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  Age on Sunday   31 Aug 2019  Going beyond hummus

Going beyond hummus

Published : Sep 1, 2019, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Sep 1, 2019, 12:05 am IST

From fragrant rice to deep-fried samboosa, middle-eastern cuisine is packed with flavours.

Lebanon Lentil
 Lebanon Lentil

Few cuisines truly exemplify the term ‘melting pot’ as definitively as Middle-Eastern fare. In recent years, the cuisine has found its place in the sun with fine dining restaurants in megacities across the world celebrating the cuisines’ multifarious flavour profile. Contrary to popular opinion, the cuisine extends much beyond chickpeas and hummus. From maqluba —   Palestine’s national dish to Knafeh made with white-brined Nabusi cheese, the cuisine straddles three continents: Israel, Syria and Lebanon. And despite the region’s cultural diversity, it’s homogenous as many of the popular dishes utilise ingredients such as olive oil, sesame seeds, chickpeas and rice. “The most common perception of this cuisine is that it is all about meat. However, the heart of the cuisine lies in its vegetables, spices, and grains,” says Chef Ajay Thakur of Bayroute.

Often mistaken for Mediterranean food, the culinary traditions of the Middle East embody tastes and textures which are distinct from those of Europe and North Africa. While both include healthy fats, lean proteins, whole grains, and fruits and veggies, it also includes rich spices, tangy fruits, and healthy seeds. The warm-earthy and pungent flavours of the dishes are derived from cumin, anise, cinnamon, nutmeg and za’atar, a condiment made largely from dried thyme, sesame seeds and sumac and is used in most dishes. “To make these dishes at home, it is essential to have good quality of spices such as za’atar, sumac and tahina. These ingredients add a very vibrant taste with even just a pinch,” he adds. And when it comes to dessert, the sweeter, the better.


Lebanon Lentil

Red masoor dal: 60gm
Chopped onion: 10gm
Chopped celery: 5gm
Chopped garlic: 5gm
Chopped carrot:  10gm
Ghee: 20gm
Bay leaves: 3gm
Water:  200ml
Salt to taste
Dukkah spice: 12gm
Pita chips: 20gm
Cumin powder: 4gm
Vegetable stock: 50ml

Soak the dal for 20 minutes in warm water.  In a saucepan, add half the amount of ghee, bay leaves and let it crackle.

Sauté the chopped vegetables till translucent. Add in the strained dal and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add in the water and bring to a boil while continuously stirring. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or till the dal has completely dissolved in water.


Remove the bay leaves, cool the mixture and then blend to a smooth thick mixture.

In a pan, add in the mixture, vegetable stock, salt and cumin powder. Finish the soup with the remaining ghee.

To garnish, sprinkle Dukkah spice and pita chips. If Dukkah is not available, one can replace it with zaatar or sumac or even garam masala.  

Lotus Drama

Milk: 30 gm
Cream cheese: 230gm
Hung yogurt: 345gm
Cream: 25gm
Flour: 45gm
Sugar: 75gm
Lotus biscuit:100 gm
Egg Yolk: 4
Butter 45gm
For garnish:
Caramel sauce: 150 gm
White chocolate: 100 gm

In the round bowl, take cream cheese, yogurt and sugar and mix it using hand mixer, making it creamy.
Add in the egg yolk, cream and milk and mix.  Add sieved flour and mix again. Once done, strain it and pour it into baking moulds.
For the crumble base, mix crushed biscuit and butter to make a dough-like consistency and spread it on loose-bottom cheesecake mould. Bake it at 170 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool and add cheesecake mix.For final baking, bake it in a water bath. Keep a water tray in oven and in the same tray, place cheesecake mould and bake it at145 degrees for 45 minutes.



Cauliflower flower: 30 gm
Big brinjal slice: 30 gm
Onion rings: 10 gm
Potato slice: 20 gm
 Tomato slice: 400 gm
Bell pepper yellow: 30 gm
Bell pepper red: 30 gm
Boneless chicken: 150 gm
Salt: As per taste
Pepper: 2gm
Green capsicum: 15gm
Onion slice: 10 gm
Tomato Rice         
Ghee: 10 gms
Onion chopped: 10 gm
Garlic chopped: 5gm
Tomato paste: 15gm
Chicken stock: 200 gm
Basmati rice: 35 gm
Salt:As per taste
Pepper: 1 gm
Turmeric Rice
Ghee : 10gm
Onion Chopped: 10 gm
Garlic Chopped: 5gm
Turmeric: 2gm
Chicken Stock:
20 ml
Basmati Rice: 35 gm
Salt: As per taste
Pepper: 1 gm
Almond: 5gm
Pistachio: 5gm
Pomegranate: 10 gm
Parsley: 2gm
Coriander: 2gm
— Recipes by Chef Ajay Thakur


Marinate the chicken and rest it for 2 hours. Sear the chicken on a skillet and then cook the chicken in the oven at 180 degrees for 8 minutes.Deep-fry the vegetables until cooked.
For tomato rice, sauté onion, garlic in ghee. Add tomato paste, chicken stock, boiled rice and adjust the seasoning.
For turmeric rice, sauté onion, garlic in ghee, add turmeric-boiled rice and adjust the seasoning.
For assembling, arrange vegetables in a pot. For the second layer, add tomato rice and follow it up with cooked chicken and turmeric rice.
Close the lid and cook on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes.
— By Chef Ajay Thakur


Mushrooms: 200gm
Onion: 2gm
Leeks: 2gm
Garlic: 2gm
Celery: 2gm
Parsley: 2gm
Parmesan cheese: 10gm
Yellow cheddar cheese: 10gm
Bocconcini cheese: 10gm
Salt: To taste
Chermoula powder: 2gm
Kefta powder: 2gm
Fillo pastry: 5gm


Sauté the veggies and mushroom together and keep it aside.
Once it comes to the room temperature, then add the cheese into the mixture and roll it in the filo pastry.
Heat oil, fry samboosa till golden brown. Garnish with micro greens.
— by Chef Makrand Samant, Maffy’s

Turkish Falafel

Chana kabuli: 200 gm
Jeera powder: 4tbsp
Garlic, peeled: 30 gm
Beetroot: 1
Green chillies: 3
Coriander leaves: 2
Cream cheese: 50 gm
Hung curd: 50 gm
Olive oil: 5 tbsp
Pomegranate drizzle  
White sesame seeds: 6tbsp
Oregano: 7 tbsp
Jeera powder: 8 tbsp
Parsley: 10 tbsp
Salt: 10 gm
Pepper White Powder: 5 gm

For falafel, soak chickpeas overnight. Grate the beetroot and grind all the ingredients. Check the seasoning. Make portions of 40gm each and deep fry.
For Pomegranate drizzle,  crush fresh pomegranate seeds,olive oil, white toasted sesame seeds, a pinch dried oregano, crushed cumin powder, salt, pepper and chopped pasley.
For Labneh, hang the curd overnight; add equal quantity of cream cheese and garlic powder. Whip the hung curd with a hand blender, until smooth. Adjust salt.
To assemble the dish, spoon out 100gms of Labneh into the bowl and spread in a circular pattern. Sprinkle a bit of cumin powder on top. Spoon out the pomegranate salsa on the top of the Labneh and drizzle a bit of chilli oil on top. Place the falafels and garnish with micro cress
—by Chef Kedar Bobde,Indigo Deli


Tags: cuisines