Dough: 250g white flour, plus extra to dust 1½ tbsp milk powder ½ tbsp salt 2 tsp fast-action dried yeast ½ tbsp caster sugar 60ml sunflower oil 1 medium egg 100ml lukewarm water Olive oil for brushing
Salad (optional): 1 mini-cucumber cut into 1cm dice (190g) 2 small tomatoes, cut into 1cm dice (150g) 10 radishes, thinly sliced (75g) ½ red onion, thinly sliced (65g) 10g parsley, roughly chopped 1 tbsp lemon juice 2 tbsp olive oil Salt and black pepper
Start with the dough. Put the flour, milk powder, salt, yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Make a well in the centre. Add the sunflower oil and egg and stir as you add the water. When the dough comes together, remove it from the bowl and knead lightly for 3 minutes on your work surface until smooth, elastic and uniform. Dust a bowl lightly with flour, place the dough inside, brush with some olive oil, cover with cling film and leave somewhere warm for 1 hour, at which point the dough should have almost doubled.
Put all of the topping ingredients in a large bowl, apart from the tahini, pine nuts and lemon juice. Mix well with your hands and refrigerate.
Preheat the oven to 210°C and line two large baking sheets with baking parchment.
Divide the risen dough into 40g balls, you should get about 12, and roll each into a thin disc, about 2mm thick and 15cm in diameter. Brush each disc lightly with olive oil on both sides and place on the baking sheet. Cover and leave to rise for 15 minutes.
If you make the salad, mix together the vegetables and add the parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, ¼ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Stir gently and set aside.
Spread the tahini onto each pastry disc, divide the filling between the pastries and spread it evenly so it covers the dough fully. Sprinkle over the pine nuts and place in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until just cooked. You want to make sure the pastry is just baked, not over-baked; the topping can be slightly pink inside and the pastry golden when you look underneath. Remove from the oven, spoon the salad on top, if making, and finish with a drizzle of lemon juice.
Sumac-marinated baby chickens stuffed with bulgar & lamb
A variation on a Palestinian dish that was served on special occasions at Sami's home. They normally used a regular chicken and the stuffing was made with rice, not bulgar. Still, the idea is the same: a sweet, spiced minced lamb stuffing flavoured by the bird's juices as it cooks. It's incredibly delicious and, when the birds are brought to the table on one platter, dramatic. This goes well with sprouts, root vegetables and slaw. Serves four.
4 baby chickens
1 bunch mixed hard herbs (bay leaves, rosemary, sage, thyme), to line the serving dish
Greek yogurt, to serve
For the marinade
70ml vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp paprika
2½ tsp sumac
1 tsp ground allspice
½ tbsp salt
For the stuffing:
260g lamb mince
90g bulgur wheat
220ml water or chicken stock
1 tsp ground allspice
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
40g pine nuts
40g peeled pistachios
40g sliced almonds
Whisk the marinade ingredients until smooth, pour over the birds and massage in, inside and out. Cover and refrigerate for from one to 24 hours.
To prepare the stuffing, melt a tablespoon of butter in a medium pan. When very hot, add the mince and brown over high heat, stirring from time to time, for five minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the bulgar, water or stock, spices, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for five minutes. The bulgar should absorb all the liquid.
Meanwhile, fry the pine nuts in a pan with half the remaining butter for a minute, add the pistachios and cook for three to four minutes, until the nuts turn golden - take care not to burn them. Add to the bulgar, stir, taste and adjust the seasoning. If you are going to roast the chickens straight away, you can use the stuffing while it is still warm. Otherwise let it cool before filling the birds. Keep refrigerated until you're ready to cook.
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the stuffed chickens in a large roasting dish, pour about 250ml of water around them and cover with foil. Roast for 35 minutes, then lower the temperature to 190C/375F/gas mark 5, remove the foil and roast for another 20 minutes or so, until golden and cooked through. Check by piercing the thickest part of the leg with a skewer - the juices should run clear. Transfer to a platter lined with hard herbs and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining butter in a pan, add the almonds and season. Sauté for three to four minutes, until golden, then tip over the birds. Serve with Greek yogurt on the side.
Today, freekeh is produced and sold commercially, whole or cracked, we use it for making pilaffs, in salads and for serving with lamb or chicken. It’s earthy flavour and slightly coarse texture go particularly well with sweet spices. Read more here
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
150g freekeh (or bulghar wheat)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
270ml good-quality reduced vegetable stock
100g Greek yoghurt
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
10g parsley, finely chopped, plus extra to garnish
10g mint, finely chopped
10g coriander, finely chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted and roughly broken
salt and black pepper
Place the onions, butter and olive oil in a large heavy-based pot and sauté on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 15–20 minutes. or until the onion is soft and brown.
Meanwhile, soak the freekeh in cold water for 5 minutes. Drain in a sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Drain well.
Add the freekeh and spices to the onions, followed by the stock and some salt and pepper. Stir well. Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat to a bare minimum and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and leave it covered for 5 minutes. Finally, remove the lid and leave to pilaf to cool down a little, about another 5 minutes.
While you wait, mix the yoghurt with the lemon juice, garlic and some salt.
Stir the herbs into the warm (not hot) pilaf. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Spoon onto serving dishes and top each portion with a generous dollop of yoghurt. Sprinkle with pine nuts and parsley and finish with a trickle of olive oil.