Cold Outside…Cooking Middle Eastern Inside!!

Welcome to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada! Temperatures hovering around -27C (about -15F) all day and it’s a good day to try out some new recipes! Fortunately, I discovered while searching online, this wonderful chef, Yotam Ottolenghi, who resides in London, England who creates great Middle Eastern recipes and I couldn’t wait to try a couple of these recipes and share my thoughts and experiences along my culinary journey!!

This morning I checked what was in my fridge and chose my recipes accordingly. What a great day to stay inside and use warm spices in my recipes!! Today I decided to cook Chermoula eggplant with bulgur and yogurt  because I had 2 eggplants that needed to be used up. Then I tackled Open Kibbeh; kibbeh is usually sold as a beef  filled bulgur dumpling…but this recipe disconstructs the norm into a layered savoury pie but with all the same ingredients and flavours.   So here goes…..

Chermoula eggplant with bulgur and yogurt

Found 2 eggplants in the fridge waiting to be discovered!

Score deep cuts in a diamond pattern but don’t go through the skin!


One brand of preserved lemons found in mid-east supermarket.


Spice is nice!

My favourite part of putting together recipes are the spice blends.  This recipe has an aromatic blend of cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, sweet paprika, salt and finely minced preserved lemon…Preserved lemons is one of my greatest finds in the mid-east supermarkets.  They are lemons preserved in a salt-lemon juice brine and the rinds soften and add an intense flavour to the blend…if you cannot find these preserved lemons (yet), just substitute lemon juice.

Once all the spices have been blended with the olive oil, it is smeared on top of the scored eggplant halves, ensuring that all  the topping is dripping into the crevices as well.  After baking for 40 minutes, the eggplant should look like the photo below:


Smear topping all over cut surface of eggplant


Out of oven.

The bulgur topping is straight-forward however, weighing  grams each of ingredients is simple if you have a kitchen scale but let me help you out: 30 grams of each are about a packed half cup of each. I used one-third cup of toasted almonds and 5 (five) large pitted green olives, cut in eighths, not halves like the recipe suggests.


My final product….the blend of flavours was divine on the palate!!


Chermoula eggplant with bulgur and yogurt

Open Kibbeh


Kibbeh that I have bought at the middle eastern supermarkets are torpedo-shaped bulgur shells filled with an aromatic ground meat mixture, so this recipe looked easier to prepare and feed the crowds!  I must admit, other than substituting ground beef for ground lamb, I followed this recipe to a ‘T’.  Oh maybe one more change: I used medium bulgur instead of fine bulgur because I like the texture of the slightly larger grains.


All the flavours to be fried up with the beef filling; allspice, cinnamon and coriander are the ground spices.


Frying up the beef filling.


preparing the pressed bulgur layer in the bottom of a springform pan. Beef mixture will be layered on top.


Open Kibbeh

And my final baked Open Kibbeh above….with all the fixings…..Close your eyes and enjoy the exotic combination of flavours….hmmmm…..

Please share your comments/suggestions!!



  1. Mary-Anne Zubrycky · · Reply

    What a wonderful site!!! Mozeltov!!

  2. tessaflo · · Reply

    I definitely plan to try the Open Kibbeh! Meal in a dish? Love it!

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