Khoshaf (Dried fruit salad) خشاف

apricots, prunes, dates, raisins, and almonds

 

This is a common starter in Egyptian homes during the months of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, which during these long summer days is over 16 hours long! When we break our fast, it is the tradition of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) to break the fast on a date and water. This dried fruit compote reflects that tradition, but it also combines other highly nutritional dried fruits and nuts. Dates are well utilized in the Muslim world as they are recognized for their high mineral content: calcium, iron, sodium, magnesium, and zinc are all packed into this tiny superfood. Dates are also a supreme source of fiber and energy, and their sugars are low glycemic, releasing slowly and steadily into your body (which is a great thing for sustaining energy while fasting!). Dried apricots are also a super star in this fruit compote; they are packed with carotenoids, iron, potassium and fiber. This fruit salad compote is not only a very refreshing and nutritious way to break your fast (or start it). It is a delicious and sweet juice cocktail to enjoy, but you will need a spoon! The juice taste like an apricot drink scented with almonds and dates. I like to add extra apricot juice to the water to boost the color and flavor, but this is not necessarily traditional to the recipe. Apricot juice however, is another very popular drink enjoyed in the Middle East during Ramadan, but that is another recipe post! The dried fruits in khoshaf get very plump and juicy because they reconstitute themselves as they soak in water for a few hours before serving. 

The ingredients are very basic and easy to find; I collect them all on the same shelf at the grocery store where the dried fruits are, except for the dates. I do not recommend using chopped dates or already pitted dates, because they seem to be drier for some reason. They ar not as fresh either. We use organic Medjool dates that are very plump and sweet (Whole Foods and Costco have some of the best ones I have found). You should always slice the date open first to make sure it is clean, and also to remove the pit!

pitted dates

 

khoshaf ingredients

First, you will add boiling water to the apricots, raisins, and prunes. You could also add dried figs if you like, but I do not because I personally do not prefer the texture of figs and their seeds in this compote. 

khoshaf

Once the water and dried fruit mixture cools, you can add the chopped dates and stir in cold sugar water and sliced almonds. Refrigerate for a few hours and serve chilled. As I mentioned, this is a great drink or fruit salad to break your fast on because the dates and other dried fruits will replenish the body with several nutrients and minerals. This compote is hailed to be more nourishing and hydrating than water alone. So give it a try if you have been fasting, or if you simply need to replenish your body after a workout or marathon!

khoshaf

Khoshaf: Dried Fruit Salad
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 c sliced, pitted dates
  2. 1/2 c golden raisins
  3. 3/4 c dried apricots
  4. 3/4 c prunes
  5. 1/2 peeled and slivered almonds
  6. 2-3 cups of boiling water
  7. 1 cup cold water
  8. 1/4 c sugar
  9. 1 cup apricot juice (optional)
Instructions
  1. Wash the dried fruits.
  2. Place the apricots, prunes, and raisins in a large serving bowl or pitcher.
  3. Pour boiling water over the fruits so that they are covered in water. There should be an inch of water above the level of the fruit.
  4. Once the water has cooled, dissolve the sugar with cold water and pour over the fruit mixture and stir. Add the dates, almonds, and apricot juice.
  5. Serve chilled in a large serving bowl and ladle, or in individual dessert cups or bowls. Drink with a spoon!
Notes
  1. You may also add figs to the dried fruits. Try adding other nuts such as walnuts or hazelnuts as well! This compote is very flexible to your personal tastes and preferences!
Adapted from Mom
Adapted from Mom
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Creamy lentil soup (shorbat ads)

Shorba means soup in Arabic. Ads means lentils, so shorbat ads translates literally into soup of lentils.

shorbat ads with lemon and pita

This popular soup is a Ramadan staple and will be found at Iftar (the daily meal of breaking the fast during Ramadan) tables quite frequently in the Arab world. It is a beautiful, creamy, yellow soup that is both hearty and healthy. It is naturally vegetarian and vegan, has virtually no fat, and is full of heart healthy fiber and vegetables. So almost every diet will love incorporating this dish.

Red or orange lentils

Shorbat Ads or yellow lentil soup

Garnish with cilantro and paprika; serve with pita chips and lemon.

yellow lentil soup

 

The velvety texture might surprise you because there is no fat, milk, or cream added. The orange lentils, along with the aromatic root vegetables of carrot, onion, and garlic are what scent and flavor this delicious soup. I’ve already discussed what a fantastic legume lentils are for your diet in my recipe for lentil  pilaf, and you can read more health benefits here. This creamy lentil soup is often found in many Middle Eastern restaurants nowadays, and while the flavors can vary, this is surely going to be the best recipe. The recipe comes straight from my Egyptian grandmother’s kitchen (Teta), God rest her soul. While turmeric is used in many modern recipes today, it is actually not a part of this authentic recipe. I presume it is used to boost the yellow color, and it certainly does not hurt to add it. I use it because I have it, but it will dye your wooden spoons yellow 😀 Chopped tomatoes are added to the recipe to boost the flavor and the secret ingredient I incorporate is chicken or vegetable stock. Water is perfectly fine, but I find the broth gives an extra boost of flavor. I don’t use any Maggie cubes or other MSG catch all seasoning with who-knows-what in it, so I definitely prefer the flavors added by the tomato, broth, and root vegetables. 

Root vegetables: carrot, onion, garlic, tomato

The flavor companions clockwise: yellow onion, carrots, garlic, tomato.

root vegetables and tomato

The delicious base of this soup’s fantastic flavor starts by simply tossing the vegetables in some olive oil over medium heat, just until fragrant. Pour in the broth or water, the lentils, and spices and you’re pretty much done. 

shredded carrots 2014-06-30sugarandgarlic2014-9 2014-06-30sugarandgarlic2014-10

sauteed vegetables

Lightly sauté in a teaspoon of olive oil until fragrant.

let it simmer...

Let it simmer…

 

 This soup quickly simmers until the lentils break down into a creamy consistency, which takes all but 20 minutes. The orange shelled lentils cook soft very quickly,  unlike their brown shelled counterparts. So be sure to use the correct lentils.

washing and sorting lentils

Be sure to sort and wash the lentils carefully.

Soup simmering.

Simmer on low, until thickened.

Puree the soup.

Puree with an immersion blender.

I then puree the entire mixture once it is cooked soft, into a thick and velvety consistency. The soup thickens significantly when sitting so be sure to stir in some extra water over low heat before serving if this happens. Like many grandmothers love to do, my Teta went the extra mile and added another step to make this soup REALLY lip smacking good. In another pot, she would brown some delicious tiny vermicelli noodles (sha3reya in Arabic) in butter, then pour the pureed soup over it and simmer until the noodles are cooked. This tastes really great and adds a nice texture.  However, I typically omit this step because I am trying to keep the soup healthy and paleo- and mostly because I don’t want to wash another pot! But I will usually do this for guests because it makes the soup extra special 😀

I serve with pita chips on the side, which is optional.

yellow lentil soup. Dip a pita chip. Dip a pita chip.

Fresh squeezed lemon juice is a must, if you ask me!

Lemon on soup.

Squeeze some lemon juice.

Lemon on soup.

Enjoy! Bil Hana wil Shifaa (Arabic for with health and healing)

Creamy Lentil Soup- Shorbat Ads
Serves 4
A creamy lentil soup full of flavor and healthy vegetables is hearty and filling!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups of red lentils (they are actually orange, but called red:)
  2. 3 cups of broth (or water)
  3. 4 cups of water, plus more to thin later
  4. 1 tsp cumin
  5. 1/2- 1 tsp salt (to taste)
  6. pinch of pepper
  7. pinch of turmeric (optional)
  8. 2 large carrots, shredded
  9. 1 tomato, diced
  10. 1 yellow onion, diced
  11. 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  12. 1 tsp olive oil
Instructions
  1. First sort the lentils for any stones, grains, or sand. Wash thoroughly and drain.
  2. In a large pot, over high heat, add the olive oil and vegetables and toss lightly until fragrant. Do not brown it.
  3. Immediately add the lentils, broth, water, and spices. Stir well.
  4. Once the soup begins to boil, reduce to medium-low heat. Allow it to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, uncovered.
  5. Once the lentils are softened and cooked, puree with a blender, and remove from heat. If the soup looks too thick to you, you can add more water over low hear and stir until homogenous.
  6. Serve immediately with lemon wedges, and optionally pita chips.
Notes
  1. Soup will thicken when it sits or when refrigerated. Simply add some water when reheating, and stir.
Adapted from Teta and Mom
Adapted from Teta and Mom
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/