A friend had suggested to me a few weeks ago that I write recipes about delicate Palestinian dishes. ‘Something small and quaint’ he said….The first thing that came to my mind was Qalayet Bandoura. The Literal meaning of ‘qalayet’ is a frying pan. Things do taste better when you cook and serve/eat them straight from a frying pan. I am always interested in the ‘waste not want not’ kind of dishes that are born out of necessity and need. I would imagine that people in the past would have meat when available to them at the start of the month and slowly move away from that to more frugal recipes that sort of use up what ever is left in the pantry. Usually these side vegetarian dishes came out delicious, because of their simplicity, fresh ingredients and that experienced hand that cooked them.
I was very happy when my dear friend and blogger Eman from Kitchen of Palestine agreed with me on how simple yet challenging it is to get this little dish right. All it is, is tomatoes cooked with garlic. Try and google it and you won’t find anything remotely close to what you have tasted or known of it. Eman immediately said ‘when we want to eat it, we wait till my aunt makes it for us’. And really this is it with Arabic cooking; Experience is key.
- 8 ripe firm tomatoes
- 2 garlics
- 1/4 tsp of each (cumin, sweet pepper, salt)
- pinch black pepper
- I sliced green pepper
- tsp oil for frying and plus 1/3 cup added at end when serving.
- Eman emphasized that choosing the tomatoes was important. They had to be red, ripe but not filled with liquid.
- A small spoon of oil is added to the frying pan. Tomatoes needed to be cut in half and with a knife small indentations added to them. Place on the cut side down and with every tomato to add a little sliver of a sliced garlic. Add salt, sweet pepper, cumin, pinch black pepper and a sliced long green pepper.
- Cook on medium to low heat. Eman’s aunt charmingly added that she waits until she smells a slight burn and that’s when she instinctively knows it is done. We had a little giggle about that and decided that THAT can amount to ten or fifteen minutes of cooking time. Once everything is softened, remove the tomato skin off.
- Olive oil is added at the end of the cooking according to taste.
- P.S I f I were to make it again, I would take on Eman's father's suggestion of roasting the tomatoes in the oven to give them extra depth in grilled flavor. I would also leave the tomatoes to cook uncovered to reduce the liquid.