Ramadan Recipes: Courgette, chickpea fritters

Ramadan Recipes: Courgette, chickpea  fritters
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Updated 22 April 2022

Ramadan Recipes: Courgette, chickpea fritters

Ramadan Recipes: Courgette, chickpea  fritters

Light, nutritious, flavorful, and delicious, fritter is a pancake-like dish made of meat, seafood, vegetables, fruit, or sometimes just dough, that is battered or breaded before being deep fried.

Fritter comes from the Late Latin word frictura, meaning to fry or to roast. Legend has it that the batter-fried dish emerged from Portugal and Spain and was introduced into Japan in the late 16th century.

Different countries around the world, including India, Indonesia, and South Africa, have invented their own fritter recipes using local ingredients.

Today’s recipe is an Indian version of courgette and chickpea fritters in which courgette is used as the main ingredient and is mixed with chickpea flour, herbs, and spices.

To make the dish, which is modified to be healthier, you need one large courgette, one raw egg, 60 grams of chickpea flour, 1 teaspoon of mixed dried herbs, 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne, salt, and black pepper.

First, shred the courgette into small, thin slices, squeeze out the excess water in a colander, and put it aside. In a small bowl, mix the chickpea flour, dried mixed herbs, cayenne, salt, and black pepper before adding the egg, then add the courgetti. Mix well.

Instead of a frying pan, prepare a baking tray with wax paper to make the fritters more healthy and less oily. Spread a bit of oil on the wax paper, low-fat oil or olive oil if preferred, put a tablespoon-sized amount of the mixture on the tray, and place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 12-15 minutes. Let it cool down a little before plating and serve hot.


Where We Are Going Today: Caffeination cafe

Where We Are Going Today: Caffeination cafe
Updated 30 September 2022

Where We Are Going Today: Caffeination cafe

Where We Are Going Today: Caffeination cafe

Caffeination cafe, already well known in Alkhobar’s Olaya neighborhood for its bottled iced coffees and ice-cream sandwiches made from fresh cookies, has recently revamped its menu.

We tried the spicy tuna sandwich, which consisted of slices of bread layered with fresh avocado, flaky tuna marinated in hot sauce, and greens.

Caffeination’s lattes, both iced and hot, hit the spot, but their refreshing iced tea mojitos really deliver the kick you need. We tried the peach-flavored version, which was sweet, but not too overpowering. They also offer a variety of non-dairy milk for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.

The Wi-Fi is a bit spotty, but there is plenty of seating upstairs and downstairs, as well as a few places to plug in your devices. A large picnic-style wood bench faces the wall near the stairs, and there are four smaller tables with multiple chairs.

Framed pieces of art on the walls and small potted plants add to the comfortable decor.

Soft music is played throughout the cafe, but is turned off during prayer times. A prayer rug is available for customers to use. There is only one restroom, so you might have to wait your turn.

Several full-length mirrors are ideal for a mirror selfie, or for jolting you back into working mode when you catch yourself staring into space.

Caffeination’s main Alkhobar branch is open from 5.30 a.m. till midnight most days. A soft opening was held recently for their second branch, which is located in Riyadh in Larsen Valley.

Follow @caffeinationco for the address, operating hours and special offers. They also deliver locally on most food apps.


London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors
Updated 28 September 2022

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors
  • With 150 vendors, festival showcases 25 cuisines from around the world
  • Festival’s mission is to help support halal SMES

LONDON: The Halal Food Festival returned to the UK capital this year for its sixth edition with 25 cuisines on offer at more than 150 stalls.

At least 18,000 people attended the two-day event, which ran from Sept. 24-25 at London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The scale and scope of the festival mean London now hosts one of the largest specifically halal food gatherings in the world, according to organizers. 

Kevin Jackson, director of Algebra Festivals, launched the festival with his partner Waleed Jahangia seven years ago. 

“We created an event that would put food at the heart of the community. There’s no better way of sharing culture than through food,” he said.

After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers have invested heavily in infrastructure, transforming the festival into an experience that goes beyond food.

The event featured a VIP lounge, shopping stalls, live entertainment, cookery theater, picnic area, kids play area, mechanical bull and fun competitions. 

One of the highlights was a live demonstration by NHS doctor and former “MasterChef” winner Dr. Saliha Mahmood Ahmed. 

Using bread dough to teach women how to examine themselves for early signs of breast cancer, Ahmed aimed to overcome cultural taboos that contribute to low cancer awareness among the Muslim community in the UK. 

The new additions reflect the growing view that halal is more than just about food but is a lifestyle, too. 

Jackson recalled that when he and Jahangia launched the festival, most Muslim events in London were held in community centers or school halls. 

But the London Stadium event shows the Muslim community now has access to some of the most renowned venues in the capital. 

The festival has also evolved into a cultural melting pot, with both its cuisine and its foodies coming from around the globe. 

“We’ve got people from Manchester, Birmingham, people who came on a day trip from Paris yesterday. We’ve got people from Spain. We’ve got people from Scotland. This is such a big event for the Muslim community that they travel for miles to come to it,”  Jackson said.  

Chef Fatima El-Rify of Mama Hayam reported positive feedback from visitors tasting her Egyptian cuisine. 

“They didn’t know what it was completely. They knew a little about kosheri, but now they have a really strong idea. They’re coming back for more. They’re bringing their friends. They really love kosheri and mahshi, so that’s really good.” 

She added: “I think there is nowhere else in London that you can try all these different cuisines and just have this ease of it all being halal.” 

The festival also features the timeless and the contemporary, from Jordan’s traditional Anabtawi Sweets to London’s Lola’s Cupcakes.

Apart from catering to Muslim visitors, it aims to provide an international platform for the halal economy, while helping to nurture halal small and medium enterprises. 

“We’re building business relationships. The traders all trade with one another. The suppliers, our partners here, Tariq Halal, are providing products for our exhibitors,” Jackson said. 

Founder Shahin Bharwani of Mocktail Company, which sells non-alcoholic beverages,  said that she was fortunate to have been able to exhibit at the Halal Food Festival in 2016 within months of launching her business. 

“It was brilliant in terms of being a startup to get the brand exposure needed at this type of event.” 

Festival vendors reflected on the halal industry’s growth in the past decade. 

Bharwani said: “There’s so many variations of businesses here, particularly the food. Years ago you could never imagine halal tacos hell or gourmet burgers, that type of thing, so to have those kinds of halal options now is amazing.” 

Co-partner Abid Haider of Proper Burgers said that the event “just keeps getting bigger and bigger.” 

With the industry now worth billions, the London festival is part of a growing movement placing halal on high street.

 


Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid

Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid
Tala Bashmi is the chef patronne at Fusions by Tala in the Gulf Hotel, Manama. (Supplied)
Updated 26 September 2022

Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid

Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid
  • ‘I always saw a gap for a different version of Middle Eastern and Khaleeji cuisine,’ Bashmi previously told Arab News

DUBAI: Bahraini chef Tala Bashmi appeared in Madrid over the weekend to celebrate her ranking among the top 100 chefs in the world.

The culinary star ranked 93rd and is the only Arab on this year’s Best Chef Awards list, as well as one of just 18 women.

The gala dinner was held at the Crystal Gallery of the Palacio de Cibeles in Madrid and saw Spain’s Dabiz Muñoz named the best chef in the world for the second consecutive year.

“I do not feel like the best chef in the world, far from it. But I believe I have the best team in the world,” he said accepting the prize on the stage.

Chef patronne at Fusions by Tala in the Gulf Hotel, Manama, Tala Bashmi hit the red carpet at the event.

Bashmi grew up in Bahrain, and began her career at the Gulf Hotel, before heading to Switzerland to train at Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois and the Michelin-starred Prisma. 

She returned to Bahrain in 2014 and worked her way up through the ranks at the Gulf Hotel to eventually head Fusions by Tala, where she’s determined to reinvent Gulf cuisine. She was recently named Best Female Chef in the Middle East and North Africa by 50 Best.

“I always saw a gap for a different version of Middle Eastern and Khaleeji cuisine,” Bashmi told Arab News earlier this year. “I want to compete on a global scale by elevating our cuisine technically, visually, and flavor-wise,” she said. 


Recipe for Success: Saudi chef Rakan Al-Oraifi shares a dessert recipe for Saudi National Day

Recipe for Success: Saudi chef Rakan Al-Oraifi shares a dessert recipe for Saudi National Day
Updated 23 September 2022

Recipe for Success: Saudi chef Rakan Al-Oraifi shares a dessert recipe for Saudi National Day

Recipe for Success: Saudi chef Rakan Al-Oraifi shares a dessert recipe for Saudi National Day
  • The Saudi chef mastered his culinary skills in California and is now in Paris to perfect his pastry techniques
  • Rakan Al-Oraifi shares a special dessert recipe for Saudi National Day

DUBAI: Rising Saudi culinary star and TV presenter Rakan Al-Oraifi was one semester into getting his masters degree in marketing when he decided he wanted to pursue his lifelong love of food more seriously. A culinary diploma from California later, Al-Oraifi returned to Saudi Arabia to take the local food scene by storm.

Among the many accolades he has received, Al-Oraifi was hailed “Best Saudi Chef” at the 2018 Saudi Excellence in Tourism Awards and has worked in several international restaurants over the years. He has also taken part in several international cooking competitions, including “Top Chef Middle East” season two.

In his work, Al-Oraifi especially likes to explore traditional Saudi cuisine, but infused with modern elements. His earliest memory of cooking goes back to making dolma with his mother. “It is a dish I have been preparing since I was six. It was challenging to prepare it as a young kid, but I would always prepare it with my mom over the years and eventually learned to prepare it on my own,” said Al-Oraifi in an interview with Arab News.

Deep Fried Date Salad. (Supplied)

While he was last executive chef at Maiz in Diryah Gate, the 33-year-old is now in Paris to perfect the art of making pastries.

To celebrate Saudi National Day, Al-Oraifi will feature in an online cooking series for Fatafeat where he will use his experience with Middle Eastern cuisines to share recipes with Saudi flavours at their heart.

Here, Al-Oraifi talks to Arab News about his favorite cuisines, his go-to quick-dinner fix and restaurant faux pas.

When you started out as a professional, what was the most common mistake you made when preparing/cooking a dish?
A common mistake is copying the techniques of other chefs, which could get confusing at some point. You can get inspired, but it is important to find your own culinary style and technique.

Baked Qursan. (Supplied)

What’s your top tip for amateur chefs cooking at home?
It is important for every chef to have a sharp knife. Aside from making the cooking preparation process easier and smoother, it is less likely to injure you. Dull knives are actually more dangerous.

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish?
Salt is a fundamental ingredient because it enhances and elevates the flavour of any dish.

When you go out to eat, do you find yourself critiquing the food? What’s the most common mistake/issue that you find in other restaurants?
I am usually critical of food temperature because it also indicates the efficiency of the service. For me, the most important thing is getting my food warm and freshly made. I do not like it when I receive the food cold.

When you go out to eat, what’s your favorite cuisine/dish to order? 
Usually, I like French and Japanese cuisine, and some restaurants do a fusion of both, which is even better. French cuisine involves a certain technique while Japanese cuisine requires a particular skill, and I think these just mesh well together.

Meleyaha Wrap. (Supplied)

What’s your go-to dish if you have to cook something quickly at home, say in 20 minutes? 
Pasta is a go-to for me. Even when you create the sauce and pasta dough from scratch, it normally doesn’t take more than 30 minutes. It also offers flexibility and versatility, you can customise it as you want, with your choice of creams and cheese, for example.

What request/behavior by customers most annoys you? 
Because I know the amount of time and effort that goes into every dish, I’m not a fan of customers who dine hastily and do not take the time to enjoy the food. In my opinion, you need at least 60 minutes to appreciate and enjoy your meal, especially if it’s a three-course dining experience.

As a head chef, what are you like? Are you a disciplinarian? Do you shout a lot? Or are you more laidback?
I’m cool 80 percent of the time. Keeping a level head is important in managing a kitchen properly and dealing with customers. You’ll just have better judgment overall.

What’s the most difficult dish for you to get right (whether on your current menu or not)?
Pastry is actually tricky for me. Unlike cooking dishes where you can be spontaneous and rely on your own senses and feelings, pastries require specific measurements and strictly following techniques. Because of this, I am currently in France to study the art of French pastry and improve my skills.

DESSERT ERYKAH RECIPE FROM CHEF RAKAN AL-ORAIFI

(Supplied)

INGREDIENTS
2 cups wheat flour
2.5 cups water
5 gm salt
50 gm ghee
50 gm honey
30 gm brown sugar
30 gm butter
10 gm soft dates
20 gm honeycomb

INSTRUCTIONS
1. In a dough mixer, add the dry ingredients with wheat flour and salt, then mix gently.
2. Pour room temperature water. Keep mixing until thoroughly combined.
3. In a hot pan or flat grill, melt ghee, then pour the mixture using a 200 ml ladle.
4. Let it cook for a few minutes until the front side bubbles.
5. Flip the dough and cook it for a few minutes; the texture must be very soft. 
6. Mix the bread in a dough mixer until you reach a hard, smooth texture.
7. Shape them using your hand, then stuff them with date paste.
8. Melt ghee and honey, then pour it over the bread. 
9. Garnish with a small piece of honeycomb then serve.


Where We Are Going Today: Cafe Bateel - premium desserts

Photo/Supplied
Photo/Supplied
Updated 20 September 2022

Where We Are Going Today: Cafe Bateel - premium desserts

Photo/Supplied
  • The base is pistachio sauce, and inside the panna cotta is cherry coulis, topped with a cherry jelly cover, decorated with Chantilly cream, cherries and pistachios

This month is the perfect time to visit Cafe Bateel because of their creative menu selection for Saudi National Day, available throughout September.

Their celebratory items include the beef brochette salad using date sauce, and refreshing sparkling cucumber drinks that represent the iconic color of the Saudi flag, made with honey, ginger, lemon, mint, cucumber, and soda water.

The premium desserts include the l’or noir vanilla gateaux, made with a crispy duja base, vanilla biscuit, black vanilla cremeux (active charcoal), and vanilla mousse, and the pistachio and cherry panna cotta, made with pistachios from Sicily, cherries from Bologna, fine French cream and milk, and Tahitian vanilla.

After my first bite of the panna cotta, I was transported back in my mind to the ancient trade routes that traversed the Arabian peninsula, which made the area a hub for cultural exchange.

The base is pistachio sauce, and inside the panna cotta is cherry coulis, topped with a cherry jelly cover, decorated with Chantilly cream, cherries and pistachios.

Cafe Bateel does not forget Saudis’ love for good coffee, either, with which it met my expectations with the coco lavender latte, using coconut milk and lavender syrup — served hot or cold — along with Bateel’s ma’amoul biscuit.

It was a very classy way to celebrate Saudi National Day for me. Cafe Bateel is located at Le Prestige Mall, Jeddah, and has branches in Riyadh and Alkhobar. The cafe also has branches outside the Kingdom, in Muscat, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.