Lebanon: Fasoulia Ma Khoudra

Fasoulia ma koudra LebaneseThis weekend I was looking for a vegetarian dish that would use up some of the vegetables we had left in the fridge, and helpfully I found a recipe from A Lebanese Feast that did just that. This was a Lebanese recipe that  was basically a vegetable stew, and it suggests you can substitute the vegetable as you wish. I actually had pretty much what the recipe suggested,  so just a few alterations. But this really was one of the easiest things I have cooked for a while; literally fry the onions and garlic and then add everything else and let it cook down in its own juices which produce an incredibly flavour.


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 courgettes, sliced
  • 1 aubergine, into cubes about 3cm
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 200g grean beans, cut into pieces
  • 3 mixed peppers, chopped
  • 4-5 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tin beans (red kidney, black eyed, what ever you prefer)
  • 2 chillis
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • salt to season

Fasoulia ma koudra Lebanese


  1. Heat the olive oil in a casserole dish and fry onions and garlic for around 5 minutes. .
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low.
  3. Cook for about 45 minutes and served with rice or bread.

As I said, that’s it. Just let it cook and serve. A nice easy dish to use up vegetables left over from the week, and something doesn’t require much effort.

Fasoulia ma koudra Lebanese

India: Bagara Baingan

My entry into Indian cooking really began with Rick Stein’s book ‘Rick Stein’s India‘, after watching the series and deciding that I wanted to try and make some of the dishes. The recipes were clear, and the results have been great more or less every time. A favourite has to be chana masala (a chickpea curry) – I never thought one of my favourite foods would be a tomato and chickpea dish. But anyway, I’ve now cooked so many of the recipes from there that I wanted to try something different. I first discovered what Bagara Baingan was after visiting Exotic Dining restaurant in Kettering, my home town. We met a friend there for dinner a couple of years ago and the food was wonderful – of all the years I lived in the that town I hadn’t even realised the restaurant was there, and the sign outside really doesn’t do the food justice. My usual dish until recently would have been the murgh methi, a chicken based dish, but for some reason I decided to order something from the vegetarian section – Hyderabadi Bagara Baignan. According to saffron streaksBagara means tempering the oil with spices, a traditional Indian practice of cooking to enhance the aroma of a dish. The recipe uses the small types of aubergines (brinjal) that you should be able to find in larger supermarkets or if you live in a city like Coventry, the central market should have them (once again Coventry market has been my first port of call for getting ingredients I need for my year of global cooking). There are lots of different versions of the recipe available online and I have decided to go for an adapted version of the recipe from the blog Edible Garden. Already this year, by looking for cooking inspiration I have found so many great cooking blogs – I should compile a list at some point.
 Bagara Baingan 
(Serves two people)
  • 6 baby aubergines
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp peanuts (red skinned)
  • 2 tbsp dessicated coconut
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 dried kashmiri chilli (finely chopped)
  • A small lemon sized ball of tamarind
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Salt

bagara baingan

  1. Dry roast the peanuts and sesame seeds separately until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Then, blend together with the coconut and little water to form a smooth paste.
  2. Extract the tamarind paste in 1 cup warm water. Grind the ginger and garlic (or mash in a pestle and mortar).
  3. Fry the aubergines in 1 tbsp of oil until soft but still hold their shape (about 10 minutes). Drain and set aside.
  4. In the same oil, fry the onions and ginger garlic paste until golden. Then add the ground paste and fry for a minute.
  5. To this, add turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and salt. Mix well and fry for another minute.
  6. Add the tamarind water, mix, then add the aubergines and cook closed for 5-10 mins.

It’s usually served with roti or rice, but we had it with naan bread. If you have any fresh coriander you could sprinkle some of that on top too.

So that’s India marked on the map for this week’s cooking adventures.
bagara baingan

Turkey: Imam Bayildi

Imam BayildiI hadn’t intended on cooking anything else new this week for my 2016 challenge but after looking in the fridge at the vegetable that needed using I was reminded of a Turkish dish I had recently seen a recipe for. This dish can be made as a main course, or as a side dish. The recipe shown here is enough to serve it as a side dish for two people. It is an adaptation of a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi written in the Guardian which suggests it should be served at room temperature – but I served it hot because it’s January and I didn’t want cold food.

Imam Bayildi translates as ‘the imam fainted’ supposedly making reference to an imam who depending on which story you believe either fainted with pleasure after eating the dish, or fainted after learning the amount of olive oil used to make it (according to what I have read here, and other places). Having looked at a few different recipes there are many which use a lot more olive oil, but I have kept it to a minimum in this one. I did however have too much tomato and so in the end more filling than was necessary for one aubergine. This amount could have easily filled two.


  • 1 aubergines
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 garlic cloves (sliced)
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 3 tomatoes (or a small tin)
  • pinch of caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano


  1. Use a vegetable peeler to peel strips off the aubergine, lengthways, so it ends up with stripes all the way round.
  2. Make an short incision into the aubergine and cut along the centre to around 3cm from the top and bottom (this is the opening that will be used to fill the aubergine later).
  3. In a bowl cover the aubergine in cold water, add the lemon juice and a 1 tsp of salt. To make sure the aubergine remains in the water use a plate or similar to weigh it down. Leave this to soak for around 1 hour and the pat dry before the next stage.
  4. In a frying or satuee pan heat the oil and fry the aubergine for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan.
  5. In the same pan fry the onions and peppers for 10 minutes. Meanwhile pour boiling water over the tomatoes (if using fresh ones) and leave for 1 minute and then peel the skins, and chop the remaining tomato flesh.
  6. Add garlic and spices and cook for around a minute, making sure the spices don’t burn. Then add the tomato, and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Add a tablespoon of water, pinch of sugar and a sprinkle of dried oregano. Put the aubergine on top of the mixture. Cover the pan and turn the heat down to simmer for around 20 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180oC.
  8. Remove aubergine from the pan and place into a small oven proof dish. Find the incision you made at the beginning and stuff the aubergine with the tomato/pepper mixture. Sprinkle with some salt and then cover with foil. Bake for 35 minutes.
  9. When serving sprinke with more oregano.

Turkey flag