This is a very simple dish, but you need a certain variety of spices to give the couscous this nice flavour. I used what I found in our kitchen cabinet: cumin seeds, aniseed, cinnamon and saffron. Before grinding, heat up a small pan and roast the seeds all together for 1-2 minutes, so the heat releases their beautiful flavour. Grind the spices together using mortar and pestle, then mix with the couscous. Then simply pour some boiled water over the couscous mixture and stir in some olive oil. Set aside. In the meantime, wash the zucchini and cut them in half, lenght ways. Gently scoop out the insides including seeds, being careful not to crack the zucchini skin. Season with some salt and pepper. Then go back to the couscous and while it's still warm, stir in a chunk of butter to make the couscous soft and radiant. Fill the zucchini boats with the golden granules, drizzle some olive oil on top and give it another pinch of salt & pepper. Bake in the oven 180 degrees for 10-15 min until they are cooked.
Yufka is a Turkish filo pastry, but much thinner than the filo pastry we are used to buying in supermarkets. You can find Yufka in Middle Eastern or Hallal shops, usually frozen.
To start, again, grind a teaspoon each of cumin seeds, aniseeds, cinnamon and saffron (roast them first, as said above). Fry chopped red onion in some vegetable oil, I used rapeseed oil. Add spices, stirr constantly so they don't burn, and add a tablespoon of tumeric, 2-3 chopped garlic cloves and a handful of fresh roughly chopped coriander and two chilies, chopped. Add lamb mince (you can use beef if you prefer) and let it all cook together for 5 min. Season well, add a tin of tomatoes, and again, let it simmer for another 5-10 min.
Meanwhile, fold out the Yufka sheets (they need app. 1 hour to defrost at room temp) and brush some olive oil into your little bake forms, you can also use muffin moulds for this. Cut the pastry in squares, 2-3 cm bigger than the diameter of your moulds. Place 2-3 Yufka sheets on top of each other carefully and brush a bit of egg wash in between each layer.
When this is done, add a handful of dry, chopped apricots (and a handful of chopped unsalted pistachios, which I didn't due to budget) to the lamb mixture and then you can start filling your prepared moulds. Fold in the overlapping pastry, twirling the ends so they close the 'cake'. Brush some more egg wash on top of each and bake in the oven 180 degrees for app. 15 min.
Sigara Boregi is a Turkish cigar shaped pastry made with Feta cheese and Yufka filo pastry. As I was thinking I would have some Yufka leftovers anyway, I came up with this additional little nibbler, which is super quick & easy to make. Ideally use sheep Feta, but if too expensive or simply not around, the cows milk's counterpart will do a good job too. Crush Feta and mush it using a fork together with some fresh thyme and olive oil. Add some salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Spread the Feta over the pastry squares/rectangles (each 2-3 pastry layers, each brushed with some egg wash), and roll them in as tight as possible. Brush with egg wash on top each and bake in oven 180 degrees for app. 15 min.
For the carrot dip, simply cook 2-3 roughly chopped carrots in salted water, drain, and let cool down a bit. Add a tablespoon of ground ginger (or chopped, fresh if you like), some olive oil, salt & pepper, and some sour cream (or creme fraiche) and blitz all together until you get a nice, smooth puree.
For the Falafel, drain a can of chickpeas, add 1-2 hand fulls of fresh, chopped coriander, roasted and ground spices (cumin seeds, aniseeds, ...), 1-3 chopped garlic cloves (depends on how close you and garlic are together), a handful of sesame seeds (as an alternative to tahini paste, which would in this case, spread my budget...) a green chili chopped and some olive oil. Puree all together and season with salt & pepper. Form small pates using your hands and some flour. Place them on a sheet of baking paper and bake for 20-30 min at 180 degrees. Yum!
Dried apricots/sesame seeds (loose) €1.10
Castillo de Luzón, Jumilla, Crianza 2005, 14%
On the stereo
Cat Power, The Cardigans, Alela Diane