Friday, September 27, 2013

Recipes for the ancients

In my books, the main character, Cliff has a wife who enjoys cooking. She loves to cook so much that she finds out how to make conch and marlin ceviche in my second book. I even included recipes in that book.

I thought today I would share a couple of recipes from Egypt that the character may have cooked in the first book when she and Cliff were on an archaeology dig of the Sphinx.


  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 kg of fresh molokhia (or melokhia) leaves cleaned
  • one tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
  • one hot chilly pepper (optional)
  • one bay leaf (optional)
  • one small onion, finely chopped (optional)
  • black pepper
  • two tablespoons of butter
  • several cloves of garlic, minced
  • one teaspoon ground coriander
  • one teaspoon salt
  • one tablespoon fresh coriander leaves (also called cilantro) or fresh parsley, finely chopped (optional)
  • juice of one lemon or a teaspoon vinegar (optional)
  • ground cayenne pepper or red pepper (optional)
  • Chop the molokhia leaves as finely as possible.
  • Over high heat, bring the chicken stock to a near boil in a large pot. Add the molokhia, stirring well. Add the tomato paste, chile pepper, bay leaf, and onion (if desired), and black pepper, continuing to stir. Reduce heat and simmer. The molokhia will simmer for about twenty minutes.
  • After the chicken stock and melokhia have simmered for about ten minutes: heat the butter in a skillet. Using either the back of a spoon in a bowl or a sharp knife on a cutting board, grind the garlic, ground coriander, and the salt together into a paste. Fry the mixture in the oil for two to four minutes, stirring constantly, until the garlic is slightly browned
  • After the melokhia has been simmering for about twenty minutes and has broken down to make a thick soup, add the garlic mixture and the butter it was fried in to the simmering molokhia. Stir well
  • Add any of the remaining optional ingredients. . Continue simmering and stirring occasionally for a few more minutes.
  • Serve immediately, hot. Molokhia soup is often served over boiled Rice and sometimes with boiled chicken.

Spiced Prawns

3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, fresh grated
  • 1 1/2 lbs large shrimp, raw & shelled
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped (cilantro)
  • Directions:

    1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan; add the garlic and sauté gently for 2-3 minutes.
    2. Add the paprika, cumin and ginger; stir to combine.
    3. Stir in prawns, salt and cilantro. Stir-fry for 5 minutes or until the prawns turn pink.
    4. Serve over hot rice.
    Hibiscus Tea
    2 -3 cups dried hibiscus flowers (often called red sorrel or roselle)
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 1 -2 cup sugar
  • 1-2 of the following optional flavorings


    1. Briefly rinse the dried flowers in cool water.
    2. In a saucepan heat two quarts (approximately two litres) of cold water. As soon as the water begins to boil, add the dried hibiscus. Immediately remove from heat and let the flowers steep for ten minutes.
    3. Pour the water from the pot into a pitcher using a strainer (lined with a cheesecloth) to separate the flowers from the water. (Be sure not to pour any of the flower sediment into the pitcher.).
    4. Stir in the sugar.
    5. Add any other flavorings (if desired).
    6. Add ice and chill completely.
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