serve it plain alongside a piece of meat, chicken or fish and I guarantee it will make your meal memorable , unique and tasty every time


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