The first thing I did upon my return from Jordan was seek out a really decent Middle Eastern cookbook that didn’t just give you Greek or Lebanese food. The Arab Table by May Bsisu seems to be a real find—but the true test will come in the next few weeks as I see how her recipes turn out.

I do appreciate that at the beginning of the book, she goes into specific details about the differences between each country’s cuisine, and then goes through the ‘Arab Pantry’ and explains in detail the different spices used, and what they work well with.

Tonight I made Shrimp with garlic and cilantro, or Mahmous Rubyan. The recipe was picked out by Chris because of the yummy photo I tried to emulate above, and chosen as the first test because it seemed relatively easy. Other than the fact it makes a LOT of food (I am writing down a half-recipe…double it for a feast or a ton of people).

I served the shrimp wrapped in flatbread with some homemade hummus (also from the book, but not perfected–so it’s not getting written down yet). While the shrimp in the book was high in salt content, mixed in with the creamy hummus and flatbread, it was actually a great dish–with the cardamom acting as a nice highlight to the shellfish.

Shrimp with garlic and cilantro
Mahmous Rubyan

1 lb. onions, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic
1/4 t. cardamom
1/2 t. Kuwaiti Spice Mix (see below)
1/2 c. packed cilantro, finely chopped
1/8 c. fresh dill
1/2 T. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

lemon juice and cilatro to garnish
serve with flatbread

Saute the onions in a liberal coating of olive oil until they are tender. Add remaining ingredients (except shrimp) and coat onions. Raise heat to high and add shrimp. Cook 5-8 minutes until shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat and cover until serving. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

Kuwaiti Spice Mix
Feel free to cut this recipe down if you won’t use as much–although it’s a nice pepper blend that I might try to use again on pizza or with steak. It keeps for a year.
1/2 c. black pepper
1/4 c. cayenne pepper
1.5 t. ground coriander
1.5 t. ground cumin
1.5 t. ground ginger
1.5 t. ground cinnamon
1.5 t. ground cloves
1.5 t. grated nutmeg