This lunchtime mezze is ideal for a light, sharing spread best enjoyed with a stack of the warm laffa bread, made for tearing, dipping and scooping up all of the delicious flavours on the table. Masabacha/Msabbaha is a chunky style hummus served warm with the chickpeas still partially intact - its arabic name means ‘swimming’, the idea being the chickpeas should be swimming in the tahini sauce not completely blended until smooth. The creamy dip is balanced out with the tangy tabbouleh, a salad which originates from the mountains of Lebanon and Syria made up of hearty grains and fresh herbs which would flourish on the hillsides. Finally, is the Yemeni schug dip which made its way to Israel via the Jewish Yemenites. Yemen has a unique cuisine which varies from the rest of the Arabian Peninsula because of the pungent spices which were brought over under the Turkish occupation during the Ottoman Empire.
Proving and pan cooking bread - in this recipe Tomer will show you how to prove and hand-knead a quick multipurpose dough, and also use heat control in the pan to develop a golden crust and cook the bread through.
Balancing fat and acid - With a lot of olive oil and tahini involved in this dish, Tomer teaches us how to balance a dish through taste - altering the level of acid so that the plate is harmonious and well seasoned.
Considering textures - each plate in this meal has a distinct flavour, but almost as importantly - they each bring a different texture to the table. Tomer explains how a variety of contrasting textures can take a dish to the next level.
2x high-edged pans, 1x chopping board, 1x chef's knife, 1x water jug, 5x bowls, 1x ladle or large spoon, 2x large mixing bowls, 1x food processor, 1x frying pan, 1x whisk, 1x slotted spoon, 1x tablespoon, 1x microplane
Note - the chickpeas need to be soaked over night and there is a 1 hour rising time on the bread.
First thing I'm going to show you for our Jaffa lunch spread is pre-soaking our chickpeas. Chuck your dried chickpeas into a deep pan and drown it in water (the more the better) make sure you cover them completely, leaving for 8 - 12 hours (or overnight). I have a bowl of already soaked chickpeas which as you can see are double the size and these guys are ready to go in the pan and be cooked.
So, you should now have your chickpeas that have soaked over night and doubled in size. Take your chickpeas and put them into a large pan, cover with water and add your bicarbonate of soda. What you want to do is bring it to the boil, and then skim the foam into a bowl. We should be cooking these for an hour/hour and a half. What we're going to do now is make our flatbread dough.
Into a large mixing bowl add your flour, semolina, sugar (salt we add later), dry yeast and then the water. Now, we basically start to mix and create the dough. Bring the dough together and knead until you achieve a rough ball. Once your dough has begun to look smooth, add your salt and olive oil and then continue to knead. Now the dough should be together, smooth and slightly elastic. Drizzle some more olive oil into the bowl to stop the dough sticking and then leave to rest (covered) for a couple of hours.
Go back to the hob to check on your chickpeas and skim any of the white foam into a bowl. Usually the foam happens on the first boil. Once skimmed, reduce the heat to a simmer and stir every once in a while.
Now the chickpeas should be cooking away and the dough rising. Next, let's do our tabbouleh salad.
Make sure your board is clean of any flour and start to work on your veggies. Take the pomegranate and cut into the top, then once cut, break in half and then start releasing the beautiful seeds. I like to pick through the seeds removing the very bitter pith to a waste bowl. Move the pomegranate seeds to one side and start picking your parsley, making sure the stalks are all to one side. Slice the parsley leaves, along with the green leaves of the spring onion. Next slice the mint. Chuck all our herbs in a bowl along with your buckwheat (check my notes for cooking instructions) and pomegranate seeds. Leave to one side.
Now let's quickly make our schug. Peel and roughly slice our garlic, slice up 4 lovely chillis removing the stems. Next, roughly chop a large bunch of coriander discarding the stalks. Add this all to a food processor and blitz to a fine paste. Decant from the food processor into one of our clean bowls. Next add a mixture of veg oil and olive oil. The consistency we are after is like a glossy and juicy pesto. Now add your dried spices to taste. Thats our schug done.
Have a quick clean down before going back to our dough. If your dough is nicely risen, remove it from the bowl and knock the air back slightly. What we need to do now is divide the dough into 6 evenly sized pieces. Now take each of the balls of dough and cupping in your hand, roll into a tightly shaped ball (in my opinion you don't need these to be perfectly uniformed, I think its nice when they are rustic).
Once all your dough has been shaped, cover with a clean cloth and get a large frying pan onto the heat. Dust a clean surface with some fine semolina flour and begin to shape and open our dough 'pitta style'. Into our pan add a drop of oil, wiping any excess away (like you would with a pancake). Place the dough into the pan and cook for a couple of minutes turning every so often creating a nice dark crust on one side and cooking all the way through. Shape and cook the remaining balls of dough. After that we have everything we need to put together our spread.
Now, let's finish our Jaffa lunch. Into a small bowl add some raw tahini, half a lemon, salt and some cold water (roughly the same amount). Whisk well, bringing the sauce together to a consistency you want.
Go and grab your chickpeas, they should squash between your fingers easily and when eaten almost melt in your mouth - when that happens you know we are there. Into a large mixing bowl, add your cooked chickpeas and the tahini sauce we just made (retaining some behind). With a spoon, mix and slightly crush your mixture. Finely grate some garlic into the masabacha. Taste for the seasoning. Grab a couple leaves of parsley and finely slice. Pour your mixture into a serving bowl, and top with the fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil, and there's our masabacha.
Take your tabbouleh, and season first with olive oil, mixing well so it coats everything nicely. Now squeeze in lemon juice (1 - 2 whole lemons), add a pinch of salt and taste. Adjust the seasoning if needed whether it's more oil, lemon or salt.
Place into another serving bowl and we are nearly ready for our spread.
Right, let's assemble our spread. Grab your cooked laffa bread, schug, masabacha and tabbouleh, make sure they are all in serving bowls and tuck in!
If you really want to you can replace the water that the chickpeas are soaking in, this cleans them out, flushes any of the grit away and removes any remaining gasses.
Pre-soaking is a key step in this recipe, to reduce our cooking times (this technique is used all over the world but perhaps most importantly in high altitude areas where the reduced boiling point can make cooking dried legumes an all day task). Soaking can reduce cooking times by 25% or more. What the soaking actually does is allow the water to penetrate the centre of the chickpea faster, if cooked from dry most of the cooking time is spent waiting for the water to break through the hard shell, meanwhile the outer parts overcook.
The water in the cooking process helps to soften the cell walls and starch granules. This shell is incredibly effective at controlling water absorption and initially water only enters through the hilum (the small pour in in the curved part of the legume).
Medium sized beans will absorb half of the total water capacity in the first 2 hours of soaking and then double in size by the end of the total 10 - 12 hour soak time.
Try blanching the chickpeas for 1 1/2 minutes pre-soaking. This will decreasing our soaking times.
Bicarbonate of soda
The soda when cooking legumes like this can reduce the cooking times drastically (up to 75%) as the sodium helps dissolve the cell walls hemicelluloses.
I like to use my hands when making the dough but feel free to use a stand mixer or kitchen aid if you have one.
I use my hand in a claw like shape to initially mix the dough together, and then revert to a more traditional kneading style. Kneading is an essential skill and is used across a huge variety of different doughs. The skill can be up to interpretation with the main goal of tearing and stretching the gluten strands. The main techniques I would use are:
Pushing and pulling: with the heel of your hand, push the dough away from you across the worktop (as you knead the dough this will become more elastic and you'll be able to get a longer stretch), pull the elongated bit of dough back to the centre and turn to the right. Repeat the process for as long as the recipe requires.
Flipping and Turning: grabbing the far side, pick up the dough and let it hang in front of you. Flip the bottom end of the dough onto the work surface, and whilst still holding the dough, fold it over the anchored section on the counter. Pause. Repeat the process by turning the seam which is currently horizontal to the right or left, so that the seam is now running vertically once more. Repeat the process for as long as the recipe requires.
Great places to leave your dough to proof: Airing cupboard, warm window ledge, warm kitchen, proofing draw, or an oven on the lowest setting with the door open.
If your bread hasn't risen enough, just leave it for slightly longer to prove further. It may also be worth finding a warmer location in your house.
This large red fruit, is grown around the Mediterranean and parts of western Asia but, the finest varieties are said to be grown in parts of Iran. Pomegranates are very sweet, pretty tart and full of antioxidants. The rind is incredibly rich in tannins which is also used in the tanning process of leather.
You can pick the pomegranate seeds in a bowl of water, what this does is cause the white bits to float making them easier to pick out.
I use this technique of picking herbs so you don't need to run your knife through the herbs too heavily.
1. Pick the individual leaves and stalks so the stalks are to one side.
2. Pack and tuck the leaves together.
3. Run the knife lightly through the herbs.
4. Leave the stems for stocks or your compost.
Slice the herbs as thinly as you can, and don't run your knife back through the herbs.
Cook buckwheat like pasta, boiled simply in salted water for roughly 10 minutes. They should have a slight bite to them and not be too soft.
Coriander is one of the most widely eaten herbs, native to the middle east and its seeds have been noted as far back as the bronze ages. Coriander seeds were quickly taken to other parts of the world such as China, India and southeast Asia and it was later introduced to parts of latin America.
We use a mixture of vegetable oil and olive oil for two reasons. Firstly, olive oil on its own along with the herbs can become slightly bitter. Secondly, olive oil when left in the fridge will start to solidify.
We have achieved the rise we are looking for from the yeast feeding off of the sugars in our dough creating a bi-product of carbon dioxide.
Follow this step-by-step guide if you are unsure of the shaping technique:
1. Bring the edges of the dough to the centre. Flip.
2. Cup or surround the dough with one hand.
3. Keep the dough surrounded and keep contact between your hands and the work surface at all times.
4. Rotate the dough on one spot either anti-clockwise or clockwise. Repeat for 10 - 20 seconds or until you have a smooth and taut top to your dough.
5. Repeat across 6 dough balls.
6. Cover with a clean cloth if cooking straight away or place into a creased box in the fridge if needed another day.
7. Lightly dust a clean surface with fine semolina flour and begin to shape the dough by pulling it into a circular shape.
This dough is 68% hydration.
Try not to touch your dough when you first start cooking it. Use your instincts when cooking the bread.
If you're cooking your bread all at once, stack them on a plate and cover with a tea towel.
There isn't an exact science to tahini - if it becomes too thick, add some more water or if you want your sauce thicker, add some more tahini.
This is a really traditional street food, there's no right or wrong and it's nice to make to your own preference.
Our oil coats the leaves nicely and almost protects the delicate herbs from curing too much from the lemon juice in our tabbouleh salad.
Do as much lemon as you like. I have been to restaurants in Israel where it is so lemony it shocks you and cleanses your mouth.
I like serving this in a really communal way, on a large board or simply on the table and get everyone to tuck in!