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Mediterranean Stir-fry - bite_my_bento [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Mediterranean Stir-fry [Aug. 12th, 2007|08:39 pm]
[mood |chipperchipper]
[music |"Over" - The Birthday Massacre]

In church this morning, I caught a whiff of Chinese food. Specifically, it was mushrooms in garlic sauce. Not sure quite where it came from. The service was going on, no one had ordered delivery in the congregation, and I was off by myself on the side. Still, the smell made me crave mushrooms. I thought it was time for a stir-fry, but since I had made some falafel last night that I hadn't eaten, I thought I should give it a Mediterranean twist.

So let's start with the hummus. Yes, that's an odd color. Don't adjust your screen. It is really a dark green. I used green chana, which can be found in most stores that cater to an international Indian crowd. Normally, I just go by feel and taste when making my hummus, but this time I actually measured things out for this so I could give out the recipe.

  • 1 cup dry green chana
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 T cumin seeds
  • 1-2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • juice of 1/2 lime
Soak the chana overnight. I soaked it for over 24 hours just for good measure. With fresh water, put the soaked chana into a crock pot. I cooked it for 24 hours again just to make sure it got good and soft. I've found that the green stuff is harder and dryer than the chickpeas normally used.

When it came time, I roasted the cumin seeds in a dry skillet and then ground them with mortar and pestle. You can use a spice grinder or cheat with pre-ground cumin, but the ground stuff loses a lot of flavor. Once I had that, I strained the chana and saved the water it was cooked in. I mashed it with a potato masher, but you can use a blender. I just like to have chunks in mine.

While mashing, I used about 1/2 cup of the cooking water to get it good and moist. Then I added the 1/4 cup tahini and blended well. Once it seemed to have the right consistency, I added the cumin and once again mashed and stirred. Then I put in 1 T of olive oil and continued with the mashing. Once this was done, I put it in an airtight container and poured another T of olive oil over the top and sprinkled paprika (totally optional, but I like it)

Next was the falafel. Since I already had good warm water from cooking the chana, I used that to moisten the falafel mix. Yeah, I'm not so ambitious as to make falafel from scratch. I followed the directions on the box, but with the substitution, the falafel wound up much darker than usual. I put a splort of olive oil into the skillet and fried gently on each side, merely intending to get the outside done. I took them off the heat and let them cool, then put them in plastic wrap for today's meal.

The stir-fry was the most fun. I had some leftover rice and purple hull peas from the other day, which I dragged out of the fridge just for this occasion.
  • 2 cups rice and peas, cooked
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped largely
  • 3 mushrooms, sliced largely
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 T turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
So I put the whole spices in the dry skillet and roasted them. When I could smell the spices releasing their smelly goodness, I put them in the mortar and pestle to grind. I added two splorts of olive oil to the already warm skillet and let it heat a little. Then I tossed in the onion, mushrooms, and bell pepper. Once the onions started to caramelize and the mushrooms started taking on that awesome dark brownness, I threw in the rice and peas. First I added the freshly ground spices and let them mix with the rest of the ingredients for a bit. Then I added the turmeric and nutmeg and turned off the heat. It doesn't take long to do stir-fry of any kind and this one was very fast.

While I was chopping all of that and it was cooking, I took out the falafel and put it in the oven at 300 until I was done with the stir-fry. I put it on a plate with a couple of pieces of falafel and some hummus with the last of my pita from last week cut in quarters and then sliced open. Drizzled a little tahini across the top of the falafel and I was done! I used some of the pita to make a little mini falafel sammich, but the rest was awesome with the pita or even with the stir-fried rice.

I had a ton of the rice mix left over, so I put that in a baggie which is now in the fridge. Is all of this cooking, reheating, recooking, and refridging healthy? Well, it hasn't killed me yet. Waste not, want not, right? I'll probably use it in something else this week.

I love experimenting with styles and spices. You never know what might turn out yummy. Don't be afraid to experiment in your kitchen. It's one of the last places that it's okay to be a mad scientist.