Muhammara and Chickpea Crackers

I was just about to start writing this blog post about fasting before Easter and then I´ve realised I shouldn´t because I just finished the entire batch of this amazing dip. (which would normally serve a crowd!)

Anyway. I´ll write what I wanted when I finish licking up my fingers. :)

Every year before Easter (40 days before to be exact), people fast. They give up all the party time and feasts, they give up their biggest addictions – eating candies, chocolate, meat or even all animal products. They do this so they can give their bodies a nice rest and their whole system a good clean (imagine millions small titans scrubbing your inner organs and giving it a beautiful and shiny look). This kind of fast was mostly done in religious families with the upcoming Easter time (and lent). In my country, people would do it even though they aren´t the most saint people who walk on this Earth. So you really don´t need to be a believer if you want to try such a thing – you only need to believe in yourself and you can hop into it right away! :)

Also, this time of a year really is a great time for fasting – I am not talking about mindless fasting where people starve themselves; I am talking about consciousness, mindfulness, giving up on things that no longer serve you, being humble and grateful for all those little things in life we get to have.

After a long, cold and dark winter, our bodies, minds and souls are ready to be shifted into a new and optimistic way of living.. According to Ayurveda, which is a traditional (and amazing!) system of health that has developed in India, ´Spring is a time of growth, ascendancy and new potential, with increased warmth and wetness from a thawing of the congealed damp of winter´. Spring really is the best time of a year for a proper cleanse, you can start off new and you can start off fresh.  It is a nice way of letting go of attachments to food, giving yourself a rest and becoming peaceful with yourself and the rest of the world.Yayks, I am talking like a proper yogi here now! But truly, there really is something into it. Indians really do know how to live; no wonders that they are a great nation full of kind, humble, grateful and peaceful people. 2/3 of Indians are vegetarians and I believe that every houselhold owns a couple of yoga mats. Enough said.

I´ve first fasted a year ago and I´ve been continuing having my own little fasts since then. At first I was curious. I was curious if I could go 40 days without touching any meat and with eating only a minimum amount of animal products. And I could, I did. It  made me feel amazing, refereshed, renewed and lighter. I´ve cleaned my diet into having foods that my body really needed instead of having foods that I thought I needed. And since then, I´ve been a completely sunk into the foodie world of holistic nutrition and amazing foods.

Btw, when I fasted for the first time, it made me appreciate being able to have eggs and cheeses as a part of a meal. I´m telling you, I haven´t had many of them in the lent period – which, at that time, felt like the longest lent on Earth! :)

Because I´ve enjoyed the way these eating habits made me feel, I continued being a vegetarian. It´s been a year since and I just feel amazing. Explain it again – It´s not like I felt miserable and desperate when I used to be a meat eater, it just really does make me feel alive and great. And more kind and peaceful, I´d say. It opened my world of new and healthy foods to try, it opened my mind into trying things I´ve never dreamt of trying before.(I´m talking about cooking and baking mostly! :)
I encourage you to try it out to see how it makes YOU feel if you decide to get into such a beautiful crazyness. We are all different, so find what feels good, stay curious and give yourself a permission to listen to your needs. And, give your body a good rest. Your body functions everyday of a week, 24/7, 365 days a year. It deserves a bit of extra love, don´t you think?  :)

So, whether you decide to fast for a while or not, whether you decided to give your body a good clean(finally!) or whether you just want to find out what fasting might bring you, this is a good place to start. Trying out this amazing (vegetarian) recipe will sure convince you. You won´t even think of missing out on meat while dipping your deliciously homemade chickpea crackers into ´Muhammara´ dip made out of roasted red peppers and smoky toasted walnuts. Do I see you dribbling in front of the computer screen? See? Food can be great for you and taste amazing at the same time. If in doubt, ask my colleagues, who have the chances to try out my lunches, cakes, snacks. Bless them. And bless you, you can do this.

But, before we dive into the recipe – just a word about Muhammara. Its is a traditional middle-eastern dip and it´s sure to convince everyone. This dish is full of bursting flavours. It is originally made with pomegranate molasses which is a dark(almost black), antioxidant rich syrup made out of pomegranate juice. It´s got interesting sweet and tangy taste, so it really does belong into a middle-eastern cooking. You can buy it in most healthy food shops. If you won´t be able to do so, substitute with balsamic vinegar, more lemon juice and some nice natural sweetener like dark honey(or even date syrup).

Enjoy! And don´t eat it all at once as I do everytime I make this. Let me know how you do. :)

Muhammara

3 red peppers or jar of roasted peppers, drained
big handful of walnuts
2 pieces of good stale sourdough bread (or use some 100% rye crackers)
2-4 tbs tomato puree
1-2 tbs pomegranate molasses
good pinch of chilli flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
lemon juice
sea salt, black pepper
olive oil

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Roast your peppers until they are blackened all over. The more blisters they´ve got, the better. It´s the inside that counts,so don´t worry about them looking ugly. I should take about 40 minutes. When ready, put them to a clean bowl, cover with cling flm and let sit for about 15 minutes. Uncover and using tongs, gently peel them off of their skin and remove all the seeds as well.Put the beautiful flesh into a food processor. Alternatively, is using peppers from a jar, drain them and put them into a food processor.

Put walnuts on a baking tray, put to the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes until fragrant. Be careful not to burn them. Tip into a food processor, add 2 tabl tomato puree and blend until a smooth paste forms. Add ground cumin, and bread that you torned into chunks. Blitz again. Add pomegranate molasses, chilli flakes, good pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Blend until creamy. Pour in a few tablespoons of olive oil, blitz again. Adjust seasonings and balance flavours using salt, tomato puree, lemon juice, cumin and pepper. It should taste amazing.

Scoop into a pretty serving dish, sprinkle with more chilli flakes, drizzle with olive oil and serve with pomegranate seeds, chickpea crackers, pitta bread, toasted bread, crudites or eat it on its own as I do.

Chickpea Crackers*

2 cups chickpea flour
1/3 cup water
pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp soda bicarbonate
squeeze of lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
Mix together flour, soda bicarbonate, sea salt. Add olive oil and using your fingers, rub the olive oil into the flour until there are no longer any big lumps. Slowly start adding water into the mixture. Using your hand (or mixer) mix until it forms a dough. Knead until silky smooth, about 5 minutes. Divide into 3 pieces and cover with a clingfilm. Let it rest for about 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Flour your worktop a bit and roll out your dough into a really thin layer. Sprinkle wit seasoning of your choice (za´atar is my no.1 choice), roll over with your rolling pin, ensuring that the spices get pressed down. Cut into desired shapes, brush with olive oil and bake for abou 12-15 minutes, depending on your size, until crispy and beautifuly fragrant. Repeat with the remaining dough.

*inspired by food52

——–

Chcela som tento blog post zacat pisat o pôste, ale kedze som prave zjedla celu porciu tohoto uzasneho dipu, ktory by zasytil aj celu hromadu ludi, nie je to moc dobry napad.

Ale co. Idem na to len co si vyoblizujem vsetky prsty.

Kazdy rok pred Velkou Nocou (presne 40 dni) sa ludia zacinaju postit. Vzdaju sa vsetkej zabavy a veselic, vzdaju sa svojich najvacsich zavislosti ako sladkosti, cokolady,konzumacie  masa alebo dokonca vsetkych zvieracich produktov. Vsetko toto robia za ucelom aby dopriali aspon trosku oddychu svojmu organizmu a aby si cele telo a celeho svojho ducha pekne vycistili (predstavte si ako vam miliony malych a silnych trpaslikov kefuje a cisti vsetky vnutorne organy od hlavy az po paty a ako sa vam odvnutra vsetko krasne leskne a ligoce-tak to je pola mna ocista tela a ducha!). Takyto pôst sa zvykol dodrziavat vo velmi veriacich rodinach-predsa len je pre mnohych Velka Noc tym najvacsim sviatkom v roku. Zvykli sa pôstit aj ti, ktori zrovna neboli ti najsvatejsi ludia, ktori chodia po tejto planete. Naozaj nezalezi na tom ci ste veriaci alebo nie, jednoducho sa do niecoho takehoto mozte pustit hned a zaraz! :)

Taktiez, jar je naozaj skvelym obdobim na detoxikaciu a ocistu tela – nehovorim o bezhlavom trapeni sa a drzani hladovky; mam na mysli pôst, kde si clovek uvedomuje sameho seba, kde hlada silu vo veciach, ktore su mu normalne samozrejmostou; pôst kde sa clovek vzda veci, ktore nepotrebuje; pôst, kde da clovek svojmu telu konecne vydychnut.

Po naozaj dlhych, tmavych a zimnych mesiacoch je takato ocista naozaj vhodna, hovori o tom aj samotna Ayurveda. Ayurveda je tradicny zdravotny system, ktory pochadza z Indie. Hovori, ze ´Jar je obdobie plne zrodu a plne noveho potencialu s mnozstvom tepla a mokra z roztapajucej sa zimy´. Je to skvely cas na detoxikaciu tela; vas novy rok mozte zacat s novym ´vy´. Mozte sa vzdat tej bozskej zavislosti na jedle, mozte si oddychnut, mozte sa stat lepsimi a mierumilovnejsimi sami k sebe ak celemu svetu okolo. Och, rozpravam tu o tomto vsetkom ako riadny a poctivi jogín, vsimli ste si?! Ale popravde, nieco na tom naozaj je pravdy. V Indii funguje Ayurveda ako taka uz cele starocia. Potom niet divu, ze su to narod neskazeny, pokorny, vdacny a laskavy. Taktiez veria v detoxikaciu tela a duse, veria v silu kazdeho jedinca. 2/3 naroddu su vegetariani a myslim, ze kazda domacnost vlastni yoga podlozky na cvicenie. Vravim vam, Indovia to v tomto svete naozaj vedia.

Prvy krat som sa seriozne postila pred presne rokom a odvtedy pokracujem s osobnymi malymi pôstami a ocistami po cely rok. Najprv som to vsetko zacala ako taky maly experiment. Bola som jednoducho zvedava. Chcela som vediet ci vydrzim zit 40 dni ako vegetarian s minimalnou konzumaciou zvieracich produktov. A zvladla som to, vydrzala som. Vlastne som sa citila naozaj uzasne, ako znovuzrodena. Citila som sa svieza, ciperna, lahsia a nie tak ´pripevnena´ k zemi, ak viete co mam na mysli.. Vycistila som si svoj jedalnicek od jedal, ktore som si myslela, ze potrebujem a nahradila som ich jedlami, ktore moje telo skutocne potrebovalo (a stale poteebuje – Hello, domaca Nutella!).. A odvtedy som sa uplne ponorila do sveta jedla a do sveta holistickeho zitia. A aby som nezabudla, to co sa vtedy zdalo ako dlhaaansky pôst mi pomohlo k tomu, aby som si viac cenila v strave vajicka a uzasne syry – v dni pôstu som ich takmer nejedla! :)

Kedze sa mi naozaj zapacilo to ako som sa po pôste citila, pokracovala som v tomto stravovani aj po Velkej Noci. Stala som sa vegetariankou. Uz je tomu rok a naozaj priznavam, ze sa citim vyborne. Nechapte ma zle, neznamena to, ze ked som jedla maso tak som sa citila pod psa kazdy den a mala som mizerne nalady, to vobec nie (kto ma pozna, moze rozpravat o mojej nevycerpatelnej energii cele hodiny!), ale celkovo sa citim viac ziva a viac pri zmysloch ako som sa citila pred tym. A tiez by som mala spomenut, ze ma to robi viac mierumilovnejsou a dobrou?! Vegetarianstvo mi otorilo vo svete jedny velikanske dvere plne neobjaveneho jedla, ktore caka kym ho vyskusam; vegetarianstvo mi otvorilo celu mysel na skusanie veci, o ktorych som predtym nikdy nesnivala (viacmenej mam na mysli varenie a pecenie samozrejme! :)

..Je naozaj trosku divne opisovat niekomu pocity vegetariana (a takto verejne!)-nikdy predtym som to takouto cestou – v slovach – nevyjadrovala. Tak mi prepacte sa nezrozumitelnost v mojich myslienkovych pochodoch :)

Ak sa rozhodnete pustit do niecoho takehoto krasne sialeneho aj ked len na par dni, myslite na to, ako sa pri tom citite VY. Kazdy sme rozdielny, tak sa naozaj zapocuvajte co vam hovori vase vnutro, co vyhovuje vam a co si myslite, ze je pre vas najlepsie. Budte zvedavi a dovolte si pocuvat samych seba. A doprajte telu konecne trosku oddychu, ved pre vas pracuje kazdy den v tyzdni, 24/7, 365 dni v roku. Zasluzi si trosku extra laska, nemyslite? :)

Takze ak sa rozhodnite pôstit alebo nie, ak sa rozhodnete skoncit s vasimi najhorsimi zavislostami alebo ak len jednoducho chcete zistit co vam pôst moze priniest, jednoducho to vyskusajte. A mozte zacat s tymto uuuzasnym vegetarianskym receptom ,ktory jednoducho musite vyskusat. Ani vam len na um nepride hladat okolo vas maso, ked sa budete zalizovat pri doma pecenych cicerovych krekroch, ktore si budete namacat do dipu z grilovanych cervenych paprik a opecenych vlasakov. Vidim spravne ako sa zalizujete pred vasimi obrazovkami? Vidite? Naozaj existuju jedla, ktore su pre vas vyzivne  a chutia neodolatelne. Ak ste nerozhodni ci take jedla naozaj su, kludne sa spytajte mojich kolegov na obedy, ktore si varim a na kolace ktore im peciem. Vzdy sa zalizuju. A vy sa mozte tiez, podme na to!

Este ale predsa len pra slov k Muhammare. Je to tradicny dip, ktory pochadza zo stredneho vychodu. Naozaj presvedci kazdeho neveriaceho svojou uzasnou chutou. Tradicne sa pripravuje s pridanim molasoveho sirupu, ktory sa vyraba z dzusu z granatovych jablk. Je plny antioxidantov a ma krasnu tmavu, az ciernufarbu. Ma zaujimavu sladko-kyslu chut, takze sa naozaj vyborne hodi do tradicnych jedal z dalekeho vychodu. Dostat ho kupit vo vsetkych dobrych obchodoch so zdravou vyzivou. Ak ho ale predsa len nenajdete, skuste ho nahradit octom balsamico, par kvapkami citronu a pridanim trosky kvalitneho medu(dokonca mozte pouzit aj datlovy sirup).

Prajem dobru chut. A skuste tento dip nezjest cely na jedno posedenie ako to je zakazdym, ked ho pripravim ja. Dajte vediet ako sa vam podaril. :)

Muhammara

3 cervene papriky alebo 1 flaska zavaranych grilovanych paprik (ocedene)
velka hrst vlasakov
2 kusky dobreho kvalitneho chleba, najlepsie par dni stareho (alebo 100% zitne krekry-funguju skvelo)
2-4 lyzice paradajkoveho pretlaku
1-2 lyzice melasoveho sirupu
poriadna stipka susenych chilli vlociek
1 lyzicka dretenej rasce
citronova stava
morska sol, cerstvo zomlete cierne korenie
kvalitny olivovy olej
granatove jablko a par listkov cesrtveho koriandru na dozdobenie

Predhrejte si ruru na 200°C. Vlozte do nej papriky a opekajte, kym nie su cierne (skoro zhorene) po celom povrchu. Budu vyzerat ako keby mali cierne modriny vsade na sebe. Alebo nebojte sa, ide o to co je dnu a nie o to, ze vyzeraju hrozostrasne skaredo. Malo by to trvat okolo 40 minut. Ked su krasne prepecene, premiestnite ich do cistej misy, ktoru zakryjete potravinovou foliou. Nechte papriky nech sa ´vypotia´ v mise asi tak 15 minut. Potom pomocou kuchynskych kliestov z paprik odstrante kozu a vsetky jadierka. Krasne prepecene vnutro paprik potom vlozte do mixera.

Vlasaky rozprestrite na pekac a pecte v rure asi tak 10-15 minut, dokym nebudu vonat lahodne. Dajte si pozor aby ste ich nespalili. Ked su pekne prepecene, vhodte ich do mixera ku paprikam. Pridajte 2 lzice paradajkoveho pretlaku a vymixujte do hladka. Pridajte drtenu rascu, na kusky natrhany chlieb alebo krekry. Znova pomixujte. Pridajte molasovy sirup, chilli vlocky, stedru stipku soli a cierne korenie. Vymixujte do hladka. Pridajte par lyzic olivoveho oleja, trosku citronovej stavy a opat vymixujte. Ochutnajte a dochutte podla chuti pridanim viacej rasce, molasoveho sirupu, olivoveho oleja, soli, korenia a chilli.

Nakoniec dip naservirujte do krasnej misky, ozdobte zrnieckami z granatoveho jablka, chilli vlockami a troskou olivoveho oleja a servirujte s domacimi cicerovymi krekrami, pitta chlebikom, opecenym chlebom, crudite(surova zeleninka) alebo ho jedzte z misky len tak same ako to robim ja.

Cícerové krekry*

2 salky cicerovej muky (gram muka)
1/3 salky vody
stipka morskej soli
1/2 lyzicky sody bikarbony
splech citronovej stavy
3 lyzice olivoveho oleja
bylinky a koreniny na posypanie krekrov (suseny tymian, sumac, chilli vlocky, zmes za´atar..)

Zmiesajte spolu muku, sodu bikarbonu, morsku sol. Pridajte olivovy olej a prstami vmiesajte do muky. Miesajte dokym nebudete mat z muky konzistenciu mokreho piesku. Pomaly zacnite pridavat do muky vodu. Pomocou ruk (alebo mixera) zacnite cesto miesat. Misajte dovtedy dokym nebudete mat hladke a jemne cesto, asi tak 5 minut. Cesto rozdelte na 3 kusy. Kazde zabalte do potravinarskej folie a nechajte odpocivat 15 minut.

Rozpalte si ruru na 180°C. Popraste si kuchynsku dosku troskou cicerovej muky a zacnite valkat jedno z vasich 3 kuskov cesta na velmi tenucko(alebo cesto mozte valkat medzi dvoma kuskami papiera na pecenie). Posypte na cesto bylinky a koreniny podla vaseho vyberu a pomocou kuchynskeho valceka ich ´vtlacte´ do cesta. Pokrajajte cesto na vami zvolene tvary,potrite olivovym olejom, posypte krasnymi krystalikmi morskej soli a pecte asi tak 12-15 minut do chrumkava a krasne vonava. Cas pecenia zalezi na velkosti vasich krekrov, tak si dajte pozor aby ste krekry nespalili. Pokracujte s cestom az pokym ho cele neminiete.
Krekry skladujte v uzatvaratelnej nadobe po dobu 1 tyzdna. Ale tak dlho podla mna nevydrzia.

*Inspiracia z food52

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