How to Make Dolma During Quarantine

Happy quarantine, habibis. I hope you, your family, and friends are staying safe, healthy, and most importantly sane during these strange times. The COVID-19 pandemic has already caused lots of pain, stress, and uncertainty about our future.

However, from living through wars, economic sanctions and displacement, I learned from a very young age that the best way to move forward in life is to remain positive and hopeful. It might sound cheesy, but it works.

So, instead of focusing on something we have no control over, I thought that maybe we could all participate in a project right from the comfort of our homes: how to make dolma during quarantine?

Due to a high demand from habibis across the world, here’s my easy dolma recipe in the hopes that it will cheer you up and make your stomachs a little happier during these times.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of ground beef/lamb (the fattier the better.) I went with 85%.
  • 1 jar of grape leaves (you could get them at Whole Foods, or any Middle Eastern market.)
  • 1 container of chicken broth.
  • 1 cup of rice.
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley.
  • Juice of 1 lemon.
  • 2 medium-size onions. Chop one of them, slice the other.
  • 6 chopped cloves of garlic.
  • 1 tbsp allspice.
  • 1 tbsp curry powder.
  • 1 tbsp salt.
  • 1 tbsp black pepper.
  • 1 tsp cumin.
  • 1 tsp paprika.

Directions:

Step 1

  • Sautee the meat until brown.
  • Soak the rice in cold water for 20 minutes.

Step 2

  • In a large bowl, mix the meat, rice, parsley, chopped onion, garlic, and all the spices. Make sure everything is evenly mixed.
  • Take one grape leaf, spread it on a flat surface, and add some of the stuffing. don’t add a lot because it will break if you try to roll it.
  • Roll: it’s hard to describe how to roll a grape leaf, so please watch this easy tutorial. This is a great activity to do if you’re quarantining with someone.

Step 3

  • Add some olive oil in a large pot and sautee the sliced onions.
  • Gently place the rolled grape leaves at the bottom. Make sure they’re nice and organized.
  • Pour the chicken broth over everything. You need just enough to cover the grape leaves. Finally, add the lemon juice.
  • Add a small plate (upside down) over the grape leaves. This will very important because the plate will hold the grape leaves down as they cook.
  • Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Once it gets there, reduce to low heat and let it simmer for about half an hour.
  • Taste one of the leaves. If the rice needs to be cooked more, cook them for a few more minutes.

Step 4

Eat and never stop eating.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. If you don’t already, please follow We the Habibis on Instagram!

Iraqi breakfast: Makhlama

Makhlama is one of Iraq’s most popular breakfast dishes. It’s super simple but incredibly delicious.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken sausage. Feel free to substitute with any protein of your choice.
  • 2 plum tomatoes, sliced.
  • 6 eggs.
  • Pinch of Salt, pepper, curry powder, and red chili flakes.

Directions:

  • Sauté the chicken sausage until golden brown. Remove from stove.
  • In the same pan, sauté tomatoes.
  • Add all spices.
  • Add chicken sausage back in.
  • Beat the eggs and pour over the sausage and tomatoes.
  • Scramble everything.

Enjoy!

Mama’s Kababs

Those are the kababs my mom used to make me when I was a child in Iraq.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped cup parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 1/2 tbs curry powder
  • 1/2 tbs red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup flour

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients together and mix them up well.
  • Form patties
  • Fry each until golden brown

Serve with a side of roasted potatoes and salad.

Let’s Shawarma and Chill

Chicken shawarma

I was rewatching The Avengers for the 5th time the other night and I realized that probably my favorite scene of the entire movie is the post-credit clip of all the heroes eating shawarma. Think about it: THE AVENGERS are habibis!

But you know, not all heroes wear capes. Some wear aprons. Yes, I convinced myself I was a hero by not only wearing an apron, but also making chicken shawarma. Take that Iron Man!

Best part about this meal is that it is super easy and quick to make. Yalla habibis:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 -2 lbs chicken tenders
  • Naan bread. Pita is okay, but naan is better for this
  • Hummus
  • Tahini
  • Mayo
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 6 freshly grated garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Mix all spices in a bowl. Add your olive oil and squeeze half of the lemon in. Then add the chicken in and make sure it is coated evenly. Set aside.
  2. Thinly slice your cucumber, tomato, and onion. Set that aside.
  3. Now heat up some vegetable oil in a frying pan. Let the oil come up to temperature. You will know it’s ready when you see a little bit of smoke.
  4. Add the chicken in and let it sear. Avoid flipping the chicken often. You want to get a nice sear on each side. It usually takes 5-7 minutes per side. Once one side is nice and brown, flip the chicken. Chicken tenders are thin and cook quickly, so keep an eye on them.
  5. Once chicken is done cooking, remove from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Slice the chicken evenly.
  6. Grab your naan bread. Spread a teaspoon of mayo and a spoonful of hummus. You can adjust these portions as you like.
  7. Add some chicken, then toss in some cucumbers, a few slices of tomatoes, and some onions.
  8. Final touch: drizzle some tahini and squeeze a few drops of lemon juice.

And by now you should have a shawarma sandwich that is to die for.

Enjoy

One Pan Dinner: Braised Chicken and Butternut Squash

Shako mako habibis! Really excited to share this new recipe with ya’ll. Also, sorry for being MIA all this time but I’m back, so stop complaining.

Lately, I have been really into braising food. It has become one of my favorite techniques to learn and develop new flavors and dishes. It all started when I made my first coq au vin dinner back in February of this year, which I probably need to write the recipe for. Let me know if that’s something you’re interested in.

Braising simply means you fry something in a pan first, then you add some liquid and let it cook slowly under low heat. It does two things: One it builds incredible flavors, and two everything comes out fork-tender.

A lot of friends have asked me to share the recipe for above braised chicken that I made a few weeks ago. It actually was one of the best chicken dishes I have ever prepared. So I hope you can give it a try! You won’t regret it…unless you don’t eat chicken. Then you’ll be really missing out.

I can’t believe I’m saying this again, but if you don’t have a cast iron pan, GO GET ONE. No need to spend hundreds of dollars, just get whatever you can afford. But cast iron pans are ideal for this dish.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken drumsticks or thighs (as many as you can fit in your pan)
  • 1-2 cups of cubed butternut squash
  • 1-2 cups of mushrooms
  • 1 sliced medium onion
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 tsp of all spice
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Heat your cast iron pan on medium-high, add some vegetable oil and let it come up to temp. Then add the chicken and let it fry until the skin is nice and brown. Remember, if you see things stuck to the bottom of the pan, that’s great. Don’t panic. You want that!
  3. Take chicken out of the pan and let it rest on a plate. Now saute the onions until golden brown. Then add the squash and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the red wine and chicken broth and make sure you scrape off all the things that got stuck at the bottom. This will create an incredible sauce.
  5. Add the chicken back in. The liquid needs to cover 3/4 of the chicken. So if you need to add in more broth/wine, feel free to do so. Let everything cooks for 10 minutes until the liquid reduces by about half an inch.
  6. At this point transfer the pan into your oven. Pour you some wine, and go play Mortal Kombat 11 while you wait for 45 minutes.
  7. After a few glasses of wine, and getting irritated by some troll on Mortal Kombat online, your timer goes off! Take the pan out and let it rest a little bit. And that’s it!

Serve this over rice, couscous, pasta, or with salad on the side. You can even just eat it without anything else.

If you liked this recipe, please share it using #habibisknowbest. And if you haven’t already, make sure you follow me on Instagram @wethehabibis.

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