Published on: Saturday, 27 October 2012 20:57:00.
One of my best friends lived and worked in Cairo for a few years. When I traveled there to visit him, I had the opportunity to get to know Egypt "off the beaten path". If you go there on a package tour, you might not realize that Egypt is one of the most fascinating and hospitable countries in the world. I felt safer in Cairo than I have almost anywhere else. When some money fell out of my pocket, a young boy who'd been watching ran after me to give it back. And I've been spontaneously invited to dinner by people on almost all of my six visits, often just because they'd noticed the foreigner walking down the street and didn't want him to have to eat alone. If you have confidence and a hardy stomach (and I firmly believe that if you're not afraid, your system can easily adjust to foreign food), you'll find a lot to enjoy in Egyptian cuisine. Everything is fresh and a thousand times more flavorful than at home: fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices. Even the simplest foods taste great. For example, just a few cents will buy you wonderful falafel with an herb dip. They come in both meat and vegetarian versions. Unfortunately falafel are made mostly of chickpeas, which are about 70% carbs. This wouldn't bother me on a trip to Egypt, but at home in Germany I've tried out a low-carb version that's almost equal to the original.
|1000 g_(2 pound)||Savoy cabbage|
|400 ml_(2 cup)||vegetable stock|
|200 g (8 oz)||gluten|
|200 g (8 oz)||almond flour|
|100 g_(4 oz)||sesame|
|200 g (8 oz)||cream|
Break up the cabbage and remove the thick stems. Then cut the leaves into 1-2 cm wide strips and boil for 30 minutes in 400 ml_(2 cup) vegetable stock (you'll need to use a pretty big pot). Drain the cabbage and let it cool_(until lukewarm at most). Then puree the cabbage with the food processor. After adding the egg, gluten, almond flour, and sesame, knead everything into a smooth moist dough and shape the dough into little falafel balls, about 2 cm thick. Salt them lightly. Now fry the falafel until they are golden brown on the outside. A deep fryer is ideal for this, but it also works to put 500 g_(1 pound) palm oil in a pan. (As with a deep fryer, you can run the oil through a coffee filter afterwards and use it 2-3 more times.)
For the yogurt sauce, beat the yogurt and cream together with a whisk until creamy. Next, add finely-chopped fresh cilantro, mint, and parsley. You can also take a walk through the herb garden and add a little sage, thyme, oregano, or chives. 1/2 dsp salt, pepper, and (if you like) chili will give it a spicier taste.
If you'd like to add meat, try to find some Arab curry. (I stocked up on it the last time I was in Cairo.) Season sliced chicken with curry and salt, add onions, and pan-sear it. This goes wonderfully with the falafel and sauce.
A wonderful dish from the Middle East!
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