As you look through our recipes, please note that we tried to grill as much as possible because this particular day it was about 90 degrees. This, of course, is not necessary, but it does make things go a little faster and your home that much cooler. Also note, that grape leaves are amazing and if you take nothing else away from Egypt, please, roll a grape leaf.
Stuffed Grape Leaves with Rice and Nut Filling
Tom and I recently found out how easy it is to stuff grape leaves and how often they are a complete rip off in restaurants. Usually if you order these little bundles of awesome, you will pay about a dollar or so for just one grape leaf. If you buy a entire jar of about 50 grape leaves, it costs no more than $4. It also behooves you to make them yourself just to have a say of what goes in them. I've definitely ordered these before to find nothing more than rice inside.
So go ahead and wow your guests, it will cost you very little and impress many. If you need any further instructions, just let us know. We would be more than happy to help.
For the filling:
2/3 cup short grain or medium rice
1 large red onion minced
Oh, the eggplant. In my experience, people either love it, absolutely hate it or won't even try it. Luckily, chances are if you make baba ghanouj you will trick people into eating it. I mean, it's dip and who can resist dip and crackers put out on a table?
Hummus is one of Tom's staple "we need to take something to a party" foods. He's gotten damn good at making it through the years and we just had to include it for Egypt. Of course, if you own a pressure cooker, it takes no time at all. If you don't, you can still make it with a little time and forethought. Always a crowd pleaser, I give you, hummus.
Hot paprika or cayenne
It seemed appropriate to make tabouleh as it is already warm outside and we needed a refreshing side dish. The key to fantastic tabouleh is taking advantage of all the fresh herbs that the summer provides. It's easy to throw together on a hot day when the oven just seems like the worst idea in the world and it's also excellent at filling your belly.
3 large tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
We have tried many a pita recipe over the last year. It seems that we are still having an issue getting pita bread with a good pocket. This recipe worked out okay though, because it was another thing we could throw on the grill and not heat up our tiny apartment with the oven cranked all the way up.
They turned out okay though and we just cut them open instead of them pocketing on their own. They didn't fall apart either, so I dub this pita recipe the best one we've had, so far. Someday, someday.
1.5 tsp salt
Falafel is one of the better things to cook if you are looking for a cheap, delicious filling meal for a lot of people. They are quick to fry up on the stove top and they are so flavorful. They are also great to eat cold the next day. This is another item that if you pay more than $6 for at a restaurant is completely ridiculous.
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Grilled Fish with Yogurt Tahini Sauce
Finally, we come to the only item in our Egypt meal that is not vegan (unless you count the yeast in the pita, depending on which vegan you ask). Of course, we grilled this as well and topped it with a yogurt tahini sauce that is also amazing on falafel or any other white fish that is available to you. We felt we had to include fish since Egypt is nestled in-between the Mediterranean and Red Seas.
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and serve with flatbread and flaked fish.
Okay, okay...you caught us. All the dishes we made for this meal we have made before in our everyday lives, but we defend our decision to not make anything new (to us) simply by declaring our absolute love of Egyptian food. The sweet/savory combination just bursts through and it is all extremely healthy and good for digestion.
The command decision we made to grill most of this food also saved us from our horrible sweatbox of an apartment. I know this summer has been terrible for everyone, but when you add an unairconditioned apartment with an oven in 90+degree heat you just agitate the situation even further and add misery to your guests. Still, we managed to cram 16 guests into our tiny abode and enjoy some lovely Egyptian fare.