Two days ago, I visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to see the Egyptian artifacts. I’ve been re-reading a mystery series set in Egypt and it turns out the MFA has some of the artifacts that feature in these books. So, I braved the snow and the commuter rail to go on a nerdy sight-seeing visit.
Anyway, I went to a concert at Symphony Hall after my visit to the museum, so I stopped at Boston Shawarma on Huntington Ave. for some Fool Moudamas in a grilled pita on the way. It was absolutely divine and I was inspired to make my own pita – the store-bought kind just doesn’t cut it!
I went with this recipe from thekitchn.com (beautiful photography over there!) but I kneaded it a lot less than it called for (and it came out perfectly soft and delicate). I chose the griddle method because I wanted flat-bread style pitas like I had eaten in Beantown rather than the milder pocket-style pitas.
But if you give your guests a pita, they will ask you for some fillings…
So, I went to my trusty Vegetarian Tagines & Couscous by Ghillie Başan for inspiration. (Reviewed and extolled by one of my favorite blogs here.) I had some potatoes and white onions sitting around, plus lots of herbs and spices (including Sumac, which I realize not everyone will have in their pantry… in my defense, it is verrry inexpensive at any Middle Eastern grocery). If you don’t have sumac, just omit that and the vinegar. With the cumin, it’s still savory and flavorful!
Here are the ingredients of my modified potato and sumac tagine:
4 small white potatoes
1/2 a white onion
1 t cumin
1/2 t butter plus 1 t olive oil
1 T powdered sumac
1 T balsamic vinegar
a dash of salt
I chopped the potatoes into 1/2 cubes, same with the onion, and threw it all in my tagine (you can use any baking dish with a cover or foil over the top) with a half tablespoon of butter and a teaspoon of olive oil (to imitate ghee, which I do not have in my pantry). I stirred it occasionally and when it softened a bit, I seasoned it with a dash of salt and a teaspoon of cumin, crushed slightly in a mortar, and stirred to coat.
Once it all softened (about 20 minutes), I took it out of the oven and tossed it with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon of powdered sumac.
Since we had friends over to play board games, I cut four pitas into triangles and served the warm potatoes in a small dish with a spoon. It made the perfect little appetizer and was devoured in minutes.