Just because we're all home-bound these days, doesn't mean we can't enjoy the finer things in life – and sometimes that happens to be good ol' fashioned home cooking. So, if you're looking to save a bit when it comes to spending on food, we've got the trick for you. Four food bloggers from the UAE have shared recipes that are simple, delicious and economical to prepare. Here are four recipes that can feed a family of four for less than Dh35.
Pasta al pomodoro by Fathima Mansoor
The South African mum of three, and food blogger behind @tableforfivedubai, is always whipping up delicious, healthy and effortless meals for her family. Here's a tomato sauce pasta recipe she loves for its simplicity. Not only can it be made using ingredients regularly found in cupboards, you can also add meat or vegetables of your choice.
1 400g box of spaghetti or tagliatelle (500g Panzani tagliatelle costs Dh15 at Carrefour)
4 tbsp or a generous amount of olive oil
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced (30 fils)
1-2 cloves garlic (30 fils)
1 400g can of chopped tomatoes (Dh5)
Salt, to taste
A pinch of sugar
Fresh basil (Dh2)
Black pepper, crushed
Parmesan cheese (optional) (Dh10 for 200grams, so Dh2 for sprinkling)
Total cost: Dh24.6
Boil the pasta. Strain and set aside.
In a pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and saute. Leave on low heat. Once it has softened, add the garlic and the can of tomatoes. Add salt and sugar and leave it to cook on medium heat till the tomatoes are cooked and a nice thick glossy sauce has formed. Add in some fresh basil and adjust seasoning as desired.
Add the pasta to the sauce. Serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese.
Cheesy, juicy bean burgers by Lavina Israni
Dubai food and travel blogger Lavina Israni, who writes at www.lavinaisrani.com, has spent a considerable amount of the isolation period whipping up healthy, tasty meals. Here she shares a fun recipe idea to bring back family burger nights.
For the patty:
400g red kidney beans, dried (Dh6)
½ cup onion, chopped (50 fils)
4 garlic cloves, chopped (30 fils)
½ cup feta cheese (200g of feta cheese goes for Dh5.8)
2 tbsp white vinegar (Dh1.6)
1 sprig coriander leaves (Dh1)
1 sprig mint leaves (Dh1)
Spice mix, to taste (salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, oregano)
4 pcs Mini Babybel original cheese (Dh6.4)
2 Eggs (Dh1.5)
Home-made bread crumbs (1 slice of toasted bread, blitzed into crumbs. Can use remaining burger buns for this purpose)
Oil for shallow frying
For the assembly:
4 burger buns (Dh2.75 for 6 plain burger buns)
1 bunch of locally produced arugula (jir jir) (Dh1 on Kibsons)
Extra toppings of your choice, optional (fried onions, sliced tomatoes, pickle, avocado, etc)
Condiments of your choice, optional (ketchup, mustard, thousand island, etc)
Total cost: Dh27.85, plus the cost of condiments of your choice
For the patty, the night before making the burgers, rinse and soak the kidney beans in water overnight. The next day, rinse and dry the beans, and cook them in a pressure cooker until fully done.
Preheat oven to 180° C. Spread the kidney beans evenly on parchment paper and bake for 10-15 minutes, until slightly dried out.
Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic in oil and a pinch of salt until they turn soft and caramelised.
In a food processor, add the fried onions and garlic along with the remaining patty ingredients, except the Babyel cheese, eggs and the breadcrumbs. Form a homogeneous mixture.
Add the beans and pulse the mixture, leaving some chunks of beans for texture. At this point, taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning according to your preference.
Divide the patty mixture into four equal parts. Build each patty around a Babybel piece. To ensure no cheese leaks out whilst frying, seal the Babybel with the patty mixture until its entirely hidden.
In a bowl, add the eggs and whisk lightly with a fork. Dip each patty to the egg mixture, followed by breadcrumbs.
Heat oil in a frying pan. Shallow fry the patties until they turn golden brown.
To assemble the burgers, slice each bun open. If you like a crisp burger base, butter the buns and lightly toast on a pan.
Slather condiments of your choice on each burger base. Add arugula leaves.
Place the bean patty on top of the arugula. You can add any of your favourite burger toppings such as fried onions, tomato slices, pickles, etc.
Serve the burgers while they’re hot. The molten cheese will ooze out as you eat.
Daal chaawal and kachoomar salad (lentil curry and rice with a tomato and cucumber salad) by Haiya Tariq
The blogger and content creator behind www.passmethedimsum is known for her love of tea and quality ingredients. Here's her recipe for a simple daal (lentil curry) with rice, served with a side salad – a complete, nourishing meal.
For the daal:
1.5 cups black masoor daal (400g for Dh4.5)
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp red chilli powder (50g for Dh2.3)
1 tsp turmeric powder (100g for Dh1.9)
1 tsp garlic paste (60 fils)
1 tsp ginger paste (60 fils)
To temper the daal:
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 tsp cumin, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds each (100g of whole garam masala costs Dh6)
5-6 dried whole red chilies (Dh1.25)
1 small onion, thinly sliced (50 fils)
For the rice:
4 cups of white basmati rice (Dh11.10 for a 1kg packet of Daawat basmati rice)
1-2 tsp salt
For the salad:
1 medium sized tomato (90 fils)
3 cucumbers (Dh2.25)
1 medium sized onion (50 fils)
Juice of 1 lime (60 fils)
Total cost: Dh34.1
Rinse and soak the daal in room temperature water for an hour. Drain, add all the daal ingredients into a large saucepan, cover with enough water and let it simmer for 2-3 hours until fully cooked. Mash some of the daal with the back of a wooden spoon to soften. Alternatively, this can also be cooked faster in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot.
To temper the daal, in a small frying pan, fry the sliced onion in the oil until translucent, then add in the rest of the spices. Once the onions are golden-brown, dump this mixture straight onto the daal. Scoop some daal into this frying pan, to soak up all the goodness and then pour that back in with the rest of your daal.
Rinse the rice until the water runs clear and cook as per packet instructions, depending on whether you're using a pressure cooker, normal saucepan of Instant Pot.
For the salad, finely chop the cucumber, tomato and onion and squeeze lime on it. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, spoon some rice, some daal, some salad and a tsp of pickle onto each plate (optional).
Mujadara (Middle Eastern lentil and rice) by Zahra Abdalla
Mujadara is a Levant recipe made with either Calrose or basmati rice, and lentils topped with crispy onions. This hearty bowl can be made with ingredients found in most basic Middle Eastern pantries, which is what makes it perfect for those days that you are out of ideas on what to cook and don't have to time to visit the supermarket, says Zahra Abdalla, author of cookbook Cooking with Zahra. She also recommends serving it with a tomato and onion salad and a bowl of yoghurt on the side.
11⁄2 cups Calrose rice (or Basmati / long grain rice) (1kg for Dh11.10)
11⁄2 cups green lentils (200g for Dh3)
2 medium onions, cubed (Dh1)
1 cinnamon stick (100g for Dh3.5 from Carrefour)
3 teaspoons plus a pinch of salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the garnishing:
2 medium onions, thinly sliced (Dh1)
Vegetable oil (for frying)
Olive oil (for drizzling)
For the tomato salad:
2 tomatoes, cut into cubes (Dh1.8)
1 small onion, finely sliced (50 fils)
1⁄2 lemon (30 fils)
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Total cost: Dh22.2
Soak the rice for at least 30 minutes, then rinse, drain and keep aside.
In a small pot, add the lentils and three cups of room temperature water; cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, until the lentils are parboiled. Remove from the heat, drain and keep aside.
In medium-sized pot, add the onions, cinnamon stick, a pinch of salt and a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil; saute the mixture on medium heat until the onions are golden-brown in colour. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes. Add 1 1⁄2 cups boiling water, the parboiled lentils, pepper and 3 teaspoons of salt, and mix. Leave to boil on high heat for a few minutes, then cover the pot and leave to simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes.
To prepare the garnish, heat the oil in a small saucepan on medium to high heat. Fry the onions in small batches until they are golden-brown. Transfer the onions on to a plate lined with paper towels and keep aside.
Garnish the mujadara with the fried onions and drizzle some olive oil on top.
To prepare the salad, in a small bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, onion, lemon juice and olive oil; mix and season with salt and pepper.
Serve the mujadara with the side salad, and yoghurt.