Sunday, May 24, 2009

Baklava Recipe

I was typing this recipe up for a friend, so I figured I'd post it here! You may remember the Baklava I made in November. Enjoy!


Recipe from Afghan Food and Cookery by Helen Saberi

Makes about 30 – enough for a large party.


  • 1lb filo
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 cups ground almonds (can sub. walnuts)
  • 1 cup ground pistachio (this is a big part of the flavor, so try not to sub.)


  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp saffron (generous pinch)
  • 2 tbsps rosewater (A neat variation might be orange blossom water though.)
  • 1/2 tsp ground green cardamom seeds


  • Preheat the oven to 325.
  • Oil an approximately 14x8x2 baking tray (really you can do a lot of shapes).
  • Reserve one quarter of the ground pistachio, and combine the rest of the nuts in a bowl.
  • Lay down one layer of filo, brush it with oil, then layer the next sheet on top until you have 6 layers of filo. Now spread one third of the combined nuts on this layer.
  • Repeat twice so you have 18 total layers and have used all the nuts except the quarter of reserved pistachio.
  • Brush the top layer with oil.
  • Cut strips about 1 ½ inches wide lengthwise, then cut about 45 degrees diagonally across these strips to make diamond shaped pieces.
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden.


Note that you may want to not start this until the pastry is done and cooled.

  • Put the sugar, 1 cup of water, lemon juice, and saffron in a saucepan and bring to a boil slowly to dissolve the sugar.
  • Boil gently until mixture becomes syrupy and sticks to the back of a spoon.
  • Now add the cardamom and rosewater and simmer for another couple minutes.
  • Remove from heat and keep warm.

Combining and Serving:

  • Allow the pastry to cool to room temperature then carefully spoon the prepared syrup all over the pastry. (This reputedly avoids soggy Baklava, though I'm not 100% sure yet.)
  • Add the reserved pistachio on top, let cool again, then serve with good tea.

*Note that Afghans pronounce it with a "w" sound instead of "v".

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Variety Hour: Hummus bi Tahini, Kebab, Sabzi Pilau, and Coffee!

Warning - this is going to be scatter-brained as I'm finally updating with all the things blog-worthy that I've cooked in, wow, over a month! Which has been unfortunately not been a ton =(. School is kind of time consuming, ya know?

First off, I'd like to give credit to Desert Candy's blog for the inspiration for this new attempt at hummus. Reading her blog, I finally realized you have to cook the beans until they are very soft (skins falling off) in order to get that delicious silky-smooth texture that "real" hummus has. The texture was what I always felt my hummus was missing. I guess that's what I get being an Afghan cooking Arab food ;)

Hummus bi Tahini
pureed chickpeas, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice, topped with unfiltered olive oil, sumac, whole chickpeas, and kalamata olives

Definitely leaps and bounds better than hummus I've made in the past! It still needs some tweaking - it could be even more silky...mmm

Unfortunately I made the following dish on a different day - they would have been delicious together!

Kofta Kabob-e-Gusht-e-Gow
Minced beef kabobs flavored with onion, garlic, cilantro, and savory spices, grilled over charcoal and served in flatbread with sliced lemon-juice-marinated red onions, lemon tahini sauce, and spicy yogurt sauce

The grill jockey himself. Aka my buddy Nate who stepped in to help grill =)

Sabzi Pilau
Basmati rice parboiled and baked in the juices of a chicken, spinach, blackeye pea and caramelized onion stew, served with a cherry tomato, cilantro, and red onion salad.

This was a yummy AND cheap meal for the week which kept very well. The method is very similar to all Afghan pilaus - caramelize onions, then add in and sautee meat (typically lamb). When meat is done, add spices (coriander, cardamom, cumin, and cloves or so), then add spinach and blackeye peas. Simmer for half an hour, then pour over parboiled rice and bake for 45 minutes!

This time I tried something a bit different, using black cardamom instead of green. They are actually very different in flavor, but it is commonly used in parts of Afghanistan so I figured I'd give it a shot! It has a really distinctive smoky flavor, and I'm still not sure I liked it in this dish, though I can imagine it growing on me.

In other news, I've become increasingly addicted to coffee.... It really doesn't help that my roommate is a master percolator barista. One of his recent creations, one with milk, one without.

We've also tried grinding up a bit of (green) cardamom and tossing it in with the grounds. Yum. Arab-Italian-Latin American fusion, here we go.

Cafe con Leche y Cafe "Negro"

Really we just liked the colors.