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Arabian delights

Lakshmi Shankar Iyer urges you to try out these desserts over the weekend


ARABIC SWEETS are quite rich and contain lots of nuts, probably due to their availability in the region. Just tray out these recipes for a rich treat.

UMM ALI (a West Asian dish)

Ingredients

Frozen puff pastry — 400 gm. (available in the market)
Pistachios — cup (sliced)
Almonds — cup (sliced)
Raisins — cup
Seedless dates (optional) — cup (chopped)
Walnuts— cup (chopped)
Fresh milk — 400 ml.
Sweetened condensed milk — 1 can
Sugar — cup
Cardamom powder — 1 tsp
Cinnamon powder (optional) — 1 pinch
Rose essence — 1 tsp

Method

Defrost the puff pastry for about one and a half hours or as per the given instructions. Separate the sheets and spread it evenly in an ovenproof dish. Preheat an oven to about 230 degrees centigrade/490 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the pastry sheets till they are light brown and crisp for about 15 minutes. Cool and crumble the pastry into pieces.

Slightly roast the nuts and add them to the pastry along with dates and raisins. Transfer to another serving dish, which is oven proof. In a pan combine the fresh milk, condensed milk and sugar and boil in medium heat.

Switch off and add cardamom powder, cinnamon powder and rose essence. Pour the milk mixture over the pastry mixture and let it stand for half an hour. Again preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade / 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

If desired, add two cups of whipped cream on top of the mixture. Bake the mixture uncovered in the middle rack of the oven for about 25-30 minutes or till the top turns slightly brown.

Garnish with finely chopped nuts and raisins and serve hot.

BASBOOSAH (Semolina Cake)Lebanese contributions have been of greatest influence on modern West Asian cuisine. Lebanese culinary influence has become so popular that it has come to be known as Arabic cuisine itself.

Ingredients

Semolina (preferably fine) — one and a half cups
Plain yoghurt — 150 ml Sugar — 3/4 cup
Melted or soft butter — cup
Baking powder — tsp
Slivered almonds or pistachios — cup
Syrup
Sugar — 1 cup
Water — 1 cup
Cardamom powder or saffron water — as required
Lemon juice — 1 tsp

Method

In a pan, heat one cup of water and add one cup of sugar. When it boils and the sugar dissolves thoroughly, add the lemon juice. Wait till the syrup turns thick, and add the cardamom powder or saffron water. Switch off the fire and cool the syrup.

In a mixing bowl, beat the sugar and melted butter together well. Add the baking powder, yoghurt and semolina and knead well till the dough turns fluffy.

In a greased baking pan, transfer the semolina mixture and press on top to flatten the surface. Make diamond shaped cuts on top of it. And in the middle of each diamond, press a slivered almond or a cut pistachio.

Bake it for about 30 minutes at 190 C or till it turns golden brown.

Take the Basboosah out of the oven, and immediately pour the yellow syrup over it.

Cool it for about an hour. Make slices out of the cuts made.

Serve warm or at room temperature with your evening cup of tea.

You can send your feedback to laksha83@yahoo.co.uk.

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