Ahlan wa sahlan! Kalos Orisate!

Welcome to Aladdin's Kitchen.

This project started as my hobby in order to combine free time with my love of creating good and healthy food. My love for the Mediterranean diet and its health benefits have pushed me to share my recipes collected from family, friends and trips around the world. In here you will find recipes from all over the Mediterranean: from Athens to Zahle!

I hope you and your guests enjoy these flavorful recipes as much as I do.

Bon appétit!
bil hana we'shifa'! بالهنا و الشفاء
Kali oreksi! καλή όρεξη!

Thursday, 15 December 2011


Spanakopita - Spinach Pie
Preparation: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Spanakopita is a Greek classic. It can't get more Greek than Spanakopita!
Now this recipe is originally from Makedonia, a province North of Greece renowned from its great pitas (pie in Greek)!


1 pack of philo dough (you can also use shortcrust)
250g melted butter
1 kg of spinach (washed and if not baby leaf, remove the stems)
2 tablespoons of fresh dill
1 tablespoon of Oregano
250g of low salt Feta cheese
1 onion
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
1 egg yolk (optional)
4 tablespoons of milk (optional)

Start by frying the chopped onions with the olive oil in a large saucepan. Once the onions are nice and golden, add the washed spinach. Cover with the lid for about 3-4 minutes and stir occasionally. You will see the spinach reduce in volume. Add the herbs, salt and pepper and continue cooking until the spinach leaves are nice and tender. Once the spinach is cooked, remove from the heat and crumble the feta cheese into the spinach.

In a large baking tray, (I use a pyrex) place 1 sheet of philo dough at a time and  coat every sheet with the melted butter. When you have stacked about 12-15 sheets at the bottom of the tray cover with the spinach mixture. I always use a skimmer to remove the excess liquid. Continue covering the spinach mixtures with the philo dough as we did for the bottom bit.

When you've finished covering the top part of the pie, you can glaze the top layer with a mixture of 1 beaten egg yolk in 4 tablespoons of milk/water.

Cook in a preheated oven at 180c/350F for about 20-25 minutes until the philo is cooked and the top layer is nice and golden.

Spanakopita can be enjoyed as an entrée, as a sidedish or even as a main. It is also great served lukewarm for breakfast!

Kali oreksi!!!!

Roz bil sha'ariah - Rice with vermicelli

Roz bil sha'ariah- Rice with vermicelli
Preparation time: 6 minutes
Cooking time: approx 40 minutes

Rice with vermicelli is one of the most common side dishes in the Levant. If you have ever eaten at a Shawarma/Shishtaouk joint, I am sure you've seen this before!


4 cups of chicken broth (I use warm water and 2 cubes of instant chicken broth OXO type)
2cups of white long grain rice (I usually use basmati)
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 cup vermicelli

If the vermicelli are long, start by breaking them into small 1 inch pieces. In a skillet, melt the butter and add the vermicelli, stir frequently and cook until they start to get a nice golden colour.

In a thick saucepan, add the washed rice and the chicken broth and let boil on high heat. Once the pot starts to boil add the vermicelli and reduce the heat as much as possible. Cover the pot with a lid. Let the rice cook at the lowest heat possible for an additional 30 minutes.

Tip: Do not open the lid and stir the rice while its cooking. This makes the temperature go down, and mixing the rice too often makes the rice "smoochy".

Serve along with your chicken dish, or any other meat dish.

Enjoy ! and Bon appétit!

Hommus bi tahina

Hommus bi tahina
Preparation: 5 minutes

Hummus/Hommous/Humous, is a Middle Eastern classic! Hommos is found all over the Mediterranean sea from Greece to Lebanon and is SUPER easy to make!


1 can of chick peas (you can also use dried chick peas, soak them overnight and cook them prior to use)
The juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of Tahini
and (optional) if you want your Hommus spicy 1 dash of Harissa

Place the strained chick peas in the blender with all the other ingredients and blend until it is nice and smooth.

Serve on a plate with fresh parsley, olives, and pita bread.



Tuesday, 13 December 2011


Labneh, Traditional Lebanese White Spread Cheese
Preparation: 5 minutes + 1 overnight
Difficulty: Easy

Labneh: a soft white cheese used across the Levant. It is used spread over pita bread or as a dip and for many other things that include cream cheese. Labneh is found in almost all Arabic households and is very easy to make.

1 kg of Plain Low fat Yogurt
1 tablespoon Olive oil
Oregano, Thyme (optional)

Form a large square with your cheesecloth and pour all the yogurt into the cloth.
Close the four corners of the cheesecloth with a string or elastic and attach over the handle of a wooden spoon or any long rod you may find in the kitchen. Let the yogurt rest and drip above a container over night. You do not need to refrigerate this, the room temperature actually helps the yogurt ferment into this light cream cheese.

The next morning, you will see all the water that escaped from the yogurt, you can discard of this.
Collect the Labneh in the cheesecloth and place into a plastic container, add the olive oil and salt. You can also add Oregano or Thyme to flavour the cheese.

Labneh is delicious served with pita bread and is a very common mezze in the Arab world. You can even use this instead of cream cheese on toasted bagels, with smoked salmon or other recipes.


Ghee (clarified butter)
Preparation time: 30 minutes

Ghee is used as a shortening in many Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian recipes and is very easy to mke at home.

Ghee is actually nothing more than clarified butter, which means butter that is purified from lactose, milk protein, and any impurities.

To make Ghee:

  • Melt one kilo of unsalted butter in a saucepan.
  • Boil the melted butter for 20-25 minutes on low heat, this will evaporate excess water and milk content.
  • As the butter boils, you will see the liquid starting to separate and it will start to foam. You can remove excess foam with a spoon.
  • After about 20 to 25 minutes, the liquid will stop foaming: this means the Ghee is ready!
  • Let the mixture cool slightly and pour (I normally do this in the sink) the Ghee through a metal sieve lined with cheese cotton.

Be careful Ghee is extremely hot and you don't want to get burned!
Ghee is best stored in a heavy airtight glass jar.

Monday, 12 December 2011


Tzatziki, Greek Traditional Dip/Sauce

Preparation time: 5minutes

  • 1 large peeled cucumber
  • 500g of plain yogurt, preferably Greek yogurt (You can also strain regular low fat yogurt)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of Oregano, or dried mint or fresh dill
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Start my grating the peeled cucumber, and lay the grated cucumber on paper towel to absorb excess water.
Add the grated cucumber to the yogurt, add the 3 cloves of garlic using a garlic press, the oil, lemon juice and the oregano.

Mix well, and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. This recipe is normally better the next day, when all the flavour has infused the yogurt.

*If using plain yogurt, (not Greek style)
Strain the yogurt through a sieve lined with cheese clothes, and let the excess water drain for about 1.5 hours.

Tzatziki is a multipurpose sauce/dip used in Greece. It goes well with bread, salads, meet and fish.



Ghorayebah - Traditional Egyptian Sablé Cookies:
Difficulty: Easy
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 8-10 minutes
Pre Heat oven @ 180c/350F

1 cup of Butter or Ghee ( Ghee is clarified butter, see my post on Ghee to learn how to make it)
1 cup of Sugar
2.5 cups of white all purpose flour
Blanched almonds or pistachios for decoration

1 hint of almond essence, or 1 hint of ma'ward or ma'zaher

In a bowl, mix (with an electric mixer) the ghee or butter until the mixture becomes smooth and white.
Incorporate the sugar, and continue mixing until the mixture is smooth, white and that the sugar has dissolved. Add in the optional flavour and with a spatula gently start folding in the flour.

Form the cookie dough into small balls, place on a baking sheet and flatten the top by pressing in a blanched almond.

Another form of the Ghorayebah is in a "doughnut" shape.

To do this, take a small amount of the cookie dough, roll it into a 1.5cm thick cylinder, form a circle and join both ends by pressing in an almond.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180c/350F for 8-10 minutes on the top shelf.
Remember that most Middle Eastern cookie are actually dried in the oven rather than being cooked.

Enjoy with a lovely cup of tea!