A taste of the Middle East

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

It’s a been a year since the Arab Spring, but tourists have been slow to return to Tunisia, Egypt et al. For those of you who consider the Middle East off limits, it’s still possible to have a taste of the region. Over the next few days, Greg and Lucy Malouf will be sharing some delicious Middle Eastern recipes with CD-Traveller readers. Today: Jewelled cracked wheat pilaf with honey ginger tomato sauce

Jewelled cracked wheat pilaf with honey ginger tomato sauce

This is an absolutely fabulous, over the top kind of pilaf with more ‘jewels’ than a Lacroix bracelet. You can substitute dried cranberries for the pomegranate seeds or to be really exotic, use dried Iranian barberries. Serve as a vegetarian main course or to accompany barbecued poultry or lamb.

175g coarse burgul, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
generous knob of butter
30g currants soaked in 30ml dry sherry for 30 minutes
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
zest of 1/2 orange
1 sheet brik pastry
clarified butter for brushing
50g pine nuts
50g unsalted pistachio kernels, blanched and peeled
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Honey ginger tomato sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red bullet chilli, seeded, scraped and finely chopped
400g can chopped tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 thumb fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tablespoon honey

Rinse the burgul well in cold water, then put it in a heavy pan with 1 1/2 times its volume of cold water. Season lightly with salt. Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed. Towards the end of the cooking time, turn up the heat to evaporate any remaining liquid at the bottom of the pan. Take the pan off the heat when you hear the burgul start to crackle and catch, and stir in the butter.

Tip the burgul into a mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper and add the drained currants, allspice and orange zest. Fork it through well, then cover with a snug fitting lid and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes, or until the burgul has absorbed all the liquid and is tender.

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a pan and sauté the garlic and chilli for a few minutes until they soften. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, turmeric, ginger and honey and simmer for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius (Gas 4).

To make the brik pastry garnish, use a pastry cutter to cut 10cm circles from the pastry. Then cut smaller circles from the centre of each piece using a 4cm cutter. Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush with clarified butter, put another sheet of baking paper on top and weight down with another baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes, until crisp.

Toast the pine nuts on a dry frying pan until they colour, then add them to the bulgar pilaf with pistachios. Tip onto a serving plate, pour on the honey ginger tomato sauce, scatter on the pomegranate seeds and garnish with pastry circles.


To discover the joy of Greg’s Grilled saffron chicken with lemon chilli and mint, don’t forget to log onto the CD-Traveller website tomorrow!

Malouf: New Middle Eastern by Greg and Lucy Malouf is published by Hardie Grant, £30, Hardback.


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