Because my husband’s boyfriend is a lovely and awesome man, he bought me the newly released Moroccan soup bar: Recipes of a spoken menu and a little bit of spice cookbook for Christmas. I have been waiting for this cookbook for many many years. I have eaten at the Moroccan Soup Bar several times, and always enjoyed it. It’s hard to get into because it’s so popular, so I don’t go as much as I would like.
It is evident in this cookbook that the recipes by Hana Assafiri are ones she is very familiar with. In the recipes I made, there are some minor issues with the conversion from a spoken or loosely written recipe down into a cookbook format. There are some issues with ingredients being divided in different sets of the recipe, but without much guidance as to how they’re divided? Half each, a sprinkle here and the rest there? It’s something that trial and error will improve, but it’s not always the best way to go about it. The eggplant dish, which was incredibly tasty, was quite watery, and I’d probably halve or reduce by a third the amount of water that goes into that dish if I made it again.
All of the recipes in this book, and indeed in the restaurant, are vegetarian. They are all tasty, but require some work to ensure that they actually work for you. Overall I’d give this 3.5 stars out of 5.
- 4 medium eggplants
- vegetable oil for frying
- 2 large onions
- 1 head of garlic
- 10 tomatoes, peeled
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp dried mint
- fresh mint, to garnish
- green peppers, to serve
- 1 tbsp smoked sweet paprika
- salt and pepper
- Peel and slice the eggplants into large wedges. Salt and set aside for 30 minutes, allowing the salt to draw out the bitter juice of the eggplant. Pat the excess liquid with a paper towel.
- Half fill the frypan with a light vegetable oil, ensuring the oil is hot.
- Fry the eggplant until golden. This process should take no longer than a few minutes. Set aside in a colander, allowing the excess oil to drain away.
- In a heavy based saucepan, add a little of the excess oil from the eggplant. Slice the onion, peel the garlic and add these to the pan. Stir until slightly softened. Add the whole tomatoes, tomato paste and paprika. Stir, allowing the ingredients to incorporate. Add the dried mint and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- The consistency should now be thick. When it comes to the boil, add 1.5 litres of boiling water. Return to the boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer.
- Finally, add the eggplant and cover. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes.
- Serve on a bed of couscous or rice, with a side plate of fresh green peppers. Garnish with a few sprigs of chopped fresh mint.
Notes on this recipe:
- I added all the water, but I probably would have stopped at 1 litre, perhaps even 750ml of water. You can always add more water, simmering it out is more difficult.
- There is no guide to what 4 medium eggplants looks like. Eggplants come in all shapes and sizes, and having a weight of eggplant would help in this recipe. Next time I make this I will actually steam two regular Australian sized eggplants, and shred the inside flesh. Fried eggplants are nice, but it’s annoying. Also, with most commercially grown eggplants, you can skip the salting step.
- It was really tasty, highly recommended, but you’re going to have to manage the recipe to suit you. It makes a lot too.
- 3 cups of chickpeas, soaked overnight
- 2 – 3 flatbread rounds
- 200g butter
- 300g plain yoghurt
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp tahini
- 100g slivered almonds
- parsley, finely chopped to garnish
- 3 tsp salt
- 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika, to garnish
- Fill a saucepan with water to cover the chickpeas, about 5 centimetres about the chickpeas. Bring to the boil and cook for about an hour, until softened. The time will vary greatly depending on the size of the chickpeas and whether they have been soaked overnight, so check them every 15 minutes to ensure they cook properly and remain covered with water.
- Preheat the oven to 250C. Melt some butter, lightly toast some flatbread in the oven. Brush the flatbread with butter and place on the oven racks. Allow to bake, checking regularly to ensure it does not burn.
- Once lightly toasted, remove and place in a tray. Melt some butter and drizzle over the baked bread. Sprinkle with salt. Turn down the heat and bake for a further 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pound the garlic in a mortar and pestle with some coarse salt, until it’s a smooth puree. Add the garlic to the yoghurt and tahini. Stir until well combined.
- Remove the bread from the oven and break into chip-sized pieces. With a ladle, drain the hot chickpeas. Add to the bread.
- Cover the entire tray with a 2 centimetre layer of chickpeas. Add a thick layer of the yoghurt mixture. Sprinkle paprika on top of the yoghurt.
- Meanwhile, in a frying pan place the remaining butter and slivered almonds. Toast until caramelised.
- Immediately pour this mixture over the cold yoghurt. It should make a tsh sound when the hot butter meets the cold yoghurt.
- Sprinkle with parsley and enjoy.
Notes on this recipe:
- Too many meanwhiles – while doing this thing, also do this other thing. It makes managing this recipe (although one of my favourite vegetarian recipes ever) really hard.
- I ended up putting all the salt in with the garlic, as I didn’t sprinkle any on the bread (it didn’t need it). I’d recommend putting perhaps 2 teaspoons of salt in with the garlic, as my version ended up quite salty (but not inedible).
- I don’t know what temperature you turn the heat down to in step 3.
- It’s a messy dish, but incredibly tasty. It’s quite forgiving if you run out of time to get it all assembled as suggested in the recipe. The most time consuming bit is preparing the chickpeas, the rest can be done in stages (so prepare the yoghurt while the chickpeas are cooking, leave it in the fridge).