Category Archives: Egyptian and Middle Eastern

Pharaoh’s Friday #15: Traditional Egyptian Fruit Compote (Khoushaf)


Fridays are “Pharaoh’s Fridays“!  We like to take traditional, Egyptian recipes and adapt them so they are entirely plant-based!

This traditional Egyptian dish is already full of whole foods!  Sweet treats in their natural form!  We usually get to have it during Ramadan when our Muslim friends invite us for ‘iftar’.  Thanks to Maha for this recipe!

Click here for the printer-friendly version.

Serves 6
Ingredients:
1 liter water
7 dried figs, chopped into quarters

½ cup dried apricot
½ cup dried prunes
½ cup raisins or sultanas
½ cup almonds
Instructions:
1.  Boil the water.
2.  Add the figs to the boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes, or until soft.
3.  Add the apricot and boil for another 5 minutes.
4.  Add the prunes and raisins or sultanas and boil for about 3 minutes.
5.  Remove from the heat and add the almonds.
6.  Let sit for about 1 hour.
7.  Refrigerate.

Serving Suggestions and Variations:

  • Serve cold.
  • Add dates or other dried fruits.
  • Use different nuts. Some people like pine nuts.
  • Top with coconut?
  • Some people add sugar and lime juice to the water as it boils.

Nutrition Information: 1 of 6 servings
195 Calories; 6 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 35 g Carbohydrates; 5 g Fiber; 4 g Protein

Alf Hana!!!

Pharaoh’s Friday #14: Easy Breakfast Konafa


During Ramadan, the Eastern sweets take over our taste buds!  We love all the delicacies especially since so many of them are prepared using plant-based ingredients.  However, I must admit I have not mastered all of them yet!!!  I promise I’m working on them, but in the meantime, take a stab at this really EASY  EASY recipe using konafa….
As we posted recently, konafa is basically shredded phyllo pastry.  There are all kinds of ways to eat and this has got to be the easiest!!!  We like to have it as a special treat for breakfast sometimes.  It is especially easy during Ramadan when we can find fresh konafa in our corner shop!
Serves 2
Ingredients:
125 grams of konafa
konafa
1 tablespoon corn oil
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:
1.  Cut or tear the konafa into small, bite size pieces.
2.  Heat the oil and konafa in a pan on low heat until golden brown (about 5 minutes).


3.  Remove from the heat and add the sugar, raisins and cinnamon.

Nutritional Information: 1 of 2 servings (about 85 grams)
304 Calories; 11 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 47 g Carbohydrates; 2 g Fiber; 5 g Protein

Serving Suggestions and Variations:

  • Try adding some walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, almonds, or your favorite nut.
  • Would chocolate work?
What’s your favorite Middle Eastern sweet?
Alf Hana!!!

Tuesday Teaser #11: ‘Kentucky’ Konafa with Banana Pudding


Tuesdays are always “Teaser Tuesdays” at Alf Hana.  We try out other people’s recipes and share our impressions and recommendations with you.
I am originally from Kentucky.  Before I became vegan, there were many southern-style foods in which I loved to indulge.  One of them was banana pudding!!!  Have you ever tried it?  It’s so smooth, creamy and sweet!!!
Ramadan started yesterday and if you don’t know, konafa is a very popular sweet consumed during the month.  Konafa is shredded phyllo pastry and is commonly made with cream, nuts, and sugar syrup.  Sometimes, it is made with pudding.
Wait – pudding!!!??? Like, BANANA PUDDING – my favorite?  Yes, so, I hope I won’t offend my Egyptian readers by doing this, but I decided to play with the traditional recipe for konafa with pudding and make it with my dear banana pudding instead.  And of course, all the ingredients are plant-based!!
I changed up this recipe for southern-style banana pudding for the ‘Kentucky’ Konafa.  If you want to try the original banana pudding recipe, it is easy and delicious!!!
But, for all you brave readers out there, here is our ‘Kentucky’ Konafa….
Serves 12
Ingredients:
For the banana pudding:
¼ cup cornstarch
½ cup sugar (you may want to use less, if you don’t have a sweet tooth)
3 cups nondairy milk (we used soy)
1 banana, mashed
2 teaspoons, vanilla

For layering between the konafa and pudding:
2 bananas, sliced

For the konafa:
¼ kilogram (250 grams) kunafa
¼ tablespoon corn oil, divided

For the sugar syrup:
½ cup water
1 cup sugar
juice of one lime (about 1 tablespoon of juice)

Instructions:
Prepare the banana pudding:
1.  In a medium saucepan, mix the cornstarch, and ½ cup sugar.  Add the nondairy milk and heat on medium heat.  Stir consistently until the mixture is boiling and thickens.  Add the mashed banana and continue stirring for about 2 more minutes.

2.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla.

3.  Leave to cool.

Prepare the sugar syrup:
4.  Mix the water, sugar, and lime juice in a small saucepan and heat on low heat until the mixture becomes clear.
5.  Set aside and allow to cool.

Put it all together:
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (moderately hot) – 200º C – or 400º F
6.  Cut the konafa into small pieces.
7.  In a large bowl, sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of the corn oil over the konafa and mix it with your hands to be sure it coats the konafa.
8.  Lightly oil a casserole dish.  Place half of the konafa and press it down firmly.

9.  Layer the sliced banana over the konafa.

10.  Spread the pudding over the layer of bananas.

11.  Layer the remaining konafa over the pudding.
12.  Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the top of the konafa.

13.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown.

14.  Pour the cool syrup over the kunafa.
15.  Turn off the oven and return the kunafa to the oven for 5 minutes.

You can eat it warm – it’s delicious that way!!!

BUT, it will be very sloppy!  If you let it set in the refrigerator overnight, you will find the pudding is firm.

Delicious that way too!!!

Nutritional Information:
252 Calories; 0 mg Cholesterol; 6 g Fat; 47 g Carbohydrates; 2 g Fiber; 3 g Protein

Alf Hana!!!

Enjoy plant-based versions of your favorite foods during Ramadan


Happy Ramadan to all our Muslim friends who are celebrating.  It’s always a special time of year for everyone.  A month full of reflection on one’s blessings, generosity to those less fortunate, and lots of delicious fast-breaking feasts with friends.

Having spend fourteen Ramadans in Egypt, we know there are a lot of traditional foods shared over iftar tables.  You may think that trying to start or continue a plant-based diet during Ramadan is impossible.  But at Alf Hana, we have a collection of your favorites adapted to be plant-based, healthy, and delicious!

Here is a list of the top ten traditional Egyptian / Middle Eastern recipes featured here on Alf Hana.  These are listed in order of the most viewed posts on the site.  Feel free to search for any not listed here – or send us an email and ask for your favorite!!!

Have a wonderful holiday and Alf Hana!!!

Pharaoh’s Friday #13: Pureed Potatoes with Black Beans


Fridays are “Pharaoh’s Fridays“!  We like to take traditional, Egyptian recipes and adapt them so they are entirely plant-based!
This recipe will satisfy your craving for a hearty, nutritious meal.  It’s relatively low in calories, low in fat, and will fill you up!  It’s a perfect treat if you’re trying to lose weight!
Serves 6
Ingredients:
(for the potatoes)
1 kilo potatoes
2 tablespoons water
1 cup soy milk
4 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper(for the black bean mix)
250 grams black beans, canned or soaked and boiled (about 1 and ½ cups)
125 grams mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 tablespoon chili powder(on top)
1 tablespoon fine breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions:
Prepare the potatoes:
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, or 400º F or 200º C (moderately hot).
1.  In a large pot, boil the potatoes until tender (about 20 minutes).

Prepare the black bean mix:
2.  While the potatoes are boiling, heat the onion and garlic in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 2 minutes.
3.  Add the mushrooms, bouillon cube, and chili powder. Cook for another 4 minutes or so until the mushrooms have released their water.
4.  Add the tomatoes, beans, and tomato paste.  Cook for another 5 minutes.

Complete:
5.  Once the potatoes have finished boiling, place the potatoes in a colander, but reserve the water they cooked in.  You can peel them if you like or leave the skin on for the extra nutrients (of course, you should invest in organic if you choose this option…).  Mash them with a potato masher or fork.
6.  Place the potatoes back in the empty large pot.  Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water from the potatoes, soy milk, cornstarch mix, salt and pepper and mix well until creamy.
7.  Using a little bit of oil, grease a casserole dish (9-by-13-inches or 22-by-33-centimeter).  Spread half the mashed potatoes in the dish.
8.  Spread the black bean mix on the first layer of potatoes and then cover with the second half of the potatoes.
9.  Sprinkle the tablespoon of breadcrumbs all over the top of the potatoes and then sprinkle the oil on top.
10.  Bake for 30 minutes until the top turns brown.
Nutritional Information:
324 Calories; 6 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 60 g Carbohydrates; 9 g Fiber; 10 g Protein

Alf Hana!!!

What’s your favorite way to eat potatoes?

Pharaoh’s Friday #12: Meatless Eggplant and Cream Pie (Moussaka)


Okay, this variation of moussaka (or eggplant [aubergine] casserole) originates in Greece, but many Egyptians do eat their eggplant casserole like this.  This was a very satisfying casserole that will remind you of the non-vegan version immediately.
[veganized from The Complete Middle East Cookbook, by Tess Mallos]
Serves 6
Ingredients:
500 g eggplant, with skin, sliced (1 medium-sized eggplant)
oil for brushing

Meat Sauce:
3 cups TVP
3 cups water
2 bouillon cubes

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon water
½ cup tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (or ½ tablespoon of dried)
½ teaspoon sugar
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Cream Sauce:
2 tablespoons corn oil
2 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon flour
1 cup of non-dairy milk (we used soymilk)
1/16 teaspoon of nutmeg
salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions:
Prepare the eggplant.
1.  Cut eggplant into slices (leave the skin on).  Sprinkle with salt and leave sit for about an hour.  Pat dry.

Salted

After an hour

2.  Brush a cookie or baking sheet with oil and layer the eggplant slices on the baking sheet.  Brush the tops of the slices with oil as well.  Bake in the oven at gas mark 5 (375 degrees F or 190 degrees C) for about 5 minutes.
3.  Once the eggplant slices are browned on the one side, turn them, brush with oil and brown the other side for another 5 minutes.

Browned eggplant

Prepare the meat sauce.
4.  Put the TVP in a large bowl.  Set aside.
5.  In a medium sauce pan, heat the 3 cups of water and the 2 bouillon cubes.  Once they have boiled and become broth, pour over the 3 cups of TVP and let sit for about 15 minutes until the TVP has absorbed the broth.
6.  In a large sauce pan, heat the one tablespoon of oil and one tablespoon of water and add the onion and garlic.  Fry until lightly browned.
7.  Add the reconstituted TVP and the tomatoes, tomato paste, soy sauce, parsley, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and black pepper.  Cover and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes.

Meatless Meat sauce

Prepare the cream sauce:
8.  Heat the corn oil in a small pan and add the flour.  Cook for about 2 minutes until bubbling.
9.  Add the nondairy milk.  Stir constantly and let the sauce boil for about 1 minute.
10.  Remove the cream sauce from the heat and add the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
Prepare the moussaka:
11.  In a 9 x 9 inch (23 cm x 23 cm) casserole dish, brush a bit of oil and then arrange a layer of eggplant slices on the bottom (try to use about ⅓ of the slices).  Top this layer with half of the meat sauce.  Add another layer of eggplant, top with the rest of the meat sauce, and then finish with the final third of the sliced eggplant.

First layer of eggplant

The layered moussaka before the cream

12.  Pour the cream sauce over the top of the meat pie.  Bake in the oven at gas mark 4 (180 degrees C or 350 degrees F).  Cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes before cutting.
It’s important to wait before cutting.
Otherwise, your pieces may fall apart.

Nutritional Information: 1 of 6 pieces
326 Calories; 12g Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 29g Carbohydrates; 12g Fiber; 25g Protein

Alf Hana!!!

Pharaoh’s Friday #11: Hummus


It’s about time, right?  I mean, how could we have been operating this blog for 9 months and not gotten around to posting such a basic, Middle-Eastern favorite?  Well, here it is in all its tasty, simple glory:

Makes about 1 cup
Ingredients:
½ cup canned or cooked chickpeas

2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoons water

Instructions:

Prepare the spice mix.
1.  Crush the garlic, cumin, salt and black pepper using a mortar and pestle.
2.  Add the tahini and the spice mix in a small mixing bowl.
3.  Add the lime / lemon juice and the vinegar and mix well.  The mix should turn a pale color.
4.  Add the water.

Mix the chickpeas and spice mix.
5.  In a food processor, process the chickpeas with the spice mix until very smooth.

Store in an airtight container.

Serving Suggestions and Variations:
1.  Serve with pita or baladi bread as an appetizer.
2.  Serve with tamaya or foul.
3.  Serve as a dip for vegetables.
4.  Add a few whole chickpeas on top as a garnish.

Nutritional Information: (1 of 4 servings)
143 Calories; 10 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 12 g Carbohydrates; 3 g Fiber; 5 g Protein

How do you like to eat chickpeas?  Are there other Middle Eastern  appetizers / salads that you like?

Alf Hana!!!