Family Favorites: Hijazi-style foul with a smoky twist

Updated 04 June 2018
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Family Favorites: Hijazi-style foul with a smoky twist

Foul is a staple on iftar and sahoor tables across the Middle East during Ramadan. The varieties are endless, each region and country has its own style, but in my household in Riyadh one recipe reigns supreme — my mother’s mystical Hijazi incense foul.

Sounds like a mouthful? Well, trust me, after reading this recipe you will be eager to try a mouthful for yourself. It’s smoky, spicy and imbued with a tinge of oriental flavors.

This recipe has been enjoyed in the Hijaz region of Saudi Arabia since time immemorial and it is a firm favorite during the Holy Month in my home, so whip it up for iftar this evening and enjoy.    

 

Ingredients:

• 1 medium chopped onion.

• 2 medium chopped tomatoes.

• 1 small chili, finely chopped 

(optional).

• Two teaspoons of salt, half-a-teaspoon of black pepper, one-and-a-half-teaspoons of cumin, a quarter-of-a-teaspoon of cinnamon and half-a-teaspoon of dried coriander.

• One can of foul moudammas.

• A quarter-of-a-cup of olive oil.

• One lit charcoal pellet.

 

Method:

Drizzle the olive oil into a heated pan and add the onions. Cook the onions until they are soft and add the tomatoes, chili and the spices. Add the foul and smash it inside the pan until it is well mixed with the onions and tomatoes.

Add a quarter-of-a-cup of water, place a lid on the pan and cook for 20 minutes.

Check on the foul, if it’s a bit dry simply add some more water and stir the mixture.

Now for the fun part: Rip off a piece of aluminum foil and fold it in half. Place it directly on the foul.  Drizzle a little olive oil in the middle and immediately place the burning charcoal on the aluminum foil and fold it up.

Replace the lid on the pan, let it rest for a minute or so and then remove the charcoal and aluminum paper.

Serve in a casserole dish, drizzle olive oil on top and enjoy the smoky, delicious flavor of this unmissable meal.


World’s oldest bread found at prehistoric site in Jordan

Updated 17 July 2018
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World’s oldest bread found at prehistoric site in Jordan

WASHINGTON: Charred remains of a flatbread baked about 14,500 years ago in a stone fireplace at a site in northeastern Jordan have given researchers a delectable surprise: people began making bread, a vital staple food, millennia before they developed agriculture.
No matter how you slice it, the discovery detailed on Monday shows that hunter-gatherers in the Eastern Mediterranean achieved the cultural milestone of bread-making far earlier than previously known, more than 4,000 years before plant cultivation took root.
The flatbread, likely unleavened and somewhat resembling pita bread, was fashioned from wild cereals such as barley, einkorn or oats, as well as tubers from an aquatic papyrus relative, that had been ground into flour.
It was made by a culture called the Natufians, who had begun to embrace a sedentary rather than nomadic lifestyle, and was found at a Black Desert archaeological site.
“The presence of bread at a site of this age is exceptional,” said Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, a University of Copenhagen postdoctoral researcher in archaeobotany and lead author of the research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Arranz-Otaegui said until now the origins of bread had been associated with early farming societies that cultivated cereals and legumes. The previous oldest evidence of bread came from a 9,100-year-old site in Turkey.
“We now have to assess whether there was a relationship between bread production and the origins of agriculture,” Arranz-Otaegui said. “It is possible that bread may have provided an incentive for people to take up plant cultivation and farming, if it became a desirable or much-sought-after food.”
University of Copenhagen archaeologist and study co-author Tobias Richter pointed to the nutritional implications of adding bread to the diet. “Bread provides us with an important source of carbohydrates and nutrients, including B vitamins, iron and magnesium, as well as fiber,” Richter said.
Abundant evidence from the site indicated the Natufians had a meat- and plant-based diet. The round floor fireplaces, made from flat basalt stones and measuring about a yard (meter) in diameter, were located in the middle of huts.
Arranz-Otaegui said the researchers have begun the process of trying to reproduce the bread, and succeeded in making flour from the type of tubers used in the prehistoric recipe. But it might have been an acquired taste.
“The taste of the tubers,” Arranz-Otaegui said, “is quite gritty and salty. But it is a bit sweet as well.”