Blanket terms and generalisations for international cuisines forever rub me the wrong way. I still retain my delicate sensibilities by finding “Mediterranean salad” with some olives mixed in, “Greek style pasta” adorned with feta crumble, “Asian style salad” with a sesame seed garnish or “Arabic style lamb” with a smattering of pomegranate straight up offensive. Can we please stop pigeonholing dishes and defining a culture by the addition of one cliché ingredient? Sure, accessibility and all that, but one spiced Spanish-style sausage a paella does not make.
This week my bookshelf has been graced with The Jewelled Kitchen by Bethany Kehdy, and this citrus salad from page 68 is a far cry from the usual whack a pomegranate on it and call it ethnic food fare – it’s tangy, it’s fresh, it’s sweet, it’s zingy, it’s a little crunchy. My version varies tremendously from the original in terms of presentation (my mandolin and oranges of choice did not want to be friends) so, in classic Alana style, I’ve opted for the messy rustic approach.
This book is a wonderful collection of Middle Eastern recipes, and as aforementioned it isn’t the usual fusion fare – this is a genuine, heartfelt book with both classics, modern interpretations and personal adaptations and as someone who grew up alongside some of these dishes it is an absolute joy to read.
In an attempt to cease the stereotypical just add ____ for that easy, authentic flavour! style recipes I’m giving away one copy of The Jewelled Kitchen to inspire the inner Teta in all of you. To enter all you need to do is answer this simple question by leaving a comment below: what’s your favourite Middle Eastern dish? Blanket, authentic, fusion or offensive guilty pleasure, I don’t care. Local kebab? The most hectic kataifi? Shout it from the roof tops and shout it to me within the sweet confines of the internet.
Many citrus fruits mentioned here are out of season so just replace them with whatever you like (the more grapefruit you use the more honey you may need, please heed my sour warning).
Moroccan Citrus Salad
(from The Jewelled Kitchen by Bethany Kehdy)
1 blood orange
1 pink grapefruit
1 pomegranate, seeded
A few of pistachios, roughly chopped
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp orange blossom water
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
A few mint leaves
4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1. Using a sharp knife segment citrus fruit or use a mandolin to slice into fine pieces. Or cut however you like, whatever! Throw your citrus in a bowl with the pomegranate seeds.
2. Add orange blossom water and honey and give it all a stir. Add mint leaves, combine again, then serve in the bowl of your choice as neatly or as rustic as you like. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top.
3. Adorn with a generous dollop of yoghurt, sprinkle the pistachio shards and enjoy with a glass of mint tea (green tea + sugar + mint leaves).