Remember when I got to the letter O and the only country was Oman? Well here we are again at Q and the only country that starts with Q is Qatar. So we’re back in the Middle East and the same problems present themselves. To review those problems are that most Middle Eastern dishes uses ingredients that I’m allergic too and that the food, while delicious, tends to not be very country specific. Still, Qatar is what I had to work with so Qatari food it is.
As much as I love lamb and rice and Middle Eastern spices I just couldn’t bear making yet another dish in that vein so I was excited when I stumbled on some recipes for Balaleet, a Middle Eastern breakfast treat. Throughout this project I’ve done main courses, desserts and sides so doing a breakfast dish seemed like great fun.
Balaleet is a mix of sweet and savory and is often served for special occasions in Qatar. Had I planned better (and by planned better I mean cleaned my apartment) I would’ve invited a friend or two over for brunch. Unfortunately,
my apartment looked like the seventh circle of hell I wasn’t prepared so I scaled this recipe back to serve one, but it would be extremely easy to multiply it for a bigger brunch.
I took two liberty’s with this recipe. Instead of buying vermicelli or angel hair I used Barilla cut spaghetti, but that was really because I had forgotten to buy angel hair at the supermarket so I ran to the bodega on my corner and grabbed the cut spaghetti. This recipe can also be made with rice vermicelli for those who are gluten free.
The other change I made was to use orange juice rather than orange flower water or rose water which all traditional recipes call for. While I try to keep these recipes authentic, it would’ve been a waste to buy orange or rose water that I’d likely never use again.
1/2 cup Vermicelli; broken in to about 1 inch pieces (or use cut spaghetti)
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
Large pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup orange juice
1 egg omelette
Boil Vermicelli about 2 minutes less than package directs. Drain then toss in to a mixing boil.
Immediately toss in sugar, cinnamon, ginger and mix well. The heat of the pasta will dissolve the sugar.
In a small non stick frying pan melt butter over medium high heat. Stir in orange juice.
Pour in noodle mixture and spread to flatten. Cover and turn heat down to medium low. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the liquid has absorbed and the bottom has crisped.
Set aside noodle cake and wipe out the frying pan. Make a one egg omelette. Cut the omelette into a few large pieces and serve on top of the noodle cake.
FINAL VERDICT: B-
This dish was definitely interesting and I don’t mean that in a, “Well he’s err got a great personality” kind of way. I mean it in more of a, “Ya know we had a nice time; good conversation; I’m just not sure there was spark,” kind of way.
I went light on the sugar, though most recipes call for far more, because I thought the sugar in the orange juice would add a ton of sweetness, but surprisingly it didn’t. It was actually not very sweet at all definitely should’ve added another Tablespoon of sugar.
I did like the play of textures with the crispy noodles and fluffy egg though. I would definitely try this recipe again, especially for a brunch with other people!