Stumbling upon treasure: meet Diamond, a passionate cook.
If you met on the street, you'd think she was an athlete. An energy hard to contain, with a physique to match, Diamond is, in fact a mother of four and a talented chef.
Diamond is currently on assignment with Joyce Ma (featured on the Lorrie Graham blog today!) and when we visited, we were persuaded to stay to lunch. Working quietly at the open kitchen, I watched in fascination as this warm and lovely woman, dressed in jeans and trainers cooked quietly and efficiently, not missing a beat.
It was quite apparent we were being treated to a feast. Joyce is, after all, internationally known as a hostess, apart from being the Queen of fashion.
I asked Diamond if we could chat and share her story with you.
Tina: Amazing food, Diamond, thank you! Where did you learn to cook?
Diamond: I come from Achrafieh, a district of Beirut. I was one of seven children, and my mother was always cooking. Cooking for friends and family is in my blood. I'm always trying to perfect my own food, or re-create, and enhance flavours.
Tina: How do you keep fit cooking all the time?
Diamond: I'm always trying to watch my health and my weight. It's tabouli and fatoush salads for me! I'm also busy all the time, shopping and cooking for my own family, and for work.
Tina: What is your cooking philosophy?
Diamond: I try to always incorporate home grown or farm fresh produce, and I always like to know where the food I'm cooking comes from.
Tina: Diamond, you're unusual in the way you share your cooking skills. Tell us more?
Diamond: I wouldn't call myself a personal chef, I'm more a passionate cook.
I cook for family and friends, and on occasion, I'll cook for special events.
Tina: How do you go about planning a meal?
Diamond: My meals come from culture and experience. I make food that I know will please the tastebuds of both young and old.
My food brings people together and creates happiness.
Tina: Would you be kind enough share the intoxicatingly delicious burnt onion rice recipe we just tasted?
Diamond: Here it is, with pleasure!
Sayadieh Rice (Caramelised Rice)
2 brown onions
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups water
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
juice half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon coriander
Sprinkle of seven spices *
1 cup long grain rice
Chop onions and fry in the olive oil over medium heat.
Cook until it caramelizes to a nice deep brown, but be careful not to burn.
Add water and allow to boil for 15 minutes, and remove from heat.
Place a strainer over a bowl, and pour the liquid through it.
Use the back of the spoon to push the mushy onion through the strainer.
Now add the lemon juice, cinnamon, cumin, salt, coriander and the sprinkle of seven spices.
Mix well, return to the saucepan and bring to the boil.
Pour in the cup of rice, lower to a simmer, and cook on low heat until rice is tender.
When cooked, serve topped with fried nuts and garnish with pomegranate seeds and fresh coriander.
Serve with your favourite protein mains and veggies.
Here's a recipe for the Arabic 'Seven Spices' :
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Mix together and keep in an airtight jar.
Further note: some images kind courtesy of Lorrie Graham.