Here is a delicious guest post by Maise Huns for all of you, while I go ahead and enjoy my weekend… 🙂
Maise Hunns is a keen traveler and journalist. She enjoys travelling to the Middle East and volunteers with charities helping in countries like Iraq and Syria. Her Middle Eastern roots mean that she has a love for the cultural and traditional food and enjoys cooking and feasting with family and friends.
Whether you have recently come back from, or soon to be travelling to, the Middle East your taste buds are probably looking to experience the taste of the area. If you are looking to relive the amazing dishes, or sample what you are in store for, there are some dishes that you quite simply have to try.
The Middle East is home to some of the best culinary creations in the game and has inspired Western dishes for years. Famous for their distinct aroma and use of spice, these dishes are certainly not for the faint of heart but give a uniquely brilliant experience.
In this region of the world, it is common for food to be given to those most in need, and gifted to friends, family and business associates. Sponsored orphans are donated this delicacy from giving families, which take very seriously the area’s tradition of giving to charity.
If you are travelling anywhere in Turkey, you simply must try Baklava, which is one of the traditional dishes of the country. When cooked perfectly, this pastry dish hits all of the right spots and is perfect for those with a sweet tooth.
How to Make Baklava
This is a recipe for those more confident in the kitchen, due to the technique that is needed to perfect the Baklava. Each layer demands the utmost of care to ensure consistency in texture and taste.
- 16oz phyllo dough
- 10oz melted butter
- 4 cups finely chopped walnuts
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup sugar (granulated)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¾ cup water
- ½ cup honey
- Chocolate chips and/or chopped walnuts as toppings (optional)
Before starting, ensure that your phyllo dough is thawed out according to the package instructions. For best results, leave to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then take out and leave for an hour to reach room temperature.
- Trim your sheets to fit your baking pan. You should cut sheets one stack at a time (10, 5, 5, 5, 5, and 10) and cover with a damp towel to keep the moisture.
- Butter the bottom and sides of your baking pan.
- Combine your sugar, honey, lemon juice and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium to high heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved and reduce the heat and boil for three to four minutes.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool while preparing Baklava.
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F (gas mark 3).
- Pulse walnuts in a food processor until finely chopped and mix in a bowl with the cinnamon.
- Place dough sheets into the pan, buttering the top of each sheet as you go, until you complete the first stack of 10.
- Spread a fifth of your walnut and cinnamon mixture over the sheet and repeat, finishing off with 10 sheets for the final layer to match the first and brush the top with butter.
- Cut pastry into one-and-a-half-inch stripes and again diagonally to create the diamond shape of the Baklava.
- Put into the oven and bake at 325 degrees F (gas mark 3) for an hour and 15 minutes, or until the surface turns golden brown.
- Finally, remove from the oven once cooked and spoon cold syrup over the top and allow the Baklava to sit for four to six hours uncovered at room temperature for best results.
- Cover with melted chocolate chips or extra walnuts if desired.
This recipe may take several attempts to master, but practice makes perfect and this is one dish that tastes divine, although nothing matches the authentic taste of Turkey.