Arab Winter Eats: From Lebanese Kibbeh To Egyptian Béchamel, Dive Into Sweet Potato Magic

Purple in color and appearing in odd shapes and sizes, the sweet potato may not be the best looking vegetable out there but you can be sure that there is a natural draw and love towards the potato contender. It ticks all the boxes, it’s healthy as it’s packed with antioxidants and vitamins, it’s tasty as it has that addictive sweet flavor and it is filling because of its starchy consistency. What also makes it special is how incredibly versatile it is when it comes to recipes. All across the region, families make use of the vegetable to whip up unique and delicious sweet potato dishes, many of which are perfect for the winter season. Here are some of our favorite regional winter dishes for you to try:

Lebanese Sweet Potato Kibbeh

Considered the national dish of both Syria and Lebanon are these small croquet like balls are made by pounding together minced lamb, bulger wheat and a unique blend of spices. Then the formed kibbeh balls are fried to perfection. Adding a fun twist to the dish is Lebanese chef Iman’s sweet potato version where the kibbeh is made almost the same way as the meat version with the only difference being using sweet potatoes instead of the minced lamb.

For this recipe, the steps are simple, you start by boiling the peeled and cut sweet potatoes and then mash them with a potato masher. Then blend together the spice blend as well as the bulger and some onion in a blender. Then combine the bulger and spices with the sweet potatoes and knead them into shape. The final step is to bake the sweet potato kibbeh in the oven for an hour. For the full recipe, you can head to Iman’s Simply Leb page where she offers some other cool Lebanese recipes.

Moroccan Spiced Sweet Potatoes

What makes sweet potatoes special is how they act like a blank canvas meaning that you can play around with their flavor and texture in innumerable ways. One fun way to bring out bold flavors from your sweet potatoes is to coat diced sweet potatoes in a heady blend of Moroccan spices. The spices include cumin, ground turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, paprika and salt. These are staple spices that are present in most Moroccan including stews and tagines.

Once you’ve coated the diced sweet potatoes in this special blend, spread them out on a baking dish then roast them for 15 minutes in the oven. Take them out and stir them then return them to the oven for another 15 minutes. Once done, you’ll be left with crispy cubes of potatoes packed with flavor. At budget bytes, you can find the full recipe which you can make during your next gathering.

Egyptian Sweet Potato With Béchamel

Across Egypt, there is a known love for covering any ingredient with the sauce of all sauces, the silky white creamy béchamel. There’s the very popular Egyptian macarona béchamel (penne pasta baked in béchamel sauce) as well as zucchini béchamel. Joining these dishes is one where the sweet potato is the star. Known as sweet potato béchamel, a fan favorite dish among Egyptians that can be eaten as a snack or as a meal in itself.

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To make the special dish, the sweet potatoes need to be boiled and softened so that you can mash them into a soft paste-like consistency. At the same time, you’ll need to prepare the béchamel which involves cooking butter and flour on a pan, adding milk and constantly mixing the mixture followed by adding sugar, vanilla and egg yolk until it becomes creamy. The final step is the most fun as you begin layering the dish by first spreading the sweet potato paste at the bottom of your baking pan then pouring the béchamel on top. Bake it in the oven till it forms that beautiful golden outer layer. To know the exact measurements and steps, check out chef Fatima’s recipe.

Arab Sweet Potato Hummus 3-Ways

Loved across the region and even across the globe, the chickpea dip known as hummus has been dominating the food world. In the region, it is hard to pinpoint its origin, with countries like Egypt and Lebanon fighting over ownership of its invention. Abroad, it is beloved to a very large extent. When you travel abroad and head to the supermarket, you will be surprised to find shelves packed with different flavors of hummus whether with beetroot or roasted red pepper. There is even pizza hummus and Pina colada hummus. Knowing its appeal, there is another great way to enjoy the dip this winter, by combing it with sweet potato.

It is very easy recipe as you’ll merely boil and mash the sweet potatoes into a soft paste and combine it with the actual hummus. This recipe can be enjoyed in three ways, either with a topping of coriander and honey roasted cashews or with pomegranate molasses and pistachios or with fire roasted capsicum, feta and smoked paprika. To learn how to make the three versions of hummus, check out Now To Love‘s page.

Egyptian Dukkah Beetroot & Kumara Skewers

Picture this, a healthy take on a classic skewered meat kebab, that is exactly what you will get if you make Egyptian sukkah beetroot and kumara skewers. These Arab vegetarian skewers celebrate the nourishing benefits of both sweet potato and beetroot. The simplicity of such a recipe coupled with how healthy it is makes it a fun go-to quick dinner option.

The dish is so simple, it doesn’t require a full fledged recipe. All you will need to do is dice the sweet potatoes and beetroot into cubes. Then top the vegetables with a special Egyptian blend known as dukkah that is made from herbs, spices and nuts. The final step is to grill them for that charred irresistible flavor.

Syrian Meatballs & Sweet Potato

Packed with earthy and rich flavors, meatballs are the perfect accompaniment to rice, pasta as well as potatoes. To indulge in the warmth of this adored dish, we have a special Syrian rendition the involves the addition of sweet potato. To make this dish, make the meatballs by mixing together onion, ground beef, egg, salt, cinnamon, allspice and cumin. Form them into marble sized meatballs then bake them for 7 minutes to come out brown in color. For the complete recipe, head to the Wanderlust Kitchen official page.

Knowing that this is the best time to have sweet potatoes with them being in season, you can go for any of these recipes knowing that you will be enjoying the rich flavor profile of the vegetable coupled with the many health benefits that it offers.

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