Makhlouta/Makhluta translated to mixed in Lebanese Arabic, so in its simplest meaning, Makhlouta is a soup or a bean casserole of sorts, of mixed beans and grains. Traditionally made in the mountains in the winter, it is easy to make, versatile and in most ways fuss free. It is also cooked and consumed in Lent when devouts abstain from meat.Another tiny trivia that gleamed when I dug up a little bit on this soup was that, it is also prepared at the end of the winters, to use up the tiny portions of beans leftover to prevent them from spoiling as the weather get warmer and before the new harvest comes in. In any way, when I stumbled upon the recipe, it sounded so hearty and satisfying, I knew I was going to make it for my soup nights. It is typically a mix of 5-7 beans and grains and everyone uses whatever is available in the pantry.
Lemon coriander soup is an extremely light and fragrant oriental soup. And since we have started doing Soup Nights once in a week, that is, have just soups for dinner that night, I am always looking for various soup recipes. And when I found this one, I was attracted to it like a moth. The only problem was it wasn’t very hearty. Perfect as an appetiser, but since we are having it as meal, I just decided to throw in a few vegetables to make it more fulfilling.
There is a faint nip in the air in the early mornings here in Bangalore. The skies are back in their white and azure dress code. And the markets are beginning to see the presence of some good quality vegetables after the seasonal monsoon slump. The tomatoes have gotten very cheap. Its probably a good time to start researching for new recipes and soups, me thinks! 🙂 And on the same note, tonight I made the lovely carrot and tomatoes soup. When this was getting cooked my kitchen was filled with the aroma of basil and garlic, one of my favorite aromas! I am not going to go into a preachy mode and give a sermon on nutritional benefits of carrots, but I would say this, it’s a good, tasty way to include more carrots in your diet!
Some things from your childhood are deeply imbibed in your psyche. Particularly the ones that leave behind a nasty aftertaste. I mean, literally. I was among those scores of kids how hated, absolutely hated spinach. I dreaded dinner times when I knew it was going to be palak paneer on the menu. I never really overcame that. Then, my loving mom helped me a bit, making a lovely biryani from spinach puree which helped me overcome my aversion spinach. That was it, me and my relationship with spinach, till I started cooking on my own. Still scarred, I never really ventured out of my comfort zone of spinach and rice, till, as a young wife, I started managing my own kitchen and pantry. You know, the initial years, when you are too enthusiastic to cook healthy and tasty, both at the same time. After a lot of trials and tribulations, some success and many failures, a lot of crying and lot of soothing by your husband dearest, a lot of tantrums and few gained pounds later, there comes a stage when you get desperate. Utter desperate to try something other that the tiny spectrum of vegetables the two of you like. Peeking out of my comfort zone, the first thing that I tried was a curry with spinach, sweet corn kernels and onions. It was amazzzz…ing, to say the least. Now, I am a bit enthusiastic, not totally cured of the phobia, but more open to err.. spinach, I would say. 🙂
So here is to my newly acquired openness!
- 1 cup chopped spinach (palak)
- 100 gms sliced baby corn
- 1 1/2 tbsp cornflour (optional)
- 1 1/2 tsp olive oil or butter
- 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
- 4 cups approx. basic vegetable stock
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Dissolve the cornflour, if using, in ½ cup of basic vegetable stock and keep aside. Otherwise, regale in laziness, like I did! 😉
- Heat the oil in a deep non-stick pan, add the garlic and sauté on a medium flame for 1 minute. Let the fragrance spread! If you are attracted to beautiful looking soups, reserve some of the browned garlic for garnishing.
- Add the baby corn and spinach and sauté on a medium flame for 2 minutes. Don’t move away from the stove, unless you want a brown soup and not green!
- Allow it to cool completely and then blend it in a mixer to a smooth purée. Or be ready to have all your kitchen walls splattered with the green slurry!
- Transfer the purée back to the pan and add the salt and pepper. Mix well and bring to a boil, while stirring occasionally. Let the plot, ermm…, the soup thicken!
- Add the stock and the cornflour-stock mixture if using, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 3 to 4 minutes, while stirring continuously. Too much of stirring, I know!
- Serve hot, garnished with the toasted garlic! Enjoy!