So as I approached a particular milestone last year it came as no surprise (to Rob) that I decided upon a Middle Eastern Feast for 30 of my friends and family to celebrate. Half of the fun of this sort of entertaining for me is to pore over the recipe books, selecting and writing lists of ingredients and a plan of attack leading up to the day. The day dawned, and we found ourselves at the venue with all of our cooking gear, buckets of fresh herbs from the Hmong people, fillets of Ocean Trout, a couple of legs of lamb, chicken, a large mound of fresh flatbreads, yoghurt, lemons, sparkling wine and an array of desserts that I’d been preparing the whole week. Luckily one of my friends is far more artistic than me, so I gave her 100 candles, 30m of silky pink fabric, a couple of Moroccan lanterns, fresh lilies, rose petals and a staple gun, and let her loose to transform the room.
The feast consisted of:
Hummous – it’s compulsory!
Baba Ghannooj – I love the smoky eggplant flavour.
Muhammara – a roasted red pepper & walnut dip, seasoned with lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and cumin, with flat breads to scoop.
Tabbouleh- again another classic mezze dish.
Fattoush- a salad of mint, parsley and lettuce, with radishes, tomatoes, cucumber, a sprinkling of sumac and some crisp toasted flatbreads.
Cacik- a cucumber, mint and yoghurt salad, a favourite with lamb.
Salatat al Bataata- a minty potato salad.
Loubyeh bi Zayt- green beans cooked with tomatoes, olive oil and allspice, it is delicious warm or cold.
Ouzi- middle eastern roast lamb.
Djaj Mishwee bi Za’atar- chicken kebabs marinated in lemon juice and za’atar then grilled on a BBQ.
Samak Tarator- the Greg Malouf salmon dish I described recently.
Lokum- I made a mountain of Turkish Delight.
Baklawa-bright green with pistachios and dripping with the sugar syrup.
Nummoora – a semolina cake that is also bathed in sugar syrup.
Ma’amoul- date filled pastries.
Barrosi-crispy sesame seed biscuits.
Damascene Shortbread – a short and rich biscuit topped with a pistachio.
Muhallabeya- a milk pudding to eat with the
Middle Eastern Fruit Salad- made of poached dried fruit with spices and honey, sprinkled with slivered almonds.
Persian Love Cake- the recipe for this came from Gourmet Traveller, a very moist cake made with yoghurt, almond meal and nutmeg.
My friend had also made me an appropriately decorated birthday cake.
The evening went well, my fondest memory was looking down the candle lit table at my guests tucking into the food in front of them, and all of the preparation was worth it!