by cookbookarabia

Archive for the ‘Maghreb kitchen’ Category

Dinner fixes

In Dates, Libyan kitchen, Maghreb kitchen, Orangeflowerwater on November 30, 2010 at 11:42 am

Last night we had our wonderful dinner at Marije Vogelzang’s Proef! with as special guests our dear friend Kamal Mouzawak from the Lebanese farmers market Souk el Tayeb in Beirut. In may and july we were cooking at Tawlet, his new restaurant in Beirut’s Mar Michael and now we were so happy to be cooking with him again in Amsterdam in this special location. And proud of course, since Kamal promoted us this summer as being Souk el Tayeb’s family. And whoever has been in Beirut and visited Souk el Tayeb’s wonderful saturday’s market knows how honoured we feel to be part of it! As soon as we have all pictures we’ll put them here, with the menu, explanation and all.

But now back to a week ago, to another wonderful dinner at Proef, see the menu of the post before. Cooking that night was great fun, because our new friend Lotte came to help us, and it was fluent! So we came to some great adjustments of Bismilla Arabia recipes: our bread & butter pudding with dates & orangeflowerwater transformed from delicious to fantastic. This was the trick. The dates were a bit hard, so we soaked them in some warm water with orangeflowerwater, they became fragrant and moist, instead of only sprinkling the pudding with the orangeflowerwater later on. Then we almost burned our almonds in the oven: because they were already quite brown we didn’t want to mix them in, instead we used some grated white almonds to mix in with the bread and cream or milk. Lotte came with an excellent solution, she pounded the toasted almonds in the mortar and grinder to a coarse powder and we sprinkled them on top. It was sooo delicious we even forgot to take a picture of this new version. So the picture is the ‘old’ one from the Bismilla Arabia book!

Here’s the adjusted recipe

Bread & butter pudding with dates and orange blossom water

When we think of the Sahara, we think of dates and bread: the inspiration for this bread pudding that you can use again as a power breakfast or after a light dinner, full of energy from almonds and dates.

Serves 4

Moroccan bread or Turkish pide

300 g soft dates

orangeblossom water

½ l milk or cream

3 eggs

50 g soft butter

75 g almonds shavings

date syrup (available from Moroccan or Turkish store)

50 g almonds, golden roasted

Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Divide the bread into pieces. Stone the dates and pull them apart, sprinkle them with some warm water en orangeflowerwater. Whisk the milk and the eggs and soft butter. Mix with your hands the pieces of bread with almonds, dates, milk mixture, and a dash of date syrup. Spoon in a greased baking dish, sprinkle with some date syrup and if you like some more orangeblossomwater. Bake the bread and butter pudding for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Pound the almonds in a mortar and grinder and sprinkle over the pudding. EAT WARM!


Who’s cookin’ for you? We are!

In Dates, Israelian kitchen, Libyan kitchen, Maghreb kitchen, Middle Eastern kitchen, Orangeflowerwater, Palestinian kitchen, Sardinian kitchen, Turkish kitchen on November 20, 2010 at 10:28 pm


It’s such a nice feeling to cook for people that specially came for you. Of course it’s pure joy for us to cook from our new book, all these dishes we love so much. The first monday we were a bit late, due to a presentation at PINC. which was in a city at an hour from Amsterdam. And to make things worse we needed to go past The Lebanese bakery in Almere, because we forgot to get the bread the day before. But there it was: warm and tender…everyone who knows the joy of freshly baked flatbread (when you have to open the plastic bag to get the moist out) knows what we mean. Then our saving angel was there in the person of Marnix, a talented upcoming chef, who was eager to chop lots of herbs and onions for us. Lucky girls we were! Everything was done just in time, and reactions were overly enthousiastic and we were proud as mothers with their babies. The next monday was very relaxed because we didn’t have to go nowhere (well we were missing out on the event of the launch of a big restaurant guide, but ah isn’t life about choices).

So cooking was filling our day, nice and peaceful. All set & done, and the evening went very well with some 32 happy guests. Two dinners yet to come…and we are looking forward to these: the big ones. Coming monday 50 guests and next monday another 50 guests. Which means literally fully booked, no seats left! Next monday 29th will be extra special as our good friends from Lebanon will join us, with Kamal Mouzawak cooking with us Lebanese dishes. Check out the menu later next week.

Next monday’s menu on 22th will have some slight changes:

Pumpkinhummus & Pistachiospread, Labne & Za’atar

Parsleysalad with pomegranate seeds and tahina

Yoghurtsalad with lemon & green peppers

Jaffa’s orange salad with fennel & almonds


Sardinian vegetable couscous with pinenuts from Carloforte

Yufka rolls with garlic yoghurt and hot pepper oil


Bread & Butter pudding with dates and orangeflowerwater

Today’s Ras el Hanout

In Maghreb kitchen, Ras el Hanout, Spices, Syrian kitchen, Za'atar on November 17, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Oh boy, do we like spices! We just love them.The smell of the souk in Damascus we’ll never forget; the air pregnant with pungent sweet spicy almost musky aromas that make you dream. Once you put your nose in the typical za’atar from Syria it works as an instant time machine: back in the souk in a minute.

It’s because their za’atar is different from most za’atars you’ll find in the Middle East: not only is it a mix of the wild thyme, sumak and sesameseeds they put in a secret mix of cumin and other ‘warm’ spices: this perfume fills the little streets. Another favorite spiceblend is the Moroccan one: Ras el Hanout. You will find this blend in every Moroccan shop, but doing it yourself at home is ever so rewarding. The name says it all: the spiceblend of the shopowner is the translation of Ras el Hanout. So why not take all the freedom we want, in the end this is our shop: so this is how today’s ras el hanout tastes like. Good thing as well as with many things in life: today’s ras el hanout is never the same as tomorrow’s. This time we made a sweet and savory one. The sweet one is full of rose petals, staranise, anise, cinnamon, cardamon, jasmine flowers, fennelseeds. As for quantities, this is just something you need to feel…we are always careful with powerful pungent spices like cardamon or cumin, but it’s just a blend according to your personal private taste, so if you like a certain spice very much, be welcome to add more, just smell and taste with your fingertip if it’s right. The smell is very important. A good starting point is to start with little bits of everything and then add more as you go along. Oh and this time we didn’t have lavender, but that’s very nice to add too. We love to make the chicken stew with this one, and why not use it in spice cookies or even a cake?

The  savoury one we put in cumin (not too much!) grains of paradise, black cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, different kinds of black pepper, pink pepper, pul biber, long pepper and coriander seeds. Great in a lamb stew with fava beans and quinces!

So what do you need? All spices you can find in your larder, a coffee & spice grinder and your nose and tongue!

Our own little restaurant!

In Catalan kitchen, couscous, Israelian kitchen, Maghreb kitchen, Middle Eastern kitchen, Palestinian kitchen, Sardinian kitchen, Turkish kitchen on November 5, 2010 at 4:27 pm

We are so excited! Every monday starting 8th of november we will be cooking Bismilla Arabia dishes at eating designer Marije Vogelzang’s Proef! restaurant on the Westergasterrein in Amsterdam. Marije came with us to Lebanon for our first book Arabia and we became close friends ever since. It’s so great to finally have to chance to collaborate and cook our dishes in her fantastic little cosy place. Marije is of course designing beautiful drawings like these ones, to introduce our dishes…And there are still some seats left for 15th and 22th of october, and maybe if you’re quick even for the first one this coming monday. Check it out and send a mail to &

Here’s the menu!

Our Mezze: Pistachespread & pumpkinhummus & labne & za’atar with flatbread

Turkish walnutsalad with sour hot green peppers

Our Kisir, bulghursalad with paprikapaste, lots of herbs and pomegranatemolasses

Catalan garden salad with figs & hazelnuts

Fregola with wild herbs

Yufkarolls with lamb meat, garlic yoghurt & pul biber oil

Pistachecustard & sweet couscous with orange rind, almonds and raisins.

Our Christmas cooking!

In Lebanese kitchen, Middle Eastern kitchen, Moroccan kitchen, Turkish kitchen on October 7, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Last friday we were already hearing Christmas bells. Our own of course: cooking new Arabia food for this years coming Christmas issue of the Dutch delicious. It was in a great studio in Amsterdam, Studio 13, with lots of light, a big kitchen and many people, ‘cause usually there are two parellel shoots. So when photographer Harold Pereira and stylist Maaike Koorman were busy on the right side of the studio, we were cooking on the left side. And as the building is some sort of a loft (it used to be a tobacco factory) everything is open, and so is the kitchen. We found ourselves  surrounded by the people of the ‘other’ shoot going on, all the time. So guess what: we were explaining how to make couscous and doing some sort of workshop while preparing our dishes. We felt soooo sorry we could not let them taste yet, everything still had to be captured by Harold’s camera. We made a delicious yoghurtsoup with saffron & almonds, the by now famous cauliflower couscous, deliciously warm comfort chickens with cumin, cinnamon and apricots, a crunchy salad of raw thinly sliced veggies like carrots, fennel, orange and tangy fresh herbs like mint, dill with crunchy aromatic toasted fennelseeds and a zingy orange dressing. Sidedish was a delicious pilaf of bulghur with walnuts, paprikapaste and mint. To top it off our delicious pistachecustard in a new version with lemon and candied orange and grapefruit on the side. Of course you all have to wait for the Dutch Christmas delicious. issue to read and cook and get your saliva going for these ones. We’ll publish by then the translated recipes in English here. To get you to going some pics of the shoot to reveal a tiny little bit!

Summer couscous!

In Citrus, couscous, Maghreb kitchen, Middle Eastern kitchen on September 29, 2010 at 7:41 pm

This summer we were in hot Lebanon again and made up a new recipe. And as always scarcity brings out the best ideas. When we found in the our friend Tamar’s kitchen a cauliflower and the superb Lebanese lemons (they’re like the famous Amalfi lemons or Sicilian lemons from Italy) a new dish was born: a cold summer couscous from finely grated cauliflower, lots of lemon juice, lemon rind, salt, fruity green olive oil and a generous amount of golden fried chopped pinenuts: there you go! The cauliflower is fresh and crunchy, the lemon juice fresh and aromatic, the olive oil gives a fruity taste and you end with the nuttiness of the pinenuts and preferably some fleur de sel or flake salt. At Souk el Tayeb’s Tawlet restaurant in Beirut we prepared it again, and it was an instant success and it remained that way anytime we do it. This coming Friday it will be part of our Middle Eastern Christmas buffet for the Christmas shoot for the Dutch delicious. magazine. Mmm…delicious.!

Bismilla Arabia!

In Maghreb kitchen, Middle Eastern kitchen, Southern European kitchen on September 13, 2010 at 6:43 pm

…though as well still in Dutch. For this book we traveled in the south of Turkey, Palestine, Israel, Libya, Algeria, Catalunya in Spain and Sardegna in Italy. Bismilla Arabia is the fruit of our new understanding of the Arab influence on the kitchen, with so many similarities and differences.

Hello world!

In Maghreb kitchen, Middle Eastern kitchen, Southern European kitchen on September 13, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Finally we get on with our stories, not only in our books but we’re gonna try to keep you updated about our search for the Arab influence on the mediterranean kitchen, as featured in our cookbook Arabia (still only available in dutch) for which we traveled Lebanon and Syria, Morocco & Tunisia, Sicily in Italy and Andalucia in Spain. And we have a new one out there since just a couple of days!