Hello there, I hope you had a lovely weekend. Today I am going to discuss the incredible Cook for Syria campaign and share a few recipes from my personal contribution towards it.
The ongoing crisis in Syria is immense, it is estimated that the lives of 8 million children are in serious danger, many have been forced to leave their families and their country and live in unknown lands that do not necessarily have the resources or will to help them. Cook for Syria is a fundraising effort happening across the UK this November hoping to raise money and awareness for UNICEF’s Syria Relief Fund. It encourages people to get cooking Syrian cuisine (which is delicious incidentally) and give some of the proceeds of these dishes towards the charity, kind of like a grown up, wide spread cake sale.
Restaurants across London and beyond have added Syrian dishes to their menus and are contributing £2 of the amount charged. I personally do not have a restaurant to do this with but was keen to get involved in the campaign; so I invited a group of friends over and cooked up a Syrian feast for them and have asked them to give as much money as they can afford to the fund. I shall link the website here so that you can read a little more about this campaign, give money towards it if you wish and discover the gorgeous Syrian inspired recipes that have been created by some of the UKs leading chefs.
I created two recipes myself that I cooked at the dinner party: lamb and cumin meatballs in a tomato sauce and roasted spiced aubergine bejeweled with pomegranate seeds and I shall share these below in case you have been inspired into doing your own Syrian Spread and need some culinary inspiration.
Lamb and Cumin Meatballs in a Tomato Sauce
Serves between 4 -6 people
Prep time – 30 minutes
Cooking time – 1 hour
- 500g minced lamb
- 6tsp cumin
- 3 tsp paprika
- 3 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 6 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 large bunch of parsley, finely chopped
- zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 red onion, diced
- 2 tins 400g plum tomatoes
- 1 tbsp honey
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- In a large saucepan heat up 1 tbsp olive oil on a medium heat. Add the onion and 3 of the garlic cloves and fry until softened. Then add in half of the parsley, cumin, paprika and dried coriander plus the chili flakes, fry this for a further minute.
- Pour in the two tins of tomatoes and then refill one of the tins with water and swirl it around and the add that to the pan as well. Use a wooden spoon to crush up the plum tomatoes. Stir in the lemon juice and honey and season generously with salt and pepper. Turn the heat up until the sauce is bubbling and then turn it down to simmer gently for at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile in a large bowl use your hands to combine the lamb mince, lemon zest and the remaining cumin, paprika, coriander and parsley and then season generously with salt and pepper. Mix this all together until ingredients are evenly distributed and then roll them into medium sized meatballs.
- In a large frying pan add the remaining olive oil and then add the meatballs to the pan. Keep turning them over so that all sides are browned, this should take about 10 minutes.
- Pour the tomato sauce over the meatballs and let this bubble away for a further 10 minutes, to ensure the meatballs are cooked through.
- Serve this with couscous and natural yogurt.
Roasted spiced aubergine with pomegranate seeds and flaked almonds
Serves 4 as main or 8 as side
Prep time – 5 minutes
Cooking time – 25 minutes
- 2 large aubergines, sliced into thick circles
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small handful of fresh coriander
- 30g flaked almonds
- 1 pomegranate with the seeds taken out
- 100 g natural yogurt.
- Preheat an oven to 180 degrees.
- In a bowl combine together the aubergine, cumin, thyme, paprika, ginger, salt and pepper and ground coriander. Mix together with your hands.
- Lay out the aubergine slices and roast in the oven for 25 minutes or until soft and cooked through.
- On a dish spoon out the yogurt and then lay out the cooked aubergine on top of it.
- Sprinkle over the fresh coriander, pom seeds and almonds and then serve.
Thank you very much for reading this blog post, it is a little different to what I usually ppst but I thought it was important to share information on such a brilliant cause, even if it meant sacrificing the extent to which I talk about my recipes. Let me know what you think!