I recently took a class on “Arabic Cooking” (it was really Syrian, as that’s where the chef was from) and wanted to comment on it. It was through the Syrian Club here in Buenos Aires, four weeks, two hours a week, and run by the evidently famous Chef Abdala.
We learned an amazing 24 recipes, including the classics (hummus, tabbule, falafel, baklava) as well as some other stuff (all kinds of stuffed veggies, kebbe, pitas, yogurt, shawarma without the machine, harise.) The variety was great, and it meant that both complex and simple recipes were included, with and without special ingredients. Chef Abdala was very friendly and easy-to-understand, and the classes were well-run (well, except for the students who constantly talked on top of each other and the chef, but that was hardly the restaurant’s fault.)
One thing really bothered me was the fact that it was a completely hands-off class. Just 40 people sitting in chairs watching one man cook. Now, I understand that it would be difficult to have a hands-on cooking class with anything more than 4 or 5 students, unless you have some kind of giant multi-work station cooking room like some kind of culinary school, but I was pretty disappointed by the fact that I stayed clean the entire time.
If you are living in Buenos Aires, I would recommend the class if you have a very serious interest in Syrian cooking and want a chance to ask an expert questions and are looking for a whole bunch of recipes. However, it was relatively expensive (250 pesos, about 80 US dollars, which is a lot of money down here) and if you’re looking to have a go at the cooking yourself you’ll be disappointed.
But, since I paid so much for it, I figure I ought to spread the love! So, here’s one of the simple recipes:
250 grams sugar
100 grams peanuts/walnuts (chopped finely, but not powdered)
100 grams shredded coconut
1 T honey
1 t baking powder
1. Beat the eggs and sugar in a pan over medium heat, stir continually until it boils. (It will look like runny scrambled eggs.) Remove from heat. 2. Add nuts, coconut, baking powder, and honey. Mix well, and let cool completely. 3. Butter a pan and dust it with flour. Roll the dough into little balls, place onto the pan, and flatten into hockey-puck-shaped cylinder with your fingers. (If you want to be fancy, you can use a frosting tube to make interesting shapes.) 4. Bake them in a medium oven (about 200 degrees) for about 15 minutes (they’re not real big on exact temps or times – keep an eye on them) or until they are golden on the edges. 5. Take them off the pan immediately, and dust with powdered sugar. These are heavenly. (And suitable for celiacs!)
Let me know if you want any more recipes!