Rice pudding with cardamon and rosewater

A wonderful desert that is easy to make and just perfect if you have some leftover rice. The taste is a delight, like walking in a scented garden.

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I used cooked rice with raisins. The raisins can be added during the preparation if you prefer, and dates as well.

For one cup of prepared rice with raisins:
1- Place the rice in a large pot and cover with milk. (I only use whole milk) Bring to the point of boiling, then lower the flame.
[At this point you can add some raisins and/or dates cut in small pieces.]
2- Add a pinch of salt, the seeds of seven cardamon pods and half a cup of brown sugar, or less if you prefer (you can always add some later). You can replace the brown sugar with honey as well (maple syrup might change the taste too much). Use less honey as it has a “sweeter” taste than brown sugar.
3- Mix from time to time while it cooks. Let it cook for about 20 minutes.
4- Add one tablespoon of rosewater at the very end and mix.

Place in the fridge. It should be eaten cold.

Carrot jam – Persian delight

This is absolutely delicious. When you take a bite, close your eyes and you will feel you are entering a fragrant garden.

I tasted it recently when I traveled to Iran, but it did not taste so good as the jam was generally of the commercial kind. Preparing it at home, as with any food actually, makes all the difference.

Here a recipe I put together from reading various sources. It is a small portion (only 250 gr of carrots) so that you may first try it, and see how it tastes. I used brown sugar, hence the dark color of the jam.

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1- In a deep pan, bring to a boil: 200 ml of water, 100 gr of brown sugar, the seeds of five cardamon pods and the juice of half an orange. Let it boil then simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
2- Grate 250 gr of organic carrots. I like do to it by hand and never use any machines. It is in many ways my form of meditation.

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3- Add the carrots to the pot and stir well. Let it come to a boil then reduce the fire just a little bit and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Stir from time to time. The mix should become sirupy and the carrots very soft.
4- Finally, add the juice of half a lime and a tablespoon of rose water. I used some I bought in Kashan, Iran, made of the wonderful “Gul Mohammedi” rose. Let it simmer for about five minutes.

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5- Place in sterilised jar and refrigerate once it has cooled down.

Serve with fresh bread, either with butter or a light white cheese. It is delicious for breakfast or a snack. Enjoy! 

T’mar bi el-baid – dates with eggs

Dates with eggs is a Moroccan dish eaten for breakfast or as a light meal. It is filled with nutrients so it is also eaten during Ramadan (the Muslim fasting period) just before sunrise. The same dish can also be found in other parts of the Middle East such as in Iran. The mix of salty and sweet is simply delicious. I served it for lunch with cardamon and turmeric scented Basmati rice with raisins, topped with fresh cilantro.

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1- Place a little bit of butter in a pan.
2- Add a handful of dates cut in small pieces. Cook on very low fire and wait about three minutes for the dates to soften.
3- Add one or two eggs and mix them just a little bit so that the yolk breaks. Do not scramble them, just let them cook gently.
4- Sprinkle with cumin and salt and serve immediately.

Pancakes with a touch of potato starch

Delicious and very soft pancakes. Potato starch is a wonderfully light alternative to wheat flour. Because of its consistency, it is easy to use and has no effect on taste. Just replace one third of flour with the starch. It gives pancakes or cakes a very soft texture. Do not over use it as it does not rise and could leave your baked good… flat.

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For about 12 pancakes 
1- Sift together 100 gr of flour with 50 gr of potato starch, one tablespoon of baking powder, a pinch of salt and one generous tablespoon of either brown sugar or honey.
2- Mix in one and a half cup of milk, one egg (well beaten) and two tablespoons of melted and cooled butter (about 25 gr).
3- Let it stand 15 minutes, then cook one at a time on a warm pan turning the pancakes over only once.

Serve with jam or honey, and fresh fruits of the season. Today I served them with mandarines and kiwis. 

Banana bread

Simply wonderful!

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1- In a bowl mix: 220 gr of sifted flour, one tablespoon of baking powder, half a cup of brown sugar, and a mix of 40 gr of milk with 40 gr of plain yoghurt (about three quarters of a cup total — Leave a bit of the mixture, you will need it towards the end of the recipe.)
2- Add two eggs and mix again.
3- Add 75 gr of melted and cooled butter and mix well.
4- Finally, add two to three crushed bananas and mix thoroughly.
5- Place in a prepared baking pan and sprinkle with the remaining of the milk and yoghurt mixture. It will make the cake golden once it is baked.
6- Bake for 35 minutes at 180º c. and take out as soon as it is ready.

Enjoy!