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Huge apologies – I’m very late with my Foodie Penpal reveal post for September!

This month I received a package from Sarah at The Christie Clan Diaries. Sarah sent me a really detailed email asking for my likes and dislikes, and I told her that I’m really interested in exploring new cuisine – particularly North African and Arabic cooking.

I got a huge box through the post absolutely jam-packed with thoughtful goodies. Sarah included a lovely letter and two recipes – tabbouleh and tagine – and several of the ingredients needed to make them.

The first things I unpacked were the essential ingredients for the tagine. three sachets of spices – cinnamon, tumeric and cumin -

and two cans of East End chickpeas

I next unpacked a container of Cayenne Pepper. I have never cooked with Cayenne pepper before, and was a little bit apprehensive about using it, so I erred on the side of caution when adding it to food. I’ve since discovered that I love the spicy kick, and have been adding it to nearly everything I make! – so far I’ve particularly enjoyed it in Shepherd’s Pie.

I received a huge bag of bulgur wheat – one of the main ingredients in the tabbouleh recipe. One of my friends also gave me a tabbouleh recipe a couple of weeks ago, but North London seems to have some kind of bulgur wheat shortage, so I was really pleased to get this. I’ve made tabbouleh about six times since I received the package – it’s a really great way to make my usual lunchtime salad more interesting.

Speaking of salads, I mentioned to Sarah that I eat a lot of salads, and are always looking for new ingredients to make them more interesting, like these delicious croutons!

Next out of the box were two packages from Al’fez, an authentic Moroccan and Lebanese food brand. I really love the flavour of this Falafel Mix, another perfect lunchtime addition

and a bottle of tahini – a Middle Eastern paste made from sesame seeds – which is delicious as a sauce on the falafel or just on it’s own with warm pitta bread. I discovered a really nice recipe in one of my mum’s old Weight Watchers magazines. It’s just toasted pitta, coated in tahini, with a slice of parma ham and a few slices of pear but it is delicious.

The last savoury food was Puy Lentils with Porcini Mushrooms. I wasn’t too fussed on lentils before I tried this, but it is really lovely and has changed my opinion of lentils from something that I tolerated to a main event dish.

Sarah is a runner too and understands the need for delicious – but healthy! – treats for after a tough workout, and had included a Nākd Bar in Cocoa Orange. I was really excited about this as I haven’t tried one before, and I was very proud of myself for waiting until after my next gym visit instead of eating it while I unpacked the rest of the box.

Nākd is a relatively new, relatively small British company which prides itself on producing natural, healthy snacks. The Cocoa Orange is apparently one of their most popular flavours and was really delicious – a perfect balance between bitter cocoa and tangy orange. It is also dairy-free, gluten-free, low in sugar and suitable for vegetarians. A big thumbs up from me!

As you can see, Sarah put together a really thoughtful package for me, packed full of delicious new food for me to enjoy cooking and eating. Thank you very much!

Are you a fan of Arabic or North African cuisine? What is your favourite dish? And, most importantly, what else can I put my Cayenne pepper on?

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