Cooking Middle Eastern

Cooking Middle Eastern

Can I cook tikka masala?

I just posted on the McDougall Friends group on Facebook, I am getting tired of cooking the same old thing, week after week. Thankfully this IS something I have complete control over as I do a majority of the cooking. I am still open to preparing potato enchiladas for my wife, since she loves the flavor of them. Scouring the many websites I have collected and the few vegan/vegetarian cookbooks I have purchased, I am still at somewhat of a loss when it comes to cooking Middle Eastern recipes

Recently I was turned on to a Middle Eastern market called International Foods in Concord, CA (that is how Yelp lists it). I had been searching for chickpea flour and fava beans at a reasonable price. This small nondescript market had a wide variety of freshly cook foods, breads and ingredients for many Middle Eastern/Indian recipes. I was able to purchase chana besan and fava beans, as an added bonus, freshly cooked naan bread. The best part of this bread, it’s fat free, egg free (dairy), cholesterol free and contains no preservatives! It seems to be “McDougall Approved!”

Since changing my diet I have made a few different batches of hummus, all oil free. Some have told me it’s not hummus without oil. To each their own I guess I don’t use the “heart healthy” *sarcasm* olive oil since I don’t want the added fat and have done away with adding oil to my recipes. Another dish I am preparing better, baked falafel either in patty or ball form. Patties seem to bake better with a subtle crunch revealing a warm, moist inside. One dish I failed with, but will prepare better next time, dal palak.With this sudden find of naan bread I have been looking for dishes to accompany this wonderful tasting bread. I will also mention tabbouleh, but that was a box mix I purchased at Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market.

Today I found a tofu tikka masala recipe that I hope to add to my list of favorites. While the original recipe includes 2 1/2 tablespoons of EVOO (thanks Rachel!), 1/2 a tablespoon to bake the tofu with and 2 tablespoons for the gravy that will be slathered over the dish. I don’t think this recipe will miss that amount of oil and definitely won’t add to the flavor. While I am not sure I an sell my wife on the tofu, I will still give it a shot. I will serve it over rice and if she isn’t into the tofu, then mixed veggies might work.

Are We Really Safer?

Driving to work tonight, I was fortunate enough to tune into the Savage Nation and caught about 10 minutes worth of conversation with a whistle blower, who is still employed at the TSA. This individual paints a bleak, sometimes scary picture of aviation security. I have written quite a few pieces on aviation safety, or shall we say the lack of, which I face each and every day at a major U.S. airport.

“Bogdan Dzakovic’s story should alarm anyone who flies. He is a former counter-terrorism expert with the Federal Aviation Administration. His job was to think and act like a terrorist.” His story was not highlighted by any major news outlet, guess it did not fit their “agenda,” but was posted at SFGate.com [I recommend EVERYONE read this article]. If I had not caught this radio show, and done a bit of legwork on the Internet, then I would have missed out some excellent information, that honestly scares the hell out of me.

“Dzakovic was in charge of the FAA’s Red Team — a small, elite squad who conducted mock undercover raids as terrorists and hijackers. It probed vulnerable areas inside airports. With surprising ease and frequency during routine tests, members of his team slipped bombs, guns and knives onto aircraft.” His team was successful up to 90 percent of the time, but these findings were suppressed by the FAA. His team was ordered not to write up their reports or retest airports that failed.

After his “Red Team” was grounded due to the events of September 11 and potential findings that would embarrass the FAA, Dzakovic decided to disclose the truth with the Office of Special Counsel. The newly formed Transportation Security Administration did not reward Mr. Dzakovic, instead reassigned him to an entry-level clerks job. So much for his 14 years of counter-terrorism expertise fighting bad guys. He had been demoted in order to cover up damaging evidence in aviation security.

Bogdan Dzakovic echos some of the same thoughts I have regarding the lack of security. “There are so many obvious holes in the system that are not being closed, it is very scary. And what’s worse is that they are not being closed…” While I do not have the same expertise, much of what I identify does not require counter-terrorism training, but common sense.

One of his major beefs is that the FAA used to say, leading up to 9/11, that we must be doing something right because there has not been a terrorist attack against the U.S. aviation industry since Pan Am 103. What a scary way to operate. Here is why Mr. Dzakovic believes there is an open invitation for further attacks: “Aviation security must first and foremost ‘process’ people and their luggage as rapidly as possible, while providing at least some illusion that effective screening is actually taking place. The FAA did a great job of maintaining this fiction, and the TSA is doing the same with billions of dollars of our tax money.

The picture he paints does nothing but get darker as you read more of his story. He discusses the “inept and outright ignorant people” who make up TSA management. Not surprising, but there were many former employees from United Airlines who jumped ship in Los Angeles for “green pastures” with the TSA who happen to fit that “inept and outright ignorant” description.

More information tomorrow…