Friday, November 30, 2012


Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I'm taking with me when I go.
- Erma Bombeck

There is something incredibly sumptuous about the food of the Middle East. It is steeped in history and mystery, teasing the palate with exotic and tantalizing flavors. Delicate and spicy, aromatic and fragrant, scented and syrupy-these are some of the words that come to mind. The tastes are rich and pleasing, the images romantic, airy and ancient. Rose petals and orange blossom, tamarind and dates, figs and apricots, mulberries and melons, saffron and orchid root, almonds and pistachios, olives, coriander and cumin-a myriad of flavors and dishes that are intricately entwined in the fascinating history of this vast and exciting region.
- Ghillie Basan, The Middle Eastern Kitchen: a Book of Essential Ingredients with over 150 Authentic Recipes
Spices and herbs are, and have always been an integral part of my cuisine. I intensely treasure them and cannot imagine living without those precious and irreplaceable condiments which not only enhance, complement and balance the flavors of a dish, but also benefit our health (they can be used as natural preventive medecine). A marvelous source of gratification and well-being!

It is one of the main reasons why I am irrevocably attracted to the glorious gastronomy of the countries situated at the crossroads of the Mediterranean basin and the Arabian hinterland. If you want to make my eyes twinkle, my mouth salivate and receive my total attention, then I recommend you to pronounce those three simple words: "Middle Eastern Food" and I'll come running like a worshipful dog on amphetamine.

In my opinion, there is nothing quite as varied, refined, intriguing, dazzling, exhilarating, dreamlike and worthy of "The Thousand and One Nights" than the gourmet fares served at Lebanese (my favorite), Iranian, Palestinian, Syrian, Israeli, Jordanian, Omani, Kuwaiti, Iraqi, Quatari, Saudi Arabian, Yemeni or Emirati tables.

So, you can imagine my excitement when the talented Faith Gorsky of "An Edible Mosaic" (her headquarters are in upstate New York) kindly proposed to send me her cookbook "An Edible Mosaic - Middle Eastern Fare With Extraordinary Flair". There was no way I was going to decline her generous offer and pass the opportunity of reviewing this wonderful publication entirely written and illustrated a web friend and colleague whom I respect and have been following for the last three years (I first came across her site in 2009, if my memory does not fail me...).

Having been born and raised in America, nothing predestined this blogger to become a specialist on the subject of Middle Eastern food. As a matter of fact, before she tied the knot with her Syrian husband in the Middle East and lived there for the first six months of her matrimony, she barely had any knowledge of the specialities prepared by the people populating this part of the Arab world. Everything changed the day Faith married her life companion; she discovered and embraced a whole new culture.

During her stay in Damascus (the capital of Syria), she had the opportunity to explore and experience firsthand the magic of the cuisine of this region of the globe and even more so when her mother-in-law, who happens to be a master cook, took her under her wing and gave her a thorough course in Middle Eastern cooking that resulted in the creation of "An Edible Mosaic".

Over the past six years, this passionate young lady has visited the Middle East four different times, each trip contributing to deepening her love as well as expanding her enthusiasm for the culinary traditions and civilization of this fascinating land of contrasts. As a result, Faith's travels helped enrich her increasingly successful blog and build a devoted readership, thus ultimately leading her to writing the book I have the honor of introducing to you this Friday.

The Ultimate Communal Meal "Generally, one could say that Near and Middle Eastern and North African cooking and nutrition are healthy. As in other Mediterranean gastronomies, meat is rare and vegetables often used. The religious purity rules also have consequences for the kitchen, which is important for the health of the people.
- Peter Heine, Food Culture in the Near East, Middle East, and North Africa 
With its ten chapters (Basic Recipes, Breads and Pies, Salads, Vegetables and Rice Side Dishes, Appetizers and Light Meals, Beans and Lentils, Chicken and Seafood, Beef and Lamb, Desserts & Drinks), four useful sections (Cooking Tips and Techniques, Basic Cooking Tools, Buying the Right Middle Eastern Ingredients and Middle Eastern Grocery Stores) and many (over a hundred) easily reproducible, inspiring, meticulously detailed, carnivore as well as vegetarian/vegan-friendly, authentic and elegant recipes, "An Edible Mosaic - Middle Eastern Fare With Extraordinary Flair" will rejoice both beginner and experienced cooks. Each entry, side dish, main or dessert presented within the 144 pages of Faith's manual will make your mouth water and nudge you into the kitchen to prepare scrumptious delicacies that are vibrant, remarkably toothsome and nutritionally harmonious. 

Since I am somewhat knowledgeable about Middle Eastern cuisine and already possess a certain number of bestsellers on the topic, I had my doubts on whether or not this cookbook would help me broaden my gastronomic horizon. Well, I am pleased to inform you that I was not deceived at all by it.

"An Edible Mosaic - Middle Eastern Fare With Extraordinary Flair" is far from being boring or uninteresting. Actually, it is an extremely enjoyable read as it is chock-a-block full with delectable ideas for healthy, irresistible and lip-smackingly good dishes (some of which I have never even tried or concocted and plan on testing soon) ranging from "Thyme Spiced Flat Pies", "Tabbouleh", "Fried Eggplants With Garlic And Parsley Dressing", "Fried Cauliflower With Sesame Parsley Sauce", "Saffron Rice With Golden Raisins And Pine Nuts", "Spiced Cheese Balls", "Creamy Chickpea And Yogurt Casserole", "Fish Pilaf With Caramelized Onion", "Chicken Kebabs", "Roasted Green Wheat With Chicken", "Fried Kibbeh", "Scrambled Eggs With Meat And onions", "Upside Down Rice Casserole", "Sweet Cheese Pastry (Knafeh)", "Coconut Semolina Cake (Harissa)", "Creamy Hot Sahlab Drink" to "White Coffee". Plenty enough meals to keep you busy for several months!

As you can imagine, choosing a recipe to showcase on "Rosa's Yummy Yums" wasn't an easy task (especially if you are a tergiversator named Rosa). It took me a while before I could make up my mind. Anyway, after a week of intense delibaration, I selected a hearty meat-free dish called "Mujaddara Burghul" ("Lentil And Bulgur Pilaf" in English) which is traditionally savored with cramelized onions and accompanied by plain yogurt, tomato, cucumber and/or onions slices (mine was served with some cooked beetroot since it is soon winter here in Switzerland and I disapprove of buying out of season vegetables).

The outcome was highly satisfying and the legume, cereal and spice addicts that we are were totally seduced by this main course's unique combination of bulgur, lentils and seasonings. Each element composing this magnificent one-pot mingled together perfectly, thus causing an exclamation of delight and a sigh of bliss after every forkful.

An economical, filling, fit, comforting and exquisite pilaf. One of life's simple pleasures!

Mujaddara Burghul (Bulgur And Lentil Pilaf)
Recipe by Faith Gorsky of
"An Edible Mosaic".

Serves 6.


1 1/3 Cups (275g) Dried brown lentils
6 Cups (1.5 liters) Water
2 Tbs Olive oil
2 Tbs Butter
2 Large Onions, quartered and thinly sliced
1 Bay leaf
2 Pods cardamom, cracked open
2 Cloves
2 Tsps Ground cumin

1/2 Tsp Ground cinnamon
1 1/2 Tsp Fine Sea salt

1/4 Tsp Freshly ground black pepper
1 Cup (185g) Coarse-ground bulgur wheat
1 1/2 Cups (300ml) Boiling water

Thick plain yogurt (optional, for serving)

1. Sort through the lentils to remove any small stones or pieces of dirt, and then rinse with cold water in a colander.

2. Bring the rinsed lentils and the water to a boil in a lidded medium saucepan. Cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to a simmer, and cook until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water as necessary so that they’re always immersed; strain and set aside.
3. While the lentils cook, heat the oil and the butter in a large skillet over moderately-high heat; add the onion and sauté until completely softened but not yet browned, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Transfer half the onion to a small bowl and set aside. Continue cooking the remaining onion until deep caramel in color, about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a splash of water as necessary if the onion starts to get too dark. Set aside.
5. Put half a kettle of water on to boil. Transfer the sautéed onion (not the caramelized onion) to a medium saucepan. Add the bay leaf, cardamom, clove, cumin, cinnamon, salt, and pepper and cook 1 minute.
6. Add the bulgur and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly.
7. Give the bulgur a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time).
8. Turn the heat off and let the bulgur sit 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and gently stir in the lentils. Taste and add additional salt, pepper and olive oil if desired.
7. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the caramelized onion.

Instead of making this dish with dried brown lentils, you can prepare it with the same amount of green lentils or 2 cans of brown lentils, rinsed and drained.
For an easy variation of this dish, use white or brown rice instead of bulgur wheat.

Serving suggestions:
Serve with plain yogurt (to spoon on top) and accompany by sliced tomatoes, cucumber and/or onions.

Mujaddara Burghul (Pilaf Au Bulgur Et  Aux Lentilles)
Recette par Faith Gorsky de
"An Edible Mosaic".

Pour 6 personnes.

275g de Lentilles brunes séchées
1,5L d'Eau
2 CS d'Huile d'olive
2 CS de Beurre
2 Gros oignons, coupés en quartiers et tranchés finement
1 Feuille de laurier
2 Gousses de Cardamome, écrasée
2 Clous de girofle, entiers
2 CC de Cumin en poudre
1/2 CC de Cannelle en poudre
1 1/2 CC de Sel de mer fin
1/4 CC de Poivre noir fraîchement moulu

185g de Boulgour concassé en gros grains
300ml d'Eau
Yaourt nature épais (en option, pour servir)

1. Trier les lentilles pour enlever les petites pierres ou les impuretés, puis rincer à l'eau froide dans une passoire.
2. Dans une casserole, porter les lentilles rincées et l'eau à ébullition. Couvrir la casserole, et baisser le feu. Laisser mijoter/cuire jusqu'à ce que les lentilles soient tendres mais pas molles (
remuer de temps en temps et ajouter plus d'eau si nécessaire afin qu'elles soient toujours immergées), environ 20 à 30 minutes. Egoutter et mettre de côté.
3. Dans une grande poêle, faire chauffer l'huile et le beurre à feu vif, ajouter l'oignon et faire revenir pendant
environ 10 minutes (remuer de temps en temps), jusqu'à ce qu'il soit mou et translucide mais pas encore doré.

Bulgur & Lentil Pilaf 2 4 bis
4. Transférer la moitié de l'oignon dans un petit bol et mettre de côté. Poursuivre la cuisson de l'oignon restant pendant environ 5 à 10 minutes (remuer de temps en temps et ajouter un peu d'eau si l'oignon commence à devenir trop sombre), jusqu'à ce qu'il ait caramélisé. Mettre de côté.
5. Dans une casserole de taille moyenne, faire bouillir les 300ml d'eau. Ajouter, l'oignon cuit (pas l'oignon caramélisé), la feuille de laurier, la gousse e cardamome, les clous de girofle, le cumin, la cannelle, le sel et le poivre. Faire cuire pendant 1 minute.
6. Ajouter le boulgour et faire cuire encore 1 minute suplémentaire, en remuant constamment.
7. Couvrir la casserole, baisser le feu à très doux et laisser cuire pendant envirion 10 minutes, jusqu'à ce qu'il soit tendre (ne pas ouvrir le couvercle).

8. Baisser le feu et laisser le boulgour reposer pendant 10 minutes, puis l'égrainer avec une fourchette et incorporer délicatement les lentilles. Goûter, puis saler et poivrer selon votre goût et ajouter un trait d'huile d'olive si désiré.
7. Transférer dans un plat de service et garnir avec les oignons caramélisés.


Au lieu de faire ce plat avec des lentilles brunes séchées, préparez-le avec des lentilles vertes ou 2 boîtes de conserves de lentilles brunes, rincés et égouttés.
Pour varier un peu, le boulgour peut être remplacé par du riz blanc ou brun.

Suggestions d'accompagnement:

Servir avec le yaourt (versé sur le dessus du plat) et accompagner de tranches de tomates, de concombre et/ou des rondelles d'oignons.

Bulgur & Lentil Pilaf 5 8 bis 


  1. Oh que ça a l'air bon!Tes photos sont magnifiques comme d'habitude, et je compte bien essayer cette recette car je suis très fan des lentilles!

  2. Mujadarra is one of the first things I learned to cook, and I still love how simple and comforting and healthful it is. Yours looks absolutely stunning - way to make lentils and bulghur really look appetizing!

  3. Wonderful review, I am going to add this book to my wish list at, "just in case"... You know, for a moment of weakness ;-)

    I also love this type of cuisine, one that entices all senses

    repeating myself over and over, I must still say your photography is spectacular!

  4. I can never think of cooking without spices or herbs! That's a lovely hearty meal.

  5. One of life's simple pleasures it is! You truly captured the essence of the incredibly scrumptious Middle Eastern fare in the recipe & the write-up. Just brilliant!

  6. Tes photos parlent directement à mes yeux et à mes papilles gustatives! Une merveille pour les 2!

    Il m'a l'air bien ce livre!

  7. A wholesome dish. I love the click of lentils.

  8. Your photos are amazingly beautiful and make me wish I could eat this dish for dinner! I had heard of Faith publishing this book through her blog but this is the first time i see the actual cover and it looks just stunning!

  9. Gorgeousness as always Rosa. When i saw the BW of the plates I was wondering what will go on them :) I am scrolling up and down swallowing your photographs!! Middle Eastern cuisine is my favorite and the books sounds like truly worth trying. What a beautiful meal you have made.

  10. Stunning photos....Love the recipe..what a great post!!

  11. Gorgeous recipe and photos! I will be making this for sure.

  12. gorgeous clicks, you really inspire me to click better :) love u for that

  13. Lovely and healthy meal.

  14. You chose the perfect dish Rosa. So you. Your photography is outstanding this time. You've really outdone yourself.

    Have a great weekend.

  15. I will soon receive this book as well. I can not wait to try the recipes :). Your Mujaddara look beautiful!

  16. C'est beau Rosa, c'est bon...c'est si charmant et en meme temps tellement appétissant !
    bises Rosa, bon weekend !

  17. j'adore ce plat, c'est un vrai régal; magnifiques photos comme toujours chez toi


  18. Scrumptious, Rosa, absolutely scrumptious! xo

  19. Mujjadra is my all time favorite Rosa. I can't get enough if it. It even gets better the next day if there is any leftover. Yum!

  20. What a beautiful write-up of Faith's book. You've really brought this dish to life, Rosa. I am especially drawn to the first image of the bowl of lentils--breathtaking, all of them.

  21. Rosa, I can't thank you enough for your gorgeous is beautiful beyond measure and I am honored. Huge thanks, my friend.

    And I'm so glad you enjoyed the dish! It's a favorite vegetarian meal in my house.


  22. I love Middle Eastern food. I can't wait to try this recipe and find the book. Exquisite photos too.

  23. What a delicious and healthy meal!

  24. look beautiful Rosa!!!!Love your pictures! have a nice weekend!!

  25. Ton assiette me plait drôlement Rosa !! Wahou, que c'est appétissant ... beau et sain ^^ J'adore. Je te chipe ta recette et me prépare ça très vite ... Miam ! J'ai faim ^^
    Des bises gourmandes et bon WE.

  26. comme toujours recte et photos sublimes

  27. Wonderful review! I love Faith's blog and this pilaf looks scrumptious!

  28. Holy cow. Your photography is gorgeous!

  29. You are a perfect person to review her book - work in detail and present gorgeous photography. Her recipe shines through your work! :)

  30. What a simple but wonderful dish - after Asian, Middle Eastern flavours are my favourites. Warm, spicy and exotic. That's a great book too.

  31. Lovely dish, it looks delicious and great. Have a nice weekend Rosa.

  32. ein Gericht, das ich in bester Erinnerung habe !

  33. So Yummy, Simple ingredients, simple dish but great looking dish

  34. If only I could reach through the monitor and grab it for breakfast, my day would be off to a great start.

  35. Oh Rosa, this looks like such a wonderful dish. It's definitely the type of food I love. Stunning images as always Rosa. You have such a wonderful talent.

  36. Wonderful dish, it reminds me of my childhood. My mother used to cook many similar dishes. Photography is highly enjoyable! Thank you-)

  37. I don't often see the word "tergiversator" used - thanks for reminding me of it! Your pictures are exceptionally good in this post - really nice texture and shape. Lentils are such a great subject! Good post, good recipe, and it sounds like a good cookbook - thanks.

  38. Yumyum,
    J'adore les lentilles, ce plat me donne bien envie. Parfait pour prendre des forces!

    Bon weekend.

  39. Rosa,
    This is one of my favorite. I regularly cook this wonderful pilaf.

  40. I love how you made an otherwise-bland-looking dish look so enticing!

    Comfort foods like this are the best this time of year!

  41. Yum! Great comforting plate!

  42. Magnifique ma belle Rosa!! Bonne soirée à toi XX

  43. this looks like a really filling and satisfying dish, rosa!

  44. I'm imagining the lovely smell of the spices as this cooked! This sounds like a great book.

  45. I learn something new everytime I drop by..:D
    I love it :D... and your photos are gorgeous.

  46. Great review and your pictures, as always, amazing. I always go through your pictures first and then read the post :)

  47. En grande amatrice de lentilles, je suis comblée par cette recette.

  48. Rosa, Your photos are perfection. And I know the dish would be delicious. What a marvelous combination...lentils and bulgur. On my to-make list!

  49. Such a beautiful pilaf Rosa! I just love Faith's book!

  50. I always thought that the middle eastern tradition and food are mysterious. Maybe it's the script too or the way they speak, its so mesmerizing!

    I have heard of faiths book in the last months. I was told that it was unique in its own way.

    Bulgur is one of those ingredients I always stare at in a shop, trying to figure out what I could cook with it, but each time I end up not buying it, because of lack of imagination. Well, that problem won't occur anymore in the future!

  51. Il a l'air extra ce bulghur!

  52. I would love to get a copy of that cookbook.
    And it's true what erma bombeck says " women never throw away spices"
    I still have my 1st jar of curry! lol (very very old)

  53. I really like your photos! They are amazing!

  54. Now I want to order that book. Looks so good. You did take beautiful pics for the dish.

  55. Oh, Rosa...using lentils in a pilaf is awesome and the flavors you added are out of this world! Beautiful clicks as always:)

  56. What beautiful ingredients. I do not read enough. Thanks for the inspiration!

  57. Isn't it funny which dishes we gravitated towards the most in Faith's lovely book? This looks divine! :D

  58. Voila comment faire une fete d'humbles legumineuses. Magnifique.

  59. Oh my Rosaaaa! This dish look absolutely delicious. This is my kind of food, the simplest possible...I love lentils and this marriage with bulgur seems to me a great treat.
    Your pictures are breathtaking. The dish speaks through the video!
    Really beautiful. Un bacio!

  60. Mujaddara was, and still is one of our favorite dishes.
    Rosa, I love the touch of caramelized onions; a feast for all the senses!

  61. Faith's book is lovely and the recipe you shared looks perfect. Thank you for sharing! What a beautiful post! I'm sorry I've been gone for so long. We've been packing/moving, and I'm just now starting to catch up with all my favorites. Anyway, I'm very glad to be back and I hope you have a wonderful week!

  62. First of all let me just say that your photography is a dream- such a pleasure to browse through your blog just now! Second, this loos SO good! I love lentils and really look forward to whipping this up soon.

  63. What a beautiful review, Rosa! I just got Faith's book last night as an early xmas gift from my boyfriend and it is as lovely as you described! Can't wait to try this dish.

  64. Rosa, I totally agree with you. I love Middle Eastern cuisine. All those spices. Yum!

  65. I love middle eastern spices and all the grilled meat, veggies, salads you name it. Its just so fresh and full of flavor. Your pictures are so delicious- I want to take a spoonful of this pilaf right now!!!

  66. Wow Rosa, beautifully done...I love Faith blog and her cookbook it is sure a hit!
    Have a wonderful week :)

  67. Faith's book is so wonderful and personal. I made the spinach turnovers from it. Can't wait to make the pilaf next! ;)

  68. Très bonne idée de recette!
    Ce plat doit être bien savoureux!

  69. Como siempre un placer visitarte. Saludos.

  70. I'm loving all of Faith's recipes and this one looks absolutely delicious, too!

  71. Coming from a Palestinian background, I grew up eating mujaddara. It's an amazing dish. Beautiful book.

  72. Oh Rosa, that looks just awesome!! I love both lentils and bulgur and the combination looks so nutty and delicious... Love the Erma Bombeck quote so much :)

  73. this looks beautiful Rosa. Lentils remain one of my fav, albeit newly found comfort food! Wanting to send you my B&W entry too for this week;-)

  74. What a great dish...and needless to say fantastic pictures. Your posts are truly inspiring Rosa. Missed reading that am back from my break..will go thru all that i missed:)

  75. I could eat bulgur and lentils every day of the week. I think this might make it even more possible! Beautiful photographs as always.

  76. Such beautiful is hard to make a dish of dark food look great and you have done it. I'm sure it is as good as it looks.

  77. It appears Middle Eastern food is becoming more and more mainstream. Looking at this recipe, I understand why!

  78. un beau plat sain, parfumé et de saison !

  79. I love it! I've recently fallen back in love with beans. They are so cheap and this time of year you need cheap and hearty food. This looks great!

  80. Can I make a wish? I want to eat that now !!! Can anyone cook that for me? Pleeeeease!

  81. Every carb craving stressed-out cell in my body is loving this. Breaking the rules is always worth it. Like reading blog posts. When I should be writing or cooking. I look forward to your updates, they make me smile. Totally worth breaking the rules.

  82. How delicious! And such beautiful photos!

  83. I have enjoyed your photo essays but it is nice to see a recipe once in a while, especially when so beautifully told and illustrated. Follow your passions my dear and thanks for sharing the cookbook with us. In truth it has been on my radar.

    1. Thank you, dear! I have felt slightly uninspired lately and I am trying to enjoy life, so that's the reason why I haven't been posting many recipes lately... That said, I will post recipes again soon (when I feel like it). I just need time to get my mojo back. ;-)

  84. The Bulgur Pilaw looks absolutely fantastic, love the color and the onions as well. And the review is a good read, well written, thanks. Unfortunately, I have not found bulgur here as yet.

  85. Yes I have seen this cookbook Rosa. It is definitely on my list, as is this delicious dish.