Semolina semantics

In a Farro-induced trance the other day I stumbled upon Palestinian couscous. Hold on, I thought – is this just Israeli couscous with a side of branding? Well, this pack was a Trade Aid product, made by Palestinian women in Jericho.  And technically speaking, it looked distinct from what I’ve seen sold as “Israeli couscous”: this one was a bit browner (whole wheat), and kind … Continue reading Semolina semantics

Dried Limes

Brown and somewhat shrivelled, they almost look like a nasty surprise from the bottom of the fridge – but the flavour dried limes, often called loomi or Basra limes, bring to a dish is anything but old and tired. Typically used in Middle Eastern cuisine – especially around the Persian Gulf – dried limes can be found here at many ethnic food stores. Dried limes … Continue reading Dried Limes


Nasturtium plants are easy to grow, invasive even, and are found in many a back yard without anybody recalling having planted them. The rounded leaves and bright-hued blooms are strikingly pretty, and can both be used in the kitchen, possessing a snappy peppery bite similar to radish. When using whole flowers, you may either pluck the petals or use whole, but do remove the centre … Continue reading Nasturtium


A while back I posted a recipe for Fragrant Poached Chicken on Freekeh Pilaf, that called for the Middle Eastern spice mix baharat. Baharat simply means ‘spice’ in Arabic, but refers to a blend of different spices that is used as a base to flavour infinite numbers of dishes. From North Africa via Turkey to the Gulf, each region Middle Eastern – and each household … Continue reading Baharat

Gochujang (Korean Red Pepper Paste)

Not for the faint-hearted, this Korean condiment is a treat for those with a hankering for fire on the tongue and an instantly cleared nasal passage. If that isn’t you, don’t sop reading – it can also be tamed into something altogether more acquiescent with the help of other ingredients. Thought to have been made since as far back as the early 1700s, gochujang is … Continue reading Gochujang (Korean Red Pepper Paste)

Cook’s Cupboard: dried Asian mushrooms

Beautifully delicate, fresh locally grown oyster, shiitake and wood ear mushrooms can now be found at many supermarkets, greengrocers’ and produce markets. The ones in my picture below came from the Avondale Markets. But you can also buy these same varieties (individually or mixed) dried and packaged, meaning you can keep them in your pantry to be used whenever you fancy a bit of fungi, … Continue reading Cook’s Cupboard: dried Asian mushrooms