I made this wonderful feast of Middle Eastern food over summer for some very special Yemeni guests. I’ve been wanting to write about it and share my tips with you all for quite some time!
I really love Middle Eastern cuisine. It is so incredibly diverse and full of so much flavour. It contrasts quite differently to Indian and Pakistani food. From personal experience, I’ve found that South Asian foods tends to focus more on creating bold flavours – hence the emphasis on spice! Whereas Middle Eastern food tends to focus more on creating a beautiful blend of complimenting flavours – the emphasis on the latter is more about the balance and the subtelty of flavour. Both cuisines are incredible in their own respects, but for this feast of desserts, I really wanted to pay homage to two classic Arab dishes: basbousa (semolina cake) and baklava, as well as add a Middle Eastern twist to my classic chocolate truffle recipe!
Firstly, the basbousa! Basbousa is a delicious sweet cake made with semolina and soaked in sugar syrup. You can get so many different variations of basbousa – some add orange flower water, others add in chopped nuts. I have recreated this cake many times and in my own version, I like to combine cinnamon with freshly squeezed lemons for the syrup. I also like to add my own touch by drizzling the finished cake with a homemade cacao sauce and sliced pistachios. The addition of edible rose petals on top was purely aesthetic, and matches well with the green and pink colour scheme!
I am yet to meet a person who dislikes baklava. Baklava is one of my all-time favourite desserts, and homemade baklava is particularly special to me because you can really taste the difference when you compare it to store-bought alternatives. For the nut mixture you can use pretty much any combination, but personally, I prefer a mix of pistachios, walnuts, and hazelnuts. Drenched in delicious honey syrup and nestled between cinnamon spice, this baklava was probably the best I’ve ever made – they really hit the spot!
The homemade chocolate truffles were incredibly rich and decadent. I topped them with sliced pistachios, finely diced turkish delight, beautiful rose petals as well as the chopped baklava nut mixture that I had sweetened with honey syrup. The result was an incredibly indulgent and luxurious treat! I loved combining my classic truffle recipe with a Middle Eastern twist. I served these truffles on the baking sheet I prepared them on because I quite liked the look of the chocolate splatters on the sheet. Otherwise, these would make a fantastic gift for any chocolate lover.
For part of the breakfast, I made Greek yoghurt parfaits layered with generous servings of crunchy granola and the baklava nut mixture I had prepared the day before. To avoid this parfait from looking too much like a dessert, I added fresh fruit, pumpkin seeds and finely chopped nuts to the top of the glasses.