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So sorry about the pun, I couldn’t resist. Anyway... I’ve got my second secret supper coming up next week. My mind is occupied with thoughts of recipes. While I do not want a theme as such, I am looking to the middle east for influence. The heat of cumin and coriander seeds. The freshness of mint and pomegranates. The sweetness of apricots and butternut squash.

This week I’ve been in bed with Claudia Roden, Anissa Helou and Arto Der Haroutunia. While I don’t want to use their recipes per se. Their words are providing inspiration. In her book, Tamarind and Saffron, Roden talks of the general culture of the middle east and that to “really please your guests you must show that you have worked very hard to prepare a meal.” I have a pathological fear of leaving people hungry or feeling like they haven’t had their money’s worth. So the middle eastern ethos fits with mine; I want an abundance of colours, smells and textures.

Without question I will be serving a leg of lamb roasted in cumin and coriander. I have decided to have a bulgur wheat pilaf. I will be experimenting with different flavours everyday this week before deciding on my final menu at the weekend. This afternoon I pulled together some of my favourite ingredients to create a pretty, tasty jewelled pilaf. Here’s the recipe.

A jewelled bulgur wheat pilaf
Serves 6

2tbsp olive oil
4 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
300g bulgur wheat
500ml stock (I used chicken but veggie will be perfect too)
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander
50g spinach
2tbsp each of chop coriander and chopped mint
100g chopped apricots
75g pomegranate seeds
75g pistachios, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan, add the shallots and garlic and cook over a medium heat until soft.
  2. Add bulgur wheat, stock, cumin, coriander. Bring to the boil and stir. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes, until the stock has been absorbed.
  3. Stir in the spinach and herbs, allow to wilt. Then stir in the pomegranate seeds, pistachios and chopped apricots. Season with salt and pepper.

I am also experimenting with different combinations for the fattoush. Tonight, I’m trying it with grilled butternut squash. There is useful technique for grilling squash here.

And while we’re at it. Look at this trio of dips on Anissa’s blog. I will be trying out these at some point this week.

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Comment by The Secluded Tea Party on May 24, 2011 at 15:19
I am hungry at the thought of both! Wow... Best of luck with this one Aoife. Hope my email reply helped too. This is going to be a corker I am sure! x
Comment by My home supper club on May 24, 2011 at 14:26
Thank you ! I'm just looking at your book now. It's making me hungry, even though I've just had lunch. Surely a good sign?
Comment by msmarmitelover on May 24, 2011 at 13:48
Lovely photographs. I love Anissa's blog too. I have a jewelled rice recipe in my book

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