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Karkadeh, borek and khaliyet nahl

Karkadeh is a delicious drink made from hibiscus flowers. It is tart and sweet at the same time, so it hits all the spots! The closest thing I think it tastes like is cranberry juice.

Karkadeh is a delicious drink made from hibiscus flowers. It is tart and sweet at the same time, so it hits all the spots! The closest thing I think it tastes like is cranberry juice.

Dried hibiscus flowers are pretty easy to find and are in most Middle Eastern shops and health stores. These flowers only need to be boiled for about 10 minutes and then add some water and sugar and you’re done. It is fast, easy and refreshing. Garnish with some mint and lime and enjoy!

Next, we have borek. It is made in various North African countries as well as in Turkey, but each country, and even household, makes it differently. This is my take on the Algerian version, and although it may not be 100 per cent traditional, I promise it is delicious!

I used spring roll wrappers for mine because that is the easiest one to find, but in Algeria they use a different kind of thin dough, closer to filo. These rolls are perfect because they have a variety of flavours that complement each other amazingly. The olives are my favourite addition because they give a tanginess and brininess that breaks through the fattiness of the meat and the creamy potatoes.

I like to brush my wrappers with some harissa paste to give some smokiness and spice, but it is totally optional and the wrappers still taste great without it. As for the egg, that is also optional, but I find it kind of brings everything together and makes it easier to stuff the wrappers.

Borek is traditionally dipped in soup and I can’t think of a better way to eat them!

And for dessert, khaliyet nahl which translates to beehive and it is called that because of how the final product looks.

This sweet doughy dessert is made even more perfect with the addition of cheese, because cheese makes everything better! Kiri cheese is basically like cream cheese, but firmer and less salty. It is easily found in Middle Eastern shops.

Although this dessert needs some time to rise, twice, don’t be discouraged from making it because it is super easy. When rolling the dough into balls and filling them, you can make them as big or as small as you want, just make sure you put the right amount of cheese to achieve the correct ratio. Mine are a little on the big side, but that’s basically because I was so excited to eat these that I lacked patience making them!

Serve these with some mint tea or coffee and enjoy!

And, there you have it, karkadeh, borek, and khaliyet nahl, a trio of dishes perfect to share with friends and family this Ramadan.

Karkadeh

70g dried hibiscus flowers

700ml water or enough to cover

4-5 tbsp sugar, or to taste

Mint sprigs (to serve)

Lime slices (to serve)

  1. Bring the hibiscus flowers and water to the boil and allow to boil for 10 minutes. Leave to steep until room temperature.
  2. Strain the flowers and add sugar to the liquid to taste. If it is too strong add water, if it is too weak, re-boil.
  3. Refrigerate and serve over ice. Garnish with mint and lime.

Borek

350g minced meat (beef or lamb)

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 tbsp olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Cayenne pepper to taste

½ cup sliced green olives

1/3 cup chopped parsley

2 eggs, optional

1 large potato, boiled and mashed with salt and butter

Harissa paste (optional)

Spring roll wrappers

Flour+water paste

  1. In a large frying pan, brown the meat in 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the onions and 2 more tbsp. of olive oil and cook until softened.
  2. Add the spices and olives and continue to cook until well cooked and combined.
  3. If you are adding the eggs, crack them into the pan and stir until the eggs are cooked through.
  4. Stir in the parsley and put aside to cool.
  5. To fill the wrappers, brush with harissa (if using), put about a tablespoon or two of potato, depending on the size of your wrapper, and add the meat mixture. Roll, brush the end with flour paste, and close.
  6. When ready to eat, fry in vegetable oil and enjoy!

Khaleyet nahl

Dough

2½ cups flour

3 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp yeast

1 tbsp baking powder

½ cup buttermilk

¼ cup oil

170g yogurt

10 squares Kiri, each square cut into 4

Oil for hands and pan

¼ cup melted butter to brush top

3 tbsp black sesame seeds

1½ cup sugar syrup (or to taste)

  1. In a mixer, or a large bowl if you are making the dough by hand, pour all the dry ingredients and mix. Add the wet ingredients and mix for 5-7 mins in the mixer, or 10-15 by hand. Cover, put aside and let double in size.
  2. Once doubled, begin to make small balls of dough. Flatten the dough ball a little and place a piece of cheese, then roll back up and place in a greased baking pan.
  3. When placing the balls in the pan, make sure to leave room between each one, because they will rise again.
  4. Once all the balls are done cover and let rise again until doubled in size.
  5. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with black sesame seeds and bake at 180C for about 20 minutes or until brown.
  6. Once out of the oven, pour room temperature sugar syrup evenly over the balls. Let cool and enjoy!
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