Tasty talbina in ten minutes

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Updated 21 April 2017

Tasty talbina in ten minutes

Talbina is made from barley flour. Milk and honey are added to the dried barley and the name of the dish comes from the Arabic word “laban” meaning yogurt, because of its resemblance to yogurt. It is soft and white.
Our second recipe this week is a versatile mutton dish or an “Ishtoo” as it is called in regions of India. It is actually a stew that was probably inspired by the brown stew of the British Raj. Every region of India has its own varieties and can be made with yogurt, milk and different spices.
Next is a street food dish called “momos,” a type of South Asian dumpling, native to Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim. It is similar to Chinese baozi, Japanese gyoza and Korean mandu. This stuffed dumpling is one of the most popular dishes in Nepal and the minimally flavored veg momos with red chutney make for a light yet satisfying dinner.

Serves: 2
Cooking time: 10 minutes


1. 100% whole grain barley flour
2. Milk or coconut milk
3. Water
4. Honey

STEP 1: Pour 1 to 2 tbsps of barley flour into 1 to 2 cups of water or milk (I like to use half water with half milk).

STEP 2: Stir on low heat for about 10-15 minutes or until a porridge-like consistency is reached.

STEP 3: Sweeten with honey to your liking.

Serves: 4
Cooking and preparation time: 45 minutes

1 kg mutton
6 to 7 medium onions
3/4-cup yogurt or 1 cup laban
4 to 5 whole red chili peppers (more if you want spicy)
2 teaspoons of zafrani garam masala powder
Salt as required
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
Whole garam masala: 2 bay leaves, 3 to 4 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, a few black pepper corns, 2 cardamom
Whole and crushed coriander, optional for garnishing
3/4 cup of Canola or Afia oil
Coriander leaves for garnishing

1. Chop onions finely and set aside.
2. To oil, add whole garam masalas along with ginger garlic paste.
3. Fry and add mutton pieces, frying until brown.
4. Add chopped onions; lower the flame and let the onions leave their water.
5. Add the garam masala powder, salt and whole red chili peppers.
6. Cook in the oven.
7. Let the onion merge into mutton pieces. When mutton becomes tender, add laban or beaten yogurt to it (this recipe doesn’t require water at all). Keep stirring.
8. Cook for another 15 to 20 mins.
9. Add crushed coriander, green chili peppers and coriander leaves
10. Enjoy with chapatis, bread or naan.

Serves: 3
Cooking and preparation time: 45 minutes
Flour and cabbage are the main ingredients.


All purpose flour — 2 cups
Oil — 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Water — lukewarm to knead the flour

1 cup cabbage, finely chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped carrots
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 finely minced green chili peppers
2 cloves finely minced garlic
1/2 tsp finely minced ginger
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp of black pepper powder
1/4 tsp of sugar (optional)
Salt to taste
Momos dough:
1. Place the flour, oil and salt in a bowl.
2. Mix well and slowly add warm water to make a smooth and soft dough.
3. Cover with a lid and set aside.

Vegetable filling:
1. Heat oil in a wide pan and add garlic.
2. Sautee for a minute; add the chopped green chili peppers and ginger and mix well.
3. Add chopped onions and sautee for 3 mins till they are translucent.
4. Add the chopped carrot and cook for 3-4 mins on medium heat.
5. Add the chopped cabbage and cook for at least 8-10 mins.
6. Add soy sauce, black pepper powder and sugar, and mix well.
7. Turn off the heat and allow to come to room temperature. Just before placing the filling on the rolled out circle, add salt and mix.

Making the momos:
1. Knead the dough again for 2-3 mins and pinch out small lemon-sized balls of the dough and dust with flour.
2. Roll each ball into a 3” or 4” diameter circle. It should not be too thick or too thin in thickness.
3. Place a tbsp of prepared vegetable filling in the center of each rolled out circle. Do not overstuff, as it will be difficult to form a neat pouch shape.
4. Beginning at one end of the flat circle, gather the edge to form pleats working your way around the circle. Bring the pleats together to form a pouch-like dumpling and seal the top.
5. Fill and shape all the rolled out circles into pouch-like dumplings.
6. Cover them with a damp cloth to avoid drying out.
7. Grease an aluminum or stainless steel steamer and place the shaped dumplings leaving a little space between each of them.
8. Fill a vessel or pot that is large enough to place the steamer with 3” to 4” of water and bring water to a boil.
9. Ensure that the bottom of the steamer is not in the water.
10. Bring water to a rolling boil; place the steamer in the vessel and cover.
11. Steam on high heat for 10 mins. The momos are done when a shiny sheen appears over them.
12. You can use a pressure cooker or a bamboo steamer to steam the momos.

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Ramadan recipes: My Egyptian grandmother’s old school kunafa

Updated 27 May 2018

Ramadan recipes: My Egyptian grandmother’s old school kunafa

CAIRO: Believed to have originated in the Levant, kunafa is said to have been introduced to what is now known as Egypt during the era of the Fatimids.

However, if you spent any time at all in my grandmother’s household, you would think that she herself invented the deliciously crunchy dessert, she is such an expert.

She often tells me of how, when growing up in Cairo, she would purchase the dough from a street-side man swirling the batter round and round on a drum-like furnace made of clay.

My generation has revamped the age-old favorite and a range of outlandish fillings — from mangoes, to Nutella and avocados — are now available across Egypt and the wider Middle East.

Ramadan is the perfect time to try this popular dessert and while it is easy as pie to pop to your local bakery, there is nothing quite like making it at home.

The original gangster of the kunafa world will always reign supreme, in my humble, well-fed opinion. So read on and give it a go for iftar today.


• Katafi (shredded phyllo dough).
• One-and-a-half cups of granulated sugar.
• One cup of water.
• One juiced lemon.
• One teaspoon of rose water.
• 1/3 cup of finely chopped pistachios.
• Ghee as needed.


Grease an oven dish with melted ghee then place the shredded katafi pastry in a bowl and mix it with ghee. You can cut the already shredded pastry further if needed.

Take the mixture and layer it into the greased pan by pressing lightly with your hand.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350F.

On the side, prepare the sugary syrup by adding one cup of water, the granulated sugar and lemon juice to a pan. Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Let the liquid simmer until it reaches a syrupy consistency. Remove from the heat, let it cool and add the rosewater (or even a few drops of vanilla essence).

Let the shredded pastry cool and drizzle over with the syrup, before you add a sprinkling of the finely chopped pistachios.

If you're looking for something a little different, bear in mind that Ramadan is kunafa season in Egypt and every year, the shredded wheat dessert gets tens of creative makeovers as bakers across the country — and indeed across the Middle East —buck tradition with their innovative fillings.

Why not try one of these delicious variants of the kunafa?


When Ramadan began coinciding with the summer season, mango kunafa emerged as a tradition-breaker. The sweet fruit became a popular filling, replacing longtime favorites, such as nuts, cheese and cream. It combines spun-shredded wheat with whipped cream in a dish that is topped with chopped mangoes. 


This recipe proved irresistible to many when it first caused a storm on social media. The kunafa is filled with hazelnut chocolate filling and is served in various forms, such as chocolate kunafa cones or the molten volcano kunafa. Some bakers even add a layer of peanut butter on top to seal the deal.

Red velvet

This type of kunafa emerged during the recent red velvet craze that swept Egypt.  The creation combines a layer of red velvet cake with shredded wheat and whipped cream.   


This one’s sure to please avocado-loving millennials. Last year, a small bakery in Egypt became the talk of the town when it began using avocado as a kunafa filling. It may not be as popular as various other fillings, but it definitely got tongues wagging.


Oreo cookies are being used to update the humble kunafa this year. Delectably crunchy Lotus biscuits are also being used to create achingly sweet kunafa treats.


Yes, you read that right! Another seasonal fruit has just joined the club. It remains unclear if the trend will endure, however, as the idea of combining watermelon with shredded wheat is quite unusual. It is ideal for the soaring temperatures this summer, but will it win over dessert lovers? Only time, and empty plates, will tell.