Korean Barbecue Bulgogi

Looking for healthy, easy and fast Ramadan recipes?

It’s been Korean food trend for a while in Dubai. Having tasted Korean barbecue bulgogi in few Korean restaurants, I was sure this is the beef dish I can re-create in my home kitchen.

This barbecue cooks quickly without having barbeque grill, just normal frying pan works best.  It takes max 15 minutes to prepare a healthy Korean style meal.  Slice the beef and dip into marinade for half an hour or more.


Bulgogi Korean Barbecue recipe

    600 g beef (sirloin or tenderloin or any cut you prefer)

    1 onion

    For the marinade:

    1 apple or peer, peeled and finely grated

    4 tbs soy sauce

    2 tbs sesame oil

    1 ts tahini sauce

    1-2 tbs sugar

    1 tbs honey

    1 tbs crushed garlic

    1 tabs sesame seeds

    black pepper for your liking



  1. Cut beef in slices (or strips)
  2. Cut onion in about 1/2 cm thick
  3. Mix all marinade ingredients in bowl
  4. Add beef and onion strips to marinade and let meat marinate for 30 minutes
  5. Heat the frying pan and grill beef on high heat

Sprinkle with toasted sesame seed and serve on lettuce leaves

#healthyRamadan Korean Barbecue Bulgogi

I have been partnering with OBE Organic, an organic beef company from the Outback of Australia that’s available right here in the UAE.

Follow hashtag #healthyRamadan on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to get cooking inspirations for your daily menu planning.

DID YOU KNOW: OBE Organic’s beef is certified organic, 100% grass-fed and halal?  Find Bbe Organic halal beef in the meat section at select Carrefour stores in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.  Where to buy OBE organic

Naked Plate | Karelian Pasty – traditional Finnish food with Emirati twist

The perfect arranged marriage of three ingredients rye flour, rice and milk makes very traditional pastry from Eastern-Finland called Karelian Pasty or Karjalanpiirakka in Finnish. I am certain Asians and Arabians will approve the marriage as well. Keep on reading… Surely I always find the link of my culture to the culture of Emirians or any other culture we can experience here in Dubai. The taste of these crumpy looking little Finn pasties is like freshly baked crepes yet so different of any other pastry you can get here in Dubai. And hey I made these first time in my life thanks to my sister in law Tuula, who shared top tips to succeed. Tuula is from Nothern Karelia, eastern part of Finland, from the land of Karjalanpiirakka. She is our family chef for Karelian pasties, and that title is difficult to take from her. She has made thousands of these little savoury buttery rice pies.
NakedPlate Carelian Pasties from Finland

Karelian Pasty – Karjalanpiirakka Recipe

Makes ax 30 small pies
200 g rye flour
60 g wheat flour
200 ml cold water
1 ts salt
1 tbs sunflower or other cooking oil

Mix all ingredients together to make dough and leave it rest for a while. Dough can be frozen for later use and it lasts well in fridge few days.

200 g Egyptian rice (or any sticky rice like Calrose), for EMIRATI version use Harees
1 litre milk, for EMIRATI version use Camel milk
1 ts salt
1 tbs oil

Melted butter for brushing ready baked pasties

Cook rice (or harees or barley if you use) together with milk to texture and consistency of porridge. In heavy bottom pot combine milk, oil and salt bring to boil and add rice (harees or barley). Stir constantly to prevent sticking and burning. Continue cooking and stirring at low heat for 30-45 minutes or until rice (harees or barley) is done.

Now assemble the Karelian (Emirian) pasties like this:
1. Preheat oven to very hot 250-300°C.
2. Roll rye pasty crust dough into 4 equal size, 10 cm long rolls.
3. Cut ax 1,5 cm button like pieces dip each in flour (half rye and half wheat).
4. With rolling pin roll each piece into a thin oval.

I used pasta machine to make thin crusts. First use your fingers to flatten the dough button, then pass it through the machine to make it thinner, the knob on the machine on mark 3.
Repeat once again dusting the dough with flour if needed on both sides before passing it through the machine, the knob on the machine on mark 7.

5. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of the rice (harees or barley) porridge on the middle of each pasty crust.
6. Pull the sides of the pastries up and crimp them up to close the sides around the filling (watch one minute how to video clip).
7. Bake the pastries on parchment lined baking sheet in the very hot oven for 10 minutes. Until slightly golden brownish.
8. Brush with melted butter straight after taking them from the oven.

***And now eat at least one when still hot ***

8. Cover with parchment paper and tea towel to allow pasties to soften

Karelian pasty dough rolls cut in small buttons or squares

Karelian pasty dough rolls cut in small buttons or squares

Filling Karelian pasties with rice porridge

Filling Karelian pasties with rice porridge

Traditionally we eat Karelian pasties with egg-butter spread (just mash together soft butter and boiled eggs with fifty-fifty ratio, can substitute part of the butter with cottage cheese to lighten up the eggy-spread.

Pasties keep days in fridge and are so good and crispy when toasted. Eat as open sandwich topped with all your favorite sandwich fillings. Mine is warm smoked salmon with the sprinkle of dill and spoon of cottage cheese.

TIPS from novice first time Karelian pasty baker:
* Traditionally Finns used barley to make porridge for filling
* or Talkkuna which is cooked and roasted barley flour or a mixture of roasted barley, rye, oat and pea flour.
* Dip the spoon to cold water to get porridge sliding off easily.
* When folding the dough use tips of your index fingers to fold finely edges of pasties over the filling.
* Gently push crust even to avoid burning, any pointy edge of delicate crust dough will easily burn in oven.
* Make sure rice (harees or barley) porridge is evenly layered on top of the crust (again to avoid burning, see I’ve learned my lesson).

Traditional Finnish Karelian Pasty ready to be brushed with butter

Traditional Finnish Karelian Pasty with butter

Black Sea Sesame Soup

Do you drink your soup or eat your soup? Traditional Finnish soups are very hearty and full of goodies, so I never knew that one would drink the soup instead of eat it. I am a fan of soups. They are easy to make and whet the appetite before the main course or could be taken as a main meal, that’s the way I prefer to enjoy the soup with a good loaf of fresh bread and generous spread of butter on it.

I found an old Turkish cookbook from secondhand shop and discovered several simple recipes I’d love to try. The garlicky Tahini Soup from Black Sea got my immediate attention. It’s simple and suits for coming Ramadan… minus garlic though.

Recipe of Sesame Soup


1,2 liter of fresh fish stock (I used stock made from fish cubes)
60 g long-grain rice, soaked in salted water for half an hour
salt and ground black pepper
4 tbs of Tahini, sesame paste
1/2 lemon, grated zest
4 cloves of crushed garlic
finely chopped parsley to garnish the soup


Boil the fish stock and season with salt and black pepper, add drained rice. Cook 20 minutes.
In mixing bowl beat tahini with lemon zest and garlic add a little water to blend to smooth paste.
Add gradually some of the hot stock to the tahini paste, stirring all the time until it’s of pouring consistency. Then pour the tahini mixture into the soup, stir well and take off the heat, don’t let it boil or it will curdle.

Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with wedges of lemon, and always if Turkish way, with dollop of thick Turkish yoghurt.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

I want to promote my favorite Dubai based artesan Ragmatazz. Placemats in these photos are from them.
Check their pages from here Ragmatazz Lovely designs!

Baked Eggs with Rucola,Yoghurt and Chili-Sage butter – Turkish Breakfast

A perfect start for the day, lovely oven baked eggs on a rucola bed with thick yoghurt and sprinkled with chili-sage butter. Is there anything better loaded with proteins than this Turkish breakfast? Naah….

When I first saw this recipe in one of the Finnish women magazines, it was love at first sight. The full page photo of delish looking eggs and yoghurt can’t go wrong. Clip Clip.. it went to my recipe folder.
In Finland I would make it only at summer when we have fresh rucola available, all imported veggies are rather expensive. Here in Dubai you can crow rucola (Gharghir جرجير) year around, even in balcony, well if you are green finger. In case you are not, supermarkets and fresh food markets offer it year around and it is not expensive, 10 dirhams per box (2 EUR). Here’s a photo of my rucola garden, as you see, not ready yet to harvest, so I took mine from market around the corner.

My Little Herb Garden

Here’s how to make it:

Turkish Baked Eggs with Rucola, Yoghurt and Chili-Sage Butter
300 g rucola
2 teaspoon olive oil
4 eggs
150 g Turkish yoghurt or Labneh
1 garlic clove
50 g butter (salted)
½ teaspoon chili flakes
6 sage leaves

1. Heat the oven to 150°C

2. Rinse rucola leaves and heat the oil in frying pan add rucola and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.

3. Spread the slightly cooked rucola on oven proof dish. Make 4 hollows in the rucola and crack in each an egg.

4. Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the egg whites set.

5. While eggs are in oven combine the yoghurt with the garlic and salt to taste and leave at room temperature.

6. Melt the butter in a small pan and add the chili flakes, cook until the butter foams and color changes to golden brown, add finely chopped sage, and move out from stove.

7. Take the eggs out from oven and spoon over dollops of yoghurt and chili-sage butter. Serve straight when hot with the bread.

There’s no cooking if I did not twisted the recipe somehow. I did not have thick Turkish yoghurt; instead I used normal low fat yoghurt which I filtered with cheese cloth on metallic colander. Works well also thru paper kitchen towels or paper coffee filter. It takes some time, but consistency is very nice.

To get mild garlic flavor smash the clove, let soak in yoghurt and just before serving collect the smashed clove off. Gives hint of garlic taste without ruining the day of your colleagues or neighbors in the lift when you breathe your Good Morning wishes. I did not use garlic at all and taste did not suffer.

Try to bake eggs in individual oven dishes, ramekins, no fuss on serving.

It hit only when I wrote this blog post that I should have used my favorite Turkish Labneh from Pinar. Why didn’t I get it earlier, no worries, now I have to make it for next Friday brunch again.

Submitted to Breakfasts of the World Challange by Very Good Recipes.
Sahtain! Afiyet olsun!

White Glögg – Spiced Finnish Christmas Drink

The amazing smell of cinnamon and spices is surrounding my house inside out. It’s time to warm up with nice cup of glögg, a traditional Finnish winter drink called glögi in Finnish.

When weather starts to get cooler, on November in Finland, this spicy drink is just so lovely warmer. The most popular glögg is traditionally made by heating up blackcurrant juice with spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, orange peel, ginger.

I am making it to get the wonderful smell of festive spices into my house. I miss the snow and coldness of Finnish winter, this drink brings me back to my homeland whenever where ever I smell or drink it.

Glögg is available everywhere in Finland from November to January. You can get the readymade mixture and tune it for your liking with some almonds and raisins, which you have to spoon after or during drinking of it.

Modern winter drink glögg has its roots in the ancient Swedish mulled wine punch called glödgat vin, which literally means “glow wine”.  My version is non-alcoholic, but in mainstream Finnish families, part of the juice is replaced with red wine, and a dash of stronger spirit, like vodka, punsch, brandy, calvados or gin may be added to it. I have made white glögg from apple juice. Nowadays this white version has become popular, made with white wine or cider, or fruit juices like apple, pear or white grape juice.

On Christmas dinner, glögg can be served first as a welcome drink or last with the dessert, or instead of coffee and tea.

White glögg recipe


1 liter apple juice (I used cloudy apple juice, any kind of goes)

1-2 teaspoons cloves (whole)

1-2 teaspoons cardamom seeds roughly grounded

2 sticks of cinnamon

Pinch of ginger powder

Sugar (optional)


Cook half of the juice with spices about ½ hour with low heat. Strain and add rest of the juice and heat until hot again. Add sugar for your liking.

Glögg is served from tea glasses or mugs, mixed with a few blanched almonds and raisins.

Season Greetings!


Fresh Cranberry Relish

A dear child has many names is a Finnish proverb and will apply to Cranberry, one of the superfoods, as well. Did you know its Vaccinium oxycoccos, sounds funny. Or mossberry, fenberry, bearberry, what about Sassamanash. In Finnish its Karpalo, how it sounds.

This relish does not need cooking, but food processor or blender. It’s all natural, easy and healthy.
I catch this recipe years ago from Gulf News for having something with turkey dinner. It really works with many dishes as condiment.

Fresh Cranberry Relish

340 g fresh cranberries
1 orange washed, cut in quarters and deseeded
1 lemon washed, cut in quarters and deseeded
1 lime washed, cut in quarters and deseeded
Sugar to taste

1. Wash cranberries and take bad ones away, pulse with food processor or blender until very coarsely chopped.
2. Put lemon, orange and lime with peels in food processor and pulse until relish consistency.
3. Add sugar and blend few more seconds. Adjust sweetness. Store in fridge.

Easy Beasy Cranberry Jam

Think of nice crispy sour red cranberries. We have them in Dubai markets from October to January. That’s when I can enjoy my favorite cranberry cake, I will make it later and share the recipe. Its the best cake ever…. hmmm after chocolade cake, carrot cake, blueberry upsidedown, blackforest…..

I have never experienced American cranberries before, they are kind of woody as texture or consistency and dry. Are they raw actually? The ones I have even picked with my own hands in Finnish woodlands were already touched by first frost and were juicy and soft inside, bit transparent looking red and smaller than these little pearls we have here from America.

After bringing third packet of cranberries on same week, the man in Spinneys fruit section finally asked how do I eat them and are they good. I think he tried and find them far too bitter for eating.

Someone has instructed him that cranberries goes well in drinks?!. No idea about that, I am baking cakes, making jam and relish. Okay I know some Finns they flip couple of frozen berries into drinks like vodka and voila, instant winter drink is done. Not for me though.

I made this jam for custard dessert which suits well for Thanksgiving and Christmas theme.

Cranberry jam

3 cups cranberries
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
½ lemon (grated peel and the meat without white peel)
½ orange (grated peel and the meat without white peel)
½ lime (grated peel and the meat without white peel)

1. Wash cranberries and throw bad ones away.
2. Wash lemon, orange and lime very well, use organic if available.
3. Grate the rind of citrus fruits, peel and deseed. Use meat and rind. (We do not want white cover part, its bitter)
4. Mix all in pan and cook together until cranberries burst and bit more about 20 min.
5. Put in very clean (boiled) class jar and let it cool.

Jam will come thicker when it cools. Keep in fridge.

Yammy jammy jam jam!!

Cottage Cheese pancake – Russian Syrniki

In Finland Thursday is “pancake and pea soup” -day. While my friend remind me last week about pancake day, I got inspiration to try something called syrniki, from my neighbor country Russia, after Salme said that Russian pancakes beat the normal ones. The recipe asks for quark, but I have not found it in supermarkets here in Dubai. Instead I am using cottage cheese, the creamier the better.

In Russian cuisine syrnikis (сы́рник[и]) are fried quark cheese pancakes eaten with sour cream, jam, honey, or apple sauce. They are also known as tvorozhniki (творо́жники) in Russia. It is a traditional Russian dessert or breakfast food and there are so many variations of it. I like this simple recipe for my perfect protein filled breakfast, it is healthy too. Use low fat cottage cheese and garnish with fresh berries.

Russian Syrniki recipe


1 cup cottage cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons semolina flour (optional)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/3 cup canola oil for frying


1. Mix together the cottage cheese, beaten eggs and sugar. Stir in semolina and all-purpose flour, and work into soft dough. If you do not have semolina, use 2 tbs of flour instead.

2. Heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Spoon pancake dough on to the pan and fry the syrniki in hot oil until golden brown on each side, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Serve with dollop of cream, sour cream or crème fraiche and fruit jam or preserve or fresh fruits.

* * *

I could not resist of having them with my mom’s homemade raspberry preserve and spoonful of organic crème fraiche. What more to ask, oh a nice cup of tea of course. Delish!

‘How to’ link

Blueberry Upside Down Cake

Blueberry season is here!

When I was a kid we spend every summer holidays in my grandma’s farmhouse in the middle of Finland. Every year we followed my parents with my sister and brother to the forest beside the farm. It was not just another picnic day. We were picking up blueberries, cloudberries, raspberries and mushrooms. Best part of the harvest trip was my mom’s homemade snacks we got to eat on the trip. We had hardly arrived to those blueberry tussocks when we started to ask if we are already there and can we eat already.

Best bake made of blueberries is traditional Finnish blueberry pie made on mildly-sweet dessert bread dough called pulla in Finnish. Making pulla is challenge for me I have not yet succeeded.
Instead I have another easy recipe for blueberries Blueberry Upside down cake. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Now let’s get blue lips….

Blueberry Upside down Cake

3 cups fresh blueberries (or frozen, thawed & drained)
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
2-3 tablespoons butter

Spread berries evenly in bottom of greased springform or cake pan. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine sugar and corn starch and pour over berries. Dot with butter.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream or yoghurt
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

2. Beat butter and sugars on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. On low speed add half the flour mixture then mix to combine. Add sour cream or yoghurt and vanilla. Mix to combine. Add remaining flour mixture and mix until smooth. Spread batter evenly over the blueberries in the springform or cake pan.

3. Bake at 180-200°C (350°F) until golden brown, edges begin to pull away from the side of the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on rack for 10 minutes. Run knife around edge to loosen cake. Invert onto plate. Invert again onto serving plate. If any blueberries remain in the pan just put them back on top of the cake. Cut into wedges and serve.

Note: At first when you pull the cake out of the oven to test, it looks that the cake is still very liquid. On second time you test and it still appears to be just as liquid, it’s because the cake is moving on top of the layer of blueberries. The large amount of butter and shifting blueberries makes an almost liquid layer on the bottom of the cake. It’s normal and it will set after cooling.

Ma’amoul – Dates and Semolina Cookies

Ramadan is around the corner, families in Dubai are getting ready for Ramadan. There are lots of special foods and ingredients coming to stores soon. I love Ramadan, its quiet and peaceful time, chance to spend time with friends and family. During the Ramadan fasting between sun rise and sun set, from not only eating and drinking, but also from all sorts of pleasures of this life, is mandatory for all Muslims.

On Ramadan Dubai kind of wakes up after seven o’clock at evening when sun disappears to horizon. Restaurants open their doors and spread their Breakfast, Iftar buffet’s, for all folks to enjoy. Shops are open later than normally, until 1 AM and last meal before sunrise, called Sohour is available at homes and restaurants around 1 to 3 AM.

I want to share Ma’amoul (عمول‎) recipe with you. This shortbread pastry cookie is one of my favorite. It’s easy to make, tasty and crisp. Normally these cookies are filled with dates or nuts. It can be filled with a variety of nuts, but is best made with walnuts, pistachios, or almonds. We love date filled Ma’amoul. I clipped this Syrian recipe from newspaper four years ago.

In Dubai there is date cookies available from supermarkets all year along; during Ramadan it’s so nice to enjoy homemade cookies. Here we go, why don’t you give it a try, any time of year, when you need tasty cookie with your glass of milk.

Ma’amoul Recipe

1 cup (185g) semolina (see note)
1 cup (150g) all purpose flour
2 tbs caster sugar
(2 tbs milk powder, optional)
1/4 tsp baking powder
125g butter
1 cup (160g) pitted dates, chopped
2 tbs water
2 tbs butter
Icing sugar to dust

1. Combine semolina, flour, sugar, (milk powder) and baking powder in a bowl and mix with 125g of soft butter to make smooth dough. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight to rest.

2. Combine dates, water and 2 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until dates soften. Set aside to cool.

3. Preheat oven to 180°C. Spoon 1 1/2-tbs of dough into moulds (see note). Use your fingers to press pastry firmly around bases and sides of moulds, leaving a small hollow in the centers. Spoon date mixture into it, seal well with dough.

4. Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool and dust with icing sugar.

Semolina is durum wheat flour that is more coarsely ground than regular flour.

Special Ma’amoul cookie moulds can be substitute with baking trays for mini-muffin; those are available from kitchenware shops. Or you could just form balls or any shapes from dough and press hollow with your thumb, fill with date mixture and bring edges together to seal well.

Ramadan Karim!