Monday, September 15, 2008

International Mezze Plate for Blog Party #38, Birthday Bash--Part 1: Chapatis and Dukka

Its time for Blog Party #38! Hosted by Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness, Blog Party is a virtual party where bloggers make an appetizer and a drink, post it on their blog and it's all gathered together for one big party at Stephanie's Blog. This is an extra-special Blog Party because it celebrates a VIP's Birthday, our wonderful Stephanie of course--who deserves a party like no one else I know, between hosting this event and also the very cool Blogging By Mail! (which if you have not signed up for yet you better do it soon because this is the last week for sign ups!) Although Stephanie is a vegetarian, she told us to bring whatever we want but hey--its her Birthday, I want to make things she likes and can eat and drink. I have a plethora of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks and being the multi-tasking girl that I am thought it was the perfect time to pull some of them out and also work on my "Cook from Each Book" initiative. Thus I ended up with an International Mezze Plate featuring Indian Chipatis, Middle Eastern Dukka, an Indian inspired Curried Carrot Dip and a Greek Potato Skordalia. I'll also be bringing a fun retro-style dessert, vegan "Jelly Donut Cupcakes" and to drink a "Red Cooler", a tea and fruit juice mocktail (the die hard drinkers can throw a bit of vodka into it if they want!). Since that's 6 different recipes, I thought I would space it out a little post 2 recipes a day for three days. A good friend of mine says you don't have a Birthday, you have a Birthday month, so I am sure Stephanie won't mind if I celebrate her for a few days!

For today, we will start with the backbone of my international Meze plate--some quick Grilled Chapatis from Mark Bittman that I found in the New York Times and some Dukka from The Essential Best Foods Cookbook by Dana Jacobi.

Chapatis are an Indian flatbread, unleavened, made from whole wheat flour and grilled or browned on both sides. The appeal of this bread and Mark Bittman's recipe for me is the ease of prep and no yeast to mess with. (For baking-phobes like me this is huge!) The dough goes together in a couple minutes in the food processor and then you roll it out and slap it on the grill or in your grill pan. Bittman recommends them as the base for pizza or to serve with most anything.
Grilled Chapatis
Mark Bittman
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm water, plus extra if needed
Mix flours in food processor; add salt and, with machine running, pour in 1 cup warm water. Process for 30 seconds, then remove cover. Dough should be in a well-defined, barely sticky, easy to handle ball. If too dry, add warm water a tablespoon at a time and process 5 to 10 seconds after each addition. If too wet, which is unlikely, add a tablespoon or two of flour and process briefly.
With floured hands, shape the dough into a ball and cover with plastic and let rest at least 30 minutes. (Or wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to a day; bring to room temperature before proceeding.)

When ready to grill, pinch off a piece of dough (walnut or golf ball sized) and roll as thin as possible. Dust lightly with flour to keep from sticking and cover with a damp cloth while you roll out remaining dough. (Overlapping is OK but don't stack them.) Or just roll as you grill.
Grill until they start to blister, char and puff up a bit, a minute or so. Turn and repeat. Serve immediately. Makes 8-12.

Results: Good! Mine didn't get particularly puffy--not sure why, but they had great flavor and texture, much like a whole wheat pita. I made them somewhat small so they could be taken individually and torn into smaller pieces for the dips. I am going to buy a tortilla press as that would have made the process even easier and I have been wanting one anyway. I will make this again and in fact I am making some Indian inspired pizza this week with them. Mark Bittman also says you can add additions such as herbs, spices, garlic, onions, etc. to the dough to give your Chapatis additional flavor.

Dukka, is an Middle Eastern mix of spices, toasted seeds and nuts. Depending on the country (Egypt, Lebanon, Israel. etc.), it can be used to season hummus or vegetables, be baked onto crackers or pita or it is often served with a small bowl of olive oil so the bread can be dipped into the oil and then into the Duuka.
The Essential Best Foods Cookbook by Dana Jacobi
2 Tbsp blanched almonds
2 Tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
3/4 tsp crushed, dried mint leaves, optional
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, optional
In a dry skillet, set over medium heat, combine the almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and coriander seeds. Cook, stirring constantly, until the pumpkin seeds puff and the sesame seeds start to pop, 2-3 minutes. The almonds will not color. Spread the mixture on a plate and cool completely.

Whirl the toasted mixture in a mini food processor until the almonds are mostly ground with some chunks, and the pumpkin seeds are finely chopped. The spices and sesame seeds will be partially ground. Mix in the mint and/or pepper if using. Cover and refrigerate any leftover dukka for up to 3 days. Makes 3/4 cup
Results: Yum! I used both the dried mint and the the black pepper and I loved the exotic, slightly spicy flavor of this mixture. If using it as a dip, make sure you use a good quality olive oil to dip the bread in first.

That kicks off Part 1 of Stephanie's Blog Party Birthday Bash! Happy Birthday Stephanie!

Tune in tomorrow for two simple but exotic dips: Curried Carrot and Potato Skordalia and then come back Wednesday for dessert and drinks! You can check out what the other party guests will be bringing to the bash on Stephanie's blog here, after Saturday, September 20th


  1. Oh, what a wonderful birthday treat! So many yummy things to try.

    I LOVE it.

    Thanks a bunch, Deb!

  2. I have another recipe for dukkah bookmarked but yours sounds really nice too! I'm gonna bookmark it too.

  3. Stephanie--I hope I didn't hit on any dislikes! Happy Birthday again!

    Kat--Fun! Are there big differences?

  4. I think the other one had more spices in it :)

  5. I love that last picture, with the chapatis all covered in dukka, I can just picture myself at this party, standing by all the food and nibbling at these...that's somehow where I always end up at parties...

    One of these days I want to see your cookbook collection because I think you're the only person I know (in person) who has as many as I do!

  6. I have never heard of dukka before, sounds great.
    I love chapatis, sometimes I put caraway seeds in them.
    Mark Bittman is a great resource for reliable, unfussy recipes.
    Wonderful veggie fare.
    Headin' over to part II now.

  7. Kat--Yep, I had another recipe in another cookbook that had cinnamon and some other spices in it too. Maybe we need a Dukka battle!?

    Michelle--it is sad but true I have way too many cookbooks!

    Natashya--I love caraway--it sounds like it would be great in Chapatis.


Mahalo for visiting and for leaving a comment. I love reading them and they mean a lot!

All advertising, spam, inappropriate (or just plain rude) comments will be promptly deleted. I do appreciate your right to free speech and to your opinion but I'm not into mean, rude, or mean snarky (non-mean snarky is just fine!) ;-)