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Blog

Breaking the Fast

Dan

We had a few friends over last week to celebrate Ramadan, which is the month long fast that my Muslim friends celebrate each year. During the day they will fast from food and water and other certain activities in order to draw closer to Allah. Ramadan is one of the five tenants that every Muslim must follow. Each evening, famililes all get together and break their fast with a wonderful meal usually consisting of a special soup and tagine or couscous - depending on the family. Last week my friends and I got together and I cooked a meal just like I would have eaten in N.Africa. It was'nt quite the same, but it was pretty close and oh so yummy- the only thing missing was my dear friends and the shebekia - gosh, I love those cookies!!

My N.African Ramadan Meal here consisted of cucumber salad, homemade bread, harira (soup), boiled eggs with cumin, dates, and veggie couscous. Hope you enjoy the bread and soup recipe and a few pics from some of my past favorite meals with my N. African friends! 

Homemade Bread (Khobz)

  • 4 cups white flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  • additional flour for kneading
  • cornmeal and oil for the pan

1. Prepare two baking sheets by oiling the centers and dusting the pans with a little cornmeal.

2. Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Make a large well in the center of the flour mixture, and add the yeast.

3. Add the oil and the water to the well, mixing to dissolve the yeast first, and then stirring the entire contents of the bowl to incorporate the water into the flour.

4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and begin kneading the dough. If necessary, add flour or water in very small amounts to make the dough soft and pliable, but not sticky. Continue kneading for 10 minutes, or until the dough is very smooth and elastic. Don't skip this step - you need to knead it for that long! 

5. Divide the dough in half, and shape each portion into a smooth circular mound. Place onto the prepared pans, and cover with a towel. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.

6. After the dough has rested, use the palm of your hand to flatten the dough into circles about 1/4" thick. Cover with a towel, and leave to rise about one hour, or until the dough springs back when pressed lightly with a finger.

7. Preheat an oven to 435°F (225°C).

8. Score the top of the bread with a very sharp knife, or poke the dough with a fork in several places. Bake the bread for about 20 minutes – rotate the pans about halfway through the baking time – or until the loaves are nicely colored and sound hollow when tapped. Transfer the bread to a rack or towel-lined basket to cool.

Harira (Soup)

  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 Tbs. cilantro chopped
  • 1 Tbs. parsley chipped
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 can chick peas - drained and rinsed
  • 6 Large Tomatoes
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 small can tomato paste (use only about a half of the can)
  • 1/2 cup very small pasta/vermicelli noodles 
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • 1 Tbs. water
  • salt to taste

1. In a pot, add tomatoes (cut the tops off) and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil them simmer for 20/30 minutes. Let cool and remove skin and blend with a hand blender. (can use canned stewed tomatoes but you must add water and all the liquid to avoid this step) 

2. In stock pot, add onion, ginger, pepper, turmeric, cilantro, parsley, and olive oil. Saute on medium heat for 5 minutes, constantly stirring. 

3. Pour tomato mixture and 3 cups of water into stock pot. Add chickpeas and bring to a boil. Let cook on low heat for 30-40 minutes. 

4. Add tomato paste and stir well. 

5. Mix together flour and 1 Tbs. water and add to soup, stirring well to thicken soup. 

6. Add pasta and cook for 15 minutes until pasta is cooked, stirring often so that it doesn't stick! 

Recipes are adapted from online and one of my favorite cookbooks published by friends Chris P., Jack & Tina F.