April 08, 2007

Monthly Mingle-Arabian Nights

I did love reading tales when I was a kid. They often took me to a place of magic lamps, camels, gold coins, veils, urns, beautiful palaces, desert, dates, silks, flying carpets, and handsome princes with pretty princesses. There were also lights, rains, and oasis. Which tale do you like the best? Aladdin with the magic lamp, or Ali Baba with the forty thieves? Perhaps Sinbad's journeys is your choice. And I am sure you'll be taken to those elements I mentioned earlier. And when you are sitting on a carpet, you might wish it will take you fly above and explore the world. Oh, what an imagination!

Yet, in real life I'm confused which countries are actually in the inclusion of Middle East. Perhaps there was no such term when there's no foreigners whoever ruled or invaded those countries which then gave them the title 'Middle East'.

If this Arabian Nights is meant for us to cook foods from Middle East countries, then it should be many options one will choose to explore with, including foods from Turkey (this map says that Turkey is in the inclusion of Middle East countries).

I do love this type of bread and this is the entry for Monthly Mingle-Arabian Nights which is hosted by Meeta of What's for Lunch, Honey? Thank you, Meeta. The even this time brings me back to the childhood fond memory of books and libraries. (Anyway, if some people think Turkey is not included in Arabian Nights, let us just think about One Big Universe, shall we?)

The dough which is rolled thinly with tasty topping makes it very special for a change on the dinner table. Serve it with fresh green salads, it's a simple meal for the whole family. Bring the belly dancers, please!

Lahmacun with Lamb, Red Capsicum & Eggplant

Source: Fiona Smith. Cuisine, Issue 112, September 2005

This is a flatbread often called Pide and is alike Italian pizza, unless the dough is rolled thinly with minimal topping. Fiona writes that you can use either eggs, beef, or lamb to make the topping mixed together with other ingredients. I used leftover meat I had on weekend, and I just chopped them finely.


450g strong bread flour,
1 tsp salt,
2 tsps (7g) dried active yeast,
300ml warm water,
2 Tbs olive oil

Sieve the flour into a large bowl and mix in the salt and yeast. Using your hands, start incorporating the water (mixed with oil) until it is all mixed in and you have a ball of dough. Turn out on a floured board and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. This process can be done in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook or a heavy-duty food processor with a palstic blade and processing the dough for 1 ½ minutes.

Lightly oil a bowl and roll the dough around it until coated. Cover lightly with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

Divide into 4 and roll and stretch out to 30cm x 18cm canoe-shaped flatbreads. Roll over the edges a little to form a lip. Spread the filling over each dough base. Bake on an oven tray covered with baking paper for 10 minutes or until golden but still soft. Remove from oven and sprinkle with a little parsley and lemon juice or sumac and oil. Makes 4 to serve 4-8.


2 red capsicums,
1 medium eggplant,
2 Tbs olive oil,
1 red onion, finely chopped,
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped,
400g minced lamb,
1-2 tsp puree de piment or minced chilli,
1 tsp sugar,
1 tsp salt,
1 Tbs lemon juice,
¼ cup chopped flat-leafed parsley, plus extra to garnish

Place the red capsicums and eggplant directly over the flame of a gas burner or barbecue, or under a grill, turning often until completely blackened and soft. Place in a large bowl, cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let them sweat for 10 minutes. Remove, peel off all the blackened skin and discard. Remove the stalk and seeds from the capsicum and chop the flesh finely.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and sautee the onion and garlic for 5 minutes until soft. Transfer to a large bowl with the red capsicum, eggplant, minced lamb, piment or chilli, sugar, salt, lemon juice and parsley. Mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until well combined.


Mrs. Baasje said...

I love tales too !
Aladin and Ali Baba were the tales of 1001 nights and located in Baghdad-Irak so was Sinbad the sailor from Basra.
About Turkey is the unique country where one area still europe( Istanbul) and the other side in middle east such as Ankara. I remember my ex bos who was in military told me that Turkish race (caucasia) is different with middle east.

Arfi Binsted said...

then i have to learn more about middle east, i suppose. thanks!!

Meeta said...

Arfi, I love Lahmacun and this looks delish! Thanks for joining!