CookForSyria is a nation-wide fundraising initiative focused around Syrian cuisine to encourage everyone from the UK’s top chefs to people at home to cook (that's me) and raise money in aid of UNICEF’s Syria Relief fund.
If you have been to Dinner@marias before you will know that I love Middle Eastern food and will have already tasted some of the amazing dishes that Syrian cuisine has to offer- it is one of the oldest culinary heritages in the world with influences from across the Middle East and beyond.
On the menu tonight are some of my favourites and some new with homage to the chefs that have shared their recipes to make the fundraising events a success.
Muhamarra – this Syrian roasted red pepper dip is regularly on the menu here in Darwen. The flavour of the roasted peppers and sweetness of the pomegranate molasses is fantastic. Warning this dip contains walnuts.
Apple, Sumac and pomegranate salad - Apples are turned slightly red by the sumac and the pomegranate seeds. This salad is sweet, sharp and crunchy.
Hummus - this is perhaps the most recognisable Middle eastern dish in the world.
All served with a selection of crudités, warm pitta bread, and crunchy garlic bread
Now for the hot stuff ....
Cauliflower salad - tahini, pomegranate molasses and parsley are conjured up to drizzle over what can sometimes be a dull white vegetable.
Chicken Fetti - Fetti means crumbled in Arabic and in this case is crumbled toasted pitta bread. The chicken is marinated and roasted in nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaves then shredded and drizzled with a tahini and yogurt dressing before being sprinkled with toasted pitta, almond, pine nuts and parsley.
Tomatoes fried with cumin, chillies and cloves - you will be fighting over the pan juices.
Persian rice - I love this way of cooking rice, you steam the rice with very little water in a large pan and when you turn it upside down it has a buttery crust to it, it is a bit of a unique taste and is a buggar to make but well worth it.
Olive oil and pistachio cake with lemon crème fraiche - Dish created bBy Angela Hartnett (with a bit of pimping from me)
Orange-blossom pudding -Dish created by Dalia Dogmoch Soubra
Muhalabia is a classic and simple Middle Eastern pudding, similar to a blancmange in France or the Italian panna cotta. It is a very traditional dessert in Syria, and is often served in homes as well as restaurants. It is often fed to children if they are not feeling well - a big soft, warm, soothing cuddle in a dish.
Warm roasted chestnuts - unfortunately they will have been roasted in the oven and not on an open fire!
Selection of tea and coffee served with after dinner mints.