Tamr hindi, a drink that is very popular in Ramadan across the Middle East, is the Arabic word for tamarind which is the main component.
This drink reminds me of my hot summer days in Amman, where I'd trek all the way up to a steep hill just to have an ice cold cup of tamr hindi! Funnily enough, the shop I went to was called Ramadan and my family always said, the first cup is to quench your thirst and the second cup is to enjoy!
Tamarid is pretty easy to find in slabs that still have the seeds and some of the pods in them, so it is important to run it through a fine sieve after soaking it in water. You could take a short cut and use tamarind paste, but make sure it is pure tamarind with nothing else added. The rest is pretty simple, adjust the sugar and water to your taste and enjoy ice cold!
Second up, is fattoush, probably one of the most well known Middle Eastern salads, and for good reason, it's delicious!
Many believe that fattoush was fist made in the 1860s when Lebanese Christians were fleeing the Mount Lebanon civil war. They fled to the homes of various families, including the Fattoush family. In Zahle, the Fattoush family had prepared a feast with various types of meats, salads and other dishes. However the fleeing Christians weren't eating meat because of Lent, so they ate the salads and other vegetarian dishes available, some ate their salad with bread. Voila! Fattoush was born! At the same time, the neighbouring Muslim villages were observing the Ramadan fast and they began making fattoush as well, hence why the salad is so closely linked to Ramadan!
The first dressing I am making is my friend's mum's twist on a Gazan dish called fattah malahi, which includes bread, tahini, sumac and green chilies, and is absolutely delicious. The second dressing is the traditional one, but as fattoush is eaten on a daily basis in Ramadan, I thought having another dressing would break the monotony.
Last up is kubbeh bil siniyeh, which is kubbeh in a tray. There are dozens of types of kubbeh made in several Middle Eastern countries and I absolutely love them all. But truth be told, I think I love kubbeh bil siniyeh just a little bit more because it is the lowest-maintenance one of them all! It is much easier than forming individual pieces of kubbeh, filling them and frying them. This dish is spread in layers in a tray, a pretty design is carved into the top and it is baked until golden brown… what more could we ask for?
It is typically made with lean minced lamb ground with bulgur wheat. If you have a meat grinder at home, that is great and will make your job a lot easier, but a food processor will do the job with some patience! Just make sure to do it in batches so that it doesn't over heat and cook the meat.
Many cooks like to carve designs into their kubbeh and get creative. This is not solely for decoration though, as it helps the kubbeh cook through and crisp up! Whether you choose to make a design or some slits, make sure you are only carving the top layer otherwise your kubbeh will become crumbly and hard to plate up. Serve this with some cucumber and yogurt salad and enjoy!
There you have it, our final Ramadan line up! Tamr hindi, two types of fattoush and kubbeh bil siniyeh.. the perfect way to wrap up Ramadan!
200g tamarind slab (soaked in 1L water 8 hrs or overnight)
1-1½ cup sugar syrup (to taste)
Ice and mint to serve
- Soak the tamarind slab in water for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Mix every so often.
- Place the tamarind mixture through a fine sieve, making sure to scrape the bottom of the sieve. That is where all the good stuff is!
- Add some of the water and bring the mixture to the boil, let simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add sugar syrup and stir. Taste and adjust water and sugar to taste.
- Let cool and refrigerate. Serve cold over some ice and garnish with mint.
1 head romaine lettuce
1 large cucumber, roughly chopped
3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 bell peppers, roughly chopped
1 cup radishes, roughly chopped
½ cup spring onions, finely chopped
¾ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1 cup pita bread, cut into squares and fried or baked
2 cloves minced garlic
Green chilli pepper, to taste
½ cup yoghurt
¼ -1/3 cup tahini (to taste)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sumac
1 tbsp dried mint
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
½ tbsp sumac
½ tbsp dried mint
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
- In a large bow, toss the vegetables and mint together, set aside.
- To make the first dressing, put the garlic in a mortar and pestle and mince with a pinch of salt until smooth. Add the chilli pepper and mince until it makes a paste. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Adjust to taste.
- To make the second dressing, mix all the ingredients together and adjust to taste.
- To serve, dress the fattoush with the dressing of your choice and top with the fried/baked pita and enjoy!
Kubba bil siniyeh
350g minced beef or lamb
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tbsp mixed spice
¼ cup browned pine nuts
200g minced beef or lamb
300g fine bulgur wheat (soaked for 3 hrs)
1 large onion
1 tbsp Mixed spice
3-4 tbsp ice cold water
Olive oil to brush top
Pine nuts to garnish
- To make the filling, add a little bit of olive oil in a frying pan and brown minced meat. Drain any excess liquid then add the onions until soft. Add spices, salt and pepper and cook through. Add pine nuts and set aside to cool.
- To make the crust, run the onions, minced meat and bulgur wheat in a meat grinder, then add spices and season. Alternatively, add the finely chopped onions into a food processor and blitz until very fine. Add the bulgur and meat in batches, depending on the size of your food processor. Place in a large bowl and mix in spices, salt and pepper, along with some water to form a dough. It should be soft, but should hold together.
- In a baking tray brushed with olive oil, put half of the crust and press down with your hands, making sure it is evenly spread. Next, add the filling, making sure it is spread evenly over the bottom crust, then add the other half of the crust. It is best to flatten pieces of the crust in your hands and place over the filling then press all together, making sure all the meat is covered.
- Carve the top crust only, press pine nuts and brush with olive oil. Bake in the oven at 180C for 30 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Serve with cucumber and yogurt salad and enjoy!