Monday, 29 October 2012

Red tea كركديه Karkadé

Karkadé is made from the red calyces which form around the seed-pods of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower.  It is this outer covering that is collected and dried to make karkadé.

Red tea كركديه Karkadé
Red tea كركديه Karkadé 
We didn’t have Red tea كركديه Karkadé available all the time at home but I distinctly remember asking my mum for some and we struggled to source it locally.  I think when my parents went to Egypt we were able to bring some back.  Kept in a plastic container it lasted for years. 

I remember having red tea كركديه Karkadé after that kind of like it was cordial.  Occasionally we would have it in winter, hot and in summer it was a lovely refreshing drink served cold during the heat of the day.  I like it either way.  I made it today hot and my husband drank Red tea كركديه Karkadé hot for the first time.  He seemed surprised that he liked it so I should remember that for next winter when anything hot and sweet is particularly comforting. 

Red tea كركديه Karkadé
Red tea كركديه Karkadé  in the making
The drink is made in much the same way as a cup of tea.   In a tea pot take a full handful of the dark, almost purple-black, karkadé (The light red kind has less flavour and contains more acid).  Add a litre  or 4 cups of cold water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for three minutes.  Strain off what is now a bright red liquid. You can re-boil the calyces again with enough cold water to cover them and give them another three-minute boil to extract all you can.  Add a tablespoonof sugar for each glass (or to taste) stir and serve hot.

To watch the video of how to make Red tea كركديه Karkadé, click the image below :

Alternatively, in a jug pour boiling water.   Add karkadé and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves.  Leave for a couple of hours until the water becomes dark red.  Strain the tea and cool in refrigerator until serving.   Drinking tea made this way is believed to be able to lower blood pressure.

Red tea كركديه Karkadé  can come as a very dark red / purple colour.  This has more flavour than the light red variety.  This lighter variety is also more acidic so try and buy the dark Karkade.

Red tea كركديه Karkadé
Red tea كركديه Karkadé 
It may be difficult to source in some areas but the best bet would be in Mediterranean delicatessens or possibly health food shops.  Speciality tea shops sell it too (something like T2 tea). T2 offers over 180 teas (wonderful for all you tea lovers out there) and amongst the lot they have a variety of tea blends which contain Hibiscus in them.  They are called Very Berry Fruitea,  Vanilla Slice, French Earl Grey, Strawberries & Cream, Citrus Punch, Passion, Strawberry Sensation, Ruby Red Rosehip, Raspberry Rush, Red Chai, Botanica, Fruit Royale, Spring, Sweet Spice, Riotous Rose, Fruit Blush, Pumping Pomegranate.  

They also, thankfully, stock Just Hibiscus which is unblended so the best option if you want to try true Red tea كركديه Karkadé, plucked from the heart of the hibiscus flower.

I got my last stock from Dad (as per usual) and so did not have to go hunting for it myself.  If you have had Red tea كركديه Karkadé or know where to get the tea from locally perhaps you could leave a comment here so that others might be able to find it too.

Red tea كركديه Karkadé
Red tea كركديه Karkadé 
I am not a tea drinker, per say, herbals occasionally but I do think that even if you are not a tea drinker then this one is for you.  Give it a try - you might be surprised at how nice this tea can be!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Chocolate balls كرات الشوكولاتة

The days seem to be moving too quickly for me at the moment.  The weather has been lovely in Melbourne with warm sunny days which naturally sends me outside with the boys.  So, as the spring time weather draws us into parks and playgrounds I have less planning, shopping, cooking and videoing time.  Well, not exactly.  My oldest son, and budding Chef, does convince me to set up and help him make something for dessert or for afternoon tea.  Funny really, he is 4 and a half and he now gets my 19 month old to agree to all manner of things but if cooking is one of them my little baby seems more than happy to join in.  He now takes out various pots and bowls from draws he can reach and takes his space at the table ready to conduct some very serious taste testing of ingredients and mixtures.

I decide to make some Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة but as a take on the ones my mum used to make.  I think that I should introduce the "Mums' way, My way" concept.  So often I think that the recipes my mum made is exactly how a particular dish should be made but the truth is she always told me that she made things to taste how she liked and added / subtracted or altered ingredients at will.  As a result I have come to make more and more things "My way".  Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتةare so easy and can be made so many different ways.  I decided to make some Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة    using the ingredients that I already had which included condensed milk and plain sweet biscuits (always in stock at our house since they are great for so many slices, cheesecake bases etc ).  Walnuts and dates seemed like a great addition so they were to go in too.

As soon as I start gathering ingredients the kids come running to the kitchen and decide to take over so...I let them.

Here is their video making Chocolate Balls (Truffles) with dates and walnuts.  Otherwise known as Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة   - My way!!

Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة   Video

Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة
Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة   
It is similar to the Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة    my mum would make but she would use cake crumbs instead of the biscuit and eliminate the nuts and dates.

Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة
Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة  

Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة
Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة   

Here is the recipe for My mums' Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة  

Left over vanilla coconut cake (one or two days old).  This was her recipe so will post it up after I get a video of it sometime.  In the mean time any cake will do.
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
200g unsalted butter, melted (But depending on the amount of cake and how dense it is use more or less.  The mixture just has to be able to come together into balls)

choc dollarettes, chocolate shavings or crushed peanuts to coat.

Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة
Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة   

She sometimes used condensed milk instead of the butter and I think they taste better this way.  So here is yet another version of My mums' Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة   

2 cups (about 300g) chocolate (or any) cake crumbs
3/4 cup (65g) desiccated coconut
1/2 cup (120ml) sweetened condensed milk
Chocolate, sprinkles, coconut or crushed nuts to coat

  Mix everything together (except the coating ingredients) and roll into balls the size of whole walnuts.  Roll into nuts, coconut or sprinkles and serve.
Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة
Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة   

Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة
Chocolate balls  كرات الشوكولاتة   
Well, hope you try them either my way or my mums' way and let me know if you like them.  

I would love to hear about your way too!! So let me know what you have found to work well together and any variations you like.

'til next time, Happy cooking!

Sunday, 14 October 2012



So here is the second part to the ZUCCHINI OVENBAKE كوسة بالباشاميل KOUSA BIL BÉCHAMEL video.   The beginning of these videos is new and hopefully makes a great (and stylish!) little introduction to the recipe.  Hope you like it.

You can subscribe to my YouTube channel to receive the updates as they happen as well as being able to subscribe on the Blog of course.

I would love your feedback so feel free to comment, ask questions or add any variations you may have.  


Thursday, 11 October 2012

Zucchini Ovenbake كوسة بالباشاميل Kousa bil béchamel

Zucchini Ovenbake كوسة بالباشاميل Kousa bil béchamel

I quite like Zucchini (Squash).  Its a great vegetable and easy to cook but can lack flavour if eaten on its own.  Thats where this recipe can come in handy.  It is similar to Mousaka which is made using eggplant that is layered with a Beshamel sauce and quite well known as a Greek dish.  But this Egyptian version known as كوسة بالباشاميل Kousa bil béchamel is tasty too.

Zucchini Ovenbake كوسة بالباشاميل Kousa bil béchamel

Zucchini Ovenbake كوسة بالباشاميل Kousa bil béchamel

Serves 6

1 kg zucchini cut into 1cm thick slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1kg minced or ground beef
2 x 140g tub tomato paste
690ml tomato passata + 500ml water
Salt, pepper and   mixed spice to taste
¼ cup breadcrumbs

Béchamel (White sauce)
100g butter
100g/ ½ cup plain flour
2 ½ cups / 625ml full cream milk,
1 teaspoon mace or mixed spice
1 ½ teaspoon allspice

Salt/pepper to taste
½ cup grated parmesan cheese, optional

To make the meat sauce

Heat oil in a large pan then add onion and garlic and fry over medium heat until translucent.  Add mince and cook over high heat for 15 minutes breaking up any lumps until it is browned and almost all the liquid has evaporated.
Add tomato paste, mace (mixed spice or allspice is fine too) and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 2 minutes before adding 2 cups or 500ml water.  Bring it to the boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until meat is cooked and the liquid has reduced and almost completely evaporated.

To make the béchamel sauce

In a heavy based saucepan melt the butter over medium heat and add the flour.  Cook for 2 minutes, add the spices and cook for a further minute, stirring continuously.  Add the milk a little at first and stir to a smooth paste before adding more. Continue to add milk and stir to remove any lumps.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat and cook until the sauce has thickened.  Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas mark 4).   

Grease a 20 x 15 cm tray with butter or oil and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over.   Tap the tray to spread the crumbs in a thin layer and remove any excess.  Layer half the zucchini over the base then cover with half the cooked mince.  Repeat with another layer of zucchini and the remainder of the meat.  Spread the béchamel sauce evenly over the top and bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown on top and zucchini is cooked.
Serve over rice and with a salad.

Zucchini Ovenbake كوسة بالباشاميل Kousa bil béchamel

Zucchini Ovenbake كوسة بالباشاميل Kousa bil béchamel

Zucchini Ovenbake كوسة بالباشاميل Kousa bil béchamel

Zucchini Ovenbake كوسة بالباشاميل Kousa bil béchamel

To view the video of how to make Zuccini Ovenbake كوسة بالباشاميل Kousa bil béchamel click on the link below.  This is part 1, stay tuned for part 2 to follow.

Zucchini Ovenbake كوسة بالباشاميل Kousa bil béchamel

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Pulses, Albekol, البقول

It has been longer than expected for my next post but rest assured I have not been on holidays.  Instead I have been working on the video side of things and it has taken me longer than expected to get anywhere.  So  in the mean time here are a few more words that might come in useful someday. :)

I hope to have a new recipe and video up in the next couple of days so stay posted.

Pulses                                       Albekol                                                    البقول
Black eyed peas/beans         Fasolia Ein Sodah                             سوداء عين الفاصوليا
Broad (fava) beans               Fasolia aredah                                          (فافا) الفاصوليا
Grain (cereal)                       Hebob                                                                  حبوب
Chickpeas                            Homoss                                                             الحمص
Lentils                                  Adss                                                                     عدس
Rice                                     Roz                                                                      الأرز
Vermicelli                             Shereiah                                                           الشعيرية
Pasta                                    Makarona                                                       معكرونة