keckek el fouqara – poor man’s cheese

Mix bulgur (cracked, cooked, dried wheat) with yogurt, ferment and dry the mixture, and you’ve got a cheesy flavourful food called “kishk”.

If you’ve not got yogurt, make non-dairy “poor man’s kishk” or “keckek el fouqara” instead. Mix some bulgur with about 1 1/2 times the volume of water, and a little salt, pack into a jar, cover, and let ferment for two or three weeks depending on room temperature. Mix and pack it down again, every day or two.

Once it becomes mushy and develops a tangy taste, mix with herbs and spices of your choice and form into balls. The flavours I chose were crushed garlic, ground red and black peppercorns, salt, cumin, fennel seed, and sage. Stack the balls in a jar, and cover with good olive oil. It is surprisingly flavoursome at this stage, and the flavour should improve over a few months of storage.

This is one of the most unusual ferments I’ve seen, in that no special protective measures are taken. A critical step in most ferments is to exclude air to avoid spoilage (in the case of sauerkraut, by submerging under brine), but in this case the bulgur is exposed to air with no harm. Kahm yeast (a thin white layer on top) formed, but this is fine to mix back in.

Inspired by Sandor Katz’ book “The Art of Fermentation”, page 243.





homemade nutella

Homemade nutella…gently oven-roast and shell hazelnuts, then lightly pan-roast raw cacao beans and remove skins, grind hazelnuts and cacao beans together in a mortar and pestle, add honey and salt to taste, and that’s it.

Photo shows hazelnuts and cacao beans in the mortar ready to grind (left), and discarded skins and shells (right).