Hip Hip Hooray for National Hummus Day!
What is it going to be next? Not that we mind too much with this one, as far as G&T is concerned hummus should be as readily available and accessible as tap water. Hang fire though, it isn’t until Saturday 13th May, but here is a heads up so you can stock up on tahini before the shops run out. The national hummus shortages couldn’t have come at a worse time. We don’t want to imagine what a world without hummus would be like, we will save the horror for Halloween.
This week we’ve done things a little differently as we have been inspired by one of our favourite restaurants in Manchester. When we think hummus, we almost automatically think Comptoir Libanais, a Lebanese place most famous for mezze. The food is awesome; packed with serious flavour but still light and (relatively) healthy. In general, Middle Eastern food is T’s favourite cuisine for its mix of flavour, temperature, colour and the idea of sharing which is so intrinsic to it’s ethos. Comptoir really does this ancient tradition of eating justice in our eyes. Now, you can imagine our excitement when we spotted their cookbook, and since Hummus day was coming up we thought it was rather fitting to delve in to hosting Lebanese style, with a little help from our trusty Comptoir cookbook, of course.
“You won’t regret it, it’s what fresh, healthy hummus-filled dreams are made of.”
We encourage you to buy the book for yourselves, so we will not give too much away, but here are our top recipes that made an appearance for us this week:
It would be most appropriate to start with hummus, obviously. Chickpeas, lemon garlic and tahini paste is all it takes to make up your very own hummus. It is so easy to make at home yourself, but of course a food processor helps enormously and it would be rude not to whip up some this weekend in honour of this hugely under-appreciated food holiday…
If you haven’t tried tabbouleh (pronounced tab-oo-ley…we think) you haven’t truly lived. It’s a beautifully fresh salad made from parsley, mint and bulgur wheat. It is best dressed with copious amount of good quality olive oil and lemon juice. It is tart, sweet, herby, and an absolute must at any Middle Eastern banquet.
Aubergines are one of G&T’s all-time favourite vegetables, and the aubergine and pomegranate salad is such a winner. Thin discs of succulent aubergine are fried in olive oil, seasoned and left to cool. They are then dressed in pomegranate molasses, sumac and mint. Pomegranate molasses is a sweet & sour sticky glaze or dressing which is a bit like balsamic vinegar… but so much better. Grab a bottle from a Middle Eastern deli or even the Comptoir Souk Shop and you will see what we mean. You’ll be smothering it on everything from cheesecake to chips in no time.
“It would be rude not to whip up some this weekend in honour of this hugely under-appreciated food holiday…”
We cannot recommend these dishes enough, but as for our main recipe this week we bring you our very own Lebanese creation. All the recipes on G&T are original, tried and tested, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a little inspiration from somewhere. That and, we want to leave some surprises when you decide to visit the restaurant (which you totally should by the way).
“Cook it slow and eat it quick. “
The following recipe is the main event at a dinner such as this. You find tagines, or simple steamed stews, in the cultural food repertoire throughout the Middle East and North Africa. They most commonly consist of chicken, lamb or goat, although the latter is rather difficult to come by in your local supermarkets. They are cooked slowly with lots of spices and dried fruit such as dates, sultanas and apricots. They are slow cooked in a special ceramic dish with a curved lid, which keeps the meat nice and moist. You can pick tagine dishes up extremely easily, but a ceramic dish, complete with lid, will work just as well. Cook it slow and eat it quick, and we promise you will have some very happy guests.
Serve with couscous, flatbread and tabbouleh and if you want any more ideas make sure you purchase the Comptoir Libanais cook book. You won’t regret it, it’s what fresh, healthy hummus-filled dreams are made of.
See you next Thursday,
6 chicken thighs, skin on and on the bone
1 red onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
50g dried apricots
2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
350ml chicken stock
2 tsp. sumac
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dried chilli flakes
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. cumin
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and heat up a frying pan with a little oil. Brown the chicken well until it is crisp. Take it out of the pan and place on kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. Meanwhile, fry the garlic and onions until soft. Place the chicken and onions in a tagine or ceramic cooking dish.
Pour in the stock, tomatoes, apricots and spices. Do not worry about mixing it together too much, it will combine as it cooks. Season with a little salt and pepper Place the lid on the dish and slip it into the oven. It will need to cook at 180 degrees for about an hour and a half. You can make this ahead as well which will make the sauce richer.