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3 Middle Eastern comfort foods to make during these troubled times

Meals shared in family

If you too, have craved a comforting, homemade meal but often had to resign at the reality of simply not having enough time… now is the opportune moment to spend some quarantining within the walls of your kitchen. With most of confined to our homes, for who knows how long, eating healing and flavorful meals will be an important factor in staying healthy, both mentally and physically.

An abundance of traditional Middle Eastern dishes are comforting to begin with, plated in large quantities at the center of the family dining table, made to share, with their steam and heart-warming aromas inspiriting the entire home. One key factor to the dishes’ inimitable flavor lies in patience, allowing for the spices to layer and develop flavor. 

 

Here are three recipes you should take the time to make, now that we have plenty of it. 

 

Aushak (Afghan dumplings)

 

 

This dish has brought many Afghani families together, collaborating on the assembly of each cute dumpling, and, once steamed and plated, will unite them in fighting for the last one. It is likely that at this point of the confinement, spending more time with your family sounds rather unappealing, but aushaks are truly worth it.

 

The components are concentrated with their distinctly-flavored spices. The dough gets its taste from a sharp, peppery scallion paste, while, traditionally, ground lamb plays center-field in the filling. No one will get mad if you opt for ground beef, however, or even substitute the meat altogether for a mixture of vegetables. To amp up the flavors up another notch, a fiery red sauce is strewn across the top along with dollops of cooling yogurt.

 

Fassoulia

 

The stress of COVID-19 has indisputably infiltrated homes across the world. Each member of the family likely has his or her own method in coping with the anxiety, but this bean stew will soothe anyone, no debate necessary. 

 

The best part of this dish lies in its versatility and in times where even a trip to the grocery store is a feat, utilizing ingredients sitting in your cupboard will make your life just a bit easier. Depending on the country, some use white beans, others use green ones, and in some cases lamb is used, while in others tomatoes are filling in instead. 

 

Coupes de Knafeh 

 

In the off-chance you really do not want to share with your family, here are individualized versions of the ever-so-popular kunafa, or knafeh. This syrup-soaked cheese pastry stars at almost every Ramadan table, during iftar, the meal which breaks the hours of fasting. 

 

However now, these bit-size delights are socially acceptable to indulge in at any time of the day, any day of the year. The thin noodle-like pastry, or alternatively semolina, is soaked overnight in a sweet syrup, then typically layered with cheese, or depending on the region clotted cream and nuts.

 

 

These unprecedented times of global lockdown shake up our usual practices, with some suffering more than others. Perhaps this period can cultivate gratitude within us for to the freedom we took for granted, and look to the simple pleasures such as food for reassurance.