Savory Syria: Recipes From Diane Sawyer's Trip

Hummus bi Tahina (Chickpea and Sesame Dip)

Ingredients

125 g (4 oz) chickpeas, soaked for a few hours

Juice of 2 lemons

3 tbsp. tahina

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Salt

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Garnish

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. paprika

A few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped

Directions

Drain the chickpeas and simmer in fresh water for about an hour or until tender. Reserve the cooking water. Process the chickpeas in a blender (or food processor) with the lemon juice, tahina, garlic, salt and enough of the cooking liquid to obtain a soft creamy consistency. Serve on a flat plate, garnished with a dribble of olive oil, a dusting of paprika (this is usually done in the shape of a cross) and a little parsley. Serve with warm pita bread for dipping. Serves 4-6.

From "Mediterranean Cookery" by Claudia Roden

Baba Ghannouj (Eggplant Dip)

Ingredients

1 large round eggplant (aubergine)

2 or 3 cloves of garlic

60 milliliters (3 oz., 4 tbsp.) tahina

60 milliliters (2 oz., 4 tbsp.) lemon juice

Salt, red pepper

Olive oil

Chopped parsley

Slices of red bell pepper to garnish

Directions

Cook the eggplant in a hot oven or on a fork over the flame of a gas stove. When it is well cooked through and the skin is blackened, douse with cold water, peel and chop into small pieces. Mash two or three cloves of garlic to a paste with about the same volume of salt. Add eggplant, mash to a smooth consistency, and blend the tahina and lemon juice to make the Arab version of this dish; omit the tahina for the Turkish version. Serve in a bowl with little olive oil on top and garnish chopped parsley, red pepper slices and a dusting of red pepper. Serves five.

Salatat Bathinjan (Eggplant Appetizer)

Eggplant, often called "the poor man's meat" or "the poor man's caviar," is one of the staple foods of the Middle East, valued for its great versatility.

Ingredients

1 large eggplant, peeled and thickly sliced

Salt

8 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic

1 medium hot pepper, finely chopped

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions

Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt. Place in a strainer or colander, top with a weight, and allow to drain for 45 minutes. Heat the oil in a frying pan, then add the eggplant slices and fry on both sides until they are golden brown. Remove the eggplant slices, dice them, then set aside in a bowl. Mash the garlic cloves with salt. Add to the diced eggplant along with the hot pepper and lemon juice. Chill slightly and serve.

Arabic Pickled Turnips

1. Boil in water until tender; peel, cool, quarter and set aside:

1 large beet

2. Drop into boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes:

4 small turnips or 3 medium-size turnips, quartered

3. Remove turnips and peel them. They will have a silky texture.

4. Place in hot sterilized 1-pint wide-mouth jar, packing between each turnip:

1 cooked beet quarter

2 to 3 slivers of garlic clove

2 to 3 sprigs young celery leaves

5. Combine and bring to boil:

½ cup each white vinegar and water

1 tbsp. coarse salt

6. Fill jar with vinegar mixture, seal and store in warm place 10 days. Makes 1 pint.

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