With the daring kitchen and the secret recipe club coming to an end and me no longer taking part in Darna magazine , I found my self looking for a new challenge, something to push me outside of my comfort zone into trying new recipes, meeting new people and learning more about all the hidden gems different cuisines have to offer.

Today’s post is my first challenge with the MENA cooking club, if you don’t know about it, here is a little background from their “about ” page:

Mena Cooking club was started for foodies worldwide who have a love of trying new things. You do not have to be Middle Eastern or North African or have a connection to them you just have to have an appetite to learn more about beautiful food cultures. We will go through the countries in alphabetical order with a host, choosing a savory and a sweet dish, then each member prepares the recipe of their choosing . Together we will share our creations and what we have learned. We hope to make new friends, learn more about food and just have fun.

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I am really excited for this new adventure and I look forward to taking you along with me every month on a new culinary journey in the Middle East and North Africa.With fewer commitments on my plate , I also am really looking forward to blogging more frequently, working on my videos and youtube channel (please subscribe if you haven’t already) but most importantly reconnecting with many of my blogging friends who I have missed dearly.

This Turkish dip happens to be one of my all time favorite mezza, right after homemade hummus! It is smoky , packs a real flavor punch with layers of  herbs, nutty walnuts, sweetness from the sundried tomatoes and smokiness from the pepper. I love this on pita bread or with pita chips, as a dip with baby carrots or cucumbers, it is heavenly with lavash crackers, you can also use it as a topping for pizza or manakeesh.

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This spread plays on the same flavor notes as Muhammara but the flavors here are more intense because there is no bread crumbs to dilute them . I also love the refreshing herb and spice notes in this Turkish spread that are missing or less pronounced in Muhammara

I have been trying to write this post for 2 weeks! The recipe is ready, pictures are ready but I am honestly at a loss for words. I love writing the little stories, thoughts that you read before my recipes in most of my posts, they are my way of sharing a little bit of my world with all of you but with a nasty flu that has been going on for 10 days, the inauguration the other day among other things, I have been staring at my screen for days feeling uninspired.
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I have finally decided to share one of my favorite pictures with a few inspirational words, I hope that they will be able to cast a ray of sunshine on your day 🙂

May every morning bring you promise

I am sorry for not posting on Tuesday last week and yesterday. There is so much that has been happening on so many levels and I needed some time to step back and think.

I was going to write about all the things that have been weighing on my mind, the news and terrible images from Aleppo, the news from Jordan, some personal defeats and betrayals that hurt..But since the world seems to have so much hate and ugliness at the moment, I have decided to shift my attention and focus on the beauty around me instead of feeding the ugliness. It seems that the need to slow down and focus on the full half of the cup increases with every passing day and in that spirit, I am sharing a few pictures I took over the past week of things that brought me joy. I do hope that you’ll take a moment to slow down and enjoy them and if you have an extra minute, share a beautiful moment that you have experienced this past week with me in the comments. I really can’t tell you how much joy your comments and support mean to me.

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I will keep this post short and sweet (or actually savory!)

Shawarma has got to be one of the most popular middle eastern sandwiches, right next to falafel and arayes . Yet so many people seem to be intimidated by it! They are convinced that you can’t make great shawarma at home!

They couldn’t be more wrong
Today’s recipe is here to prove it!

There is nothing intimidating about making shawarma, it is actually one of the simplest and easiest Middle Eastern recipes in my book. It requires very little active working time. All you have to do is prepare the marinade, toss the chicken in it and leave it in the fridge. and you’re done! All you have to do the next day is cook it.

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Simple as it may be, this recipe has 3 secrets that will guarantee that you’ll get an amazing,  authentic , and juicy shawarma every time and these three secrets are:

Before getting to today’s recipe, please allow me to thank you …

After last week’s post I received so many  comments, messages and emails and I am truly at a loss for words. The kindness, concern and compassion that you have all showed was heartwarming and I deeply appreciate it. I am fine. I know so many of you were concerned that I sounded depressed or worse yet, desperate but I really wasn’t. I was just venting and I really appreciate the fact that you listened. Thank you.

Lately my news feed has been flooded with cheese boards and antipasto platters! There seems to be a memo that I had somehow missed saying that Sept was the month for cheese boards!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love cheese boards and antipasto platters, there is so much room for creativity in terms of color combinations, flavors, and presentation and I am all for anything that allows creativity to run wild. Added to that, cheese platters and antipasto platters allow you to enjoy a little bit of everything without going overboard! A win win situation in my book.

So in the spirit of joining the fun, I thought it would be a good idea to share my tips and ideas on how to prepare the perfect Middle Eastern antipasto platter but before I do, I think I need to explain the last word in my post’s title: “Mezze”

In the middle east, breakfast and dinner (remember,Lunch is the main meal here) are usually served in a style called mezze which means a selection of small dishes that are meant for sharing.The word  mezze actually comes from the Turkish meze “taste, flavour, snack, relish”, borrowed from Persian مزه (mazze “taste, snack” < mazīdan “to taste”)

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