In My Hands Today…

An Arabian Journey: One Man’s Quest Through the Heart of the Middle East – Levison Wood

Following in the footsteps of famed explorers such as Lawrence of Arabia and Wilfred Thesiger, British explorer Levison Wood brings us along on his most complex expedition yet: a circumnavigation of the Arabian Peninsula.

Starting in September 2017 in a city in Northern Syria, a stone’s throw away from Turkey and amidst the deadliest war of the twenty-first century, Wood set forth on a 5,000-mile trek through the most contested region on the planet. He moved through the Middle East for six months, from ISIS-occupied Iraq through Kuwait and along the jagged coastlines of the Emirates and Oman; across a civil-war-torn Yemen and on to Saudia Arabia, Jordan, and Israel, before ending on the shores of the Mediterranean in Lebanon.

Like his predecessors, Wood travelled through some of the harshest and most beautiful environments on earth, seeking to challenge our perceptions of this often-misunderstood part of the world. Through the relationships he forges along the way–and the personal histories and local mythologies that his companions share–Wood examines how the region has changed over thousands of years and reveals a side of the Middle East we don’t often see in the media.

Recipe: Hummus and Tahini

I’ve made Hummus years and years back when I was on a food experimentation drive. The past few weeks, in a bid to increase good protein, I was thinking of making hummus again, but somehow this did not happen. Then the other day, I read about someone who was raving about Tesco’s caramelized onion hummus and I was intrigued. This made me want to try making hummus again, and also try it with caramelized onion. As luck would be, I also had some dry chickpeas or garbazano beans which were going to go bad soon and so this recipe of hummus soon saw the light of the day.

When I made Hummus earlier, I didn’t add Tahini paste to it, thinking I won’t get it here in Singapore. Then when I went online and found how to make it, I realised it was very simple and so this time, I made it as authentic as I could….

Hummus and Tahini

Ingredients:

Tahini 2For the Tahini Paste 

  • 2 tbsps white sesame seeds
  • 3-4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

Hummus 2For the Hummus

  • 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked in a pressure cooker until soft
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3-4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsps tahini
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice
  • salt to taste

Method:

For the Tahini

  • Soak the sesame seeds in a bowl of water and drain it.
  • In a dry pan, dry roast it till it starts to crackle. This should take not more than 5-6 minutes. Do not let it brown too much and burn.
  • Take it off the gas and let it cool completely.
  • In a small mixer/blender, blend the sesame seeds to a powder, then add the olive oil and blend till it becomes a smooth paste. Keep aside.

Hummus 2For the Hummus

  • In another pan, add 1 tsp oil (I used a canola olive blend) and when it warms, add the chopped garlic and stir, letting it brown and caramalize.
  • When it browns, remove and keep aside. In the same pan, with the remaining oil, add in the chopped onions and let them brown and caramalize. Once it has browned, remove and keep aside.
  • In another mixer blender, add the chickpeas, caramalized onions and garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and tahini and blend well.
  • You can blend it smooth like I did or keep it slightly coarse. You can also keep some onions aside to use as a topping.
  • Check for salt and serve. You can also add some red chilli powder to use as a topping when serving.

I usually eat this plain, or add in my red chilli chutney and eat….

Hummus 4

 

In My Hands Today…

From the Holy Mountain: A Journey among the Christians of the Middle East – William Dalrymple

In the spring of A.D. 587, John Moschos and his pupil Sophronius the Sophist embarked on a remarkable expedition across the entire Byzantine world, traveling from the shores of Bosphorus to the sand dunes of Egypt. On the way John Moschos and his pupil Sophronius the Sophist stayed in caves, monasteries, and remote hermitages, collecting the wisdom of the stylites and the desert fathers before their fragile world finally shattered under the great eruption of Islam.

Using Moscho’s writings as his guide and inspiration, the acclaimed travel writer William Dalrymple retraces the footsteps of these two monks, providing along the way a moving elgy to the slowly dying civilization of Eastern Christianity and to the people who are struggling to keep its flame alive. The result is Dalrymple’s unsurpassed masterpiece: a beautifully written travelogue, at once rice and scholarly, moving and courageous, overflowing with vivid characters and hugely topical insights into the history, spirituality and fractured politics of the Middle East.