Super simple international snacks revisited–with an addition!

Having had a couple of visitors with us for a recent stay reminded me about how useful it is to have some easy and delicious snacks on hand…so we’re revisiting this post for others who also might need to come up with some flavorful snacks for groups…


If you’ve ever tried Ethiopian Berbere you will understand why so many bloggers and cooks try to  sort through every food combination in their imagination to concoct new recipes that call for this special spice mix! This one works perfectly and  adds a twist to that well known cereal snack recipe.  Here is a link…  I have tried it without the soy sauce, Siracha sauce and green peas and it is still delicious.  It’s the combination of the Berbere and the honey that make it truly addictive.  Add  whatever amount of Berbere you can handle; one teaspoon might be better for those who can’t handle the heat, more for those who can. Bowls of this mix go  quickly.:-) Although the recipe here calls for microwaving the mix; baking the cereal mixture on a cookie sheet or cooking the ingredients in a large saute pan work just  as well.  Add the honey after it has been removed from the heat.

Another easy and addictive snack is the well known Chivda/Chevda snack very common in India.  There are many recipes on line for this delicious snack.  In India the ingredients used are slightly different, but the idea is the same–it is a cereal like snack.  The combination of citric acid or amchur/mango powder, tumeric, mustard seeds,cayenne and sugar is the essence of this flavor combination that makes this snack so delicious.   Who knew that  Corn flakes, Rice Krispies, and Chex cereal  could be so flavorful?

Here is a  link to give you the basic idea, but many kinds of  cereal and nuts work just as well…

Another super easy snack  to make is a simple Persian plate full of Lavash bread, French Feta, and herbs like tarreh or green onions, fresh dill,  tender green baby lettuce and other greens…Here is a link to a wonderful Persian food blog that gives you more information about this delicious and healthy appetizer.  If you live near a Middle Eastern market ask for the French Feta; it isn’t as salty and goes beautifully with these herbs….

An Iraqi breakfast combination  offers a great snack  throughout the whole day.  Get some Date syrup–Moomtaz is a good brand, although  there are many others, and Sarshir/Gaymar cream–it’s known by either name in Middle Eastern stores, and smother a piece of good warm Persian Barbari bread or warm round Arab flat bread.  And drink it down with some black tea with a hint of freshly ground cardamon and your day is complete! If you live in San Diego you can buy Barbari bread at some of the Persian markets; if you live in El Cajon head over to Valley Foods and go to the back of the store and ask for the large round freshly baked bread!

For a great Afghan snack try serving a  *Rote with green tea and cardamom.  Rote is a dry sort of snacking cake with Kalonji seeds.   A flavorful  green tea and a pinch of freshly ground cardamom makes a welcome afternoon treat!

*If you live in San Diego Rote is available at Balboa International Market; I’m not sure about it’s availability in other markets.


 Ethiopian and Persian inspired Meatball appetizers.

Use your favorite recipe for small cocktail size meatballs, but omit the seasoning (or purchase frozen meatballs and cook according to package directions), then fry them in a little vegetable oil until cooked and add one of the two sauces below.

For Ethiopian meatballs add the following ingredients to the cooked meatballs: 1/2 or more diced onions and  one small can of tomato paste and 1/2 cup of water and as much *Berbere as you can handle.  Maybe 1 teaspoon for people who don’t like  their food too spicy and more for those who do.  Continue to warm cooked meatballs in sauce for 20-30 minutes.  Remove from heat, cool for a few minutes then place in refrigerator and cool for several hours.  Then reheat for a minute or more in the microwave right before serving.  These meatballs are better when they have had time for the flavors to meld together while cooling in the refrigerator.

*I’ve never made my own Berbere spice mix, as the Berbere mix for sale at  Awash Market/2884  El Cajon Blvd. in San Diego, is so delicious.  But for those who don’t have a Berbere outlet in their city (how sad) here is a link to a Berbere recipe by Marcus Samuelsson, the well known Ethiopian born chef. (Once you start using Berbere you’ll want to sprinkle it on everything.)


Persian inspired cocktail sized meatballs

Use your favorite recipe for small cocktail size meatballs, but omit the seasoning (or use  frozen purchased cooked meatballs and cook according to package directions), then fry them in a little vegetable oil until cooked.  Add a few handfuls of chopped parsley and dill to the meat mixture if making your own meatballs.

To the cooked meatballs add 1 small can tomato paste, 1 teaspoon tumeric, juice from 1 lime (or more), 1/3-1/2 cup water,2-3 strands of Saffron–optional, and 2 teaspoons of *Adiveh. (I used this recipe minus the rose petals as I didn’t have any handy.) Continue to warm meatballs in sauce for 20 minutes.  Then remove from heat, cool for a few minutes, then cover and place in refrigerator for a few hours.  Like  the Ethiopian inspired meatballs above these meatballs are better upon reheating after they have cooled for several hours in the refrigerator;  they are  even better heated up the next day.

* Go to this blog of a well known Persian chef for a great Adiveh recipe as well as other wonderful Persian recipes.

 Moving on to main dishes 

For a great and speedy main dish idea…try putting the  ingredients for a Persian stuffed dolmeh/dolma into a lasagna instead!  It is easier, can be made more quickly and is still delicious–because  of the outstanding Persian flavor combination of tumeric, tomato paste,  and herbs! This dish can be made as a vegetarian or non-vegetarian dish!  This should work for almost any dolmeh recipe that uses a tomato base for the sauce: Persian, Iraqi or Greek! (One of the Iraqi/Palestinian versions  uses a few pinches of citric acid in the tomato base to give the flavor just the right amount of zip.:-)  Just chop the cabbage in half and boil first until tender–about twenty minutes; then separate the leaves and use them for the lasagna base, just as you would with noodles. Try putting a little  sauce on the bottom so the cabbage leaves don’t stick; then cook  with the rest of the sauce covering the cabbage and rice and/or rice, meat and split pea layers  if making the Persian version. Cover with foil for about twenty minutes; then cook uncovered for another twenty minutes at 350 degrees.

The same idea works with the Afghan dish called Ashak or Aushak.  Gather the essential ingredients to make Ashak, and put them into a lasagne form instead of a ravioli form–this saves hours of prep time and is still delicious.   Instead of shaping and stuffing the Afghan raviolis boil the wonton wrappers separately until they are soft, delicately remove them from the boiling water; and boil the diced tarrey separately until the they are soft–this will take some of the strong bite out of the raw tarrey (or gandana as it is also called in Afghanistan.)  Then just layer the ingredients and bake until ingredients settle, maybe just fifteen minutes or so.  Add the yogurt and kashk mixture after  the dish  is removed from the oven.

Here is Farida’s original Ashak recipe  .

Aushak (also spelled Ashak;1 pan for beef, 1 pan for tomato sauce, 1 large pot for  boiling raviolis, bowl, serving platter, servings for 6—about 50 raviolis, prep and cook time 1-1/2 hours)

Ingredients for filling, tomato sauce, meat topping and yogurt sauce.


Gyoza round wrappers (2) (Hong Kong brand is the best/Ranch 99 market/far right aisle, near the produce section)

1/2 bunch cilantro

5 bunches gandana/tareh/onion chives or chopped green onions(North Park Produce, Balboa International Market on Balboa, Sahel Bazaar on Cuvier in LJ)

½ or 1 serrano chile

1  teaspoon Salt

Smashed garlic

Coriander seed ground—1 tablespoon

1 teaspoons Black pepper

½-1 teaspoon Cayenne

1/4-1/3 cup corn oil or veggie oil

For meat (optional)

1/2 pound ground beef

½ bell pepper

½ yellow pepper

½ orange pepper and Chopped tomato


For tomato sauce

5 tomatoes

Olive oil

Spices (optional cayenne, coriander, smashed garlic)

Yogurt sauce

1/2 jar dry yogurt (Another name for it is Kashk—it is sort of like a very thick liquid that comes in a jar; the Sadaf brand is very good, but I prefer the one without the cow on the front.)

1 small container of Lebne

1 teaspoon smashed garlic

A little water

Two tablespoons dried mint (or more to taste—an essential ingredient)

Directions for Ravioli filling, beef toping, tomato sauce and yogurt sauce

Chop tareh/gondena/green onions

Mix veggies up with your hand, add spices and ¼-1/3 cup oil and smashed garlic; place in large bowl.

Cook beef in oil, add 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, add chopped peppers to meat and set aside

Make tomato sauce. Grate tomatoes. Add oil to pan; add tomatoes and then let them cook gently for 10- -15 minutes or so—until the oil separates from the tomatoes and add spices

Make yogurt sauce

Whisk ingredients and set aside until ready to spoon over raviolis.

Assemble raviolis/Aushak: place a teaspoon in the middle of the ravioli wrapper and fold into a half circle; moisten the edges with a tiny bit of water, and seal.

Boil water with salt and oil in water

Add raviolis to water.  They float and then they sink a little.  They are finished in 5-12 minutes—it depends on your al dente preferences. Check on them. Do not let them overcook!

Place boiled raviolis on a nice platter. Spoon yogurt sauce and or tomato sauce on top of raviolis.  Spread meat mixture on top (optional)

Enjoy plain or with good Persian bread to soak up sauce.