Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Tasting Jerusalem #5 – Barberries

Bean Kuku
Dee –Barberries were the featured ingredient back in March 2013, and to showcase them I chose the Broad Bean Kuku on pages 38 and 39.  I had to make a couple of compromises with the published recipe, as my frying pan is not oven proof, and I was only able to get hold of green beans rather than the specified broad beans.  For the beans I just cut them up into thirds and hoped for the best, but the pan presented more of a challenge.  Initially, I tried cooking the dish in the same way as a Spanish tortilla, but after inverting it and cooking it on the other side, it didn’t colour evenly and I wasn’t happy with the finish, so I put it into a hot oven to see if it would colour up.  This made a slight improvement, but still didn’t look good enough to photograph.  Fortunately, I kept half of the mixture back in case of any disasters, so was able to have another go right away.
The second attempt, which is shown in the photo, turned out a lot better than the first, with a far more even finish.  This time, I cooked one side in the pan on the hob, and then turned the whole thing out onto a pyrex plate, uncooked side face-up, and put it in the oven to finish it.
The best way that I could describe the taste would be multi-faceted.  There are some strong flavours going on here:  The first one I noticed was the saffron, with its unmistakeably rich grassiness.  I must admit I’m not keen on huge amounts of saffron, and it was quite dominant here.  The dill was a contender for centre stage though, and I was glad it was there as it provided a nice counterbalance to the saffron.  The beans and cooked egg, provided an interesting mixture of crunchiness from the beans and softness from the egg, while the barberries, served up occasional bursts of sharp fruitiness.  There was a slight added sweetness to their usual sour taste, which came from them having been soaked in sugar syrup prior to cooking.  They certainly gave the dish an interesting extra dimension.
The finished dish was a complex tapestry of big flavours and contrasting textures, and was versatile enough to be enjoyed hot or at room temperature.  If I was to make it again I would probably cut down on the amount of saffron, but that’s only a personal preference.  It’s certainly something I’d like to revisit.

“Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ebury Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to  following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, liking our Facebook Page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups’ dishes on Pinterest
(Please note: I have listed the UK publisher and have linked to the UK Amazon site.  The US details are provided on the web site)


  1. Once again, I love your details and honestly - cooking isn't about perfection, it's about creativity and flexibility. Great job. Interesting about the saffron - the lead quote in our saffron post is that if you can taste it, it's too much. So interesting that you could taste it - your bank account will appreciate it if you use less!!!

  2. Thanks for the comments and the tip about the saffron. Sounds like good advice. I have a few more write-ups to cover before I get to it as a main ingredient, but it will stand me in good stead for when I get to it.