Friday, 6 February 2015

All in the Mix

Gamberi & Verdure alle Spezie Baharat, Cotte in Tagine con Bulgur Turco
Baharat Spiced Shrimp & Vegetable Tajine with Turkish Bulgur


Time for another "everything must go!" meals this Friday evening! Yes- everything had to go- it all had to go into one pot... and of course- it had to taste wonderful too! Well- it's not as if that is a problem if you have some wonderful spice to liven everything up with!

And don't worry if you don't have a tajine to prepare this in- any pot with a lid will do just fine... it's just that cooking in a tajine is so much fun!


I love cooking with spices- but I do kind of hate the way that so many of the wonderful, exotic mixes of spice that we know under so many names... have names, such as "baharat"- which simply translate as "spices" or "spice mix"- how maddening!

This wonderful blend of allspice, black pepper, cardamom, cassia bark, cloves, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, paprika and chili is used in many Arabian countries, but especially in the Mashriq area, Turkey, Iran, Kurdistan and Israel.

And what did I have left in my fridge? Well, I had 1 small fennel, a handful of green beans, a few cherry tomatoes, a Spring onion, a little fresh rosemary, parsley and thyme- and 6 lonely looking shrimp begging to be released from my freezer.


I added just a cupful of Turkish bulgur- the kind that comes with those tiny, toasted strands of angel-hair noodles... and suddenly, those few, simple ingredients transformed into a substantial and exquisite meal!


Don't you just love when those simple "emergency meals" turn out to be better than the meals you put a lot of planning and hard work into? Yeah- me too!


I cut the fennel into small wedges, the cherry tomatoes simply in half, the beans I simply topped and tailed and the Spring onion was cut into fine slices.

The fennel went into the tajine first, with a little olive oil, the rosemary and a good sprinkle of salt, pepper and baharat.


Once the fennel has fried for 2-3 minutes from each side, add the other ingredients on top, including the cupful of bulgur and season again with more salt, pepper and baharat. Add enough boiling water to just cover the ingredients and allow to simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on.


This is as much water as you will need- also, at this point, add the thyme and the parsley, which is best coarsely chopped.


10 minutes later, most of the water will have been absorbed, the vegetables will be tender but still have a little bite- and the spices will have blended with the juices from the fennel and the onion to flavor the bulgur wonderfully.


The last step is to add the shrimp, to season them also with salt, pepper and baharat and to cover and allow to steam for a further 10 minutes.


And yes indeed- this is what you will have after that time... the waiting will have been well worth it when you are rewarded with this wonderful feast- don't you agree?


Serve with a hint of lemon juice and a sprinkle of fennel greens and enjoy all of the wonderful, rich, aromatic flavor! A little exotic, but mild and delicious and just plain good!

Emptying out my fridge has never been so much fun!


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