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Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Mid East Feast

Tonight I made dinner for mom, dad and I. As I mentioned in Turkish Delights and Rittenhouse Square, I loved the Imam Fainted. I'm thankful that Joy's friend had the recipe and Joy translated it for me. The library had a cookbook called Persiana and I made the saffron and rosemary chicken to go along with the egg plant. Both mom and dad loved the meal and I enjoyed cooking both, although they were involved and took two hours to make. I want to share the recipes and pictures!

Imam Fainted

Now I know why the Imam fainted! As Joy explained to me, the story behind the name of the dish was after the Imam found out how much olive oil his wife used, he fainted because olive oil is expensive. I used a lot of olive oil, especially in frying the egg plant. Mom exclaimed, "at least olive oil is healthy!"

This is a totally vegetarian side dish, eaten cold. You could keep it in the fridge. Joy's advice: Eggplants come much smaller in Turkey. If you use one of the large ones in the markets here, just think that an average sized eggplant here is about two and half eggplants in Turkey. If I make any one of their eggplant dishes, I cut an eggplant lengthwise into two and go from there.

4-5 eggplants,the smaller the better
1 cup of oil


4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 tomato, diced
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp sugar
Salt to taste

Peel the skin of each eggplant in alternating stripes. Sprinkle salt on top and put aside for 20 minutes or put them in salt water. Squeeze, wash, and dry them with a towel.

Heat the oil medium-high and fry all sides of the eggplants until you get a nice colour. Cut a slit in each eggplant and scoop out most of the seeds, making sure they don't fall apart. Place them in a clean pan.

Meanwhile, cook all of the filling ingredients in a small pot on medium heat for a very short time. All the water should evaporate. Stir non-stop.

Fill the eggplants with the filling using a small spoon. Pour in 1/2 cup of water in the pan from the side carefully so you don't move about the fillings. Cover the lid. Cook on medium heat until the water evaporates. Add about two tablespoons of warm water and keep covered until it cools.

Put on a serving plate.

Saffron & Rosemary Chicken Filet

2 good pinches of saffron powder
2 good pinches of saffron threads
1 1/3 lbs chicken tenders
2 Tbsp. garlic oil
1 1/2 oz rosemary
2 heaped tsp. of crushed sea salt flakes
Freshly ground pepper

Grind the saffron threads with mortar and pestle (I used a spoon), then put with the other powder. Pour over the boiling water and leave to infuse for at least 20 minutes or until the water has cooled and turned a deep red colour.

Place the chicken strips in a bowl and add the garlic oil, rosemary, sea salt, a generous seasoning of black pepper, and then saffron water. Mix well so that the chicken is evenly coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for an hour to marinate.

Preheat a large frying pan over medium-high heat, drizzle a little oil into the pan, and without overcrowding the pan, fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side until a nice golden brown crust forms and they are cooked through. Serve hot alongside a salad such as Fattoush, or Quinoa Salad with Toasted Pistachios, Preserved Lemon and Zucchini. It went perfectly with the Imam Fainted too!


  1. Middle Eastern cuisine does sound tasty, both from what you've posted and from what I've read elsewhere. I don't think I've had it before, though, or if I have I didn't realize it.

    Mexican food - now that's something I've had a few times before and have really enjoyed. I haven't had it that often and prefer it to Chinese food.

    1. I'm not much of a fan of Mexican. I don't like spicy foods and a lot of Mexican food, at least around here, can be very spicy. Some Indian food I feel the same way about.

      Depending on the region, Middle Eastern food is very eclectic. Moroccan cuisine has a sweetness to it, as does Lebanese cuisine. Turkish is savory, as is Persian food. Overall, the food is tasty and although it's involved to make, they're simple ingredients.