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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vegetables flavored with Tabil

tabil tunisian north african spice salsa sauce

Tabil ('table'), a North African hot spicy sauce/flavoring, was a fun discovery when I got that birthday present a few years ago - a cookbook -Moorish by Greg & Lucy Malouf.

The ingredients that make up Tabil were all there in Indian cuisine that I am used to but I had not used them in quite that combination, especially the caraway. Caraway has a rather strong flavor which is not used much in South Indian cuisine. I substitute Cumin seeds instead of Caraway sometimes - a different flavor but equally strong - and Tabil has seasoned many dishes at home since.

The recipe for Tabil here is more like a fiery green sauce with plenty of cilantro and a few hot green chilies and the vegetables are simmered in this sauce and served fairly dry. I made extra sauce and saved a portion of it in the fridge for a few days to use in a different recipe.

Sometimes, Tabil can also be a dry spice mix although I prefer the wet sauce consistency of it with all that extra fresh cilantro leaves.

For Tabil:
2 Tbsp minced garlic
4 to 6 fiery green Thai or Serrano chilies
2 to 3 cups freshly chopped coriander/cilantro (I used leaves and stem)
1 Tbsp toasted caraway/cumin seeds
4 Tbsp olive oil
water as needed

Vegetables: Broccoli florets, baby corn, pear onions, red and yellow bell peppers, onions, chunks of carrots, cauliflower florets (or, any other favorite combination)

Optional: Pan-fried or baked Tofu

1 Tbsp vegetable/olive oil
salt to taste

  1. Par-cook the vegetables in the microwave while getting the Tabil sauce ready
  2. Tabil Sauce: Combine the ingredients in a blender and grind to a smooth paste, adding water as needed to get the sauce consistency
  3. Heat a Tbsp of oil in a pan, add the Tabil cooking sauce, saute a bit; add the par-cooked veggies, some salt to taste, cover and simmer till vegetables are cooked and the sauce reduces a bit, concentrating the flavors
  4. Serve warm with pita bread, naan, or rice

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