Datley or Qaimat…


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Now these little things…good luck eating just one or two. I make them a lot. We have a family friend who loves them I think more then my husband, and when they are coming over, I make a double batch. They are like a small donut style sweet, soft and delicate inside with a hint of cardamom, and outside is…a little crunch, I guess you could say, smothered in a rosewater hinted syrup…..go ahead…drool. That is what tissues are made for. But seriously, these are good anytime. Awesome with tea or coffee…alone or not. LOL.

2 cups Flour

1 cup Plain Yogurt

1/4 teasp Yeast

1/4 teasp Salt

2 tsps of ground cardamom

Oil for deep frying

Syrup:

1 1/2 cup of white sugar–this depends on how think you want your syrup…more sugar for thicker (my person fav)

1 cup water

1 teasp lemon juice

2 tsp rosewater

make your dough, and I use a piping bag, like cake decorators use, with a tip that looks like it could be used for a big flower and squeeze about a 1/4 inch of dough over the oil and cut it Please be careful not to splash the oil onto yourself!!!….and I make sure my syrup is done and set aside before I cook these because they cook fast and I make sure to dunk each one in the syrup as soon as they come out of the oil.

Doulmah-stuffed grape leaves


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Doulmah is something that may be challenging to others, but once you actually do it a few times, it comes easy. You need to prep before you cook or you probably are going to forget something. Lol. With doulmah, in my opinion, it’s about how much time you have to combine the flavors and let it all soak in to each other. I cook doulmah very slow..not too slow, but enough that the flavor is always right on. Sure, I mess up, who doesn’t? Practice makes perfect, well…near perfect anyways. So, here is what you need to embark on your doulmah journey……..Oh..P.S….you can, of course, add or delete things as per your preference like more onion, no meat..and if you decide to go meatless, you can used lentils instead 😉

1 jar of grape leaves

2-3 lbs of doulmah meat (lamb or beef, or mixed and ground up)

1 bunch of parsley

2 med tomatoes

1 med onion

3 tbsp or more, or less noomi basrah-dried lemons crushed

1/4 c or more of dibis-date syrup

salt  to taste

garlic to taste

4 tbsp dill

2 1/2 c basmati rice-washed and soaked

1 c water

So what I do is, I saute my onions with the parsley a little bit just to open up the flavor, you could say. I then throw all the ingredients into a pan and let it all blend together. Cooking it on a medium heat until the meat is fully cooked, because by that time everything has sucked up the juices and flavors from each other and it already smells amazing….I then keep the heat on that temp and add the uncooked/pre washed rice and about a cup of water and let it cook all together until the liquid is gone but the rice is NOT cooked all the way, maybe just a little. Very important so your doulmah is not under cooked or soggy…yuck. Then, let the fun begin!!!! Let it cool a bit and set up a “rolling station” like we do at our home. Drain your leaves and pull them out slowly. *trick* to get them out without tearing them…wiggle them out. So now they are there and you can start looking through them for the biggest best leaves. Lay them shiny side down, or outer leaf down, and add some filling, bring the middle up and drag the filling back with it like making it into a small pocket, then fold the sides over and roll. Looking like small cigars. Layer them in the pot until you have used everything. Sometimes you have leftovers, and since I am not a waster, I freeze everything left over, except the leaves, and use it later. Why not right? Now, it is important to fill the leaves with water just to the top layer of doulmah bot not totally covering it, and use a ceramic bowl or plate that fits into the pot but not hanging out, to hold the doulmah in place so it will not float and press down some then turn it on to a medium heat until you see it boiling and then turn it down some to let it cook slowly, put the lid on it. When the liquid is gone, they are done. We serve ours with yogurt sauce, which is just yogurt mixed with garlic….very yumm!! I hope this helps you make your way to the wonderful land of doulmah!!!

Qaimar!!!


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I am super excited about this!!! Ok, so I had asked may people to give me this recipe…I always got “Lah..khalas habibtee I will make it and send it to you for your husband” Seriously? So searching gave me nothing!!! Some yes, but never happened for me. Finally!!!! I have mastered the art offfffffff Qaimar!!! It is this think, soft, melt in your mouth breakfast cheese (so to say) eaten with honey or my favorite, dibis…which is date syrup. Scoop it up with some warm fresh bread in the morning with a nice glass of Iraqi tea….you mouth is having a party while your body is still 1/2 asleep. LOL…so…here goes

1 pint of heavy whipping cream

1 pint of vitamin D milk

you need a heavy bottomed pan for this, not a big pan either, more like a sauce pan

add them to the pot and turn it onto medium and let it get to boiling, but be careful to not let it burn

you need to take it from the heat and set it to the side covered with a thick hand towel so the entire saucepan is covered

let it sit overnight but DO NOT TOUCH IT OR MOVE IT

in the morning, get a plastic spatula and go around the edges of the pan and carefullyyyyyy take the layer out and set it in a dish, covered and refridgerate

the left over liquid in the pot can be redone the same way and set aside again.

My husband said you can actually add cornstarch to the mixture and have it done faster….not sure what I think about that but I may try it next time.

MAKE THE QAIMAR!!!! You will love it!!!

Bourek…very good recipe


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So this is my own version of this recipe. Although I have seen many, they tend to not have enough spices or things in it that we like, so I have altered it.

 

Ingredients:

1-2 eggplant chopped

about 2 lbs maybe 3 beef/lamb mix or just beef or just lamb(ground)

a bunch of parsley chopped

1 onion chopped

4 med potatoes chopped

garlic, salt, pepper, cumin to taste

1 pack of phyllo dough

1 egg plus 1 tsp water for an egg wash (beat together)

 

it is so easy, fry up the potatoes, onions and parsley together but do not let the potatoes get crispy

add the eggplant and the meat with all of your spices

let it cook together so that the flavors from each melt into each other.

when the ground meat, of your choice, is done then the mixture is finished and set it aside

get your phyllo out and ready and scoop as much as you want into it and roll it, folding the 2 sides in and closing it up with the finishing rolls.

brush with eggwash and cook in an oven on 350F until golden brown

we always serve ours with arabic style yogurt to which i secretly add some garlic too…it just tastes really good to me. I am a garlic fan.

So enjoy!!!!!!!

*hint* when cookingyour meals, prepare ahead….take your time…and enjoy doing it. It always tastes better.

 

 

Some history to read while you are sipping your tea


 

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I think one of the absolute coolest parts of Iraq is of course, the marshes. I love how the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers “marry” as my husband says…yet the do not combine. One is salt water and the other is fresh. Truly an amazing miracle from Allah/God. It also amazes me how Iraq Marsh Arabs build those houses that literally float around the marshes the way they do and they love like that!!! I mean yes, there are house boats and yachts….but not there. They are so natural and “earthy” it keeps me in awe when I look at the pictures. Can you imagine that? What if the house floated super far away?? It would terrify me….ahahahaaha! Random thoughts yes, but this is my blog so I am allowed for sure. 

So my in-laws are from the marshes as well, however not “in” the marshes. They have farms, which is very interesting to me because if I or we could live totally off the land, I so would. I really admire his family and everything that they do even with all the technology and “new” ways of life, they are still pretty much old school, so to say. Which is awesome.  So, I wanted to give some of the history of Al-Qurnah, Basrah…….which is exactly where my husband is from. It will not be boring…come and take a journey with me. 

Al-Qurnah, Iraq litterally means “the corner” so it says on wikipedia, and  is a pleasant little place 74 km north west of Basra at the very tip of the point named Shatt El-Arab where the two great rivers Tigris and Euphrates meet; a strategic position that has been the scene of conflicts for centuries. As legends have it, Qurna is the reputed site of the Gardens of Eden. It has been said, it was once a city built by Seleucus Nicator I in honor of his wife Apamea, the general who succeeded Alexander the Great on the latter’s death on the Tigris. From the pictures I have seen, the tree of Adam is still there, and they have built a park around it as well. I can not wait to go and see it. 

The contrast of the lush south of Iraq with the rest of a country which is often too bare can be seen very well, and even better on side-trips up the rivers. Each river has a strongly defined character: the banks of the Euphrates are the more wooded and picturesque, and the Tigris is the busier.

The backwaters, creeks and side channels of both are exceedingly beautiful, and here one can get a glimpse of the fertility that must have belonged to Mesopotamia when it was a network of streams and when the forests abounded.

The region of Basra, the city of Sinbad the Sailorand the starting point of his famous adventurous voyages to the World, is, some would say, the most beautiful part of Iraq, outshining both the Persian miniature scenery of the central Euphrates and the cool, majestic north.

But Basra retains a romantic aura. So does the whole area of the south from Shatt El-Arab (the meeting point of Tigris and Euphrates rivers) up to Amara on the Tigris and Suq Eshiukh on the Euphrates: it is lush, watered, full of trees and gardens and canoes gliding on the mirror-surfaces of calm lagoons. It is an area of countless birds and a variety of animals. You feel that lions, possibly dragons or the Great Roc of A Thousand and One Nights may appear.

Basra is Iraq’s 3rd largest city and main seaport, situated 67 km to the north of the Arabian Gulf and 549 km south east of Baghdad. When you see it today, you will be reminded of the commercial importance it has enjoyed for centuries; endless ships shuttle back and forth on Shatt El-Arab.

Ashar is the heart of the city and the old commercial center; its covered bazaar and mosque mark the end of the creek that links it and the river to Old Basra. Upstream is Margil, the garden suburb fanning out from the forest of cranes at the wharves of the Old Basra port and the railway station; and a little further you cross to the island that faces the Shatt El-Arab Hotel, where Basra’s airport was sited until the 1960s when it was moved to Shuaiba. Here are flowers and palms and that blessed water that is the glory of all Iraq, but particularly of the south

Basra was founded in 637 AD by Utba bin Ghazwan on order from Caliph Omar ibn Al-Khattab (634-644 AD), as soon as the Sassanian capital at Ctesiphon fell to the Muslim armies. It was made into a military base, and a mosque was built there of mud and reeds. Of that and of the original palace nothing can be seen today. 

Basra looms into history once again with the raising there by Zubeir ibn Al-Awwam and Talha bin Ubaidullah of a force to resist the claim of Ali, the Prophet Mohammad’s cousin, to the Caliphate after the murders of Caliphs Omar and Othman. A battle took place outside Basra to the west and it resulted in the deaths of both Zubeir and Talha. Zubeir was buried on the battle-site and that is why the small town that has grown up there is called Azzubeir to this day.

Today the older parts of Ashar are still attractive. The covered bazaars is full of beautiful old-style houses with balconies leaning over into the narrow streets and beautiful wooden facades in the style of old Arab architecture (called Shanasheel). They have character and are worth wandering through. They are quite extensive; the shops are well-stocked; they smell of spice and herbs and coffee; there is an old-world atmosphere there.

Now, to me, I love the old buildings and the history. I like to search in them, and if they allow me to, when we get to Iraq, Insha Allah, I will!!! History by reading can get boring to me, honestly. But actually walking and touching things that are ancient……that is amazing. I can not wait.


For the Love of Spices!!!


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Spices and presentation are what give each and every single dish in any cooking, it’s personality. This is my opinion. There are indeed many dishes around the world that are similar to one another, from each country, and this is for sure. One of the biggest differences, to me, are the spices. I love them. I hoard them ahahahaha….some women have a love of shoes and clothes, not this one…Mine is spices. I have the messiest spice cabinet ever but I think I have every single spice from here to Iraq and back. I just can not get enough. If a spice becomes missing from over use, I can tell it is not there and it does not feel right. So, these are some of the spices used in Iraqi cooking.

The Iraqi Kebob….no one does it like Iraq


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There honestly isn’t a kabob I have ever had with as much heart and soul as the Iraqi Kabob. It honestly requires a great deal of skill and patience, although it looks easy and fast, it is not. The men, either my husband or our family friend Ahmed, make the kabob. Here where we live, my husband has a life time friend who owns the “halal” (slaughtered accourding to Islamic rules) store ad prepares the special ground mix of meat and fat used to form these mouth watering perfect ground meat rolls that go from the fire to your plate and into your stomach within 5 minutes flat…..only because they are amazing. So, a typical recipe for them would be something like this:

 

3 lbs of an equal mix of ground lamb and ground beef…the fattier the better for kebob

1 onion grated up

1/4 c of bread crumbs

1 tsp or more depending on taste, of salt and black pepper

some people add some allspice, but we do not. the fire gives it the flavor

if you want to be all traditional, get a whole onion and like 3 whole tomatoes to barbecue as well

you will need the long kebob sticks and form the meat around each one making sure your hands stay wet while doing so

and place them on the fire with a fan pointed at the flames to keep a good temp and fire going

line a large plate with a piece of the tanoor bread or parsley (my fav)

each kebob that is done after flipping and cooking, gently set on the bed of bread or parsley and sprinkle with sumac

cover with another layer of bread to keep the heat and flavor.

continue until all the meat is used up

we sever ours with pickle mixes and breads……this is truly an awesome meal.