Monday, July 29, 2013

A Middle Eastern Feast

 *This is a story of preserved lemons. :)
A Middle Eastern Feast by Claudia Roden
Oh! i hope i'm more insightful, more political when i write the title for this blogpost. I could write about the Arab's Spring, or certainly i can link up to a Youtube video of that little boy who eloquently explaining why Morsi isn't what the Arab world needs as opposed to many Malaysian muslim led to believe (or at least, my muslim friends on FB who posted pro-Morsi posts on their wall). Hair-raising scary what people blindly believe nowadays.

But no, when i reached for this book, and planned to write a blog post out of it, it's for one cause: because i have a basketful of lemons from Long Beluyu, Lawas to preserve. I need a better than my 'tongue' (palate) to do it. I'd preserved lemons before (and i love preserved lemons), but never to give away, so, i thought, i better do a bit of research before doing this up, as i promised Diana a jar of the preserve. (i got the lemons from her uncle's yard)

My favourite online cook, Mr. Marketman and this guy David Lebovitz refered (linked) by Mr. Marketman got their versions of preserving lemons. I've tried Mr. Marketman's and it was good as an accompaniment to raw vaggie/fish (eaten as dipping/sambal). 

so, here, i'm done reading Claudia Roden's A Middle Eastern Feast, for preserve lemon recipe. This is a small treasure book in the Penguin's Great Food series. i ended up googling up for exotic herbs and spices, because really, i come short in this area. caraway? mahlab? chervil?. Her beautifully written recipe book is not an ordinary recipe book, it goes deeper, she wrote about the culture behind each recipe, of how intermingling in the middle eastern countries brought all those delicious fusion and traditional dishes. history preserved in food.

'X' incision. see the thin skin?
Back to my lemons. The lemons i got, are not the best to preserve. the skin is too thin. the usual preserved lemon call for a thicker, hardier lemon skin, like Meyer Lemon. But, i don't get upset by this fact, because, i usually ended up using the flesh and even the brine of my lemon preserved. they make a good bitter-salty lemonade drink/soup. So, all's well with me. (for a Schweppes bitter lemon soda addict, bitter preserved lemon is a healthier option!)

For this batch, i follow Claudia's instruction on Page 6-7 for the citrons confits (lemon preserved in salt) with a twist of 1. bay leaves + fresh small chillies, 2. cinnamon sticks + cloves.

bay leaves + chillies
cinnamon stick + cloves
Basically: 1 lemon + 1tbs coarse salt + juice from 1 lemon (make an X incision, stuffed salt in between, squeeze in the jar, leave for one night, squeeze the juice, add juice from another lemon to cover). You may add any other spices to flavour the preserve.

Leave the jars in room temperature for 4-5 days, then put in the fridge for up to many months. its OK to leave it in room temp, but some people get off with the whitish stuff on the surface. its mould and pretty harmless. The preserve is ready for use after 10 days. i usually only use the lemons after a month fermenting. and it gets better as it grow older.

aww.. i hope, it's not just the preserved lemons, which gets better as it old. i hope, we too, get mellower, and better as we age.


Dy said...

I just get grouchier with age! Hohohoho... mcm mana lah tu? kena makan lemon banyak2 lah ni kan? :D

jenkays said...

terus tertelan2 air liur aku membaca.....

kukuanga said...


Jen, sy buat sambal cili semalam terus pikir2 pasal kau. ntah bila mau p tpt ko lagi ni...(sy beli banyak cili di Santubong hari ya, hv to make sambal cili, takut rosak)