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100 Delicious Syrian Recipes

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To the person whose potential was always undervalued, Violet Salloum,<br />

and to the person who always saw the potential in me, Carol Salloum


TITLE<br />

SHARON SALLOUM<br />

With photography by<br />

ROB PALMER<br />

jacqui<br />

small


Introduction 1<br />

The <strong>Syrian</strong> pantry 5<br />

Middle Eastern food suppliers 8<br />

Spice blends 12<br />

SAUCES & DIPS 15<br />

FINGER FOOD 33<br />

SHARED PLATES 51<br />

SALADS & SIDES 87<br />

MAINS 107<br />

DESSERTS 161<br />

Acknowledgements 195<br />

Index 196


Betinjen<br />

mehshik<br />

STUFFED SMALL<br />

AUBERGINES<br />

SERVES 6<br />

<strong>100</strong> g (½ cup) dried chickpeas<br />

(use split chickpeas if available)<br />

200 g (1 cup) medium-grain rice<br />

18 long, thin (10–15 cm/4–6 in) aubergines (eggplants)<br />

large handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped 
<br />

1 small brown onion, finely chopped<br />

1 small tomato, finely chopped and drained in a sieve 
<br />

½ green (bell) pepper, seeds and membrane removed,<br />

flesh finely chopped<br />

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
<br />

3 teaspoons salt flakes<br />

125 ml (½ cup) olive oil<br />

2 large tomatoes, extra, cut into 5 mm (¼ in)<br />

thick slices
<br />

1 × 420 g (15 oz) can diced tomatoes<br />

1 tablespoon dried mint<br />

1 clove garlic, crushed<br />

natural yoghurt, to serve<br />

Note: If you’re likely to make this more than<br />

once, it’s worth visiting a Middle Eastern store<br />

and buying a manakra – a traditional tool used<br />

to remove the flesh from aubergine (eggplant) and<br />

courgette (zucchini).<br />

114<br />

I grew up believing that no one in our family could possibly<br />

survive as a vegetarian. Being a vegan would be something<br />

else altogether! However, over time I have come to realise that<br />

Middle Eastern cuisine in fact offers many vegetarian and vegan<br />

options. One main reason is that you can’t eat meat during Lent<br />

and the other is a matter of poverty, or lack of available meat<br />

products. Although I am a meat-lover myself, I absolutely adore<br />

this dish. The aubergines (eggplants) you’re looking for here are<br />

the long, thin purple ones.<br />

Soak the chickpeas in a bowl of water overnight. Rinse and drain.<br />

Rinse the rice well, then soak in a bowl of warm water for about<br />

30 minutes. Drain.<br />

Wash the aubergines (eggplants), then cut the stalk and about<br />

2–3 cm (¾–1¼ in) off the top of each one. Carefully hollow out the<br />

aubergines (eggplants) using a small spoon or apple corer, leaving<br />

a 5 mm (¼ in) thick shell (this is a guide; it’s okay if you have left a<br />

little more or less flesh around the inside of the aubergine/eggplant).<br />

Take your time so you don’t break the skin.<br />

Drain the chickpeas. If using whole chickpeas, place them on<br />

a chopping board and crush with a rolling pin to split the peas and<br />

work their skins loose. Discard the skins.<br />

To make the stuffing, place the rice, chickpeas, parsley, onion,<br />

chopped tomato, green pepper, pepper, 1 teaspoon salt and 60 ml<br />

(¼ cup) olive oil in a bowl and mix together well.<br />

Using your hands, gently fill the aubergine (eggplant) shells with<br />

the stuffing, tapping the base on the bench to close up any holes.<br />

Don’t overfill them as the rice will expand during cooking – leave a<br />

gap of about 5 mm (¼ in) at the top of the shells.<br />

Lay the tomato slices in the base of a large heavy-based<br />

saucepan, pour over the remaining olive oil and arrange the stuffed<br />

aubergines (eggplants) on top in neat layers.<br />

Mix together the diced tomatoes, mint, garlic, remaining salt<br />

and 375 ml (1½ cups) water in a bowl, then pour evenly over the<br />

stuffed aubergines (eggplants). 
<br />

Place two plates on top to weight the aubergines (eggplants)<br />

down during cooking and cover with a lid. Bring to the boil over<br />

medium–high heat, then remove the lid, reduce the heat to low and<br />

simmer for about 45 minutes or until the aubergines (eggplants) are<br />

very tender and the sauce is reduced. Leave to sit for a few minutes,<br />

then remove from the pan and serve with yoghurt.<br />

MAINS


115<br />

SHARED PLATES

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