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Wonders of the World

Wonders of the World: the podcast that visits the great places on Earth to tell the story of our people, our civilization, and our planet.
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Now displaying: April, 2017

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Apr 18, 2017

When you need something sweet and simple, look no further than mahalabia, a “milk pudding” made with just milk, sugar, corn starch, and flavor.

Traditionally, rosewater is the way to go, but if you can find rosewater, you’re better connected than I am.  Moroccans go with orange blossom water, but again, that’s not at your local 7-11 either.  So if you must, which I did, vanilla works in a pinch, but it’s not a 1:1 trade!

Making mahalabia is super easy, but you have to pay attention.  It’s very easy to burn this or not make it thick enough or make it too thick.  When I tried making it, it was not thick enough.  Ack!  But don’t stress too much.  Just watch the clues: when it coats the back of your spoon, it’s done.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups Milk, plus 1/2 cup extra
  • 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons rosewater (or 2 tsp orange blossom water or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)

STEPS

  1. Over medium heat, warm milk and sugar to close to boiling.  Be sure to stir pretty constantly to keep the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Turn down to low.
  2. In a side bowl, while the milk/sugar combo is heating up, combine cornstarch and extra milk.
  3. Add cornstarch mixture to milk, stir and warm until milk mixture thickens and coats the back of your spoon.  They say it takes 2 minutes, but I think it’s a bit longer than that.
  4. Take off the heat, and add rosewater or substitute. Stir and cool in refrigerator until thick and delicious.  3 hours minimum, but the longer the better.
  5. Consider adding raisins, pistachios, or almonds.

Play around with this - other versions have cardamon as well.  Just watch the heat when you’re boiling the milk - you don’t want it to stick or burn.  The final consistency ought to be something similar to Greek yogurt.

Apr 18, 2017

Ramesses the Great, public relations genius, takes us to Abu Simbel to visit his masterpiece of self-glorification. We talk about his reign and visiting Aswan with Dominic and Jack one last time. Plus ancient graffiti, singing kids on boats, and pudding!

Apr 4, 2017

Molokhia

Molokhia is a vegetable, technically the leaves of the jute plant, also called Jew’s Mallow. Jute, like other mallows such as marshmallow (not that marshmallow, but the original plant) and okra, is mucilaginous, which means that it creates a mucus-lke texture when cooked.  Molokhia is also the name of a soup which has been enjoyed by Egyptians since pharaonic times.  Does the idea of a slimy bright green soup seem appealing?  No? 

Well, you’ll never know until you try it.  So why not give it a try?  Molokhia is full of vitamins, and the onion, garlic, coriander and chicken stock will all help make the soup flavorful and delicious.  Serve with a side of rice, and you’re good to go.  It’s like a bright green chicken gumbo.  Really.  Molokhia is vague related to okra, and serves a similar purpose.

There are a variety of different recipes for molokhia, but they all have some consistencies.  Most start with chicken, but others use rabbit - which was the original, traditional choice - or duck, lamb, or any other meat.  Most include using the meat to make the stock for the soup, but honestly, if you’re using chicken, save a step by using one of the fine organic chicken stocks available in most groceries.

Molokhia the vegetable is not something you're going to find in most Western groceries, and outside the Middle East and Asia, you’re not going to find it fresh at all.  Word on the interwebs though is that frozen molokhia works very well for this soup, and that should be available at any Middle Eastern grocery, and apparently at some Asian groceries as well.

You really can’t substitute spinach or kale or mustard greens or anything similar.  The texture of the jute is important.

I’m basing this recipe on the recipe here: http://myhalalkitchen.com/molokhia/ — Yvonne’s recipe is the best I’ve found so far, but I’m putting coriander back into the mix, because it’s in every other recipe I’ve found, and that feels important.

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided into 2
  • 1 cup diced yellow onions (about 2 small onions)
  • 2 split chicken breasts, skin-on
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 4 cups Chicken stock (preferably organic/roasted/reduced sodium)
  • 2 packages frozen molokhia leaves (jute leaves)
  • 8 cloves garlic (chopped - the finer you mince the garlic, the stronger the flavor.  This calls for larger chunks, which should be a little more mellow)
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 4 cups prepared white rice (basmati works fine)

STEPS

  1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the first 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté the onions until translucent or slightly browned.
  2. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and cumin, rubbing the spices into and under the skin.
  3. Add the chicken and sauté for about 2-3 minutes. Continue to sauté until the chicken is nicely browned on all sides.
  4. Add the stock and increase the heat to bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 35 minutes.
  5. Remove the chicken and let cool. Once cooled, remove the skin and bones and pull the meat apart so that it’s nicely shredded. Add back to the broth.
  6. Open up the packages of molokhia and drop directly into the pot.  As the molokhia heats up, it will break apart, but you can use your wooden spoon to help this along.
  7. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small sauté pan for the garlic and coriander.  Start with the garlic, then after a couple of minutes, add the coriander. Cook until nicely browned, about 5 minutes total, stirring constantly.  Watch this - you do not want to burn the garlic or overly toast the coriander.
  8. Add the garlic and coriander with the oil directly into the soup and stir it up.
  9. Scoop the rice into soup bowls and serve the soup on top, with fresh lemon on the side.

Play around with this - other versions have cinnamon, paprika, dill and cilantro making appearances.  I promise I will try when I get back to my kitchen, and I will update this appropriately.

Thanks to Yvonne Maffei (http://myhalalkitchen.com/molokhia/)

 

 

 

Apr 4, 2017

We're sticking around Luxor, Egypt, and crossing the Nile to visit the tombs of the New Kingdom pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings. We discuss Tut and Akhenaten. Plus pigeons! Dominic Perry and Lantern Jack stop by again to share their thoughts and tips.

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