More Food from the Holy Land

I don't want you to get the impression that we're food obsessed, but here are a couple more recipes. The Hariseh, by request of one or two people on Sunday morning. A rather morish gluten=free cake.


MA’LOUBEH (upside down)

370g white long-grain rice (I used basmati – absolutely fine)

2-3 large onions, sliced

3 + 3 tablespoons olive oil

4 chicken breasts (you can do this without chicken for vegetarians)

2-3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 chicken stock cubes (or vegetable)

3 good cups of water

1 head of cauliflower cut into florets

1 small aubergine, cubed

1 courgette sliced

1-2 carrots, sliced

½ cup peas

1 green pepper, sliced


1.         Several hours before cooking, cover the rice with water and leave to soak.

2.         Fry the onions in a deep pot in 3 tbsp olive oil. When transparent, add the meat and brown it. Sprinkle with the cinnamon. Make up stock with the stock cubes and 3 good cups of boiling water and add to the meat. Simmer for 20 minutes.

3.         Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Add aubergine, cauliflower, courgette and sauté for five minutes until lightly browned. Set aside with other fresh vegetables.

4.         Drain the rice. Pour the liquid off the chicken into a bowl. Reserve for use later.

5.         Scatter ¼ cup of the soaked rice over the meat. Put all the vegetables over the top of the rice and meat. Scatter the remaining rice over the vegetables.

6.         Measure from the reserved liquid – from every cup of rice, two cups of water – you can add more water. (the liquid should just cover the rice.)

7.         DO NOT STIR. Turn the heat to high and bring to the boil. When boiling, cover tightly, turn heat down to low and cook for 20 minutes or so until the rice is cooked, but not stodgy.

8.         Turn off the heat and leave to stand for five minutes.

9.         Put a plate over the top of the cooking pot and turn over quickly. Lift the pot – ceremonially if you like, et voila! Enjoy with yoghurt and salad or on its own.

(For vegetarian version, just leave out steps 2 and 4. if you wanted some protein you could add some chick-peas. You don’t have to use these vegetables – experiment with what you have. The version we ate in Jerusalem was mainly carrots and peas!)


HARISEH – semolina and coconut cakes.

500g semolina

100g desiccated coconut

150g butter, softened

100g sugar

250 ml plain yoghurt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 tablespoons water



500ml water, 350g sugar

1. Boil until mixture starts to thicken

2. Add tsp vanilla essence


1.         Rub the butter into the dry ingredients.

2.         Add the yoghurt and water and mix in.

3.         Press the mixture into a large-ish lined baking tray (mine was about 8 ins x 12)

4.         Mark diamonds (or squares) and push an almond/ hazelnut/peanut into each diamond.

5.         Bake in a preheated oven (175 C) until light golden brown

6.         Recut the diamonds (squares). Pour syrup over the top and leave to stand.


TOP TIP – Make sure the greaseproof paper is large enough for you to lift the cakes out in one go – makes it much easier to cut neatly. Seriously yummy, especially with Arabic coffee!