Compared to twenty years ago when I started writing about food when ingredients like frikeh (or freekeh) and argan oil were known to only a few westerners, there are now less and less secret ingredients, or indeed cuisines. You would think that with diners’ enthusiasm for global dishes and ingredients there isn’t much left for chefs or keen cooks to discover. But there is. And this is what we did last month at Books for Cooks, when I and Nadya Saleh from the National Museum of Qatar‘s Food Forum together with the delightful and very talented Aisha al-Tamimi introduced a keen audience to Qatari dishes they were totally unfamiliar with. The two cooking demonstrations were led by Aisha and were part of Nour Festival and Qatar UK, the latter being a collaboration between Qatar and the UK to exchange cultural and art events while the former is an initiative by the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to showcase Middle Eastern art and culture.
I am just back from Sicily where I intend to finish my days, that is if I find the right plot with gorgeous views that will not one day disappear if someone builds in front of me. Anyhow, the prospect of this happening is still some way off and until then, I have the ideal spot where I can live the life I eventually intend for myself, a delightful casetta with the most amazing views on Mary Taylor Simeti‘s organic farm — those who follow me on instagram will have recently seen my daily pictures of stunning sunrise and sunset. It was tenerumi season when I was there and as Mary was describing the pasta she makes with them, I asked her if she would make me some and her being the most wonderful friend, she agreed. We went into the fields to pick some. To be more accurate it was Mary who did the picking. I am hopeless at these things. Too urban I guess. Anyway, tenerumi are the green leaves of the Sicilian cucuzza, a kind of courgettes or a gourd or a squash depending on who translates it — I am almost certain it is the same as Lebanese qara’, which is also in season now and which we pick young and stuff like courgettes and aubergines and finish with a lemony ‘pesto’ made with garlic, dried mint and lemon juice. Mary picked the tenerumi young and tender with some having baby cucuzza attached to them to add a little more texture to the sauce. Here she is below picking what we need for the pasta then showing me her harvest.
Because I am in Sicily where the colours and views are gorgeous, I thought I would give you a colourful belly dancer this month, in all senses! Nagwa Fouad was a huge star when I grew up in Beirut and the scene in this clip is really my youth, except that my father would have never let me go out like the girl meeting her fiancé. And ccertainly not to a place where there was belly dancing. My first time at the Caves du Roy was with a gorgeous German man I met on the beach during a few days when my parents were away. This freedom did not last, at least not when I was sixteen. Anyway, Nagwa Fouad is still attractive in this video. Later she began to look more vulgar and more like a transvestite but I kind of like her here and there is no doubt she is a very good dancer!
I am just back from Doha where I had a few days of intensive eating, although not camel this time! However, because I was in the region and because my hotel was packed with Saudi families, having crossed the border to celebrate Eid in Qatar, I thought I would post a Saudi recipe for camel kabab which is actually the best way to eat camel unless you are having the hump. The good news is that you can now get camel meat in the UK from either Exotic Meats or Kezie Foods. You can of course skip the camel meat and make the kabab with lamb or beef but you won’t have a fun talking point over your meal. The traditional recipe calls for millet flakes but I use millet grains because it makes for a prettier presentation as you can see in the picture above. The grains also give the meatballs a nicer texture. So there you go, a recipe for meatballs with a difference. Hope you enjoy them!