Advice from Moti himself
Each week Dr. Mo answers questions
from dedicated readers about anything and everything. With lots
of time on his hands and plenty of ideas that are "sooo good,"
Moti has an answer to every question you ask— and even questions
you don't ask.
Wildd Redcherry from Ontario,
Q: Dear Moti, When my husband was
a teenager he lived in Tehran and he
describes a bread called "Bowrey
Bread" that is cooked on the side
of the oven. I have found "Naan
Bread" and it sounds like it is
cooked in a similar way, then you mention
Pita bread being baked this way. I have
been experimenting with bread making
and was wondering what the difference
is in the 3 and if I can bake it in my
backyard Chimnea...mine is iron but they
come in terracotta too? And if it is
cooked on the side of the oven...is that
on the inside or the outside...my chimnea
gets pretty hot on the outside. Thanks
for the inspiring recipes. I have made
Pita bread but did it on a hot cast iron
pan and in the oven til it puffed up
like a pillow. Baking outside would be
fun for the kids to participate in.
A: That's a wonderful
question you asked! The way that naan
and Iraqi pita bread are baked is
virtually identical (the dough recipe
is a little different). I can't speak
for the ovens in Tehran, but considering
the geography and history of the region,
I imagine it is similar. I found a picture
online of an Iraqi oven. It's basically
a cone made out of clay. You throw in
the dough while it is still sticky and
it adheres to the inside of the oven.
When it starts to peel off, it's ready!
I've seen in other Middle Eastern countries
an inverted version of the oven. Essentially
it looks like a giant anthill. But the
idea is the same. It's very hot and the
bread is thin, so it cooks in just a
couple of minutes. You shousld be able
to do something in your backyard
(or your fireplace) that produces the
same results. And yes, terracotta is
certainly closer to the original thing
than iron. -Moti
A.J. Hulme from Leicester,
Q: Salaam and Shalom from England,
I found your recipes and I think I will
try a few to take to work with me for
my lunch and also to cook for friends.
Thank you for sharing them. I have a
question concerning the recipe
for cinnamon rice. Would you reccomend cracked Green
or cracked Black Cardamom Pods? I have
both and the flavour is quite different
so i wonder which is best for this recipe.
Take care. A.J. Hulme
A: That's one of my favorite recipes, and
certainly one that is simple and pleases the crowds! To answer
your question, Iraqis use green cardamom pods almost exclusively,
so when you see cardamom in one of my recipes that's the best
choice. Let me answer another related question here as well.
Many people ask whether you should use whole cardamom pods or
powder. I always use whole pods, but I crush them open first
before tossing them into the pot. In many dishes, I'll even leave
the outer shell of the pod for more flavor—although we don't
eat them. However, with rice, I like to empty the seeds (the
pod's contents) directly into the pot and discard the shell.
Best of luck! -Moti
Ashley from the Internet
Q: Hi, Mr Mo. I have a few questions
I'd like to ask you about empanadas.
I'm doing an extra credit project for
my Spanish II class and I have a few
questions that I would really appreciate
you answering since ask.com couldn't.
1) Are cheese empanadas authentic recipe
or americanized adaptation? 2) Are they
a main course, appetizer, or dessert?
3) Are cheese empanadas a traditional
recipe? Thank you so much for your time.
Hopefully you'll have the answer to
my questions. Thanks a bunches. Sincerely,
A: How wonderful
to be studying empanadas! But why study
empanadas when you can study sambusac?
First, it's important to note that empanadas
are the Spanish word for any stuffed
food. The word literally
means to "cover in bread," which
is exactly what we're doing. Empanadas
are very popular in Latin America and
are the result of the Moor's influence
on Medieval Spain. Traditional empanadas
were made with whatever was at hand,
including meat and vegetables. It's not
entirely out of the question that cheese
was also one of the originals, but it
seems less likely. In any case, cheese
empanadas have been available for hundreds
of years now. Empanadas are mostly "street
food" these days, but they can also
be found in restaurants as appetizers
and as main courses (especially in Argentina).
I haven't seen them as desserts, but
there is no reason you couldn't. -Moti
Carley from Davis,
Q: Dear Moti, I'm going to spend this summer at a research
facility living in a dorm with a kitchen shared by a lot of students.
I won't have a car or much space, and the nearest restaurants
are miles and miles away. What recipes would you recommend to someone
looking to get a lot of mileage out of their cooking? Todah Rabah!
A: First of all,
I'm sorry to hear that you'll be in Davis.
However, take advantage of the surroundings
and try to make it to local farms or
a farmer's market. The summer fruit there
is sooo good! You might try to
make my delicious cherry
strudel! To answer your question,
though, for my kids we always made
solve the college blues. It may seem
like a lot of work the first time, but
you can make 20, 30, 40 sambusac in one
sitting and then freeze them. Pop them
in the toaster whenever you need a hearty
snack or meal and you've got food for
a month! -Moti
Matt B. from Ann Arbor, MI writes:
Q: Dear Moti, I am a college student. The course I'm taking
now is harder than any I've ever taken. I quit my job and dropped
another course to focus on it, and it STILL isn't going well.
I'm afraid I'll end up with a grade so poor that I get no credit
for the course. I can't imagine getting nothing out of the course
after spending so much time on it. What should I do?
A: I'll tell you what you can do! Make
some delicious, warm shorba.
It's a kind of cinnamon rice stew that is very easy
to make and soooo good! As you are eating the delicious
chicken melting into the tomato broth, you might want
to consider what is keeping you back from achieving
your goals. You've already canceled a lot of other
commitments in order to succeed with this class. It's
time to buckle down, do whatever it takes to succeed.
Hire a tutor, ask friends for help, and visit your
professor or TA for extra guidance. While you're at
it, bring them some of my babaganoush. It may soften
them up while they grade your work! -Moti
Adam C. from Atlanta, GA writes:
Q: Dear Moti, I have a Microsoft Small Business 2003 server
that I am migrating to a Microsoft Exchange Server 2003. I am not
sure to ExMerge to PSTs and then import or just import right into
the new Private Store. Also I don't have a good strategy for the
Public Folders. P.S. - I loved your hummus
A: Moving to the Exchange Server
is a good idea because it offers more robustness
and interoperability with other platforms. I suggest
you look at this migrating
guide. I'm glad you're eating hummus during this
transition. It is a warm, friendly food that really
helps to get you through big changes, both in life
and in back end server software! -Moti
Fred F. writes:
Q: Dear Moti, My daughter has a habit of eating too fast. This
gives her a lot of gas and, when it comes out, it stinks up the
entire house, and, it's also incredibly noisy! I have tried to
get her to eat more slowly, but she always seems to be in a hurry.
Besides purchasing a gas mask, what can you suggest that I do?
A: Eating quickly does not cause gas, although
it may at times exacerbate the problem. What I see as the real
issue is that, at times, when we have a problem ourselves we
project it onto others—a "friend," or "a daughter."
You must learn to face your own issues if you want to solve your
Susan S. from West Lafayette, IN writes:
Q: Dear Moti, My daughter will be leaving soon for her sophomore
year in college. When she goes away my heart hurts. This makes
little sense because she is messy and sometimes irritating. I
should be able to rationalize her departure as a good thing.
I am trying your tabboleh recipe this afternoon, the bulgar is
A: Many parents feel a sense of loss when a child
goes out of the home, no matter how irritating he or she may
be. Believe me, I know. My advice is to keep busy with a new
hobby or activity, and call her every time you hear something
worrysome has happpened in the city in which she resides, so
that she knows not to go out at night. Also, I recommend cooking
good food, enjoying life, and please, bevakashah, take
care of YOURSELF. Warm regards -Moti
Enrique P. from Madrid, Spain writes:
Q: Dear Moti, is that Ladino music I hear in the background
of your episodes?
A: Yes, the song is called "Cuando el Rey Nimrod,"
and is sung in Ladino, the language of the sephardic Jews in
pre-1492 Spain. Your ear is sooo good! -Moti
Scott F. from Boston, MA writes:
Q: Dear Moti, Do you ever plan to release a cookbook? I just
loved your Hummus podcast on Itunes, and the recipe is absolutely
delicious! I'd love to know your other culinary secrets.
A: Sorry I do not have a
cook book. We are in a process of composing formulas for tahini,
dolma, sambusac, etc. We will put it in my home page soon! Regards
Lyora Z. from San Francisco, CA writes:
Q: I'm really tired and I haven't even eaten dinner yet. I'll
see you guys this weekend. B-bye.
A: You know what you can do? Make a Mexican
I take the bread, the Mexicans call it tortilla, and I put all
the kinds of cheese I have. You know your mom buys lots of cheese
at Foodmax because it's always on sale and somewhere in the fridge
is the cheese from CostCo too. I take the cheese and the tortilla
and I put lots of spice— the Mexicans call it 'picante.' I call
it, sooo good! -Moti
Wyona P. from Los Angeles, CA writes:
Q: I am falling in love with a man outside my race. How should
I let my parents know I am dating an African American?
A: Oh my god. Please. Stop talking shtooyot.
[Ed. note: shtooyot means 'utter stupidity'].
Esther D. from Newark, NJ writes:
Q: I recently bought a purple clutch, which I love. But at
Nordstrom they have a more practical clutch in black. Did I make
the right choice by getting the purple one?
A: What on earth is a clutch? -Moti