Makan cooks in Argentina

On the one hand Makan arrived to Argentina with a pre notion that we will find steaks and tango on the streets, on the other hand, and upon introduction we are often asked questions about Arabic food and belly dancing, to the degree we felt like hummous sandwiches belly dancing our way through Argentine streets. We quickly came to the conclusion that dance and food are major bridging elements between our two nations Argentina and Jordan. Hence Makan embarked on a two fold project. Approaching food and dance, which we will blog on dance later.


As mentioned in an earlier blog, Makan’s team is in Buenos Aires participating in an arts residency entitled “who can live in this house?” and the idea is for the participants to interact with the neighbourhood and use the residency space as a home. What better in creating a home atmosphere than the strong smell of garlic and sound of boiling soups? The best conversations are usually generated around the dinning table. The dinner which the Brazilian residents cooked for us on the day of their arrival insured a life long friendship.


A small invitation to dinner soon turned into a fiesta for 20 people and Makan found itself faced with a large responsibility to prove equipped in producing Arabic food charms to match the expectations. Carmela Branco Urbano, 14 year old Arabic food fanatic officially occupied the post of our assistant.


After some debate we decided that the menu should include lentil soup, chicken fatteh, bamieh (okra) in olive oil, aubergine with tahini, and hummous. After consulting people around us on where to get the ingredients for the dishes, we embarked on an eight hour journey to Buenos Aires city centre which landed in China Town (Barrio Chino @1656 Juramento) and Confiteria Damasco @1283 R. Scalabrini Ortiz, a specialized shop for Middle Eastern ready food, ingredients and sweets established by a Greek family over 60 years ago. Eventually, based on the ingredients we were able to find, the menu excluded the okra and included tomato in pan (galayet bandoura) and beetroot salad.


The final part of the project manifested on the one part in a cook book entitled ‘Ola Y Chau: comida arabé.’ The book is meant as a beginning of a cook book for the residency where artists who come through the house can add their own recipes and make changes on the already existing ones. The book documents the shopping process, the shops, locations, prices, available ingredients as well as the recipes in both English and Castillano (thank you Cecilia Mandrile and Carmela Branco Urbano for the translations) alongside illustrative photographs and notes. 











The second part took shape in wall illustrations in the kitchen, where the ingredients of each dish were written down alongside drawings and photographs encouraging the house residents to experiment with the dishes.













Example of recipes added in the book


Hummous (English version)

Hardly do we ever make hummous at home in Amman. We usually buy it ready from a favourite hummous and falafel shop near by, we ask for hummous by the price “please, give me hummous for $7.”


There are several ways to make this popular dish, however, I suggest a short cut

Get the chick pea paste from Damasco, or buy it in a can from Supermercada Casa China ($7.5/can) in China Town.


Then add tahini, salt, garlic, lemon juice (increase according to taste), then put in a plate and sprinkle with sumac (sumac (Rhus coriaria) is a red powder used for its sour taste, if cannot find increase the lemon juice), red chilli powder or flakes and some olive oil. Best eaten with Arabic bread, but can be used as a dip for crudités too.



Hummous (castiallano)
Rara vez se hace el hummous en una casa en Amman. Normalmente lo compramos hecho de un lugar de falafel y hummous preferido por cada familia, se compra por kilo o precio, como “por favor, me das 7$ de hummous.”

Hay muchas maneras de hacer este popular plato, yo sugiero esta:

Compra la pasta de garbanzo en Damasco, o en el supermercado Casa China (7.5$ c/u) en el mercado Chino.

Luego agrega Tahini, sal, ajo, jugo de un limón (depende del gusto igual), ponerlo en una fuente y agregarle sumac (Rhus coriaria) es un polvo rojo usado para darle un sabor especial, si no lo encontras agrégale mas jugo de limón), chilli rojo en polvo y aceite de oliva. Es muy rico para comer con pan árabe o como acompañamiento en otras comidas.