Pierogi with Green Lentils and Coriander

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Name and pronunciation: pierogi [pee-yeh-ro-ghi] – there is no need for the “s” at the end so often used in English. “Pierogi” is already a plural form.
Description: dumplings
Type of cuisine: Polish

I absolutely love pierogi with green lentils. They are flavourful and have a great texture, actually resembling meat, so even the most dedicated carnivores are guaranteed to enjoy them. I add fresh coriander, so it is not strictly traditional Polish filling, but it is a real staple in our house and we eat tonnes of them!

Approximately 40 servings • Preparation time: about 60 minutes • Resting time: 30 minutes (optional) • Cooking time: 1-2 minutes

Tips:

01
With fresh pierogi, you have a choice between serving them just cooked, or frying them. After cooling or freezing, you should fry them.

02
Both fresh and fried pierogi are perfect when served with fried onions or sour cream.

03
Because you need to add two layers of dough to each bite, make sure that the filling is slightly saltier and a little bit spicer than you need it. This way it will be perfectly balanced when cooked.

Ingredients:

Dough:
one portion of pierogi dough

Green lentil filling:
 200 g dry green lentils
 1 large onion
 fresh coriander (to taste, I like quite a lot)
 salt (to taste)
 pepper (to taste)

Method:

01
Make a portion of dough and set it aside for 30 minutes.

02
Cook the lentils until soft all the way through, but not mushy. The filling is much better when it retains the natural texture of perfectly cooked lentils. You will need about twice as much water as you are using lentils. 

03
Chop the onion and fry it until brown, but not crispy.

04
Drain cooked lentils. It is best to give them good few minutes to make sure all water is drained well and the filling is not too runny.

05
Mix cooked lentils, fried onion and chopped coriander while gently breaking the lentils with a fork, to achieve a consistency resembling cooked minced meat. Season with salt and pepper. 

06
Make pierogi following these instructions.

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Enjoy!

Iraqi Biryani

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Name and pronunciation: البرياني [biryani]
Description: our favourite vegetarian version of Iraqi biryani
Type of cuisine: Arabic

Iraqi biryani is the first dish my husband cooked for me and it is sill one of my favourite tastes. It differs from the original, Indian version. It has much more rich and complex flavours and textures. There are many different ways to make biryani and we make it vegetarian, but you can opt to add some meat as well.

Approximately 4-6 people • Cooking time: about 60 minutes

Tips:

01
All ingredients are quick and easy, but need to be prepared separately, so it is better to be organised and have everything ready in advance

02
Feel free to use the same oil to fry all the ingredients. You will need a little more oil than usually. It is not exactly deep-frying, but you need about ½ good quality olive oil. Use a draining spoon to remove one type of ingredient, before adding another one.

Ingredients:

medium potato
1-2 medium carrots
1 medium onion
½ cauliflower
2 cups rice (best to use basmati variety)
cup vermicelli
2 cups frozen green peas
1-2 handfuls raisins
1-2 handfuls almonds or other nuts
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1½ tablespoons cardamom
1½ tablespoons sumac
1 tablespoon salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper

Method:

01
Cut the cauliflower into very small pieces and cook until a little soft. Drain and set aside.

02
Peel and chop the potato, carrot and onions into cubes. Heat up the oil and fry them separately until slightly brown and delicately crispy on the outside. Drain excessive oil using kitchen paper and set aside in one dish.

03
Now, it is time to toast the nuts and raisins. Nuts only need a minute until they are golden and very aromatic. Raisins may need a little longer, but be careful not to fry them for too long as they become hard. When first raisins get pumped and start looking like grapes again, it is time to stop. Drain and set aside.

04
Thew the green peas with boiling water. You do not have to cook it, it is enough to let it sit in hot water for about 10 minutes and drain.

05
Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat up a generous portion of good olive oil, add dry vermicelli and all the spices. Fry until the pasta turns slightly golden, for approximately a minute or two. Add dry rice, and fry everything together for another 5 minutes.

06
Bring about 5 cups of water to boil in a kettle and pour over fried vermicelli and rice. Cover it (not completely) and simmer until the rice is soft and almost all water is gone. It should take about 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat, cover completely and let sit for about 5 more minutes, until the rice is perfect.

07
Stir the rice with vermicelli and add all vegetables, raisins and nuts. Stir everything thoroughly and serve with thick natural yogurt.

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Enjoy!

Delicious Pierogi with Cottage Cheese

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Name and pronunciation: pierogi z serem [pee-yeh-ro-ghi z seh-rem] – there is no need for the “s” at the end so often used in English. “Pierogi” is already a plural form.
Description: dumplings with dry cottage cheese
Type of cuisine: Polish

This is a true taste of my childhood. My late maternal grandmother made the best pierogi with cheese. This recipe is based on how she made them.

Approximately 40 pieces • Preparation time: about 60 minutes • Resting time: 30 minutes (optional) • Cooking time: 1-2 minutes

Tips:

01
With fresh pierogi, you have a choice between serving them just cooked, or frying them. After cooling or freezing, you should fry them.

02
Both fresh and fried pierogi with cottage cheese are perfect when served with fried onions or sour cream.

Ingredients:

Dough:
one portion of pierogi dough

Cottage cheese filling:
 250 g Polish dry cottage cheese 
 250 g potatoes
 1 large onion
 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
 2 teaspoons black seed (Nigella Sativa, to taste)

Method:

01
Make a portion of dough and set it aside for 30 minutes.

02
Cook the potatoes until very soft. Cool them and mash them thoroughly.

03
Chop the onion and fry it until brown, but not crispy yet. Mix all the ingredients together.

04
Make pierogi following instructions.

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Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pancakes

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This is one of the easiest and quickest recipes and it so delicious! Perfect from fresh or frozen pumpkin. Best topped with yoghurt or sour cream and dusted with cinnamon.

4-6 people • Preparation time: about 30 minutes

Tips:

01
It is better to fry your pumpkin pancakes a little longer on medium heat, or they might burn on the outside and stay raw inside.

02
Read this tip about choosing the right coconut milk.

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
 2 cups shredded pumpkin
 2½ cups coconut milk (you can substitute it with regular milk)
 1 tablespoon baking powder
 1 tablespoon sugar
 1 tablespoon spices (cinnamon or/and nutmeg, gingerbread mix, etc.)
 1 teaspoon salt

Method:

01 
Carefully mix all dry ingredients with a whisk.

02 
Mix all wet ingredients using a blender to make the batter light and airy.

03
Gently, but thoroughly mix two parts together, you can use low setting on your blender.

04
Fry on medium temperature. Depending on the type of your pan, you will need to use little to no oil.

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Enjoy!

Our Favourite Falafel

Our Eastern Kitchen - Our Favourite Falafel Recipe - Food Photography

Name and pronunciation: فلافل [fah-lah-fell]
Description: falafel
Type of cuisine: Arabic

The day I have made falafel my husband recognised and liked, was a very happy in our family! There are as many falafel recipes as families and this is our favourite, secret flavour.

Approximately 40 falafels • Soaking chickpeas overnight • Preparation time: 30 minutes • Frying time: 20 minutes

Tips:

01
Do not use tinned chickpeas for falafel, it is much too soft. You need to use dry variety instead.

02
Fry your falafels until they are golden brown, but make sure you do not overdo it. They should be delicately crispy on the outside and soft inside.

03
They will be just as good defrosted, so try to make more and freeze a batch or two. They defrost in a matter of minutes!

04
You can serve them on a plate, or wrapped in any kind of flat bread or a tortilla. My absolute favourite is Turkish Yufka bread (dürüm).

05
Use any sauce you like on your falafels. I like it most with a mixture of mayonnaise and amba. Amba is an Arabic sauce made of pickled mango and a blend of spices. It is very Iraqi thing to put amba on falafel and for a great reason, it is a divine combination! Every brand makes their own blend, so they tend to be very different. Keep looking until you find your perfect taste.

Ingredients:

500 g chickpeas (dry, will make about 1,2 kg after soaking and cooking)
1-2 large onions
 2-4 cloves of garlic (to taste)
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
 2-3 teaspoons salt (to taste)
 2 teaspoons turmeric
 some fresh parsley (optional, to taste)
 sesame seeds (optional, to taste)
 2 teaspoons cumin*
¼ teaspoon ground coriander*
 1 teaspoon black pepper*
 1-2 pinches cardamom*
* OR use about 2-3 teaspoons of ready-made falafel mix

Method:

01 
Soak dry chickpeas in water overnight (or at least good few hours) and then cook for 1-2 hours until soft enough to bite, but still a little crunchy inside.

02
When your chickpeas is ready, add all of the ingredients. I use a press for garlic to perfectly blend it the flavour and chop onion in small cubes.

03
After thoroughly mixing all ingredients, blend them with a hand blender until the chickpeas is broken down in small pieces. You might want to do it in few parts, because it is thick and tends to clog the blender a little. Keep blending patiently without adding any moisture. It is not the quickest task, but you need the mix very thick and sticky, otherwise your falafels will fall apart when you try to fry them.

04
When your mix is ready, it is time for shaping. If you can get your hands on a falafel press, they are fast and super easy to use. The best part of having one is that your falafels will start looking exactly the same from the very first time. Otherwise, you can shape your falafels between two tablespoons or in hands. The simplest way to form them in your hands is to roll a small ball and flatten it slightly. You can also make a little hole with your thumb. Try your best to make them all the same size and shape. This way they will fry evenly and look much nicer on a plate.

05
Falafel needs to be deep-fried, so if you have a deep-frier, use it! If not, just use a wok, an ordinary pan or a pot with non-stick surface. You just need enough oil to cover your falafels at least half of the height and then flip them. If the oil covers them fully, of course there is no need to flip. It is just easier to fry this way.

06
They do not take that long to fry, only a few minutes. They need to be deep golden, but not too dark, so they do not get too dry inside. Let them cool down a little a they are ready!

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Enjoy!