Monday, December 16, 2013

HAVE YOUR 'CARD' AND EAT IT

Edible Greetings: Giant Sesame Cookies

برازق بالسمسم

How about making greeting cards, rose-scented and thoroughly delicious?





I always had fond memories of the giant sesame cookies I used to love when I was in my homeland Iraq. After many attempts I finally got the right texture of the cookie as I remember it. Then, the idea of using them as edible ‘greeting cards’ hit me, inspired by their huge size. The kids just loved them. I would make the ‘cards’ and they do the greetings. And the recipients of these edible cards, our friends, could not be any happier. Unfortunately, they are so tempting, that there is very little chance for them to stay intact longer than the time it takes to read them. Nevertheless, enjoy!


(Makes 20 large cookies)             

½ cup butter, and ½ cup canola oil
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon each of vanilla, ground cardamom, and ground fennel seeds

4½ cups all-purpose flour
2 rounded teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

½ cup coarsely ground pistachio or walnuts
¾ cup honey, heated
¾ cup sesame seeds

For glaze (enough for 10 cookies): 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon rose water
About 4 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven 400°F

1. With a mixer, beat together butter, oil, sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla, cardamom, and aniseed, about 2 minutes.

2. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt, and add them to the creamed mix all at once. With a wooden spoon, stir them in a circular movement until well incorporated. Then knead lightly and briefly until the mixture gets together and forms into a ball.

3. Divide dough into 20 golf-ball size pieces.

4. Put nuts, honey, and sesame seeds in three small separate bowls (heating honey will make brushing it on the cookies much easier).

5. While holding a dough-ball, dip it in nuts first allowing its bottom to pick up as much nuts as possible. Then put it on a cookie sheet (no need to grease it). Flatten it with the fingers to ¼ inch thickness, shaping it into a disc about 4½ inches wide (tip: I use the hamburger ring-mold as a guide to make an evenly-shaped round). If wished, crimp edges by pinching with thumb and index finger. Brush the disc with honey, and sprinkle it generously with sesame seeds. Repeat with the rest of pieces. Leave space between them to allow for expansion. You might need 2 to 3 cookie sheets.

6. Bake the first batch in the middle of the preheated oven about 10 minutes, then take it up to the top rack, and put the second batch on the middle rack. In about 5 minutes, check on the top rack. The cookies are done when they nicely brown. Repeat with the other batches.   

7. With a thin pancake turner, carefully transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Let them cool completely.

8. To glaze the cookies, mix powdered sugar, rose water, and enough milk to form a glaze of spreading consistency. Pour it on the cookies, and set aside until set. Using melted chocolate, decorate the surface with greetings or messages or whatever you fancy. 


FRUITCAKE TOO GOOD TO RECYCLE!

كيكة الفواكه المجففة

Kekat il-Fawakih il-Mujaffafa


Delicious cake, full of goodness. Do not give it away! 
  

When I first cam to the US I was puzzled by the jokes about fruitcakes, and how they are the most recycled Christmas items, as my past experience with fruitcakes in Iraq was quite to the contrary. At Christmas time our Christian neighbors used to send us a plateful of fruitcake slices, deliciously aromatic, studded with raisins and chopped walnut and dates. Year round, simpler types of fruitcakes baked in loaf pans were always available for purchase from bakeries, or often baked at home in bundt/ring pans.

Admittedly, some of the fruitcakes I have tasted do indeed need to by recycled: no flavor, too sweet and dense, with way too much dried fruits, most of which artificially colored. It does not have to be made like this. A fruitcake with balanced texture and taste is the most wonderful cake, packed with goodness, what with all the natural fruits and nuts it contains.

After many attempt over the years, I managed to come up with this recipe, which is not cloyingly sweet, with reasonable amount of fat, and deliriously aromatic.



4¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 rounded teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons ground cardamom
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¾ cup vegetable oil (such as canola)
1 ½ cups sugar
6 large eggs (= 1 ¼ cups)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1⅓ cups milk

6 cups (2 lb+4oz) dried fruits like raisins, chopped apricots, figs, dates and prunes
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
½ cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup toasted walnut, broken to pieces
½ cup ground toasted almond
Preheat oven 375°F

1. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

2. In a big bowl, beat oil and sugar, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, about 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla.

3. Add flour mixture in 4 batches alternately with milk. Do not over mix.

4. Put the prepared dried fruits in a big bowl, and mix them with the coconut, ½ cup of the walnut and the ground almond.

5. Add the dried fruit-mix into the cake batter and mix with a large spoon.

6. Grease and flour the baking pan. For this cake, I usually use one long loaf pan 16-by-4-by-4½ inch. Two regular loaf pans will also do. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with the remaining ½ cup walnut. Spoon the batter into the pan and level the surface.

7. Bake in the preheated oven for about 70 minutes or until golden brown, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

8. Take the cake out of the oven and put the pan on a rack and let the cake cool completely in the pan. Then invert it and set it aside for a couple of hours before slicing it.

If wrapped well, this cake can stay good in the refrigerator for more than a week. It also freezes very well. I usually slice the cake into serving size pieces, wrap them individually in plastic wrap and keep them in the freezer, and use as needed.
Enjoy!
                    


For more on the history of making fruitcakes in ancient Iraq, with Sumerian recipes, go to my website iraqicookbook.com
                 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pomegranate Sherbet

Sherbet Rumman شربت رمان

&

A Song to an Unhappy Little Girl from Basra: 

Hey Ho, my Little Pomegranate! Hey Ho my Darling

'Hela Ya Rummana, Hela Yumma'

هيلا يا رمانة هيلا يمة

'Tis the season for pomegranate, so enjoy its fresh addictive succulent crunchiness while you may.


Pomegranate tree, 13th-century folio, 'Aja'ib al-Makhluqat
by al-Qazwini.
W. Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian  




A lot of praise has been heaped on pomegranate in the West of late, touting it as an almost miracle food. But in the Middle East its virtues, both nutritional and symbolic, were acknowledged from ancient times. Read here, for instance, for more.

Thrice mentioned in the Qur'an, pomegranate is believed to have been grown in the gardens of Paradise. According to the Islamic lore, when the Prophet was asked about it, he said, "There is no pomegranate which has not within it a seed of the pomegranate of Paradise."






Assyrian cylinder seal showing the Tree of Life, which appears to be a pomegranate tree. Link   
Ancient Sumerian plaque featuring a dates and pomegranates, both symbols of fecundity (Iraq Museum)  
From ancient times, people in the Middle East have been preserving pomegranate to use when not in season. The seeds were dried whole and stored. For cooking purposes, the juice is cooked down to rubb (رُبّ), called molasses or syrup in English. A recipe from 10th-century Baghdadi cookbook by Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq describes how to make it:

Choose ripe sweet-and-sour pomegranate with red seeds. Extract and strain the juice and put it in a clean soapstone pot. Boil it on slow fire until it is reduced to a third of its original amount then strain it and store it in glass jars. (my translation, Annals of the Caliphs' Kitchens, p. 490)




However, to enjoy it as a sweet refreshing drink, called sherbet in Iraq, pomegranate juice is usually preserved as a syrup, to be diluted with chilled water whenever needed.

This sherbet is not to be confused with the Western ice cream 'sherbet', although basically the latter did originate from this Middle Eastern drink (see for instance Jeri Quinzio's Of Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making, pp. 6-7). Back in medieval times, such sweet chilled drinks were served at the end of the meal as they were believed to aid digestion.






Syrup for Pomegranate Sherbet  شربت رمّان

Sherbet Rumman

In Iraqi this is how the syrup is traditionally prepared. It is usually diluted with chilled water and some ice cubes, but using plain soda would be nice, too. The syrup is not cooked down like the molasses, which helps preserve the fresh delicate taste of the pomegranate.        

2 cups pomegranate juice
3 cups granulated sugar
¼ cup lemon juice

Use a juicer to extract the juice from pomegranate seeds (discard rind and membranes before juicing, to prevent the drink from getting bitter and acrid).

Gradually stir in sugar into the juice, and let it dissolve completely. Then add lemon juice and mix well. Bottle the syrup and seal it with wax, or just keep it in the refrigerator.

To serve, dilute the required amount with cold water, along with ice cubes or crushed ice.




Extracting pomegranate juice in the old days of Baghdad


A Song to an Unhappy Little Girl from Basra:
Hey Ho, my Little Pomegranate! Hey Ho my Darling
'Hela Ya Rummana, Hela Yumma'
هيلا يا رمانة هيلا يمة


Pomegranate is mentioned in many Iraqi folk-songs. Check out, for instance, this coyish one:

When pomegranates hovered around me,
Lemons came to my rescue.
O that sweet one, I do not want him.
Take me back home.  

Amorous depiction of the pomegranate in songs is an age-old tradition in the Middle East. Listen, for instance to one of the Songs of Solomon (7:12):     

Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded, 
If their blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates are in bloom.
There I will give you my love.

But pomegranate is also used as a term of endearment, as in this charming children's song, which highlights the precious love a father has for his daughter. Its origin is the southern port city of Basra, where the medieval Arabian Nights's famous seafarer Sindbad used to embark on his fascinating voyages. The Arab sailors' 'Hela' is the equivalent of the English sailors' 'Hey Ho'.    

Hey Ho, my little pomegranate!
    Hey Ho my darling.
Who is the unhappy one here?
    Hey Ho my darling.
Our pretty little girl is the unhappy one here.
    Hey Ho my darling.
And who is to make her happy again?
    Hey Ho my darling.
Her father will make her happy again.
    Hey Ho my darling.
He is the one who made her gold earrings.
    Hey Ho my darling.
And a ring and a necklace.
    Hey Ho my darling.



هيلا يارمّانة               هيلا يمّة
من هيّة الزعلانة؟        هيلا يمّة
الحلوة الزعلانة           هيلا يمّة
منهو اللي يراضيها؟     هيلا يمّة
أبوها يراضيها            هيلا يمّة
صايغ تراجيها            هيلا يمّة
محبس وكردانا           هيلا يمّة






I have a fried who, in celebration of her birthday asked for a song, just a song. My husband and I sang for her a traditional Iraqi song, a favorite of ours, but now I think I really should have chosen this one for her.

She once reminisced to us how when just a little girl, she used to slice canned pitted olives and wear them as rings on her tiny little fingers. Then she would proceed on nibbling at them one after the other until they were all gone. In my mind, she will for ever be that little girl.

So here's to you Michal!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Warm Memories of Summer in a Jam Jar of Cantaloupe:

  Mrabbat Batteekh

مربة بطيخ

A bowlful of aromatic succulent sunshine for a gloomy wintry day.   



In Iraq this jam is exclusively homemade, and I am not aware that it is made anywhere else. People start making it towards the end of summer while the sun has not lost its intensity yet. After the jam is done boiling, it is usually taken up to the flat roof of the house, and is spread in kind of large shallow containers. A cover of thin muslin cloth is used to keep the jam clean from dust and flies. After a week or so under the heat of the sum the jam will thicken, with syrup like honey and chunks of preserved fruit delightfully sweet and chewy. Like this, the jam will keep for a very long time even without refrigeration.   

The following recipe does not require the jam to mature on the roof top, which is good news, but make sure the cantaloupe pulp is firm and not on the mushy side, so that the fruit stays chunky.
    
1 pound cataloupe pulp
1½ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup walnut halves
3 cardamom pods 
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Cut cantaloupe into chunks, layer with sugar and walnut in a heavy medium pot, add the cardamom pods, and set aside overnight.

Cook on medium-low heat, stirring gently to let sugar dissolve completely, skim as needed. Let jam boil gently until syrup is thick and cantaloupe is translucent, about 30 minutes. Add lemon juice in the last 5 minutes. Test for doneness by putting a drop of the syrup on a dry and cold dish. If you tilt the dish and the drop does not go flat but keeps its domed shape, then jam is ready. Let it cool off completely, and put in a jar. Refrigerate and use as needed.



Thursday, September 19, 2013

 Twisted Sesame Rings, Simeat

Bagels of Baghdad 

السميط

Traditional savory pastry rings, encrusted with sesame seeds, Baghdadi version of the Jewish bagels

Simeat are well known throughout the eastern Mediterranean countries. Despite some differences, they are all shaped as rings and are generously encrusted with sesame seeds.

The authentic varieties, like Iraqi simeat, are closely related to bagels, in that they are poached in hot water before baking. In fact, the name of these pastries originally came from this practice because the root verb samata (سمط) means ‘dip briefly in hot water.’ This is a baking technique deeply steeped in history. In one of the extant medieval Arab cookbooks, a recipe for ring cookies called ka’k instructs that the dough be shaped into rings, which are first carried by a rolling pin and dipped briefly in boiling water and then arranged on a tray and baked in the brick oven called furn.

In Iraq, they are shaped into attractive small twisted rings, encrusted with lots of fragrant toasted sesame seeds, crispy in crust and chewy in texture. They are bought from wandering vendors who arrange the simeats on baskets in tall piles and carry them on their heads.

Recipe:

Simeat makes an excellent light snack. Here is an easy way to make them without having to parboil them before baking. (Makes 28 pieces)
3 tablespoons dried yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup (250 ml) warm water
10 cups (2½ lb/ 1.25 kg) bread/strong flour
1 tablespoon salt
¼ cup (60 ml) oil
3 cups (715 ml) warm water
For glaze: 1 egg-white whisked in 1 tablespoon water
Sesame seeds, dry toasted, for sprinkling
1. Oven heat 450°F/ 230°C/ gas mark 8.
2. Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1 cup (250 ml) warm water, and set aside for 5 minutes.
3. In a big bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the middle, and then pour in yeast mixture, oil and 3 cups/715 ml warm water. Incorporate liquids into flour in a circular movement using a wooden spoon. With oiled hands, knead for 6 to 7 minutes until you get a smooth dough. Let rise in a warm draft-free place for about 1 hour.
4. Punch down dough, and divide it into 28 portions. Let it rest for about 10 minutes, covered.
5. On a slightly oiled surface, form into simeat rings as follows. Divide each piece into two parts. Roll each part into a rope about 9 in/23 cm long (if dough feels elastic and springs back, let it rest for 5 minutes). Lay 2 ropes next to each other, and wind one rope around the other. Curve twist into a circle, matching ends to form a continuous ring. Make sure to seal the ends very well to prevent them from opening while rising and baking. Put shaped pieces aside on a flat surface. After making about five, brush them with the glaze, and dip each, face down, in the toasted sesame. Arrange rings on a greased baking sheet. Leave space between them to allow for expansion. Repeat with other batches.
6. Let rise in a warm place for 40 to 45 minutes, covered with a kitchen towel.
7. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven. To create a good crust, spray simeat and oven with water. Repeat about 2 to 3 times, for the first 5 minutes. Total time of baking is about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately or let pieces cool off in a wicker basket or on a rack. Cooled ones can be kept in plastic bags in the refrigerator or freezer. Heat in the oven as needed.
I sometimes break away from tradition and make simeat with cheese, olives and herbs. Quite tasty and aromatic.
Here is how to make them:
Herbed Simeat with Cheese and Olives
Prepare dough as given above. After dough rises, punch it down, and add to half of it the following:
¾ cup (4 oz/115 g) pitted/stoned and chopped olives
½ cup (2 oz/60 g) crumbled feta cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup (½ oz/15 g) each chopped fresh mint, parsley, and dill
Knead the ingredients into the dough. Let it rest for 10 minutes, and then divide it into 14 portions. Shape and bake as described above.
(Recipe from my cookbook Delights from the Garden of Eden)

Read about simeat, and much more, in 

‘Delights from the Garden of Eden’: Author Explores Rich History of Iraqi Cuisine. With recipes for Simeat: Twisted Sesame Rings, Simmered Fresh Black-eyed Peas, and Okra Stew. (Canada, Sept. 18, 2013)   

By Laura Brehaut, Editor for Postmedia Network's Lifestyle and Health channels.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Iraqi Burgers, 'Uroog   
Veggie-Meat Patties with Onion-Sumac Relish
عروق


For those of you accustomed to eating the regular all-meat hamburgers, this will be an exciting new take on this staple food. These are lusciously aromatic meat patties; lighter in texture than the all-meat ones, and are not as greasy despite the fact that they are fried. This is because the meat-veggie mix is moist and will not allow fat to penetrate, as you will see. You can tell this by the amount of fat left after frying. And if you hate frying for the mess and spatter it creates, rest assured 'uroog is 'user friendly'.

In Iraq, 'uroog is very popular, served as sandwiches for breakfast, along with hot sweet tea, and for the evening meal, which is usually lighter than lunch, the main meal of the day, when the staples rice and stew and other elaborate stuffed dishes like dolma and kubba are eaten. The perfect 'uroog meal would include along with it some scrumptious slices of fried eggplant and potatoes, with pickles, and lots of fresh herbs and salad vegetables, and of course the feathered onion with sumac (recipe below).



Eking out meat with vegetables and grains is a common Middle-Eastern cooking technique, done partly to lighten up the dishes and partly for economical necessities. With big families to feed, the expensive meat can really go a long way by creating nourishing and delicious dishes, such as 'uroog.

'Uroog is definitely not a new invention. Middle Eastern cooks have been fixing such dishes for centuries, albeit under different names such as tardeen and isfeeriyya, for which we have recipes preserved in medieval Arabic cookbooks. One of the tardeen recipes, for instance, calls for pounding lean red meat, and mixing it with pounded nuts, onion, a bit of honey, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, mastic, aniseed, black pepper, and white wheat flour. all this is to be moistened with some water, and then formed into discs and fried. Similarly, an isfeeriyya recipe requires pounding lean red meat, and mixing it with some water, bread dough , eggs, and ground black pepper, saffron, cumin, and coriander seeds. This mix was supposed to be rather thin in consistency, It was taken in ladlefuls and poured into hot oil, and fried into thin discs, and hence the name isfeeriyya (looking like a thin disc).        

                  
  

'Uroog is traditionally made with fermented dough. Some cooks, including myself, more conveniently use flour and a small amount of dried yeast or baking powder, instead. Although parsley is the traditional herb used, feel free to add other herbs like mint, basil, dill, or chives. Nowadays, the majority of cooks prefer to shape them as oblongs, but some prefer make them round.       

Here is how to make 'uroog:

1 pound lean ground meat
1½ medium onions (about 1 cup/6 ounce), chopped into small pieces
¾ cup (1½ ounce) chopped parsley (other herbs may be added such as chives, basil, or mint)
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
½ teaspoon baking powder or dry yeast
1 cup water, room temperature
1 cup flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)

Oil for frying
For garnish: onion relish (recipe below), chopped parsley, pickles, salad vegetables

1. In a big bowl, mix meat, onion, parsley, other herbs if used, salt, pepper, egg, curry powder, and coriander.     

2. Dissolve baking powder or yeast in water. Add water to the meat mix, and fold well. Add the flour, and knead lightly with one hand for a few minutes until well combined. The final mix will be a little soft but it should hold its shape when formed into patties (see photo below). Add a small amount of flour if needed. This dough is easier to handle with wet hands.



3. Heat ½ inch-deep oil in a medium-size frying pan. With wet hands, take a piece of the dough, size of a golf ball. Put it on the palm of one hand, and with the other, form it into an oblong patty, about 3 inches long and ⅓ inch thick. Carefully (don’t fry your fingers!) put the piece in the hot oil the moment you finish shaping it, and repeat until you fill the frying pan comfortably. 


Let patties fry until golden brown, turning only once to fry on both sides. Remember to wet your hands while handling this dough to prevent it from sticking to your fingers. Drain fried pieces on white paper towels put in a colander (this will prevent them from getting soggy). Repeat the process with the rest of dough. These patties cook very fast. Frying them will not take more than 15 minutes.



For presentation: Line a platter with onion relish, arrange ‘uroog patties all over, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Or serve them already stuffed into bread, along with sliced tomatoes, onion relish, and chopped parsley.

(Makes about 26 patties)


Onion-Sumac Relish
Feathered Onion

بصل مريّش

Onion cut into thin slices and separated, as done here, is called busal mrayyash (feathered onion), in the Iraqi culinary lingo. This relish is so simple and yet so delicious, and goes very well with all kinds of grilled and fried meat. The sumac, with its fruity and pleasantly tart taste, transforms onion into a delicacy, which is believed to excite the appetite and aid digestion.          
   

Here is how to prepare it:

Cut a medium onion in half lengthwise, then thinly slice it crosswise. Put it in a small bowl, add 1 teaspoon vinegar and a very generous sprinkle of sumac, then fluff the onion and set aside, covered, for about 10 minutes and use. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Babylonia and Beyond:

History of Iraqi Cuisine 

Interview on the Heritage Radio Network.org: A Taste of the Past - Episode 135 

First Aired - 05/23/2013 12:00 PM

Eat Bread Enkido, the glory of life,
Drink wine Enkido, the custom of the land.
(from Epic of Gilgamesh)

Iraqi tannour bread, of Sumerian origin 
In celebration of the release of the new edition of my book Delights from the Garden of Eden, I sat with the culinary historian Linda Pelaccio in the NY Studio and chatted with her about the history of the Iraqi cuisine.


Order information available at www.iraqicookbook.com


From the Heritage Radio website:

This week on A Taste of the Past, Linda and Nawal delve into the history of Iraqi cuisine and the Sumerians. Learn about some of the world's oldest recipes written on cuneiform tablets.

The Babylonian cuneiform tablet with stew recipes (1700 BC). Courtesy of Yale Babylonian Collection

Learn about the importance of stews in the Iraqi diet! How did traditional, medieval-influenced Iraqi recipes change with the discovery of the New World? Tune into this episode to learn more about cooking techniques for masgouf! Find out how Nawal blends ancient, medieval, and modern recipes in her book!

The Babylonian cuneiform tablet with recipes for bird pies (1700 BC). Courtesy of Yale Babylonian Collection

Babylonian Flavors:

Watch British Museum chefs cooking ancient Babylonian recipes to create some authentic Mesopotamian dishes:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Not Your Typical 'Native Tongue'

An Iraqi Sandwich

سندويج لسان
If you like what you see, read on:



Brace yourself for what I am going to say: 

This is a beef-tongue sandwich! 

If you are still there, you must either be a fan of the tongue sandwich, like myself, or a brave soul, hungry for the unknown. I know there are people who would be intimidated or even grossed out at the prospect of eating a tongue sandwich, but this shouldn't be. In fact, after cooking it, peeling off the thick skin, and trimming it, it looks as benign as a tender loin; an exquisite muscle meat, high in protein, and even tenderer and more flavorful and aromatic than any other pot roast you could ever lay your hands on to stuff your sandwiches with.



Growing up in Baghdad, cold tongue sandwiches were the kind of snack food you would usually buy from carry-out shops or the snack bars of movie theaters  Condiments were kept to the minimum, just a few olives and some slices of pickled cucumber. We were able to enjoy more of these sandwiches when my mother learnt the best way to cook the tongue. The secret she learnt from one of our neighbors was to tenderize the tongue before cooking it. How? By beating it hard several times, as I will show you in the recipe.


Sandaweech Lisan (Beef-tongue Sandwich) from my cookbook Delights from the Garden of Eden:
1 medium beef tongue (about 3 pounds)
Salt and flour
For Marinade:
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup vinegar
1 teaspoon za'tar, or thyme (available at Middle Eastern stores)
¼ teaspoon each black pepper, marjoram, caraway seeds, and ground ginger

1 onion studded with 6 to 8 whole cloves
2 t o 3 whole pods cardamom
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt

1. Beat the tongue on a hard surface several times until it looks limp and a little longer. This is done to break the muscles. Wash it very well, rub it with salt and flour, and wash it again. Mix marinade ingredients in a glass bowl, and let tongue stay in it, a few hours to overnight.
Beef tongue before beating it















Beef tongue after beating it




2. Put the tongue in a deep big pot (such as a stock pot) with marinade, and rest of ingredients except for salt. Add cold water enough to well cover it. Bring to a quick boil, skimming as needed. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until it feels tender when pierced with a fork, about 2 hours. Add salt about 10 minutes before it is done.   

5. Take the tongue out of the liquid, and let it cool completely. Peel off skin and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. With a thin sharp knife cut it into thin slices and make into sandwiches, with salad vegetables, pickles, and olives.