Open up the cave of wonders and check out these diamond in the rough recipes! We’re splitting the movie again so over the next 2 weeks, you’ll get a double dose of Aladdin, which is in my Top 5 Disney movies. Get ready for some great Arabic recipes! Also, these two posts are in memory of the great Robin Williams. He was one of my very favorite actors and comedians. His presence has been missed.
French Fries in Agrabah?
The shop keeper at the beginning of the movie (who might secretly actually be the genie. Look it up) tries to sell us a all-in-one coffee maker and french fry maker.
I tried my hand at making some french fries. They turned out really good. My only wish was that they came out a bit crispier.
- 5 pounds russet potatoes
- Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
- Sea salt
- Celery Salt
- Peel and rinse the potatoes. Then cut them into sticks by cutting the potato in 4 or 5 vertical pieces, and then cutting each piece into sticks.
- Place them in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Allow them to soak, 2 to 3 hours. (You can also stick them in the fridge and let them soak overnight.)
- When you're ready to make the fries, drain off the water and lay the potatoes on 2 baking sheets lined with paper towels. Blot with paper towels to dry them.
- Heat a few inches of oil in a heavy pot to 300 degrees F. In 3 or 4 batches, cook the potatoes until soft, 4 to 5 minutes per batch. They should not be brown at this point! You just want to start the cooking process. Remove each batch and drain on new/dry paper towels.
- Once all the potatoes have been fried at 300 degrees F, turn up the heat until the oil reaches 400 degrees F. When the oil's hot, start frying the potatoes in batches again, cooking until the fries are golden and crisp. Remove the potatoes from the oil and drain on paper towels.
- Sprinkle with sea salt and celery salt.
That Delicious Looking Bread Aladdin Give Away
This might be one of the pivotal Disney food moments. The bread that Abu bites into always looked soooo delicious.
Then Aladdin, the good guy he is, gave away his half and Abu reluctantly followed.
I looked all over for an Arabic bread that resembled the one shown, but I couldn’t find any middle eastern bread recipes that were loafs like that. The closest I found was Taftoon (or taftan). The bread shown resembled french bread mostly, so I came up with a combination recipe that actually tasted really good. Kinda like a sweeter french bread.
- 1 cups warm water
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tbs greek yogurt
- pinch saffron
- ¼ tsp cardamom powder
- 2 tbs ghee (regular butter can be substituted)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 5 -5 1⁄2 cups bread flour
- Dissolve yeast in warm water and sugar in large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow yeast to proof or foam
- Add salt, milk oil, yogurt, saffron, cardamom, and 3 cups flour; beat for 2 minutes.
- Stir in 2 cups flour to make a stiff dough. Add more milk or flour if needed.
- Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
- Place in oiled bowl, turn dough to coat all sides, cover and let rise until doubled.
- Punch down and divide in half.
- Shape dough into two long slender loaves.
- Grease and sprinkle with cornmeal either a french bread pan or large cookie sheet.
- Place loaves in pan and cut diagonal gashes on top of each loaf.
- Cover and let rise until doubled.
- Brush with a mixture of 2 tbs Ghee (or butter) and 1 tbs milk
- Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.
- To make ghee - http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/indian-clarified-butter-ghee-233032.
Polly wants a Cracker
Iago hates the Sultan’s crackers.
He calls them moldy and disgusting.
I made some tasty crackers based on middle eastern lavash cracker bread. But I won’t be able to experience the disgusting crackers until I keep them in my pocket for a while until they start molding.
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 (.25 ounce) envelope active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl, stir together the water, whole wheat flour, and yeast until moistened.
- Mix in the salt and 1 cup of all-purpose flour.
- Gradually mix in the rest of the flour using a mixer with a dough hook attachment or wooden spoon.
- When the dough comes together, knead in your mixer or on a floured surface for 8 to 10 minutes to make an elastic ball.
- Add more flour or water if needed to keep dough from getting sticky or too stiff.
- Pour a little bit of oil in the bowl and turn the dough to coat.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Punch down the dough and divide into balls about the size of a grape.
- Rolling the dough into a long log helps to divide it evenly.
- Roll each piece into a ball and cover with a damp kitchen towel for 30 minutes to rest.
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C). Place a baking sheet on the center rack of the oven so it can preheat at the same time. Do not grease.
- Roll each ball into a circle about 8 inches across. The dough should be paper thin, almost translucent. If they are too thick, they will bubble up like pita breads.
- Pull out the oven shelf and place as many crackers on your baking sheet as you can fit, 2 or 3. Close the oven and bake for about 3 minutes. The crackers should be lightly browned on the top with small bubbles.
- You may have to adjust your thickness for the next batch.
During the Friend Like Me song, the genie presents Al with a beautiful roasted chicken (or maybe turkey)
And then in normal genie fashion, transforms himself INTO the chicken.
I came up with a good Persian chicken dish. It was super moist, but lacked flavor sadly.
- ½ teaspoon saffron
- 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1 whole chicken
- 1tbs flour
- 3 teaspoons paprika (divided)
- 1 tablespoon dried mint (divided)
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- In a small bowl, combine saffron with 1 tablespoon water and let soak 10 minutes.
- Place in food processor with yogurt and garlic and purée until smooth and yellow.
- Place chicken in glass or ceramic bowl; pour yogurt mixture on top, turn to coat; cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Heat oven to 350F
- Remove chicken from bowl and place into a 9x13 pan lined with foil (or whatever size fits your chicken).
- Discard the extra yogurt mixture
- Sprinkle 2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tbs mint, salt and pepper over chicken
- Put in oven and partially cover with aluminum foil
- Mix the rest of the paprika and mint, plus some salt and pepper into the melted butter
- Brush the chicken periodically (every 20 mins or so) with butter mixture.
- Let cool for a few minutes after cooking
- 20 minutes of cook time per pound of chicken
How ’bout a little more baklava?
The last recipe we’re doing is midway through Friend Like Me where the genie says “How bout a little more baklava” and then fills up the screen with baklava.
I didn’t make quite that much Baklava, especially because this was my first time trying to make baklava. I made it the Arabic way as opposed to the Greek way, using rose water syrup instead of honey to sweeten the baklava. If you need a recipe for rose water look here and for rose water syrup, look here.
- 1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
- 1 pound chopped nuts (pistachios, almonds, pecans)
- 1 cup butter
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup rose water syrup
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan.
- Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 - 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 - 8 sheets deep.
- Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
- Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and rose water syrup. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.
Will it take you to a Whole New World?
Oh man, it was such a good cook this week. The Baklava was AMAZING. Everyone that tried it loved it. Sadly, the worst dish was the chicken. But it was still really good. The chicken was super moist, just not super flavorful. The bread was ALMOST as good as Abu made it look. And the french fries, mmm, I usually don’t love french fries, but those turned out great.
French Fries – 8.5/10
Bread – 9/10
Crackers – 8.5/10
Chicken – 7/10
Baklava – 9.8/10