Archive for June, 2009

How to stay vegan in the Middle East

Baba Ghanoush


In this post, I want to share with you the recipe of one of my favorite vegan dishes- Baba Ghanoush or eggplants (aubergine) with tehina
(thina), which is a Mediterranean sauce made of sesame seeds.
Baba Ghanoush is served in Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and other neighbored countries as a side dish or part of the salad’s plate. You can find a lot of variations of it in the different geographical areas.

I use to prepare Baba Ghanoush in this way:
First, you have to roast the eggplants in an oven. Eggplants can be broil over an open flame, if you have such a possibility. It will give the dish very special test.
Do not forget to make small openings by fork in order to prevent eggplants from an explosion. When the eggplants are almost done, I used to add to the oven two tomatoes.
After the eggplants are cocked you have to peel it and then to mash.
Then you have to prepare Thina in the bowl by gradual adding to sesame mixture of lemon juice and little water. Now you can add to thina purified tomatoes, garlic, salt, grinding coriander and onion.
Finally, you can blend the mashed eggplants in this thina sauce and to add olive oil.
The Baba Ghanoush is ready!
The reason I’m so exiting about this dish is its nutrition value. Regard to the combination of thina and eggplants, this dish contains about 32% of Iron Daily Value and about 12% of Calcium Daily value. In addition its contents: vitamin C, Magnesium and Vitamin B6. Not bad at all for the side dish, is in it?

Istanbul and Chisinau (Kishinev)

Tel Aviv-Istanbul-Chisinau-Istanbul-Tbilisi-Istanbul-Tel Aviv
I had 6 flights during 6 days. All flights were with Turkish Airlines. I have to mention that I got a vegan meal in all these flights, according to previous invitation. In Istanbul International Ataturk Airport the coffee-shop that located near to Turkish Bazaar shop is serving soymilk Coffee- Soylatte. Enjoy!
In Moldova I tried the famous Moldavian traditional dish- Mamaliga. Mamaliga serves as well in Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine. Mamaliga is a dish cooked by boiling water, salt and cornmeal in a special-shaped cast iron pot called ceaun or tuci. While you are in Moldavian restaurant order the fasting mamaliga with tomatoes and garlic sauce.


Travelling to Georgia

Georgia (Sakartvelo), country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia

I am warmly recommended to visit Georgia. It is very beautiful place with old architecture, nature and very nice people that really believe in hospitality.

Young lady in Georgian costume:

Views of Sighnaghi:

Sugar cotton man:

One of the first things I met during my trip to Signaghi (one hour from Tbilisi) was this village café with the board outside that welcomes all the guests, including vegans:

The national Georgian cuisine includes a lot of vegan dishes with rich nutrition value. The dishes are spicy and even hot. Georgian dishes usually prepared with a lot of walnut, coriander, garlic, vinegar, red pepper, pomegranate grains, barberries and other spices.
The first dish you have to try is Lobio (kidney red bean) which is a must dish in every meal. Lobio usually prepared with garlic, onion, a handful of basil, mint, coriander and parsley. The general name for the combination of these spices is Khmeli Suneli. This herbs mixture is an ingredient of many traditional Georgian dishes and sauces.

Another culinary recommendation from Georgia is Badrijani Nigvzit. This is a dish with eggplants seasoned with ground walnuts, vinegar (or pomegranate juice), pomegranates and spices. You should also try eggplant rolls stuffed with ground walnuts, garlic, coriander and parsley, spiced with Khmeli Suneli and saffron.

Ispanakhi Pkhali (Spinach Salad) is also very testy vegan dish. Its ingredients are: spinach with ground walnut, garlic, dried coriander, chopped onion and paprika. You can also try another roll variation: the cabbage stuffed with the some traditional filling (garlic, coriander, onion – all spiced with Khmeli Suneli):
Vegan rolls with walnuts:

Finally, we need sweets! In Georgia, you can find few vegan deserts. I preferred a Churchkhela. It is a traditional sausage or roll, shaped madden of hazelnuts sewn onto a string, dipped in thickened fresh grape juice and dried in the shape of a sausage. The color of Churchkhela depends on color of the used grapes Churchkhela was and still daily favorite delicacy of people and necessary component of ancient soldiers’ ration.

As you can see, it is really easy to stay vegan in Georgia while having delicious dishes.