Unlike last year, we had a couple of good things waiting for us when we got home from Madeira this time. Really good things. Like the newly released GW2 Path of Fire expansion and – let’s hear it for careful planning – another week off from work~! Of course, hubby and I parked ourselves in front of our screens and went on a gaming binge until we both developed that tell-tale sitting-in-the-same-position-for-days headache, square and bloodshot eyes included. And this is where the other really good thing comes into play~!
During this past week we had what we call a “Golden September” over here. While the temperatures, very much to our dismay, demanded a change in footwear from flipflops to sneakers <insert disgruntled sigh here>, the weather itself was absolutely perfect, turning the colorful leaves of the forests and vineyards of our region into a picture-perfect live definition of “Autumn”. Since September has been treating us with the flipside of that particular shiny coin for the last couple of years, we simply couldn’t pass on that chance to unfold ourselves from our chairs, put on some hiking boots and grab an eyeful of the stunningly beautiful landscape all dolled up for Autumn. Since hubby had picked a trail up to a vista destined for a small break, I went to work prepping a little snack for the occasion. And that’s where the circle closed again – prowling through the Crystal Desert for days, with the new recipes and food items constantly reminding me of the near/middle eastern cuisines, I couldn’t resist giving one of our favorite hike-snacks a little arabic twist. And on that note…
Thank you for putting lentils back on my culinary radar! I can’t, for the life of me, remember when or how I last messed around with those! I’m working on it, as we speak though~
Xoxo, Nahdala Darkwind ♥
Anyways, although this one isn’t exactly my take on one of the new GW2 recipes yet, it’s definitely inspired by the Path of Fire~! Here’s my Crystal Desert’ified version of a Seraph Ration, my Baharat Spiced Chicken Wraps with Tomato Hummus and Griddled Veggies~
These amounts will net you 4-6 wraps, depending on the size of your tortillas and on how much filling you stuff into each one~
Just a word in advance: This is the everything-from-scratch version, you can shortcut almost all steps if you have a well-sorted supermarket nearby for the spice blend, a Hummus base and grilled/marinated vegetables. Homemade’s always better, though~
Time for another spice blend! Baharat is a very common spice blend along the southern and eastern rim of the Mediterranean Sea, mainly used to marinade and preserve meat, but it’s often used to flavor veggie dishes with a hint of smoky meatyness as well. You should be able to grab a baggie of this blend in well-sorted supermarkets or in shops specialized in spices or near/middle eastern goodies. However, the spices used wildly vary, much like in Ras el Hanout blends, so this one’s another perfect candidate to experiment around with and fit to your personal palate if you’re an adventurous type like me~ As usual, I’ll be listing the ingredients in “Parts” rather than spoons, to make adjusting the amounts to fit your desired outcome easier. This particular version of the blend is a relatively mild one, using commonly available spices – I’ve added a couple of other options I’ve encountered in Baharat Blends to give you an idea of what you can play with when the fancy tickles you.
4 Parts Sweet Paprika Powder
3 Parts Cumin Seeds
2 Parts Dried Garlic – if you’re making this one fresh for a specific dish, I’d recommend using fresh garlic cloves instead of the dried grains.
Alt: 1 Part Dry Smoked or Roasted Garlic – careful with this stuff, though, some brands are perfectly capable of knocking your socks off and ruining your blend without further notice.
2 Parts Green Cardamom Pods
2 Parts Ground Cinnamon
2 Parts Cloves
2 Parts Coriander Seeds
2 Parts Ground Nutmeg
2 Parts Black Peppercorns
2 Parts Coarse Sea Salt
2 Parts Brown Sugar
1 Part Hot Chilli Flakes or Powder
1 Part Pink Peppercorns
Alt: 1 Part Ground Sumach
Opt: 2 Parts Smoked Paprika or Pimenton – for a smoky touch
Opt: A few Strands of Saffron
Opt: A few dried Lavender Blossoms
1) Set a small pan onto medium-low heat and – one spice at a time – slowly toast the cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, coriander seeds and the black peppercorns until their aromas start wafting up to you while the spices give off small popping noises.
2) Lightly jiggle the pan from time to time to make sure nothing’s sticking to the bottom of it, threatening to burn.
3) Set them aside until they’re cooled down to room temperature.
4) In the meantime, add the already ground or powdered spices to a bowl and gently stir them until they’re well combined.
5) Once the toasted spices have cooled off, get your pestle & mortar set or spice-whizzing gizmo ready and work the whole spices – the pink pepper as well – into fine grains with the help of a pinch of the coarse salt per round. Personally, I always go with the pestle & mortar workout since I’ve discovered that spicemills, electrical or not, whizz the spices at a speed high enough to generate a surprising amount of heat – which in most cases translates into a loss of flavor. Maybe mill-tech has advanced far enough to prevent that from happening by now, but I actually like working with the mortar, so I can’t be bothered with gizmo-research despite my frequent spice-blend-adventures.
6) Add the freshly ground spices and the remaining salt grains to your mixing bowl and gently fold them into the mix until they’re well incorporated into the blend.
7) To taste-test this one, stir a teaspoonful of it into a tablespoonful of olive oil and leave it to sit for 10 mins before dipping something on the blander side of things into it for a test-bite. White bread or a slice of zucchini works well.
8) Adjust your blend if necessary and seal your results in an airtight glass jar or spice container once you’re satisfied with your work~
The Tomato Hummus
Now, these amounts might look like they’re going to net you way more Hummus than you’ll need for the wraps… and that’s true enough. Halving the amounts of ingredients will end in a minor Hummus-shortage though and I have yet to discover a use for half a tin of leftover chickpeas… Plus, this dip, extremely popular with my usual crowd, if stored in an airtight container, keeps yummy for 3-4 days and makes a delicious little healthy snack whenever you feel like it.
2 400g Tins of Chickpeas – they should leave you with 270g per tin once drained and rinsed
75g / 1 Handful of Sun-Dried Tomatoes, finely chopped – use dry-stored ones rather than the ones preserved in oil, otherwise you’ll need to keep a close eye on the consistency later.
3 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
1 Red Onion, finely chopped
5 bushy Sprigs of Rosemary
1 Tsp Hot Chilli Flakes
1 Large Lemon, Juice and Zest – you should end up with roughly 100ml of lemon juice
4 leafy Sprigs of Parsley
200ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
100g Tahini Paste
2 Heaped Tbsp of Concentrated Tomato Purée
Salt to taste
1) Add the tomatoes, garlic, onion cubes, rosemary needles and chilli flakes to a pot, cover the lot with the olive oil, pop on a lid and set them aside to infuse for 3-4 hours.
2) Once the fragrant “tea” had enough time to develop its flavors, set the pot onto medium-low heat and, while stirring occasionally, sautée the lot until the onion cubes turn tender.
3) Add the chickpeas, close the lid again after a good stir and heat them through for 6-8 mins.
4) Take the pot off the heat and stir in the lemon juice, zest, tahini and tomato purée along with the parsley and a pinch of salt.
5) Close the lid once more and leave the mixture to cool down to room temperature.
6) Use a stick-blender or tip the lot into a food processor and proceed to whizzing everything into a smooth and creamy paste.
7) Depending on the tomatoes and/or chickpeas you’ve used, the mixture might be on the thick side of things – in that case, add more olive oil in a steady trickle while the blender-blades are dancing until you’ve reached the desired consistency – smooth and creamy yet thick enough to be picked up with a slice of flatbread.
8) Once any consistency issues are out of the way, have a taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, tomato purée or lemon juice.
9) You’ll need about 2/3 of the Hummus for the wraps, so set them aside and lock the rest in an airtight container once it had enough time to cool off completely.
The Baharat Chicken
2 small Chicken Breasts
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Pomegranate Syrup
2 Tbsp Baharat
1 Tsp Hot Chilli Flakes
1 Tsp Sumach
1 Lemon, Zest – keep the juice for the veggies
1 generous Pinch of Salt
1 Tbsp of Clarified Butter or Ghee
1) Start by giving your chicken breasts a Butterfly-cut and gently flattening them out into disks of a similar thickness between two layers of clingfilm.
2) Place the Baharat, chilli flakes, sumach, lemon zest and salt in a small bowl and stir the lot into a thick paste while pouring in the oil and syrup in a slow and steady stream.
3) Gently rub the chicken disks with the paste on both sides and lay them out on a plate before covering them with the rest of the marinade.
4) Tightly wrap the plate holding the chicken with clingfilm and allow the bird to soak up all those flavors for 2-3 hours in the fridge. If you want to give it some extra TLC, do this part the night before you’re planning on serving it and leave it to marinade in an airtight container overnight.
5) Take the plate out of the fridge about 30 mins before it’s time to fire up the pan.
6) Set a large, heavy-based pan onto medium-high heat and pop on the lid. Give the pan 5 mins to get up to it’s max temperature, then drop in the butter or ghee.
7) Once the butter has dissolved, gently slide in the first flattened chicken breast.
8) Fry it for 2 mins on each side to get some color on it without burning the marinade clinging to it.
9) Take out the first one and set it aside before repeating the process with the second one.
10) Once the 4 mins of quality pan-time are over for the second one, lift it up with a pair of kitchen tongs and wedge the first one underneath.
11) Pop on a lid, take the pan off the heat and allow the residual heat in the pan to finish off the meat within the next 10 mins.
12) These 10 mins of R&R for your chicken are your window to finish off the veggies, so set a griddle onto the vacated spot on your stove.
The Grilled Veggies
Like the Baharat, the Hummus and the Chicken – at the marinade stage – these can be prepared a day in advance~
1 small Zucchini, sliced into thin ribbons with a veggie peeler
1 small Eggplant, sliced into thin ribbons with a veggie peeler
2 Cloves of Garlic, finely diced
1 Lemon, Juice
½ Bunch of Flatleaf Parsley, very finely chopped
2 Sprigs of Rosemary, needles picked and very finely chopped
5 Tbsp Olive Oil
1) While the griddle is firing up, place the garlic, lemon juice, parsley and rosemary in a wide and shallow container. Add 4 tbsp of the oil and whisk the lot until the salt grains have dissolved.
2) As soon as the griddle is hot enough to hiss at you when you dare to hit it with a drop of oil, brush the veggie ribbons with a dab of the remaining olive oil on each side and pop them into the griddle – one layer at a time.
3) Once a peek on the side currently hitting the pan reveals pretty golden-brown griddle-marks, sprinkle the side facing up with some salt before flipping the ribbons over.
4) After about a minute on the second side, move the ribbons into the container holding your marinade and gently turn them over in the liquid until they’re evenly glossed over.
5) Set the container aside when you’re done and, in case you’re serving them right away, get ready to roll the wraps. In case your wraps are destined to end up as a trail ration or picknick, allow all of the components to cool off completely before wrapping them up to keep the wraps from turning soggy.
Assembling the Dish
1 Pomegranate, seeds only
100g Mixed Lettuce Leaves
1) Get ready to roll by setting up an assembly line. Slice the chicken into thin strips and have the hummus, the veggies, the leaves and the pomegranate seeds in easy reach.
2) In case your wraps are going to be a take-out snack, prep your work surface with 4 larger-than-the-tortillas-sized sheets of aluminum foil and top them off with paper towels. This double-layered take-away blanket will keep any escape attempts of your filling under control and your bags clean. Plus, rolling them up on their blankets right away makes tucking them in for the ride way easier.
3) Lay out the tortillas in front of you.
4) Spread a generous amount, about 2-3 tbsp, of the hummus over the bottom half of the tortilla.
5) Evenly sprinkle the blanket with the pomegranate seeds and top it off with a layer of lettuce leaves.
6) Weigh the leaves down with the grilled veggies and arrange ¼ of the chicken strips in the bottom third of each tortilla.
7) Tightly roll them up, starting on the bottom, holding the chicken in place with your fingertips while using your thumbs underneath the tortilla for leverage.
8) After the first turn, fold in the sides of the tortilla – and keep tucking them in as you go – to seal the filling into the roll. If you’re taking them out, take care of the travel-dress-up too, while you’re at it.
All that’s left to do is… get up, go out and enjoy the grand outdoors while you still can~! Or, alternatively, lean back and…