Lentils originated in Arabia, with records showing references to the legume in pharaonic texts, as well as ancient Iraqi and Shami scrolls and scripts.
The legume grew in popularity around the Middle East and was exported further afield by merchants.
Lentil soup has been a popular dish since the days of ancient Egypt. It is rich in vitamins and proteins, and is suitable for infants aged six months and older. People in the Middle East also drink the soup during winter to boost the immune system and ward off illness.
In this recipe, which is suitable for vegans and those following a keto diet, a variety of vegetables is added to provide extra flavor and visual appeal.
For the ingredients, you need 250 grams cooked lentils, 250 grams spinach, one onion, one red bell pepper, one potato, two cloves of minced garlic, one large carrot, one liter of vegetable stock, two tablespoons of chopped parsley, one tablespoon of chopped coriander, and salt and pepper.
Dice the carrot, red bell pepper, potato and onion, and place in separate bowls.
In a large pot, add a small amount of olive oil at medium heat, then add the onion and stir until golden brown. Then add the garlic and stir again. After 30 seconds, add the potato and mix for two minutes, then add the carrot and red bell pepper.
Pour the vegetable stock after five minutes, add the salt and pepper for seasoning, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the lentil and spinach and cook for five added minutes.
After the soup is ready, let it cool a little, garnish with the parsley and coriander, and serve. Lemon and chili flakes can be added for more flavor if desired.
UNESCO adds Jordanian mansaf to intangible cultural heritage list
Traditional dish is central to country’s lifestyle
Updated 30 November 2022
PARIS: UNESCO has included mansaf, the national dish of Jordan, on its list of intangible cultural heritage.
A file was submitted to the organization, “Mansaf in Jordan: A Ceremonial Feast and Its Social and Cultural Connotations,” in March 2021, in a bid to include the dish on the list, the Jordan News Agency reported.
Makram Qaisi, Jordan’s permanent representative to UNESCO, said that the addition was announced during the 17th session of the intergovernmental committee for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, being held in Rabat, Morocco, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 3.
Mansaf plays a central role in Jordan’s sense of identity and is linked to the country’s lifestyle, in which meat and dairy are abundant.
Qaisi praised the efforts of the Jordanian public and private institutions, in collaboration with the permanent delegation to UNESCO, for helping to obtain recognition for the dish.
Other additions such as the oud, Khawlani coffee, and holy festivals, from Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE, and Egypt, have also been added to the UNESCO list in 2022.
Top chefs dish up Italian-Saudi fare at AlUla culinary event
Updated 27 November 2022
ROME: Traditional Saudi dishes took pride of place on a menu alongside food from Italy and Sicily at the closing event of the seventh edition of the Week of Italian Cuisine in the World, held in AlUla.
Staged by the Italian embassy, the recent culinary gathering was organized in cooperation with the Royal Commission for AlUla, the Italian Trade Agency office in Riyadh, and Slow Food, an organization based in Italy that aims to protect gastronomic, cultural, and biological diversity.
Italian chef Pino Maggiore, a member of Slow Food’s cooks’ alliance and owner of the Cantina Siciliana restaurant in Trapani, Italy, travelled to AlUla to work on the menu with chef Osama Ahmed Alswayah of AlUla’s Suhail Restaurant.
The pair tapped into the heritage of Sicily, Maggiore’s homeland island, which for historical reasons is heavily influenced by Arab culture.
They used Saudi ingredients from the “Ark of Taste” catalogue of endangered heritage foods, produced by the Slow Food organization.
Members of the Italian business community in the Kingdom, Saudi officials, and representatives of AlUla’s hospitality sector were welcomed to the event by the Italian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Roberto Cantone.
This year, Slow Food and the RCU formed a strategic partnership focused on building local capacity, promoting AlUla as a destination for food lovers, and exchanging the philosophy of Slow Food with the traditions of AlUla to raise awareness and preserve the national intangible heritage of the region’s cuisine and agricultural practices.
Cantone said: “The project opens a new chapter in the history of Italian-Saudi cooperation in the cultural field and the relevance of Slow Food’s philosophy to the Kingdom’s efforts to preserve its cultural heritage.”
Along with enjoying the culinary experience offered by Maggiore, guests were able to tour a “Food Heroes” photo exhibition showcasing the excellence of four Italian artisans; a beekeeper, shepherd, mussel farmer, and restaurateur.
Jointly produced by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Slow Food, the exhibition was designed to highlight the importance of the intertwined values of tradition and innovation at the heart of Slow Food’s philosophy.
For a sweet and memorable breakfast or dessert, Jeddah’s “It. Caffe” has it all, and something new to offer too.
I always look for something unique when I visit a place, and this cafe and restaurant satisfied my curiosity. It has all the regular great foods, but also boasts the “croffle”, a mix between a croissant and waffle, and a circular croissant known as a “croll”.
I visited the caffe with my family and ordered different things to try together.
First was the Croque Madame: Sourdough bread, bechamel sauce, Gruyere cheese, smoked turkey, whole grain mustard, side salad, chili oil, and fried egg.
The It. Special French Toast was is a custard stuffed brioche served with custard dip, cream, blueberries, raspberries, corn crumble and creme anglaise sauce.
Honey, poached pears, berry coulis, and cinnamon powder took the cafe’s porridge to another level.
There are many items I was curious to try just for their name and look, such as Barbie’s choice, a chocolate sponge cake with ruby chocolate and Feuilletine mix) and a summer jam bubble waffle made with strawberry ice cream, berry compote, strawberries and white chocolate.
It. Caffe’s interior is mainly white and blue, with a giant glass window wall, allowing the sunbeams to light up the entire place.
If you like your food to look as gorgeous as it tastes, this is the place to visit. Dishes are always prepared and displayed in the most sophisticated manner.
Friendly staff with big smiles, who attended to all our needs, were the icing on the cake.
RECIPES FOR SUCCESS: Chef ArChan Chan offers advice and a delicious chicken wings recipe
The executive chef of Hong Kong’s Ho Lee Fook was in Riyadh earlier this month, where her restaurant has launched a pop-up eatery in Riyadh Season’s Al-Murabaa food zone
Updated 24 November 2022
RIYADH:Chef ArChan Chan’s story is one that could inspire many an aspiring cook. By her own admission, Chan had “no idea about cooking,” when she started her career, but she is now executive chef of the Cantonese restaurant Ho Lee Fook in Hong Kong.
“In many Asian countries, like Hong Kong — where I grew up, cooking is not really (considered) a profession. I was a foodie who loves eating and I knew that I wanted to do something I was passionate about,” Chan told Arab News. “So, when I went to university, I asked my lecturer if there were any food-related subjects I could take. He told me the university offered a catering course, so that’s how I first got into the industry, but also through tourism and hotels. That’s how I began working in kitchens.”
Earlier this month, Chan was in Riyadh, where her restaurant has launched a pop-up eatery in Riyadh Season’s Al-Murabaa food zone. Here, she discusses the versatility of spring onions and avoiding a ‘military-like’ kitchen atmosphere, and provides a recipe for chicken wings.
What’s your top tip for amateur chefs?
If you’re planning to cook meat — any meat — soak it in four percent brine. It adds a lot of flavor and tenderness. You can do that before any method of cooking; it’s a very simple way to make things tasty.
What’s the one ingredient you believe can improve any dish?
I love spring onion or scallion. It’s an ingredient that works with a lot of dishes. It adds texture and flavor to something as simple as steamed fish. You pour hot oil on and some spring onion on it. It just releases those flavors, especially if you add a bit of soya sauce and a bit of salt and sugar. It’s delicious. You can even add it to instant noodles.
It doesn’t necessarily annoy me, but it can be difficult when someone asks to modify a dish. We understand that people have different needs, of course; sometimes there is a dietary requirement. But it’s definitely challenging to deal with people who don’t want garlic, or spring onion, or some other ingredient that we use a lot. We can accommodate those requests, but we know the dish will taste different.
What’s your favorite dish to cook?
I love anything that’s cooked in a wok. It’s just really, really satisfying — the fire and the smell of the smoke. It's always sizzling. So, anything that I can cook with a wok, especially wok fry, is great.
As a head chef, are you quite calm and laidback? Or are you a strict disciplinarian?
I spent some time in old-school kitchens, where the head chef would be, like, yelling — very military-like. But I’ve also spent some time in kitchens where it was a little bit more like: You can’t yell at someone; you can't use fear. Personally, I like to guide (my staff). My rules are things like: I need honesty. I need care. I need respect. These are things that people working together need to agree on. That’s a very basic thing to do as a human being. And once you agree, there's a lot of opportunity.
It's OK to make mistakes. But I urge them to ask questions. So, there's a lot of guidance, and then a lot of challenging, like, “Why have you done this? What goes through your mind when choosing this method?”
RECIPE: Chef ArChan’s Chongqing chicken wings
1kg chicken wings
1 packet potato starch
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 stalk spring onion, cut into 4cm lengths
50g dried chilli
1 tbsp of ground spices (cumin, five spice, or spice mix)
1. Add the salt to the water and stir until salt is dissolved, giving you a 4% salt solution.
2. Lightly coat chicken wings in potato starch.
3. Deep fry chicken wings at 180C for six minutes, or pan fry for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
4. Season the wings with some salt and your favorite ground spices.
5. Sauté the garlic, Sichuan peppercorns and spring onion in a pan on high heat.
6. Add a tablespoon of water and the dried chilli. Sauté until fragrant.
7. Add the fried chicken wings to the pan. Toss for 15 seconds to absorb all the flavors. Serve.