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Sunday, 16 June 2019

Chef El-Sherbini: Get the Oriental Egyptian flavour this Ramadan for iftar

Ahram Online talks with renowned Egyptian chef El-Sherbini about his cooking, ethics in the kitchen, and his delicious, mouth-watering recipes

Ghada Abdel-Kader , Sunday 19 May 2019
Chef El-Sherbini looks busy cooking in the kitchen photo courtesy from chef El-Sherbini
Chef El-Sherbini busy cooking in the kitchen (photo courtesy from chef El-Sherbini)
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Egyptian chef El-Sherbini (full name Abdel-Samea Mohamed Ali El-Sherbini) is one of the most famous chefs in Egypt and Arab world.

El-Sherbini inherited his love of cooking from his father who was executive chef at the Armed Forces Officers Club in Zamalek.

He recalled: “I was working as assistant chef with my father in the 70s in my school vacation. My father cooked for kings, presidents of states, such as former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, and countless dignitaries."

“I repeated the same pattern with my son Alaa, who is a chef too, and I taught him that the most important part in his cooking routine is honesty and cleanliness,” El-Sherbini said.

El-Sherbini lived in Europe for 12 years. He started at the bottom of the ladder in his career. He worked on a large boat in the Caribbean Sea as assistant cook for three years where he gained tangible experience and improved his skills.

He regards food presentation as pivotal in making dishes look irresistible.

El-Sherbini told Ahram Online: “Oriental food doesn’t have presentation. It is simply slapping food on a plate without any rhyme, but I added a new touch to Egyptian cuisine, making a lovely mix between Eastern and Western food styling.”

El-Sherbini graduated from Faculty of Tourism and Hotel Management in Italy. He was nominated by the Ministry of Tourism to promote Egyptian tourism in Europe (1986-2002).  When he returned to Cairo, he became master chef for the Ramses Hilton Hotel.

His first cooking show on Egyptian satellite TV was with presenter Sherif Madkour. The show, called "Men Kol Balad Akla," lasted for seven years. 

Then, he presented a show on El-Majid Saudi channel for a year, before presenting "Sufra Dayma" on El-Hayah Channel. He then moved to CBC Sofra to present his famous Egyptian cooking show called "El-Chef." 

For the holy month of Ramadan, El-Sherbini shared with Ahram Online some of his delicious recipes.

Egyptian rice stuffed Cabbage leaves and whole roasted duck recipes Photo credit: CBC Sofra
Egyptian rice stuffed Cabbage leaves and whole roasted duck recipes (Photo credit: CBC Sofra)

Cabbage leaves stuffed with rice (Mahshi Kuronb)

Ingredients:

1 medium cabbage

½ kilo white rice (washed, drained)

½ kilo fresh tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato purée

1 large punch of each (fresh parsley, dill, coriander finely chopped)

1 cup of chopped onions

Cumin, salt and black pepper

Pinch of hot (chili) powder (optional, but it brings nice warmth to the dish)

¼ cup vegetable oil

½ litre duck stock

Method

Make the cabbage leaves:

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Cut the cabbage in half vertically and cut out the middle parts. Plunge into the boiling water and cook. The leaves should be tender and not overcooked. Cut out the central vein resulting in making pieces of cabbage leaves about the size of your hand.

For the filling:

Put in a bowl chopped onions, fresh chopped parsley, dill, coriander, tomatoes, 1 tbsp of tomato puree, season with salt, pepper cumin and a pinch of hot chili and oil. Add rice and mix well.

Roll perfect stuffed cabbage leaves:

Use a large cooking pan. Add a layer of the thick removed veins at the bottom of the pan.

Layer onion slices and then add two chicken stock cubes. Take one by one cabbage leaves in the palm of your hands, place a small amount of the rice mixture in the centre of each leaf and begin rolling to form a finger-like shape.

Arrange stuffed cabbage leave rolls inside the cooking pan to form a nice shape. Continue until the quantity is finished. Pour ½ litre of duck stock over stuffed cabbage to cover the top and bring to boil. Leave to simmer on a low heat for  30-35 minutes until cooked and all the stock is absorbed.

Duck

2 onions

1 carrot cubed

2 whole tomatoes

Chopped celery stalks

White radish 

Bay leaf

Cardamom

Salt

Black pepper

Method:

Fill a large pot with tap of water and heat on a stove until it boils.

Add bouquet garning ingredients (onions, carrot, tomatoes, bundle of celery, white radish, bay leaf, cardamom), slowly bringing ingredients to boil with water.

Place the duck and season with salt and pepper.

Cover the pot and simmer until the duck is cooked. Remove duck from the stock and let it cool.

Rub the duck skin with a mixture of tomato and oil or butter. Place duck in a roasting pan in a pre-heated oven.

Roast for five minutes or until nice and golden brown. Then remove from the oven. Place the cabbage rolls on a plate and duck on top.

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