I love food from the middle east. I have sumac in my spice cupboard and a big bag of zaatar in my freezer. I believe flatbreads are the answer to many of life’s hungrier moments, and hummus is best homemade. I believe that warm pita dipped in labneh with a little olive oil and zaatar on top makes bad days good and good days better. And I believe that this lovely seafood concoction should make an appearance on the regular. It’s a weird manifesto, I know. But pick this book up and see if I’m not on to something here!
Ultimately, I’ve found in the foods of the middle east a new perspective on all the things I love about good food–you’ll taste a familiar balance of flavors and textures with hints of things that are totally new. So enjoy! You won’t be sorry.
Prawns in orange, tomato and cardamom
3 T olive oil
1 orange, thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
½ small red chili, seeds removed and thinly sliced
3 cardamom pods, crushed to reveal the black seeds
12-14 large peeled and deveined prawns
freshly ground black pepper
3-6 T water
Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat until it just starts to smoke. Carefully place the orange slices in the oil and cook for 30 seconds, then turn them over with a fork. Add the tomato, garlic, thyme, chili and cardamom and cook on a high heat until the tomato slices start to break down a little (about 2 minutes). Add the prawns to the pan and season with sea salt and pepper. Cook them for a minute on each side. Add 3 T water and cook for a further 2 minutes or until they have turned pink. If the pan is looking dry, add the remaining 3 T of water so that you have enough liquid to form a sauce.
Serve immediately with bread to mop up the juices. Alternatively, munch all the prawn by yourself in the kitchen, mop the pan with bread and use it to prepare an omelet for your dining partner. Make sure you don’t have sauce on your lips when you leave the kitchen, and say the prawns are ruined and that you’re not hungry.