Vegan Fattet Hummus

It is no secret to regular readers of this blog that chickpeas and I have a long-standing love affair. We were first formally introduced in 2009 and have been hot and heavy ever since. Whether it’s in a veggie packed hummus, a dense and flavourful falafel, or even in a quick curry – I am down for the count when chickpeas are involved. It is by far my favourite legume (cue the #shitveganssay hashtag).

All things considered, I really ought to have made this recipe a little bit sooner, considering the main constituent is none other than the mighty chickpea. Sometimes referred to as “Fattet Hummus bil Laban”, Fattet Hummus is perhaps one of the lesser known staples of Syrian and Lebanese cuisine. Typically eaten for breakfast, it is a blend of creamy yoghurt, tahini, chickpeas, bread, spices and fragrant toasted pine nuts.

After browsing a few recipes online, veganising it seemed like it would be a cinch. Soy yoghurt instead of dairy, and olive oil in place of butter (I also originally wanted to concoct a gluten-free version, but was unable to get my hands on any gluten-free pita so I settled on wholewheat Arabic bread instead).

What took a little longer however, was deciding just how to go about making the fatteh – in true Arab fashion, it seems to be one of those dishes that no one can decide on how to make best. I started to worry and ponder which recipe I should attempt to veganise – when I thought “Wait a second. This is my blog; I can make it however I want!”

Having said that, I can’t guarantee that my method or end result is as authentic as the real thing – but I can assure you that it is light, tasty and choc full of flavour – plus of course, dairy free and plant-based to boot.

 

This dish would be the perfect thing to throw together if you were going to dinner at someone’s house – it takes just under 10 minutes to make, but looks like you spent hours slaving over it.

Well, maybe not hours per se…

…but you have to admit it’s a pretty good looking dish.

Not to mention the contrast between the creamy yoghurt, the savoury hummus, crispy bread and sweet bullets of pomegranate that harmonise in a fantastic medley of flavours and textures.

For me, it made for a wonderfully light and tasty lunch alongside a simple kale salad today, but most of all I was thankful for the ease at which it came together. I’m feeling slightly under the weather and was in no state to be on my feet cooking for hours on end.

If you were once a fan of fattet hummus, or hell – if you like chickpeas anywhere near as much as I do, then I urge you to try this recipe, you won’t be disappointed.

Until next time, dear readers!

Vegan Spanakopita

Upon learning of my veganism, of the top questions I get asked by people is “don’t you miss anything?” I think given the fact that we live in a global culture that is emotionally attached to certain foods, this is the one thing that seems to baffle people. How did I “break up” with cheese, they wonder. How is it so that me and butter don’t even speak anymore? And (the pinnacle of unwarranted responses) “hey, don’t you ever just crave a steak?”

The honest answer is no, I don’t crave milk, cheese, eggs, dairy, red meat, poultry or fish. Even if I did enjoy the taste of meat (which I don’t), I can’t ever fathom willingly consuming animals or animal products ever again. That said, I’m only human, and I too have emotional attachments to certain dishes that I associate with a particular memory.

One such dish is Spanakoptia – a classic Greek pie of spinach and feta in crispy golden filo pastry. Admittedly, the rolled pastry I used to purchase from my university coffee shop was a highly bastardized version – but it was delicious all the same, and quite popular on campus too. I remember once standing in line after a long morning of lectures trying to thaw from the cold, only to notice there were but 2 rolls left and 6 people (including myself) queueing up to be served. I held my breath as each person ordered, silently hoping that the last roll would be mine, and sure enough it was. I can’t tell you how satisfying and warming biting into a crisp spanakopita alongside a cup of steaming herbal tea was on that icy day.

Due to the fact that I am near useless when it comes to working with filo pastry, the recipe I’ve devised here is closer to the original pie format, but I can guarantee you it is just as tasty, buttery and crisp as the one I remember.

 

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A cornucopia of flavours and textures.

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Crispy, creamy, spinach infused. This was just perfection.

Mental note to make this again soon – my stomach is rumbling at the thought!

 

Herb and Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

I take pleasure in simple things.

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Solitary visits to the Saturday Farmers market, for example.

While I would hardly consider myself an introvert, there are some activities that are best performed solo, and for me – this is definitely one of them. I love trawling the crowded outdoor market, bustling from stand to stand, and allowing my senses to drink in the colours, sights and smells of the week’s fresh produce.

My thoughts entertain me, as I marvel at the Bahraini farmer who, having clearly thought I was a western expat based on my choice of outfit for the day, attempted to lure me to his stall by shouting in broken English “We have Kale!!”

For the record, his ploy worked, and despite the fact that it was grossly overpriced, I bought some – but only after conversing with him in Arabic to attempt to contest his blanket generalization that only westerners ate kale.

Burlap bag in tow, I moved on to the next stall where I laid eyes on something I had only ever seen before at a farmer’s market in Bodrum last summer; fresh zucchini blossoms.

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My excitement was tangible as I carefully rifled through the slightly beaten-up blossoms to pick out a few that were sturdy enough to stuff. Imagine my delight when I handed the bag to the attendant at the stall asking “how much?”, only to have him motion with his head and hands as if to say, “no need”. I thanked him graciously and proceeded to walk down the row of stalls with a smile on my face and my mind whirring with inspiration.

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This recipe is the second coming of my traditional “mahshi” recipe – I thought the addition of smashed chickpeas would add a nice depth of texture, and the fresh mint at the farmers market looked too good not to use.

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I was originally contemplating whipping up a cashew ricotta to use as a stuffing, but I was craving something more substantial in terms of texture and flavour. I must say the perfectly fluffed quinoa lends itself well to being parceled in a flavor and herb infused blossom.

Light, nutritionally dense and filling – ideal for a weekend lunch as a warm main dish or a cold side drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice and a smattering of fresh herbs.

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I just love creating dishes made up exclusively of local fresh produce, and today’s cooking experiment was just that. I’m telling you, it’s the simple things.

Easy Vegan Chickpea Flour Omelet

While I do enjoy the occasional sweet treat – I must admit I am truly a savoury person at heart. Growing up I was never one for desserts, and I almost always opted for the bag of chips instead of a candy bar. I suppose this is a tendency I inherited from my mother, who, whenever asked by waiters at restaurants if she would like dessert, would respond with the classic line of “I’m sweet enough”.

It naturally follows that my tastebud tendencies translate to breakfast too – however I am a long-standing devotees to sweet breakfasts like green smoothies, granola, oatmeal, waffles or pancakes. Savoury breakfasts however also hold their own for me; especially when they’re wholesome, filling and flavourful. Yesterday’s breakfast was in fact just that.

I wasn’t originally planning to post this recipe, as I documented it on my snapchat (onearabvegan) account for my inaugural cooking demonstration snap-series – but some of you requested I share it, and who am I to say no?

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I had mine with some olives and sliced avocado – it definitely hit the spot and set me up nicely for the rest of the day. The great think about this recipe is how versatile it is! You can add greens, sundried tomatoes, tofu or even some vegan cheese if you’re feeling a little decadent.

Until next time dear readers!

Vegan Ghormeh Sabzi

It makes me so happy to see that veganism is slowly inching it’s way into the mainstream here in Bahrain. Sure, we may not have any explicitly vegan dining establishments per se – but many up and coming restaurants are starting to include more plant-based options on their menus.

This is important to me for two reasons; the first is that it means that the voices of veg*ns locally and regionally are being heard. The more we speak out, be it on social media, on comment cards or even to restaurant managers in person, the louder our collective voice becomes.  It also may indicate that business owners are being savvy and staying on top of trends – there’s no denying that vegan, paleo, gluten-free and other special dietary needs are being tended to far better than they were even 3 years ago when I first moved back to Bahrain.

The second reason is that every time a popular restaurant or cafe uses the word “vegan” or “plant-based” it helps spread awareness and educate the general public. While the idea of vegetarianism isn’t completely foreign here, most people still don’t completely understand what it means to be vegan as opposed to vegetarian – or how gluten-free fits in (it doesn’t, at least not exclusively). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard something along the lines of “You’re the first Arab vegan I’ve ever met” – and while I do enjoy the novelty on some level, I can’t wait for the day where the response will be “Oh – my cousin/brother/sister/friend is vegan too!”

That said – today’s recipe is an adaptation of one such vegan option I had at a local restaurant in Bahrain – Ghormeh Sabzi. Traditionally made with lamb and served with yoghurt and saffron rice, this Persian dish is a slow-cooked fragrant green stew consisting of herbs such as parsley, coriander and fenugreek, spinach, onions, garlic and kidney beans to name a few.

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The version I had was absolutely divine – delicately spiced with black lemon, fenugreek and turmeric, served atop perfectly fluff saffron rice. My one qualm? Not nearly enough beans. I vowed to re-create my own version with enough legumes and the addition of millet instead of rice to pack a decent protein punch.

 

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This was the perfect lunch on a slightly chilly breezy afternoon – fragrantly warming, flavorful and filling.

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Admittedly, my version is a little more rustic than the traditional slow-cooked version, but I can guarantee you it’s every bit as flavourful.