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Albanian recipes

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I noticed there's no thread about Albanian cooking, so I hope to satisfy someone's curiosity if nothing else. Now I'm not a pro when it comes to Albanian cooking, but I am making a teensy sacrifice and am learning from Albanians themselves, so don't ask me about the authenticity of these recipes. If anything, I hope we can learn together, at least. I would never post these recipes in any other forum except in here because I figure that chefs must have a very adventurous soul and are able to try out foods that other people would simply be too inconvenienced to step out of their safe shell and try. And also, I believe chefs are blessed with having culturally flexible albeit very choosy taste buds.

Off we go. Some of the names are made up by yours truly. The ones inside the parenthesis are the real Albanian names for them.

Albanian Beans (Fasule)
I just learned how to make them 2 weeks ago. They are huge in Albania. There's not one Albanian in Albania who hasn't had them. It's become a little bit of a joke with them.
  1. Take 2 cups of beans and leave them in a bowl full of water for at least half an hour. I've seen some Albanians leave them overnight, in which case when you wake up in the morning, you'll find some really fat beans sitting in that bowl who have sucked up most of the water. Some people like that. I'm just disturbed by the image. But that's how you clean your beans.
  2. Drain the water in the bowl and rinse off the beans with clean water. Place them in a pressure cooker, add enough water so that the beans are sitting at least 2 inches below the water surface. Let them boil for half an hour.
  3. After half an hour has passed, drain the water and rinse the beans with water in a colander. This is the second time the beans are to be rinsed with water. I didn't rinse the beans one time and all the sand from the beans was sitting at the bottom of the bowl I was eating the beans from. You could feel the sand in your teeth. Don't make that mistake.
  4. Place the beans in the pressure cooker again and add enough water for the surface to sit at least 3 inches above the beans at the bottom of the pot. Measure with your eyes. That will be all the juice you will have on your plate. Add salt to taste, some vegetable oil (3-4 Tbs.), a little black pepper, some oregano (don't be shy, use enough), 1-2 Tbs of tomato paste or sauce, and half a chopped onion (I use the grinder to make the onion slush which I later dump into the pot). Most people will tell you how to make the basic beans, which means you don't add anything else (other than the above mentioned ingredients) with the beans when you put them in the pressure cooker for a second time. Some will add potatoes in there, but my husband says that the potatoes take away from the beans' flavor, so I only add chopped up carrots and dillweed to taste. They're heavenly! My husband suggests to cream the carrots completely, but I like to bite into those soft little guys, so if you want to use the mixer on the carrots, you're free to do so. It's not a crazy idea if you've thought of it. I know someone who would add parsley leaves in there, but that's not my way. Common sense, though, should tell you to chop up the carrots in bite size, because come dinner time you don't want to be battling the giant spoon coming at ya. Let everything boil on high for another half an hour, or at the most 45 minutes.
The only way one can determine whether the beans are done, is to see what the beans look like. Scoop them up with a spoon. Are they easily crushed with the back of the spoon? If not, let them boil for a few more minutes. You don't want the beans to look too pale, either. Everything should smell lovely, unless you burn it. As for the taste, dillweed makes a huge difference. I'm a little annoyed that nobody told me to add them but I had to figure it out on my own. And no, don't worry, the dill doesn't undermine this dish's authenticity one bit. Finally, the beans are accompanied with plain ol' bread.

Bon appetit! :lips:

Albanially,
Chef Ladybug.
Ladybug all dressed in red,
Strolling through the flower bed.
If I were tiny just like you
I'd creep among the flowers too!
Reply
Ladybug all dressed in red,
Strolling through the flower bed.
If I were tiny just like you
I'd creep among the flowers too!
Reply
post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 
Veggie Jumble With Rice (Burani)
This one I learned how to make a few weeks ago. My main customer and harshest critic, my husband, isn't as crazy over the Veggie Jumble as he is over the Beans so I've only made it once and it was perfect. He just hates the fact that I use a lot of dill and it makes him burp. Nothing wrong with freshly scented burps, as far as I'm concerned, but he can nitpick all he wants. I will make it again this weekend. For the Veggie Jumble one does little cooking and a lot of preparing. Intrigued? You should be.
  1. Wash and finely chop a 10oz of spinach leaves (they're enough to overflow my colander). I use kitchen scissors because I can't chop quickly and precisely; the spinach flies in all kinds of directions when I try to do so. So I get a fistful of spinach in my hand and holding it tight I start cutting with my scissors. Put them on a huge bowl.
  2. Throw in clean parsley leaves in aforementioned bowl, if they're small enough. Mine happened to be humongous so I became quite the Edward Scissorhands that day.
  3. Chop up clean fresh shallot tails as finely as possible and throw them in the bowl -- the spinach and the giant parsley leaves will console them. Use 2-3 bundles. The heads you don't need for the Veggie Jumble. Save them in the fridge if you eat them.
  4. By now you should be getting used to the color green. Add a batch of dillweed to the bowl. Try to get rid of as much stem as you can. Mix the bowl by hand.
  5. Finely chop an onion, throw it in the mixer if you can but don't cream it because it has to be chunky like the rest of the vegetables. They're the only thing that won't go in the bowl with the other vegetables.
  6. Cover the bottom of a normal pot (no pressure cookers) with vegetable oil and fry the onions on medium heat. Try to find something like a very deep skillet, but a pot will do.
  7. Start adding to the pot fistfuls of the vegetable mixture as fast as possible, and mix them with the vegetable oil at the bottom. As soon as you're done with one batch, push them aside with your spoon and add on more fistfuls of vegetables. Done with that? Keep on adding from the bowl and frying the new batch until there are no more vegetables to add to the pot. They have to be evenly fried and mixed with the oil, which is why they need to be thrown in little by little but as quickly as you can. The mixture may look big and bouncy in the bowl but they will shrivel up by the heat.
  8. Fill pot with water. Don't overflow the vegetable mixture in the pot but you need to be able to see the water without pushing the mixture aside with your spoon. It needs to be very slushy.
  9. Add less than half a cup of rice + salt to taste, and mix. Cover the pot completely, let everything boil on low and allow the rice to fully absorb the water.
  10. Once the rice has absorbed the water and is soft and squishy when you bite it, you can say you're done. You will see a lot of green with white polka dots. Serve dish with a side helping of plain yogurt, and of course, the bread of your choice. I never eat the Veggie Jumble without plain yogurt. It just tastes strange to me without it.
Popeyesquelly,
Chef Ladybug.
Ladybug all dressed in red,
Strolling through the flower bed.
If I were tiny just like you
I'd creep among the flowers too!
Reply
Ladybug all dressed in red,
Strolling through the flower bed.
If I were tiny just like you
I'd creep among the flowers too!
Reply
post #3 of 11
Thank you for the recipes, Chef Ladybug! I don't believe we've had any Albanian recipes before. I see middle eastern and even asian influences- for instance, the name burani is similar to biryani, and Indian dish. Frijoles, fagioli, all names for beans.

By the way, what kind of beans do you use for this dish? I assume it's some type of dry beans, but is there a more authentic type to use?
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Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
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post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Impressive, Mezzaluna! But then again, you Chef Talk chefs are no ordinary chefs. Yes, there are always some Oriental influences in the Balkans. Burani is a southern Albanian kind of thing, for the chefs who care to know. You don't see northerners raving about it, unless they've stepped into the south or even the middle will do. Fasule, however, you'll see even in Kosova. The beans I use are Goya Great Northern Beans (Habichuelas Great Northern). They come in little 16 oz plastic bags. I use more than 2/3 of that bag to make my beans and always cook for 4 people.

While we're having this discussion, allow me to say that I don't want to wound anyone's national pride if they find out that one of the recipes in here are well-known in other parts of the world as well, but everyone can rest assured knowing that this is what Albanians in Albania eat and have eaten for years. So I use the term "Albanian cooking" when I mean to say "the things that Albanians have traditionally cooked at home." I don't mean to make a political point through these recipes. That's my disclaimer.

Politically correctly,
Chef Ladybug.
Ladybug all dressed in red,
Strolling through the flower bed.
If I were tiny just like you
I'd creep among the flowers too!
Reply
Ladybug all dressed in red,
Strolling through the flower bed.
If I were tiny just like you
I'd creep among the flowers too!
Reply
post #5 of 11
Just a few months ago, I was sitting in a beachside taverna in Corfu, staring across the one mile stretch of water that separates the Greek island from Albania... The place looked deserted, apart from a few buildings. The Corfiotes told me that the reason there was no lights showing, was that it was a military installation, and they (Albanians) liked to 'spy' on the Corfiotes! They also said that it was a great way to allow Albanian smugglers access to Greek islands in order to stock up on cheap electrical goods - but that MAY have been sour grapes on the side of the Corfiotes!

That food sounds like a kind of mixture between Turkish/Greek with a few mittel European additions!
post #6 of 11
""one of the recipes in here are well-known in other parts of the world as well, but everyone can rest assured knowing that this is what Albanians in Albania eat and have eaten for years. So I use the term "Albanian cooking" when I mean to say "the things that Albanians have traditionally cooked at home.""

Ladybug, I can see a similarity to some Italian dishes in your recipes also. When I cook Italian at home, even for guests, it's the "peasant food" I cook. It delights my guests, and isn't something they have ever had. I guess I still consider myself a peasant........ and what else do we really have in life, except the food we eat and the company we keep?
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Ishbel, I'm sure what you saw must have been a military base in the past because I've heard stories of Enver Hoxha threatening the Greek government when (among other things) they would take their helicopters over Albanian territory at night, without permission (I don't know whether it's still a military base, but I know just the person to ask about it). However, I know for a fact that nobody is spying from there... although IMHO they're dumb not to. If they had been spying, they would have intervened immediately when Greek ships came and dumped oil and other gross waste on their beaches. Yuck! Kids, poor dears, were coming out of the water with black gooey stuff all over them. Sure ruined Albanian tourism for that year. Though it's great that Albania has piqued your interest :) I hope this will be the end of the discussions not related to food. My disclaimer was pretty obvious about my unwillingness to go into historical/political details. I'm already dissecting these issues in my thesis.

It's obviously not a secret that there are traces of Oriental culture all around Europe. Albania is a part of Europe so she's not special in that respect. Having said that, I must say personally I cringe juuuust a little bit when people pick apart recipes and assign it all kinds of cultures except the one where people eat it on a daily basis. Surely all-American cooking doesn't bear such scrutiny, and it's hard to find something truly American in this melting pot that is the US, smth that is "original" and hasn't been "invented" by so and so group of immigrants. I absolutely love all-American cooking, whether or not it exists as a concept, such as apple pies and the sort.

A lot of recipes I have come across will boast about being some exotic country's authentic recipe. Meanwhile here I am, young and gullible, ecstatic :bounce: to learn something new about another culture... until I find out that most people from that country haven't even tried that recipe :eek: I took up Albanian cooking because my husband loves the food and has requested that I make some, so I depend on his criticism and suggestions. I'm not too crazy about this particular type of cooking but I figure one more skill will only do me good. Someday soon I hope to start a new thread about Greek recipes that he'll teach me, but... first things first. Speaking of peasant-style cooking, insightful nowIamone... if you love cheeses, and you happen to go to a Greek restaurant, make sure to request a peasant-style Greek salad. It helps if the waiter/-ress is Greek.

Traditionally,
Chef Ladybug.
Ladybug all dressed in red,
Strolling through the flower bed.
If I were tiny just like you
I'd creep among the flowers too!
Reply
Ladybug all dressed in red,
Strolling through the flower bed.
If I were tiny just like you
I'd creep among the flowers too!
Reply
post #8 of 11
We've got lots of Albanians over here..... 'nuff said! :)
post #9 of 11
Soaking dried beans overnight is pretty common because it cooks a lot faster the following day.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Pasticho
One of my favorite recipes, ever.
  1. Boil spaghetti (the whole packet available at stores) and drain it. Be careful not to boil them too much.
  2. Beat 4 eggs (you can use 6, like I do), 1 1/2 cup milk, 1 Tbs salt, 1 stick of melted butter, and crushed crumbly feta cheese (use generous amounts because it's the amount of feta cheese that makes or breaks the pasticho).
  3. Spread the spaghetti in a preferrably square cooking tray (don't use shallow ones) and marinate them with the entire mixture from step 2.
  4. Boil 1 cup milk and let it cool off a little bit. Or you could warm it up using the microwave.
  5. Mix 4 Tbs of melted butter and about 3 Tbs of flour. Add the warm milk gradually. You should be looking at a thick liquid.
  6. Marinate the spaghetti with the sauce from step 5.
  7. Cover with aluminum wraps and put in oven. Halfway through, remove the aluminum wrap and take out the cooking tray when the top layer has taken an orange tint.
Tip: You may want to break the spaghetti in fours instead of in halves.
Ladybug all dressed in red,
Strolling through the flower bed.
If I were tiny just like you
I'd creep among the flowers too!
Reply
Ladybug all dressed in red,
Strolling through the flower bed.
If I were tiny just like you
I'd creep among the flowers too!
Reply
post #11 of 11

 

 

My mom and now me, always put the boiled mixture in an open baking pan. Than top it up with 3-4 lightly bitten eggs. Then you put it in the oven and leave there until eggs are cooked around 10-15 minutes. Maybe your husband will like it more this way.

Also I do not thing the name "Burani'" comes from Biryani, since we albanians have another dish called Birjan.

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