Sunday, January 26, 2014

I have always loved falafel, or taameya as they call it in Egypt, but I wanted to find a way to make it without deep frying. Well, the last time I published the Egyptian Falafel Recipe; I had frozen several packages of falafel. So I decided to try baking one of the packages. Let me tell you I could not have been more pleased, not only does it taste the same as fried falafel, it is also much easier to make with much less mess and no frying odor. With this recipe you gain the health benefits of lower fat, the ease of cooking, and you do not give up any taste.

If you notice a similarity between the steps in this recipe and the Egyptian Falafel Recipe, it is no coincidence. I used the same batch to make both the fried recipe and the baked recipe

Egyptian falafel, or taameya, is different from the garden variety falafel that you usually get in this country. The difference is that the Egyptian variety are made with fava beans instead of chick peas(Garbanzo beans). Fave beans have a much richer flavor and are higher in protein and fiber than chick peas. If you can't find dry fava beans, you can use dry chick peas in the same quantities as this recipe. 

Falafel and fava bean sandwiches are the original fast food and are available at many corner stands throughout the Middle East. They are a delicious, economical, and extremely healthy main course choice.

This dish is an awesome vegetarian treat that will leave you completely satisfied. Serve it with Tahini Bagdoonisya dip, Baba Ghanoujyogurt sauce, and cut vegetables.  My favorite way to enjoy it is on Arabic bread with tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and Tahini Bagdoonisya dip'

You can also freeze the uncooked mixture for 6 months and cook it as you need it.  

  • 2 cups fava beans, peeled if possible. You can buy this at any Middle Eastern market. If they are not available peeled, you can peel them after soaking, or keep the peel for additional fiber.
  • 1 fresh leek, washed and sliced.
  • 1 bunch (6 stalks) green onion
  • 1 bunch fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cayanne pepper, double the quantity for Alexandria style.
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp sea salt (can be omitted or reduced for health reasons, it will still taste good)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


Prep the Beans:
  1. Wash the beans thoroughly in luke warm water.
  2. Soak the beans in water for at least 2 days, changing the water about 4 times during this period. The first water changing should come when the beans form a foamy froth on the surface. Changing the water will prevent the beans' gassy effect on your GI tract.
  3. Drain the beans when ready to make the paste.

Make the Paste:
  1. Place the parsley, cilantro and garlic in the food processor, chop fine.
  2. Add the green onions and leeks, chop fine.
  3. Remove the vegetable paste from the food processor and set aside. Do not wash the food processor.
  4. Add the beans to the food processor and chop until they reach the consistency of a thick peanut butter.
  5. In a bowl, mix the vegetable paste and chopped beans.
  6. Add the cumin, coriander, cayanne, and salt. If you are going to freeze the mixture, leave out the salt and add it when you are going to cook the falafel.
  7. Mix the ingredients thoroughly and stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water. Mix the paste thoroughly.
  8. Sprinkle the baking powder over the paste, evenly fold into the paste.
  9. Let stand for at least 1 hour. You can also leave it covered in the fridge over night.
  10. If you want to freeze the mixture
    Remove all air from the bag. I prefer to vacuum seal mine. If you vacuum seal them they will last at least six months in the freezer. I have have used them after 1 year in the freezer with no problem.

    • Divide into 1 pound (1/2 Kg) portions
    • Place each portion into a plastic freezer bag and flatten to a 2 inch (5 cm) thick patty. Flattening them makes them faster to thaw out later.

Bake the falafel:
  1. Preheat the over to 400oF (204oC).
  2. Lay down a sheet of baking paper over a cookie sheet.
  3. Use a small ice cream scoop (1 Tblsp size) or a spoon to form small balls of your paste. Space them evenly across the sheet.
  4. Flatten the balls into disks with a fork. Be sure to pat the sides in smooth so they don't burn. 
  5. Brush the top of each patty with olive oil.
  6. Bake at 400oF (204oC) for 10 minutes.
  7. Slowly slide a thin spatula under each patty and flip. This is easier if you take the sheet out of the over first.
  8. Bake at 400oF (204oC) for another 10 minutes.
  9. Serve hot or cold.

I realize that it looks lengthy, but the work portion of it can be done in 45 minutes. You just need to plan ahead for the soak time for the beans and the stand time for the paste. If you freeze this mixture, you can enjoy this tasty treat anytime without too much effort, even on a week night.


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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tasty Baked Kibbe (Kobeiba Shamy)

This is one my favorite dishes that Gedo makes.   There are probably endless variations to this dish, but I love this version.  Not only is it great the day you make,  the leftovers freeze really well.  We enjoy eating the kibbe with a little yogurt dip and hummus.  It is great as a lunch leftover since it can be served at room temperature.

This dish is also very healthy because the burgul wheat is high in fiber, it is baked so it is low in fat. It is also very economical because the wheat helps to stretch the meat.

In Egypt, this dish is called Kobeiba Shamy. It is named after an ethnic population in Egypt, the Shamy people,  who originated in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. The Shamy people are famous for their delicious dishes, which are distinct in style and flavor from other Egyptian foods.

Now Gedo is actually from Jordan, so his style of making this dish is very authentic.


The crust layers

  • 1 lb of ground lean ground beef
  • 2 cups of burghul #2 (Bulgur wheat)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp of black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp of allspice
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts
The meat filling
  • 2 lbs coarsely chopped lean beef
  • 2-3 medium size onions
  • 1/2 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tbsp of salt
  • 1/2 tbsp of black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp of allspice
  • 1 tbsp of dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • two 9 x 12 baking dishes

  1. Rinse and soak the burgul wheat for about 30 minutes in lukewarm water.  I like to use the #2 burgul because it is coarse giving the dish a nice texture.  Gedo uses the finer burgul.  This is just a matter of preference.
  2. Trim and coarsely chop the lean beef. 
  3. Set the beef on a paper towel which will help to soak any liquid from the beef.  This will ensure that the beef brown nicely, rather than be steamed in its own juices.  Set the meat aside.   If you are short on time, you can substitute this ingredient with ground beef.
  4. Coarsely chop the onions.Clean and trim the parsley. 
  5. Coarsely chop the parsley.
  1. Finely chop the garlic.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  3. Using a large sauce pan, heat it on medium high.  Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and brown the coarsely chopped beef.
  4. Mix in the salt, pepper, oregano and allspice. 
  5. Once the meat is nicely browned, add the chopped onions and garlic.  Cook them for a few minutes, until fragrant.
  6. Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil into the beef mixture.  Mix the parsley in and cook until the parsley is wilted.  Remove from the heat and set it aside.   

  1. Drain the burgul and place in a large container.  Add the ground meat and the salt, pepper and allspice for the crust.  Now for some fun.  You need to thoroughly incorporate the beef with the burgul.  This is best done using your hands.  Kneed the mixture with your hands until it is completely mixed together.  It should have the consistency of dough.  Divide the mixture into approximately 4 portions.  Two of the portions will be used for the bottom layers and 2 will become the top crust for the dishes.    
  2. Drizzle about 2 tbsp of olive oil into each of the 2 baking dishes.Take 1/4 of the crust mixture and press into each of the baking dishes.  Use your hands to work the mix into a nice even bottom layer.  There should be no gaps in the layer.
  3. Diviide the cook meat mixture between the 2 dishes.  Spread it even over the dishes.

  1. For each of the top crust layer, take a small quantity of the mixture and form a flat patty with your hand.  Careful place it on top of the other layers.  Continue until you have cover the entire dish.  You will have small gaps as you cover the layers with the final crust.  Repeat this process for the remaining dish.
  2. Fill a small bowl with water and wet your hand.  Take your wet hand and careful smooth the top layer of the dish until all the small gaps have been fill in.  Do not press hard.  It should be a gentle smoothing over.  Continue doing this until you have a nice smooth top layer.
  3. Using a sharp knife, first score the dish into 3 lengthwise sections and 4 crosswise sections.  When you are satisfied with the size of your sections, Cut the sections all the way through.
  4. Place a few pieces of pine nuts onto each portion.  Gently press the nuts in.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes in the oven.  You will know that the dish is done when the top becomes a nice golden brown.  
  6. Cool for about 10 minutes and serve with yogurt sauce and hummus.
  7. One of the dishes will generously serve 4-6.  The other dish can be refrigerated or frozen.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Latino Lasagna AKA Taco Casserole

This dish is one of my favorite ways to use up leftovers. This is a variation on Lizabetti's Light and Healthy Enchiladas and it is made from leftovers from Lizabetti's Healthy Tacos. While the dish is similar in concept to the enchiladas, but the different shape gives it a whole different taste and texture.  We used to make this dish in college, but then we just called it "Taco Casserole". It is a very satisfying and filling dish and still very healthy.

This meal makes a great weekday dinner and and is a perfect work lunch the next day. I got several lunches out of the one meal, I guess you call that second order leftovers. It also heats up very well in the microwave without losing flavor.

I like to serve it with guacamole, sour cream, and fresh salad greens. For a little extra zing, also serve some of the warm sauce on the side . I also highly recommend that you go with corn tortillas for a more authentic Mexican taste. 

Like all leftover recipes, the ingredient quantities are just a guideline, you should use what you have.

  • 8 oz Taco meat from the Healthy Taco Recipe
  • Spicy black bean dip, I like Trader Joe's, but you can use leftover refried beans as well.
  • 8 oz shredded sharp cheddar
  • 2 cups Left over (or fresh) Chunky Salsa
  • 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes.
  • 1 Pinch cayenne
  • 1 Pinch chili powder
  • 1 Package high fiber tortillas or corn tortillas. You can also use the left over taco shells from the tacos.
  • 1 Cup cooked rice. Usually I have some left over in the fridge.
  1. Place the Salsa and diced tomatoes in a pan
  2. Simmer on low until tomatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. If desired, add cayenne and chili powder.

I like to use a heavy Creusete baking pan, you can also use glass, ceramic, or metal.
  1. Pre-Heat oven to 375 oF(191 oC).
  2. Place a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan. This will prevent sticking
  3. Cover the bottom with tortilla shells. Cut them to shape to ensure that you cover the entire bottom.
  4. Place a layer of the bean dip.
  5. Place a layer of rice, followed by a layer of meat.
  6. Add a layer of cheese and top with another layer of tortilla's.
  7. Add another layer of sauce and top with the rest of the cheese.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes at 375 oF(191 oC).

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