It has been quite some time since I last posted a recipe. My excuse is that I was busy changing my life as I have explained in my previous post. This put a spanner in my normal working life and throughout the time it took to move and reorganise myself, I was only able to concentrate on work that had a deadline! It is all over now and I have finally resettled in a new home where I can cook again. So, I thought I would share with you one of my favourite vegetarian recipes which has the added advantage of being very simple and quick to make. And the beautiful thing about this Turkish dish which belongs to the zeytinyagli (cooked in olive oil) family of dishes is that you don’t need to serve anything with it, not even a salad. It has a perfect balance of pulses, dairy, vegetables and even herbs to make a perfect ‘one pot’ lunch or supper. And if your mise en place is good, you will be able to prepare it in under an hour. I like to have it warm, but you can also serve it hot or at room temperature. In Turkey, they use regular carrots and their own brown or green lentils. I like to use baby carrots which I buy in my local farmers market in Bute Street and Umbrian lentils from Castellucio di Norcia. The lentils retain a nice bite as well as their shape, and of course they taste delicious, not to mention that they are also beautiful!
I seem to specialise in dramatically changing the course of my life every few years, mainly for the sake of keeping it interesting. When I was young I did it every five years or so. Now that I am older, it is every ten years or so. This year I decided to change my life again. I sold my beautiful loft to downsize in London and upsize in Sicily where I plan to build my dream house. It wasn’t a rash decision. I have been wanting to build my dream house for a few years now; and I toyed with different ideas of where to do it. Syria was once an option! Then I considered California, also France and even Spain despite not speaking any Spanish. Then one day, I decided to go to the olive harvest on Mary Taylor Simeti‘s farm in Sicily and while there I decided that Sicily was where I would make this happen. The landscape and way of life there are very close to those in Lebanon and Syria where I grew up, but more orderly and with no risk of ISIS ever coming close. I had been to Sicily before but living on Mary’s farm in my own little casetta made me feel that the island was where I could feel I was going back home without actually doing so. And so it was. Mary introduced me to a friend of hers, Giovanni Matta, who took me to three different plots in one single day and the last one turned out to be the perfect spot. I must have been born under a lucky star!
I have been very lax with my blogging recently but it’s been a very busy year (post coming up). Hopefully next year will be different and I will be able to post like before if not more often. Anyhow, I thought I would finish the belly dancing part of my blogging year with a hilarious clip of a Turkish father xmas doing a kind of belly dance with his pretty companion accompanied by a small group of musicians. They obviously had a lot of fun shooting the clip which was sent to me by my lovely friend Hande Bozdogan to wish me a happy Christmas, so, I decided to share it with you because it cannot fail but bring Christmas cheer. And on this note, I wish you all Happy Holidays.
I am in the land of belly dancing, for a whole month! So, I hope that this time I will be able to go somewhere to watch one of the country’s famous belly dancers live. Until then, I offer you my choice for this month, a cute vintage belly dancer, Zeinat Olwi, who is not so much sexy as like a 1940′s athlete with a gorgeous muscly body which she moves beautifully. I also love the beginning of the clip en silhouette, both her in three different windows then the musicians, with each tableau looking like a woodcut from the 20′s or 30′s. A delightful scene. And for those who don’t speak Arabic, the woman’s voice you hear halfway through is asking her silly companion to build her a swimming pool which he should fill with champagne rather than water. Perhaps I should consider doing this in Sicily although I am not sure who I would do it for! Oh, and the beautiful lady who makes a worried entrance at the end is one of Egypt’s greatest actresses, Faten Hamama, who was once married to Omar Sharif.