Aladdin and Jasmine, lime and mint, Arafat and the Khuffiah are just a few examples of perfect marriages to come out of the Middle East, but none more perfect that nigella seeds and white cheese. This is such a perfect combination that I like to serve it for as many people as possible, especially as most people here in the UK haven’t experienced this perfect union.
The ‘Hab’ in this recipe is Habbat Al Abarrakah which translates ad the ‘Seed of Blessing’. In Palestine, this seed is thought to have may healing qualities and I can still remember as a child rubbing the oil form the seed into my mother’s back to help a sore heel. In English these are Nigella seeds. I find mine online.
After greenbelt a lady came up to me desperate to know how to make the little cheese and black seed pasties that she had eaten while she was volunteering in Palestine. These parties are readily available in all bakeries and most cafes. My favourite memory of these is in Jericho where the YWCA runs a Community Kitchen to support income generation for women from Aqbet Jaber Refugee camp. These women are so perfectly skilled and make the most wonderful pastries all fluffy white bread and fresh flavoursome ingredients. I would always buy a lot from them and even order my catering from them for meetings and events I was hosting in Palestine.
While I have referred to them as pastries, they are actually made from bread, not made from pastry.
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon yeast
1-2 cups warm water
Extra virgin olive oil
½ block of halloumi, finely grated
8-10 black olives sliced
1 tablespoon nigella seeds
making the dough
- In a mixing bowl add the dry ingredients for the bread and mix
- Add the water slowly as you bring together and knead into a smooth dough
- Pat the ball of dough with extra virgin olive oil and cover to prove in a warm corner
- Leave to rise for 45 mins
assembling the pastry
- Preheat the oven to 250c
- roughly divide the dough into 8-10 pieces depending on how big you would like each one
- on an oiled surface, use a rolling pin to roll each dough piece into a circle a few mm thick
- add the grated halloumi to the centre and then fold both sides in and fold back out the edges to make an eye shape
- squeeze the creases together at either side and push in slightly to make plump
- add some black olive slices on top of the cheese and dap the nigella seeds onto the pastry folds
- lay onto a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 5-6 minutes.
- Eat warm with chopped cucumber, tomatoes and sweet mint tea.