Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spiced Fish

Other than canned tuna, we endured an approximately 16 year period of fish-less fare, the main exception being grilled salmon when we visited the States every other summer. It's not that we didn't like fish; in the days of meager imports, the Jordanian market just did not offer economical, easy to obtain, easy to prepare fish options. Thankfully, the times have changed and now we are enjoying a meal of white fish fillets (only a humongous scientific name on the package, which none of us can pronounce) about once a week. Indeed, fish is now less expensive than chicken or beef in the Jordanian market!

Below is my favorite fish recipe. It's not my quickest, easiest fish recipe to prepare--I hope to share a couple of those recipes later--but I think it is the most delicious. And, it makes a beautifully colorful company dish as well. I've tweaked my recipe from

Women's Weekly Middle Eastern Cooking School Class

to make a company size portion so you can halve it for a smaller family or enjoy the leftovers for lunch. I serve it with quinoa (when I have it) but it can also be served with couscous or rice.

Spiced Fish with Chickpeas

2 kilos or 4 to 4 1/2 lbs white fish fillets
7 tsp. ground turmeric
7 tsp. ground cumin
5 tsp. ground cardamon
3 tsp. sea salt
canola oil
About 3-4 cups vegetable stock
3 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 sliced red and green bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro/coriander leaves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1. Combine the spices and salt in a dish and coat the fish with the mixture.

2. Heat some oil in a large pan--rather than a skillet, I use my large teflon-coated cooking pot. I begin with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup oil(a lot less than I thought I'd need to fry fish) but have to add a bit more as I continue to fry the fish. Add the fish, cooking until browned on both sides and tender.

3. Remove fish from the pan and keep warm--I put it in a baking dish in a warm oven.

4. Discard any leftover oil and wipe out pan.

5. Add stock, chickpeas, peppers, coriander, and lemon juice to the pan, simmer, covered about 10 minutes or until peppers are soft.

6. Serve fish on a bed of quinoa (my pick), couscous, or rice with the chickpea mixture. Garnish with more chopped coriander leaves.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jordan Rocks

That's the name I thought of for Artist Son's latest artistic and commercial venture. He's not so sure, though. The double meaning is a little cheesy in his opinion. Jo-Rocks doesn't work for him either, so for the time being his venture will remain nameless.

Desert Monitor

Sinai Agama

Artist Son has long been combining his love of nature, wildlife, and art, and I think his latest project, painting indigenous Jordanian lizards on Jordanian rocks, is the perfect combination of these loves. In the past months he has sold a couple of his painted rocks to individuals and given a few more as gifts, and now they are available for sale in the local market.

Turkish Gecko

From the Earth, and industry business which exports products from the Middle East to the United States and Europe, also maintains a growing presence in the Jordanian market and will be carrying Artist Son's lizard rocks at their showroom.

Lebanon Lizard

Northern Fan-Footed Gecko

Artist Son is also experimenting painting Jordanian insects and scorpions on rocks. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Amman International Marathon/10K

Approximately 12,000 participants from 71 countries, unseasonably hot temperatures of about 35 degrees C--over 90 degrees F, and a race route that took runners and walkers through downtown Amman streets lined with traditional old-city dwellers and shop keepers all combined to make the first Amman International Marathon/10K Run an event rather than a race. Why, His Majesty King Abdallah even sent his regards by way of four special planes to swoop down over the start of the race, twice, in perfect formation.

Dear Husband, Active Son, Artist Son, and I ran the 10K along with a couple of friends. Tayta ran the was-supposed-t0-be-4K-but-was-really-only-about-2K Run with a couple of her friends.

In the far right of our after-the-races group picture is our new friend, Jon. We are pleased to stand with him in this picture because besides being a really great guy, he is a really great runner--the kind that runs at the front of the pack. It was a pleasure to cheer him on as he ran--fast--with the best of them. He placed sixth, or ninth, in the Men's 10K Run. Way ahead of the rest of us. We finished, though all of us with slower times than we had hoped for due to the heat. And I'm thinking the distinct intermingling wasit il-balad (city center) odors of garbage, coffee, spices, and oily asphalt had something to do with it too. My excuse only.

Good effort by the race organizers, but runners in Jordan are still waiting for a race run well, with accurate mileage markers, cups of water (instead of hard to drink from environmentally unsound plastic bottles which have to be dodged by runners because they are thrown on the ground--this was downright hazardous when the water met the oily asphalt.), and more participants who are committed to running a fair race--cheaters abounded whenever the opportunity presented itself and many remained in the race until the end. Another suggestion: have the many, many walkers begin the race after the runners; when I wasn't dodging water bottles I was weaving through groups of walkers, at least at the start of the race. And then there were the walkers who were playing soccer with the water bottles...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Jerusalem Doors, Jewish Quarter

While Christianity and Islam are both represented in Jerusalem's Old City by well known shrines and places of worship which have walls, roofs, and doors, Judaism has no such ancient edifice. Instead, Jewish (and some Christian) worshipers pray at the Western Wall or, as it is also known, The Wailing Wall.

Judaism's most sacred spot, the Western Wall is the section of the western supporting wall of the Temple Mount remaining after the destruction of the second temple in 70 A.D.