Ramadan tends to become a very carnivorous time of the year for fasting Muslims. On almost a daily basis, we heave ourselves through plates about to break under the weight of the animal-flesh on them.
Then we end up in a post-fetar protein-induced comatose. It’s a particularly unhealthy habit and it’s based on the misconception that after all those hours of fasting, we need to compensate for the lack of protein and that only meat and poultry will properly address our hunger pains.
On the contrary, there are plenty of vegan and vegetarian main courses from across the Middle East packed full of nutrients and protein. And they’re incredibly filling, and you won’t be feeling bloated afterward.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 absolutely delicious recipes from the region that will convincingly bring out your inner herbivore.
Egypt: Bitingan ‘arus mahshi siami (Stuffed Eggplant) – Vegan
Step 1: Core the eggplants after pressing and turning them gently and carefully in the palm of your hand. Keep the first 2-3 cm of the core to use as a stopper and discard the rest. Immerse immediately in cold water until needed
Step 2: Mix the stuffing ingredients and season. Stuff the eggplants loosely
Step 3: Mix the tomatoes, garlic, and celery and place in the bottom of a cooking pot. Arrange stuffed eggplants over the mixture and cook over a moderate flame for about 30-40 minutes
Step 4: Serve by slicing the eggplants lengthwise and spooning the cooked tomato juice over it.
Egypt: Filfil rumi mahshi siami (Stuffed green sweet peppers) – Vegan
Stuffing ingredients for 1 kg of green sweet peppers:
Step 1: Blanch the green sweet peppers then remove the stems and seeds.
Step 2: Mix all the stuffing ingredients and fill the peppers loosely. Arrange the stuffed peppers in the pot standing upright.
Step 3: Half-cover in salted water and cook over a very low flame for 30 minutes.
Turkey: Fasulye plakisi (White bean stew) – Vegan
Step 1: Soak the apricot beans for at least 2 hours. Drain and completely cover in fresh tap water and boil for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 1-2 hours.
Step 2: Heat oil and fry the chopped onions until they wilt, then add the crushed garlic, diced carrots, and celery and fry for 3-5 minutes stirring constantly.
Step 3: Return the beans to the pot and boil for 30 minutes. Dilute the tomato paste in water, add sugar, salt, and pepper and toss into pot together with fried vegetables. Cook until tender.
Step 4: Remove from heat, add the lemon juice, parsely, chilli, and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Serve hot or cold.
Iran: Eshkene shirazi (Yogurt Soup) – Vegetarian
Step 1: Grind the fenugreek into powdered form
Step 2: In a pot, fry the finely chopped onions in oil until golden, then add the flour and cook over a very low flame until well blended.
Step 3: Add the walnuts and fenugreek with 1/2 a cup of hot water and stir to a smooth consistency. When well blended, add another 2 cups of hot water, season accordingly and simmer for 30 minutes.
Step 4: Stir one ladleful of the soup into the yogurt and beat well. Turn the heat back on on the pot of soup then toss the yogurt mixture into the pot. Remove immediately before it starts to boil.
Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan: Mnazzaleh (Stewed mixed vegetables) – Vegan
Step 1: Soak chickpeas overnight. Drain and set aside.
Step 2: Peel the eggplants, slice and sprinkle with salt. After about one hour, squeeze out the moisture, pat dry and deep fry in sizzling oil. Remove onto absorbent paper.
Step 3: In the same oil, fry the onions until they darken, then add the tomatoes, garlic, and chickpeas and cook for 20 minutes, or until chickpeas are tender. Add hot water if needed.
Step 4: Add the fried eggplants and one tablespoon each of the parsley and coriander leaves. Add the mint powder and nutmeg or cinnamon. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to your liking.
Step 5: Simmer for another 10 minutes then remove from heat. Leave to cool then add the remaining parsley and coriander leaves. Serve warm.
Palestine: Mujaddara (Stewed brown lentils) – Vegan
Step 1: Boil all the lentils in four cups of water until nearly done. Add the rice and salt. Stir, then cover and cook for 15 minutes or until both the lentils and rice have become tender.
Step 2: Fry the finely chopped onions until they become a rich brown color and then toss into the lentil/rice mixture with the oil. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve hot or cold.
Gulf: Tshorbat adas (Lentil soup) – Vegetarian
Step 1: Fry the chopped onion in ghee until it wilts, then add tomatoes, mixed spice, and garlic and cook for five minutes.
Step 2: Place lentils in a cooking pot, add the onion and garlic mixture, loomi, and twice their measure in water and boil until lentils are tender.
Step 3: Remove the loomi then add salt and vermicelli. Add more hot water if needed and cook over a low flame stirring occasionally. Consistency must be like a thick custard.
Iran: Shula kalalambar (Spinach cooked with lentils) – Vegetarian/Vegan
Step 1: Place the spinach in a pot over a low flame and allow to wilt. Then drain in a colander and press down to extract all the moisture.
Step 2: Boil the lentils until they’re tender, then drain and add to the spinach. Mix well.
Step 3: Add butter or cooking oil, then add the crushed garlic cloves, the mixture from step 2, cumin, salt, pepper, and cook for 5-7 minutes.
Iraq: Bagila bil Dihin (Fried eggs over broad beans) – Vegetarian
Recipe provided as shown in Measuring Cup Optional.
Step 1: Soak the broad beans overnight in water then drain
Step 2: In a medium pot, bring the beans to a boil with a dash of salt and lemon juice. Boil until softened (around 20 minutes), then remove the beans from the water and set aside. Keep the water boiling over low heat.
Step 3: Place the bread cubes in the boiling bean water and remove immediately (just dip once and remove), then place on a platter and pour the broad beans over the bread.
Step 4: Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over low heat, then add the onions and fry until caramelized.
Step 5: Beat the eggs and pour on top of the onions without stirring. Once the eggs have cooked through, place the fried eggs over the beans and pour any extra oil over the whole platter.
Step 6: Top dish with parsley.
Palestine: Beitinjan mifassakh (Creamy eggplant) – Vegetarian
Step 1: Slice the eggplants lengthwise around 2 cm thick. Spread the slices and sprinkle with salt then leave for at least one hour. Squeeze gently then drain off the moisture and pat dry.
Step 2: Deep fry in cooking oil until a dark brown color. Remove onto absorbent paper and spread out and leave to cool.
Step 3: Mash the eggplants with the yogurt and garlic. Stir in the parsley and serve.
Most of the recipes provided are featured in “Egyptian Cooking: And Other Middle Eastern Recipes” by Samia Abdenour, AUC Press, 2015.
WE SAID THIS: Have a meat-free Ramadan for a change!
This content was originally published here.