Monday, September 26, 2016

Learning to cook "Womans' Food"

It seems that a main entree for many meals is a food called "dolma."  However, if you ask most men, they will say, "I don't like it.  It's woman's food."

I've seen men eating it, even gorging on it, but we know better than to call it anything except "woman's food."

We've had it several times.

It's been brought to our house by the neighbors, and we've had it at a couple of picnics.

It's the dish in the upper center, to the left of the meat and rice.  It is a seasoned rice (and sometimes meat) stuffed into various vegetables.

There is also white dolma and red dolma.  (You can see the difference below).  I prefer white, but that's just me.  I also prefer it stuffed in an onion skin or grape leaf.   The one thing I do not like about dolma is the large bean-type things they put in the pot with the dolma to cook.  You can see them on the tray below.

Ok, so back to this house where we stayed for 5 hours.

About 11, the ladies headed into the kitchen, and we asked if we could watch and learn to make dolma (at least I think that's what we said).

It started out simple enough.

Did I mention we cook on the floor?

The daughter in the background is making salad with white pomegranates and other wonderful things.  Later she poured a pomegranate syrup over it.  It was my favorite dish on the table!

Also, notice on the tray in front of me the insides of cucumbers.  One of the ladies let me try to scrape out the insides of a zucchini.  Let me just say it's harder than it sounds, and she had to "fix" mine after I tried.  The skin has to be pretty thin to stuff and cook properly.

The raw rice is mixed with tomato paste, parsley, a LOT of salt, a bitter/lemon salt which I don't have a translation for yet, some other spices, and oil.  Yes, that liquid you see is oil, not water!

She is scraping out the last tomatoes, and the tray is now full of all the things she will stuff with rice: grape leaves, onion skins, tomatoes, bell peppers, egg plants, and zucchini.

These are the bean-type things at the bottom that I don't like.  Of course, I may have discovered on this day that I was eating them wrong.

I was just "eating" them before, but on this day, I saw the ladies put one bean in their mouth and eat the inside of the bean and take the skin of the bean out of their mouth (kind of like you would eat a sunflower seed).

Maybe I'll try it one more time when given the chance.

This is the beginning of the grape leaf wraps.

Stuffed tomatoes are sitting upright in the pot, and she is stuffing one end of a zucchini and then closing the other end with another part of the vegetable like a puzzle.

I had never seen these long onions before in America.  The long shape definitely makes them easier to roll than a round onion.  You can also see the zucchini "puzzle" here.

The pot is getting full!

Finishing off all the grape leaves.

There is no more rice, so to help keep the heat in, she covered the top with the remaining grape leaves.

I didn't realize they had a couple of dishes already cooking, so I thought dolma and salad might be it.  But then the mom also brought in this very crispy, thin naan bread she had made.  It is so thin and fragile, that it breaks easily.

Not all women know how to make this, but it has a special quality.  It will last almost forever.

 When you are ready to eat it, you wet it by sprinkling a lot of water on it.  All of a sudden it is like a flour tortilla, bendable, and lunch-ready.

This lady took it outside to use the water on the porch.

Then, so it wouldn't be so damp, she covered it and put it in the sun for a bit.

I actually have some in my cabinet that I've had a while.

I don't ever wet it.

When I want something that kind of reminds me of a tortilla chip, I reach for a broken piece.

This particular naan has trouble holding salsa in big chunks, so I have to spoon a little on a little piece a little at a time.

But any way you can get salsa in your mouth is a good thing, right?

Chips and salsa are one of "this woman's" favorite foods.

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