Back to blogging

Hello everyone! My 2-week trip around Croatia is over, and I’m back to blogging. It’s time to share my experiences and impressions! This is the route we’ve taken: Split – Zadar – Plitvicka Jezera – Zagreb – Samobor.  We’ve had the best of times, and enjoyed ourselves immensely! In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting photos and restaurant reviews, and other bits and pieces from this trip.

I think I’ve found my ideal job – being a travel writer!

My Morrocan-inspired chickpeas

Addicted to chickpeas? Who me? No…. OK maybe a little bit…. OK maybe a bit more…. :)

Here’s a confession: I played with chickpeas and my spice rack once more! And let me tell you, it was delicious! positively yummilicious! Which is why I’m sharing the recipe with you! But let’s not waste time! Here’s the recipe!

 

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My Morrocan-inspired Chickpeas

 

SOURCE: momentary inspiration, own recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 5 min

COOKING TIME:  30 – 45 min (not sure)

SERVES: 2 – 3

CUISINE: Morrocan-inspired

 

INGREDIENTS

 

1 tbsp cumin seeds 

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

1.5 cm ginger

3 small carrots

2 tsp crushed red chilies

1 tbsp ghee (or vegetable oil)

 

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp ras el hanout

1/2 tsp allspice

1 tsp cayenne pepper

40 g harissa

a little water

salt and pepper

 

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

 

2 cans of chickpeas (East End is my favourite brand at the moment)

 

a small handful of raisins

 

METHOD

 

1. First, toast the cumin seeds until they start to release their aroma. When done, take them out of the pan and leave to cool. Crush them with pestle and mortar and set aside.

2. Now melt the ghee and fry the onions until golden.

3. Add ginger, garlic and carrots. Continue frying until the onions are brown.

4. Add the spices, including half the cumin, and fry for a minute. Then, add the harissa and fry for a few minutes again. Add a little water if necessary.

5. Add the tomatoes and cook until the fat starts to separate, and little specks of ghee appear on the surface of the sauce. The onions will have almost melted, and you will get a thick spicy paste. At this stage, adjust the spices according to your taste. Add a bit more of what you think necessary.

6. Add the chickpeas to the mixture and stir, adding a little water if necessary.

At this stage, I put the rice to boil, so I must have cooked them for another 10 minutes at least.

7. 5 minutes before the end stir in the raisins. At the end, stir in the rest of crushed cumin seeds.

Serve with couscouos or rice.

 

 

Verdict

Loved it! And would make it again! It was spicy though (with all the cayenne, crushed chilies, harissa…), so adjust the level of heat according to how hot you like it/can take it! :) The lemon in the harissa gave it a lovely sour tang, which went well with the earthiness of the cumin stirred in at the end. Also, I loved the contrast between the structures of chickpeas, carrot and raisin. Speaking of carrots, I could have done with more carrot in the stew, so add some more if you wish. Add a bit more garlic, too.

I was going to serve it with a garnish of friend onions and garlic on top, but had no time. Try it, if you want!

You can have it as a vegetarian main course, and even as a side dish. Make loads and take leftover to work for lunch!

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Other chickpeas recipes at Maninas: Food Matters:

Chana Masala V

Catalan Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Almonds  V – my addaptation of Melissa’s recipe

Another twist on Catalan Chickpeas V

 

inspired: grilled halloumi with red chili, basil, lime juice and olive oil dressing

halloumi is a type of mild cypriot cheese, that holds its shape well when grilling. also, because of its mild taste, it combines really well with other flavour. great for experimentation! 

feeling inspired, here’s what i came up with.

 unfortunately, no photo this time. visually, it looked fantastic, but i didn’t remember to take the photo until i finished it off! oops! :)

 i had it as a light and quick lunch with some crusty bread.  serving it as a starter at a dinner party would be a great idea, too. or, make a larger quantity of tomatoes and other veg, and turn it into a big salad!

btw, i love these spontaneous posts!

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 UPDATE 13 September

looks like i can’t stay away from my halloumi. i made it again! here’s a pic!

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grilled halloumi with red chili, basil, lime juice and olive oil dressing

 

SOURCE: momentary inspiration, own recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 2 min

COOKING TIME:  3 min

SERVES: 1

CUISINE: Fusion

INGREDIENTS

 

 Grilled halloumi

4 slices of halloumi

a squeeze of lime juice

a dollop of good quality olive oil

a good pinch of dried red chili flakes

some freshly ground pepper

 

Tomato salad

1 large tomato, sliced

a few leaves of fresh basil

a tiny pinch of salt

 

METHOD:

1. Prepare the salad: slice the tomato and tear the basil leaves in small pieces. Mix, add salt, and put on a plate.

2. Heat the grill pan/grill. Grill the halloumi until nice and brown on both sides.

3. Place the grilled cheese on the plate next to the tomatoes. Sprinkle the cheese and the tomatoes with lime juice, olive oil, chili pepper and ground pepper.

 

Verdict:

Delicious! Will make again. and again. and again! :)

 

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Update:

It’s the 100th Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB) event this week!!! Isn’t that impressive? I definitely think it is, and I’m submitting this post to celebrate this event! The recipe features one of my favourite plants, basil (which I grew myself!), so it’s only right that I do so! Let’s not forget, this event was started by Kalyn of Kalyn’s kitchen. Here’s where you can find the rules if you’d like to take part, and here’s where you can find out who’s hosting the next WHB. WHB #100 is hosted by Katerina of Daily Unadventures in Cooking.

 

Dalmatian Chard with garlic and olive oil OR Blitva s maslinovim uljem i lukom

Even the most elaborate and beautiful main dishes appear a little dull and painfully lack something if presented on their own, without a single side dish. To me, side dishes are not just a side issue, but an important component of a meal. It is often the complexity and the number of side dishes that impress the guests. In that spirit, let me present you with one of my favourite Dalmatian side dishes: Swiss Chard with garlic and olive oil, or in Dalmatian, Blitva s maslinovim uljem i lukom (scroll to the bottom of the post for the recipe or better said guidelines, since I included no quantities).

If you ask me, this is THE perfect accompaniment to grilled fish (Dalmatian recipe to come)! Perhaps only the Dalmatian-style potato salad comes slightly close, but not too close. It’s also great served with grilled meat. In addition, this dish, and some fried eggs, make a simple but tasty dinner. (To us, lunch is the main meal of the day, while we tend to have something small and simple for dinner, unless we’re entertaining).

I called this recipe ‘Dalmatian’ because this is how my mum and grandmas, and other cooks in Dalmatia, cook chard. Reading around, I found out that chard is prepared in a similar manner elsewhere, namely in Italy and France. This didn’t come as a surprise. After all, chard is native to Mediterranean, and olive oil and garlic are omnipresent in all Mediterranean cuisines. Similarities like this are not uncommon in areas of shared geography and climate. Also, chard was known to Ancient Greeks and Romans, who valued it for its medicinal and nutritional properties. It may well be that this recipe comes from their time. Dalmatia, or Illyria as was then known, was first colonised by the Greeks, and then later by the Romans.

This simple method of preparation enhances the flavour of the vegetables, and the garlic goes really well with Swiss chard. Any green leafy vegetable can be prepared like this. We prepare cabbage, Savoy cabbage and spinach in the same way. All are delicious, but in Dalmatia, we really like our chard. So much that we’ve been nicknamed accordingly… But who cares? I certainly don’t!

PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons: Swiss Chard

ChardBeta vulgaris var. cicla

Chard is also known as Swiss Chard, Silverbeet, Perpetual Spinach or Mangold. This tall, leafy green vegetable is actually a beet, like beetroot for example, but it doesn’t have a bulb. Swiss chard has beautiful dark green leaves, while the stalks can be white, yellow or red. All three types taste pretty much the same: similar to spinach, but slightly more bitter. Both its soft leaves and the crunchy stalks are used in cooking.

In spite of the word Swiss in its name, ‘Swiss’ Chard is actually a true Mediterranean, being native to Mediterranean countries. Chard was named after cardoon, a Mediterranean celery-like plant with thick stalks that resemble those of chard. The French called both plants “carde.” The Swiss connection comes from the fact that the Swiss botanist Koch determined the scientific name of this plant in the 19th century. The adjective Swiss was also used to distinguish the two vegetables.

This vegetable is rich in vitamins and very nutritious.

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Dalmatian Chard with garlic and olive oil

OR

Blitva s maslinovim uljem i lukom

 

SOURCE: Mum’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME:  5 – 10 min

COOKING TIME:  15 min

CUISINE: Croatian Dalmatian 

 

INGREDIENTS:

Swiss Chard (or any other green leafy vegetable)

Potatoes

Garlic

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

METHOD:

1. Begin by preparing the chard by removing the stalks, and any leaves that are damaged. Rinse well.

2. Peel the potatoes, and cut them into pieces. Put the potatoes into water, and boil for a few minutes.

3. When the potatoes are starting to become soft, add the chard, and cook until both the potatoes and the chard is soft.

4. Meanwhile, peel the garlic and chop into pieces.

5. When the chard is done, strain the water.

6. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add garlic to it. Fry for a minute or two, and add the chard and the potatoes.

7. Continue frying the vegetables until the water has evaporated and the flavour of garlic and olive oil has permeated the chard and potatoes. Break the potatoes with the back of a spoon if you wish, to make the potato pieces smaller, and the dish creamier.

 Serve along some grilled or fried fish, grilled meat, or fried eggs.

Enjoy!

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Verdict

Delicious! It really goes well with grilled fish. Do try it!

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Swiss Chard recipes elsewhere:

At Beyond Salmon

Swiss Chard Recipe at Simply Recipes

Swiss chard info and recipes at Vegbox

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