Flavours of The Levant

Flavours of The Levant
August 25, 2017 Sarah

Words & Photography: Maria Shebets

The​ ​time​ ​has​ ​come​ for me ​to​ ​share​ ​another​ ​​recipe​ ​with​ ​you, a​ ​new​ ​one​ ​using​ ​wonderful​ ​products​ ​from​ ​THE WHITE​ ​SHEEP. Now​ ​imagine​ ​the​ ​flavours​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Eastern​ ​Mediterranean​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Middle​ ​East…​ ​Imagine​ ​the​ ​aromas​ ​of the Levant​ ​in​ ​your​ ​kitchen.​ ​​​I​ ​am​ ​often​ ​inspired​ ​by​ the ​traditional​ ​recipes​ ​of​ ​Jordan,​ ​Syria,​ ​Lebanon,​ ​Palestine… If​ ​you​ ​are​ ​like​ ​me,​ ​then​ ​you​ ​wouldn’t​ ​remain​ ​indifferent​ ​to​ ​all​ ​the​ ​spicy​ ​aromas​ ​and​ ​oriental​ ​flavours, and​ you​ ​would​ ​really​ ​enjoy​ ​THE​ ​WHITE​ ​SHEEP’s​ ​wide​ ​range​ ​of spices,​ ​herbs​ ​and​ ​other​ ​products​ ​of​ THE ARABICA FOOD & SPICE CO.

I​ ​have​ ​a​ ​pantry​ ​stocked​ ​with​ ​all​ ​sorts​ ​of​ ​products​ ​from​ ​dried​ ​spices​ ​to​ ​pickles.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​a​ ​selection​ ​of aromatics​ ​which​ ​do​ ​little​ ​wonders​ ​in​ ​the​ ​kitchen​ ​with​ ​anything​ ​you​ ​add​ ​them​ ​to.​ ​I​ ​add​ ​the​ ​​ROSEWATER to​ ​salad​ ​dressings​ ​and​ ​summer​ ​drinks​ ​and​ ​it​ ​gives​ ​them​ ​such​ ​a​ ​delicate​ ​and​ ​elegant​ ​​​aroma​ ​of​ ​Damask rose​ ​petals!​ ​I​ ​love​ ​to​ ​add​ ​​ORANGE​ ​BLOSSOM​ ​WATER​​ ​to​ ​cakes​ ​and​ ​lamb​ ​stews​ ​to​ ​give​ ​them​ ​a​ ​floral exotic​ ​fragrance.​ ​​TAHINI​​ ​and​ ​​POMEGRANATE​ ​MOLASSES​​ ​are​ ​used​ ​in​ ​dips,​ ​salad​ ​dressings​ ​and marinades.​ ​If​ ​I am feeling a little​ ​lazy,​ ​I​ ​take​ ​a​ ​ready-made​ ​​POMEGRANATE​ ​DRESSING​​ ​–​ ​an​ ​exotic​ ​mixture​ ​of​ ​peppery extra virgin​ ​olive​ ​oil,​ ​fruity​ ​pomegranate​ ​molasses​ ​and wild​ ​Jordanian​ ​thyme. The​ ​collection​ ​of​ ​herbs​ ​and​ ​spices from THE​ ​WHITE​ ​SHEEP​ ​is​ ​my​ ​very​ ​own​ ​Eastern​ ​Spice​ ​Market.​ ​

’s ​blends​ ​are​ ​roasted​ ​and​ ​ground​ ​in​ ​small​ ​batches​ ​for​ ​optimum​ ​freshness​ ​and​ ​it​ ​makes​ ​a​ ​huge difference​ ​to​ ​other​ ​products available on the market.​ ​​A​ ​few​ ​pinches​ ​of​ ​spice​ ​blend​ ​transforms​ ​any​ ​dish,​ ​making​ ​it​ ​so​ ​aromatic and​ ​so​ ​appetizing!​ ​I​ ​use​ ​​ZA’ATAR​ ​​or​​ ​DUKKA​ ​​over​ ​yoghurt​ ​or​ ​home-made​ ​labneh,​ ​in​ ​salads​ ​and,​ ​of course,​ ​mixed​ ​with​ ​olive​ ​oil​ ​for​ ​dipping​ ​warm​ ​bread.​ ​​COUSCOUS​ ​SPICES​,​ ​​LEBANESE​ ​7​ ​SPICE​,​ ​​ROASTED CUMIN​​ ​bring​ ​an​ ​Eastern​ ​flavour​ ​to​ ​any​ ​dish​ ​from​ ​soups​ ​and​ ​stews​ ​to​ ​cakes​ ​and​ ​biscuits.​ ​You​ ​definitely must​ ​try​ ​the ​WILD​ ​SUMAC​, ​known​ ​as​ ​​‘Lemons​ ​from​ ​God’ which are​ ​prepared​ ​by grinding​ ​wild​ ​berries.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​truly​ ​a unique​ ​spice​ ​with​ ​a​ ​sharp​ ​lemony​ ​taste,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​divine​ ​with​ ​chicken​ ​or​ ​in​ ​salad​ ​dressings. Having​ ​all​ ​these​ ​in​ ​my​ ​kitchen​ ​I​ ​can​ ​turn​ ​even​ ​a​ ​simple​ ​dish​ ​into​ ​a​ ​little​ ​feast​ ​like​ ​I​ ​did​ ​this​ ​time.​ ​In addition​ ​to​ ​all​ ​my​ ​favourite​ ​products​ ​I​ ​used​ ​something​ ​new​ ​–​ ​​FREEKEH​​ ​–​ ​a​ ​product​ ​that​ ​was​ ​recently added​ ​to​ ​the​ ARABICA FOOD & SPICE ​range​ ​at ​THE​ ​WHITE​ ​SHEEP.​ ​Freekeh​ ​is​ ​an​ ​ancient​ ​grain​ ​used​ ​for​ ​centuries​ ​in​ ​Levantine cuisine,​ ​a durum​ ​wheat​ ​which​ ​is​ ​harvested​ ​when still​ ​young​ ​and​ ​green.​ ​It​ ​is​ then ​sun​-dried​ ​and​ ​roasted.​ ​It​ ​has an​ ​earthy,​ ​smokey​ ​flavour​ ​and​ ​makes​ ​an​ ​excellent​ ​addition​ ​to​ ​soups​ ​and​ ​stews.​ ​You​ ​can​ ​use​ ​it​ ​as​ ​a substitute​ ​in​ ​any​ ​dish​ ​requiring​ rice or ​​bulgur.

Our​ ​wonderful​ ​Levant​ine​ ​lunch​ ​started​ ​with​ ​The White Sheep’s warmed​ ​up​ ​​PIADINA​​ ROMAGNOLA ​[which doubled up as the Middle Eastern flatbread] dipped​ ​in​ ​a​ ​mixture​ ​of​ ​olive​ ​oil​ ​and ZA’ATAR​.​ ​Honestly,​ ​it​ ​tasted so good​ ​that​ ​I​ ​could​ ​be​ ​happy​ ​​having​ ​only​ ​this​ ​for​ ​lunch​ ​or​ ​dinner,​ ​even for breakfast!​ ​Then​ ​we​ ​had​ ​a ​delicious​ ​FREEKEH​ ​and​ ​Grilled​ ​Peach​ ​Salad​ ​with​ ​gorgeous​ ​barrel-aged​ ​​FETA and​ ​simply​ ​grilled​ ​lamb​ ​chops​ ​rubbed​ ​with​ ​the absolutely​ ​divine​​ ​​KABSA​ ​SPICE!​ ​Open​ ​a​ ​small​ ​jar​ ​of it​ ​and​ ​you​ ​will​ ​smell​ ​the​ ​feast!​ ​This spice mixture is traditionally used to prepare Kabsa – ​a​ ​classic Bedouin​ ​dish​ ​​ ​[think paella style​] made ​with​ ​rice and​ ​meat. But, the Kabsa spice mix works​ ​equally​ ​well​ ​when​ ​simply rubbed​ ​in​ ​meat, as a marinade,​ ​especially​ with ​lamb.​ ​Try​ ​it, ​I​ ​am​ ​sure​ ​you​ ​won’t​ ​be disappointed!


PIADINA​​ ​with​ ​​ZA’ATAR
Simply​ ​warm​ ​​PIADINA​​ ​in​ ​a​ ​hot​ ​pan​ ​for​ ​a​ ​minute​ ​or​ ​so​ ​on​ ​each​ ​side,​ ​slice​ ​it​ ​and​ ​dip​ ​in​ ​olive​ ​oil​ ​mixed​ ​with a​ ​generous​ ​addition​ ​of​ ​​ZA’ATAR​.


FREEKEH​​ ​and​ ​​Roast Peaches​ ​​with​​ ​FETA
serves​ ​4​ ​to​ ​6

150​ ​g​ ​FREEKEH
1​ ​large​ ​shallot
a​ ​bunch​ ​of​ ​fresh​ ​mint
a​ ​bunch​ ​of​ ​fresh​ ​coriander
a​ ​bunch​ ​of​ ​fresh​ ​parsley
150​ ​g​ ​​ ​barrel-​aged​ ​FETA
3​ ​ripe​ ​but​ ​still​ ​firm​ ​peaches
3​ ​Tbsp​ ​of​ ​freshly​ ​squeezed​ ​orange​ ​juice
50​ ​ml​ ​extra​ ​virgin​ ​olive​ ​oil
1​ ​Tsp​ ​of​ ​ZA’ATAR
¼​ ​-​ ​½​ ​tsp​ ​URFA​ ​CHILLI​ ​FLAKES
½​ ​tsp​ ​freshly​ ​grated​ ​ginger
You​ ​can​ ​either​ ​soak​ ​FREEKEH​ ​overnight​ ​to​ ​shorten​ ​the​ ​cooking​ ​time​ ​or​ ​cook​ ​it​ ​without​ ​soaking.​ ​It​ ​will take​ ​approximately​ ​20-25​ ​minutes​ ​simmering,​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​want​ ​it​ ​to go too​ ​soft.​ ​It​ ​should​ ​be​ ​firm​ ​to​ ​the bite.​ ​Rinse it​ ​well​ ​and​ ​add​ ​to​ ​the​ ​salted​ ​boiling​ ​water.​ ​Use​ ​one​ ​part​ ​FREEKEH​ ​to​ ​three​ ​parts​ ​water​.​ ​Drain​ ​it once​ ​cooked​ ​and​ ​let​ ​it​ ​cool​ ​to​ ​room​ ​temperature. Toast the​ ​PISTACCHIOS​ ​in​ ​a​ ​hot​ ​dry​ ​pan,​ ​transfer​ ​to​ ​a​ ​chopping​ ​board,​ ​let​ ​them​ ​cool​ ​and​ ​chop​​ ​roughly.​ ​Very finely​ ​slice​ ​the​ ​shallot.​ ​Wash​ ​and​ ​dry​ ​herbs.​ ​I​ ​strongly​ ​recommend​ a​ ​salad​ ​spinner​ ​to​ ​dry​ leaves​ ​as nothing​ ​can​ ​be​ ​more​ ​sad​ ​than​ ​wet​ ​herbs.​ ​When​ ​dry,​ ​pick​ ​out​ ​the​ ​leaves​ ​and​ ​discard​ ​the​ ​stalks.​ ​Cut​ ​FETA in​ ​small​ ​cubes.​ ​Cut​ ​peaches​ ​in​ ​halves,​ ​remove​ ​pits​ ​and​ ​cut​ ​in​ ​quarters.​ ​Slightly​ ​brush the peach slices with​ ​olive​ ​oil and​ ​cook​ ​on​ ​a​ ​very​ ​hot​ ​grill​ ​or​ ​griddle​ ​pan​ ​until​ ​slightly​ ​charred. For​ ​the​ ​dressing,​ ​mix​ ​lemon​ ​juice,​ ​POMEGRANATE​ ​MOLASSES,​ ​olive​ ​oil,​ ​ORANGE​ ​BLOSSOM​ ​WATER, ZA’ATAR,​ ​URFA​ ​CHILLI​ ​FLAKES,​ ​ginger​ ​and​ ​salt.​ ​Mix​ ​everything​ ​very​ ​well. The best​ ​way​ ​to​ ​do​ ​this​ ​is​ ​to​ ​shake​ ​all the ingredients well​, ​in​ ​a jar with a tightly closed lid. In​ ​a​ ​large​ ​bowl,​ ​mix​ ​FREEKEH,​ ​PISTACCHIOS,​ ​shallot,​ ​herbs,​ ​FETA​ ​and​ ​drizzle​ ​with​ the ​dressing.​ ​Toss​ ​well. Transfer​ ​it​ ​to​ ​a​ ​serving​ ​dish​ ​and​ ​top​ ​with​ ​peaches.

Sprinkle​ ​the lamb chops ​generously​ ​with​ ​KABSA​ ​SPICES​ ​add​ ​some​ ​salt​ ​and​ drizzle with ​just​ ​a​ ​little​ ​bit​ ​of​ ​olive​ ​oil and​ ​let​ ​to​ ​marinate​ ​for​ ​30-40​ ​minutes.​ ​Bring​ ​to​ ​room​ ​temperature​ ​before​ ​cooking.​ ​Cook​ ​it​ ​to​ ​your​ ​liking on​ ​a​ ​very​ ​hot​ ​grill,​ ​on​ ​the​ ​bbq​ ​or​ ​under​ ​the​ ​broiler.​ ​For​ ​medium-sized chops,​ ​you​ ​need​ ​about​ ​3​ ​–​ ​3​ ​½​ ​minutes​ ​per​ ​side, but​ ​it​ ​largely​ ​depends​ ​on​ ​the​ ​thickness​ ​of​ ​chops. Enjoy​ ​your​ ​lunch​, ​full​ ​of​ ​the beautiful​ ​and​ ​rich​ ​flavours​ ​of​ ​the Levant!