Amina Elshafei won her place on Masterchef Australia 2012 from 7,500 applicants and she shot to fame as one of the top twelve finalists. During the competition Amina drew very heavily on her unique Egyptian and Korean heritage, creating dishes influenced through those cooked at home by both of her parents and her grandmother. Her book, Amina’s Home Cooking, again draws on these influences, creating achievable recipes that you can create at home.
Very usefully, the book begins with a list of staples for a Middle Eastern kitchen, explaining each of the ingredients that may be unfamiliar. This is followed by the same for a Korean Kitchen and then the chapter headings: Starters, Vegetables, Legumes and Grains, Seafood, Poultry, Meat and Desserts, each of these include both Korean and Middle eastern dishes.
I delved straight in and cooked the middle eastern dish of quails stuffed with couscous. The recipe was easy to follow, all the ingredients and spices readily available at my smaller local supermarket. Although some of the ingredients for the Korean dishes may have to be ordered on line if you live outside a big city. The results were delicious, juicy and fully of spicy flavours I hadn’t used before. I’ve since used the couscous in a different dish and the spice mix in yet another. The Middle Eastern Baked Eggs, Amina has agreed I can share with you, is a wonderful recipe. Rich with cumin, paprika, garlic and sumac, this dish of haloumi, eggs, chickpeas and tomato is perfect for breakfast or brunch.
This is a cookbook, with wonderful photographs by Luisa Brimble, that makes you dig in and explore flavours and dishes that are a new experience.
Get to know Amina a little better and discover her favourite three course meals from her book, Amina’s Home Cooking in this Q and A.
- 200g Sujuk, cut into 1cm thick slices on a diagonal
- ½ Onion finely chopped
- 1 Clove garlic finely chopped
- 300g Canned chickpeas, rinsed twice and drained
- 1 x 400g Diced tomatoes
- ½ tsp Sumac
- 1 tsp Ground cumin
- 1 tsp Sweet paprika
- 12 Pitted black olives, halved
- 100g haloumi, cut into 2cm cubes
- 1 Small bunch spinach, roughly chopped
- 6 Eggs
- Roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
- Crusty bread or flatbread and lemon cheeks to serve
- Place a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat and fry the Sujuk for 3 minutes to allow the fat to render. Using a metal spoon, remove the rendered fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pan. Add the onion and garlic and fry for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the chickpeas, tomato, sumac, cumin and paprika and season with salt to taste. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the sauce starts to bubble, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Scatter the olives, haloumi and spinach over the top and cook until the spinach begins to wilt.
- Make six small indentations in the mixture and gently crack an egg into each one. Cover the pan with a lid or foil and cook for 3 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your liking; this dish works best if you leave the egg yolks runny.
- Garnish with parsley, then serve straight from the pan with crusty bread or flatbread and lemon cheeks alongside.
Amina’s Home Cooking is available from bookshops RRP £18.99 or online
I was sent the book to review by Lantern Books an imprint of Penguin Australia, all opinions are my own