I have been neglecting the blog recently. Too many things happening and too many deadlines but today I decided to prepare for you one of my favourite dips, the Iranian answer to baba ghannuge where grilled aubergines are mixed with caramelised onions and garlic and instead of tahini, kashk or dried buttermilk that provides both creaminess and tartness. A very interesting ingredients which you can buy in Persian shops either dried or already reconstituted in jars. I used the latter. And instead of drizzling the dip with olive oil, Persians use the much more luxurious saffron water as garnish together with a little of the caramelised onions and chopped walnuts which you can toast lightly to enhance their flavour.
I am very late with my belly dancer this month but it actually works out because I am going with today’s Valentine theme and giving you an incredibly charming Shammi Kapoor relating the story of how he fell madly in love with a belly dancer (Samia Gamal?) when he was very young. You don’t see any belly dancing in the video, just a couple of pictures of the belly dancer (?) and a delightful Kapoor telling the story of life really, and missed opportunities. The other side of Valentine!
Foraging has been all the rage for some time now but in many countries people have been doing it forever. In Lebanon, people go out in the spring to pick wild greens they call sliq and in Sicily, where I am right now on Mary Taylor Simeti‘s farm, they pick whatever is edible and use it one way or another. It was my first time there in February and I was surprised by how glorious the landscape was with almond trees in full bloom and the fields covered with yellow flowers, some of which are edible cavolicelli flowers with a slightly peppery taste. As I was admiring and tasting them, I suggested to Mary that we try them tempura style. She liked the idea and we picked some, together with sage leaves, a green cauliflower and a pumpkin to do a mixed tempura.
I am a little late with my belly dancer this month. Must have been my Panama trip. Anyhow, my choice for this month is very sober and somewhat diluted by a singer, Huriyah Hassan, who seems to have the starring role, at least in this clip. I am not sure who the belly dancer is. I think it is Shadia. My mother would have know but sadly she is not by my side. Perhaps one of you will confirm it is her. I chose the clip because of the characters and the storyline. I love Huriyah who sings about her love for her neighbour downstairs, her decadent mother smoking the shisha surrounded by her friends or possibly family, the neighbours on the balconies, some of whom spring into dance when the music heats up, the lovely Shadia (if it is her) dancing beautifully and soberly and the drumming friend in pyjamas who is the cook in this hilarious clip which I posted last year. All in all a delightful scene even if not entirely devoted to belly dance. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and happy new year!