Maamoul Cookies with Date Filling from Bahrain

Maamoul Cookies are semolina flour cookies filled with date paste. The cookies are formed by placing the dough in a specific Maamoul Cookie mold.

The Beauty of Dates

I discovered the beauty of the date a few months back while in the midst of training for my half marathon. I had started following a few healthy eating/running accounts on instagram (@paleorunningmama amongst one of my favorites) and started noticing that a lot of runners would eat dates with peanut butter as a pre-run (or mid-run depending on the mileage) snack. Eventually, I saw one too many photos of a wrinkly date dripping in ooey, gooey peanut butter, and I cracked.

dates with white background
dates in stacks

The next time I was at the grocery store, I picked up a few dates. The minute I arrived home, I removed the pits from the dates, popped open my favorite jar of peanut butter (Smuckers All Natural Creamy), and dipped the date inside.

The clouds parted. The sun shone down. I even heard some angels singing in the distance.

Ya’ll, that combination is nothing short of positively magical. Healthy, energy-boosting, full of fiber…. Dates (especially mixed with peanut butter) are amazing. I’m a big fan.

Maamoul Cookies

So, now, the time has come to finish up our trip to Bahrain. And what better way to do so than with a little somethin’ sweet?

Maamoul Cookies are made with a combination of semolina and all purpose flour. The filling is a date puree with cinnamon and orange extract. The cookies are a little tough, but the taste is definitely delicious, especially if you love dates as much as I do.

Maamoul cookies on bamboo placemat

Maamoul Cookie Mold

In order to get the beautiful design on these cookies, I ordered a Maamoul Cookie mold. This tool took some practice, but ultimately, it came in handy. To use the mold, wrap a small ball of the date filling with a larger piece of cookie dough. Press the cookie into the mold. Then shake the cookie out to maintain the beautiful design that the mold provides. Make sure to flour the mold between every cookie. If not, the dough will begin to stick to the mold, tearing your cookie apart.

Let me know how it goes! I always love to hear about your adventures cooking my recipes. If you love this Maamoul Cookie recipe, try making my Alfajores recipe from Argentina, my Sheqerpare recipe from Albania, or my Tahini Cookie recipe from Armenia. If you make these Maamoul Cookies (or any of my other cookie recipes), make sure to post a photo on Facebook or Instagram and tag @TheForeignFork or hashtag #TheForeignFork!


Maamoul Date Cookies

Maamoul Cookies are semolina flour cookies filled with date paste. The cookies are formed by placing the dough in a specific Maamoul Cookie mold. 

Course Dessert
Cuisine Bahrain
Keyword cookies
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 24 cookies

Ingredients

Cookie Dough

  • 3 cups farina flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup ghee melted
  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • 1/2 tsp active, dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

Cookie Filling

  • 3 cups dates pitted
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp orange extract
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Instructions

Make the Filling

  1. Cut the pits out of the dates and blend together in a food processor. 

  2. Add orange extract, almond extract, spices, and one tbsp of oil until smooth and blend again. 

  3. Roll into about 24 small balls. 

Make the Cookie Dough

  1. Mix yeast with water and allow to stand for about 3 minutes. 

  2. Mix together farina, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, ghee, and butter. Use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or an electric mixer. 

  3. Add the yeast and water and milk and continue to mix. 

  4. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes. 

Assembling the Cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

  2. Flour the mold. take a piece of dough and flatten it into a pancake. Form the dough around the date ball and press into the floured mold. Then lightly shake the cookie from the mold.

  3. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

Recipe copyright The Foreign Fork. For personal or educational use only. 

Machboos from Bahrain and How to Joint a Chicken

Machboos Vertical

Machboos is a chicken and rice dish from Bahrain. Its signature flavor is made by combining Baharat seasoning, tomatoes, and loomi (dried lemons/limes) with the rice!

A New Culinary Adventure

The culinary adventure of the day— Machboos (Chicken and Rice) from Bahrain— has called for an entire chicken. EEEKKK!!!!

So I spent my day today learning how to successfully cut the limbs off of a chicken at the joints. TBH, not how I thought I’d be spending my Thursday night. But, ya know… you learn something new every day.

Machboos with Chicken Breast

How to Joint a Chicken

To joint a chicken, first make sure that your knife is as sharp as possible. We learned this the hard way, when our butcher’s knife couldn’t even cut through the skin on the chicken. This step is very important.

Jointing a Chicken: The Thighs

Start jointing the chicken at the legs. First, use your knife to cut a slit in the skin above the thigh joint. Turn the chicken on its side and pop the leg back so that the thigh joint pops out of the thigh socket. Use your knife to cut through the skin around the popped socket and remove the thigh from the body. You should not be cutting through any bone. Repeat on the other side.

Machboos with Drumstick

Jointing a chicken: The Legs

If the feet/ankles are attached to the legs, cut them off. To remove the thighs from the legs, look at the underside of the chicken leg. There should be a white diagonal line indicating the location of the joint between the leg and the thigh. Cut along this white line to separate the pieces.

Jointing a Chicken: The Breasts

Moving back to the body of the chicken, you will see a vertical line that runs down the center of the body between the two breasts. Use your knife to slice down this line to remove the meat from the bone. Do not cut through the bone. Once you are able to see the wishbone, use some pressure from your knife to break the wishbone in half. Continue running your knife in strokes to take the meat away from the ribs until the entire breast and wing comes away from the body.

Jointing a Chicken: The Wings

To remove the wing from the breast, flip the breast over. Move the wing until you can see the joint where it attaches to the breast, and then cut around this joint.

And there you have it! You have a fully jointed chicken, prepped, ready, and just BEGGING to be used in this Machboos recipe.

For a video on how to joint your chicken, watch this incredibly helpful Youtube video that taught me everything I know!

Using the Chicken in Your Machboos Recipe

This rice recipe is phenomenal, and has such a delicious flavor! We accidentally cooked ours for a few minutes too long, so the rice ended up a bit mushy. It’s better to check the rice too soon and cook more if need be than it is to overcook the rice from the get-go.

Loomi and Its Substitution Options

We used an ingredient in this recipe that I had never used before… dried limes or loomi! You can find these at any Middle Eastern or Indian food market. If, however, you’re not keen on going shopping for some dried, brown limes, you can always substitute the zest of ½ lemon instead.

Please leave any more questions or thoughts about this recipe in the comments! If you make this dish, tag me in a photo of it on Facebook or Instagram at @theforeignfork. You can also use the hashtag #theforeignfork. For more great rice recipes, check out this Muhammar,  a sweet rice from Bahrain or this Armenian Rice with Vermicelli!

Machboos (Bahrain)

Machboos is a chicken and rice dish from Bahrain. Its signature flavor is made by combining Baharat seasoning, tomatoes, and loomi (dried lemons/limes) with the rice!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Bahrain
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 5 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 large onions chopped
  • 1 tbsp Baharat seasoning
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 chicken, jointed
  • 1 can drained and chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 full loomi
  • 2 pieces cinnamon bark
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onions for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Stir in the Baharat seasoning and turmeric and cook for 2 more minutes.

  2. Cut about 6 slits into the side of each loomi with a knife. Add the chicken pieces and cook until browned slightly. Add the tomatoes, cardamom, cloves, loomi, cinnamon, and salt and stir well. 

  3. Pour in 2.5 cups water and cover. Simmer gently for 45 minutes.

  4. Wash the rice until the water runs clear. Add into the stew, add the herbs, and bring back to a simmer. Cook on low for about 30-35 minutes. Stir gently once or twice. 

  5. After 30 minutes, check the rice. Cook longer if necessary. 

  6. When done, remove the mixture from the heat and leave to sit for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice mixture with a fork. Enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook by Tess Mallos. 

Muhammar: Sweet Rice from Bahrain

Up close of Muhammar

Muhammar is a popular Bahraini dish made with sugar, honey, rose water, and cardamom. It is very sweet and pairs well as a side with fish or can even be enjoyed eaten alone.

Who knew that rice could taste so much like dessert!? This rice from Bahrain has me lickin’ my lips because holy moly, it’s delicious.

The best part about this rice is how quick and easy it is! About a half an hour total of prep/cook time and you have a delicious and incredibly unique Bahraini dish on your hands. Up until this point, most of the flavors in the dish (rose water, cardamom, etc) have been used to flavor many of the desserts on this blog. Adding these spices to a side dish for dinner was an interesting twist.

Vertical Muhammar with Rose

Experimenting with Saffron

Saffron has officially made its first appearance on The Foreign Fork blog! And it hurt my heart a little bit. Saffron is beautiful and flavorful and absolutely delicious. But would you believe that I paid $20 for a teeny, tiny little jar of it?! The struggles of cooking a meal from every country in the world– my spice cabinet has cost me an outrageous amount of money.

Still, though, if you can afford to splurge and you’re feelin’ fancy, put this jar of saffron in your cart. Now that it’s in my kitchen, I’ve had such fun experimenting with what other dishes can benefit from a good pinch of saffron (stay tuned for my Shandesh from Bangladesh… Saffron is a star!)

Muhammar with rose petals

Variations of Muhammar

For other variations of this Muhammar, you can substitute either all brown sugar or all honey (instead of ¼ cup of each). You can use butter instead of ghee. You can also feel free to add other spices and flavorings to the rice dish like molasses or cloves.

If you liked this rice dish, try out some of my other favorite rice dishes like Pigeon Peas and Rice from The Bahamas or Rice with Vermicelli from Armenia! If you make this recipe, leave a comment on this post telling me how it went! And, as always, share a photo on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #TheForeignFork and tag @TheForeignFork!

Muhammar (Bahrain)

Muhammar is a popular Bahraini dish made with sugar, honey, rose water, and cardamom. It is very sweet and pairs well as a side with fish or can even be enjoyed eaten alone.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Bahrain
Keyword rice
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Basmati Rice washed
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 + 1/4 cup ghee
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp saffron
  • 2 Tbsp rose water
  • 1 Tbsp salt

Instructions

  1. Mix saffron into rose water

  2. Boil 6 cups of water on the stove in a large saucepan. Once boiling, add rice. Mix well, then cook for about 8 minutes, uncovered. Rice should only be about half cooked. Drain. 

  3. Heat 1/3 cup of ghee in the saucepan. Add rice.

  4. Pour sugar, honey, cardamom, saffron, and rose water over the rice and mix. 

  5. Use the handle end of a wooden spoon to put three holes in the rice mixture. Coat paper towels in water  and lay around the rim of the pot. Once the lid is on, this will create steam to help cook the rice. 

  6. Cover and cook the rice on a very low heat for 10-15 minutes. Do not stir. 

  7. Transfer to serving platter and pour 1/4 cup of melted ghee over the rice. Pieces of the rice should be crunchy! Enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

Recipe copyright The Foreign Fork. For educational or personal use only. 

Baba Ganoush from Bahrain (Cooking with Eggplants)

Baba Ganoush with bread

Baba Ganoush is a dish made by pureeing eggplant with herbs and spices to create a unique dip or spread. Similar to hummus, baba ganoush is delicious on sandwiches, eggs, or with vegetables.

How to Keep Eggplants from Being Bitter

Eggplants are fickle creatures; they’re not easy to work with. It’s the skin of the eggplant that makes cooking the vegetable so difficult. If the skin isn’t cooked correctly or removed, the eggplant can taste bitter.

There are a few ways that you can avoid this bitter-skinned scenario. First, slice or cube the eggplant and then salt it. As the salt rests for about a half an hour, osmosis draws the water from the eggplant, taking the bitterness along with it. Another option to stave off bitterness is to simply remove the skins altogether.

The latter is the route that I chose for my baba ganoush. The eggplants roast for long enough to tenderize the interior flesh of the vegetable, but not so long that the skin cannot be removed easily. By removing the skin from the eggplants after roasting, only the sweet part of the vegetable remains to make your delicious baba ganoush.

Baba Ganoush with olive oil pour

Baba Ganoush vs Moutabble

Creating a recipe for this dish was difficult, mostly because every recipe that I came across for “baba ganoush” really wasn’t a recipe for baba ganoush at all. They were recipes for moutabble .

Moutabble is very similar to baba ganoush in terms of ingredients, but there is one large difference– tahini. In recipes for moutabble, eggplant mixes with tahini to make a paste. Baba ganoush does not contain tahini. Instead, the eggplant mixes with other vegetables like onions or tomatoes if the chef so chooses. The words are often used interchangeably, but the two dishes are technically distinct from one another. Our baba ganoush recipe lacks tahini, making it traditional. Stay tuned for a moutabble recipe coming soon! It’s now on my list of recipes to try.

Overhead of baba ganoush

Variations

This recipe is fairly customizable to your tastes. If you want more onions, add more onions. If you want tomatoes, add tomatoes (though be careful, because too many tomatoes will make the baba ganoush soupy). If you want to experiment with spices, this is a great dish to try.

I will tell you, though, I’m a fan of the ingredients and spices in this recipe. Try it and let me know what you think!  

Did you like this Bahraini dip? If you made it, leave a comment on this post telling me how it tasted! Feel free to post a photo and tag @theforeignfork or hashtag @theforeignfork. If you liked this, you may also like some of my other favorite appetizers/sides like this Pa amb Tomaquet from Andorra or this Mangal Salad from Azerbaijan.

5 from 1 vote
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Baba Ganoush (Bahrain)

Baba Ganoush is a dish made by pureeing eggplant with herbs and spices to create a unique dip or spread. Similar to hummus, baba ganoush is delicious on sandwiches, eggs, or with vegetables. 

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Bahrain
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants roasted
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp parsley chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil plus more for serving
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp Paprika

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roast eggplants for about 45-50 minutes or until the skin begins to wrinkle and turn black but is not burning. 

  2. Remove eggplants from oven and allow to cool. Peel the skin away from the eggplant. 

  3. Chop the eggplant and put in a blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend until combined, adding more seasonings to taste.

  4. Pour baba ganoush into a serving bowl and drizzle generously with olive oil. 

  5. Serve as a dip or a spread with vegetables, sandwiches, etc. Enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

Recipe copyright The Foreign Fork. For personal or educational use only.