While visiting Lauren in Amman for merely a day, she planned delicious cooking class for dinner at a private home-turned-business. Maria teaches Jordanian culinary classes from
Beit Sitti, which translates as “my grandma’s house.” It’s her grandma’s house, where she learned to cook, and she pays that knowledge forward in partnership with local women.
We charred the eggplant – known as ‘aubergine’ in Europe / the rest of the world’s English – directly over the flame, then removed the charred skin and diced the flesh directly into the hummus for baba ganoush (also known as ‘moutabal’). Seeing the end result – even photos – makes my mouth water.
We prepared the freakeh , an ancient Middle Eastern grain, over the fire, and added a smokey flavor by sizzling some charcoal in oil, using a foil lining inside the pot. The host chefs slow cooked the chicken for three hours before our arrival; their seasoning advice includes: two half onions, salt, pepper, vinegar, ginger, and all spice.
Going beyond the freakeh, chicken, and moutabal, two other dishes completed the dinner plate, with a side of pita (also homemade, mixed by yours truly). We prepped the ‘galayet bandora’ from perfectly ripened tomatoes on the outdoor stovetop, and the cucumber yogurt salad was just that plus yum.
Were you worried that I forgot dessert? I would never! Knafeh (‘kuh-nuh-fuh’) rounds out every great meal in the Middle East, and you’ll find fresh platters as large as your bed in some markets. The knafeh “dough” – seen in the foreground – is thinner than angel hair pasta. After it soaked in water overnight, we strained the akkawi cheese repeatedly under running water to reduce the saltiness. Tradition serves knafeh warm from the oven, drizzled with sugar water.