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By Sarah Elmusrati

Summer is in full swing now, and eating is all about feeling light and refreshed.  Now is the time to eat fresh and raw with plenty of fruits, juices, and salads. Go cool by making your own popsicles, sherbets and sorbets; or go hot by turning up the flames and grilling meat, fish and vegetables.


Eat what's fresh

Great to eat this month are:  cactus figs, mulberries, pears, figs, peaches, apricots, plums, nectarines, grapes, cantaloupes, watermelon, okra, baby plum tomatoes, chili peppers, corn, borlotti beans, lettuce,  parsley, coriander and other herbs.

Try Something New

Indian figs or Hindi 

Also known as Cactus Figs, hindi (the Arabic for Indian) is the fruit of the cactus plant commonly planted in Libya as natural fencing on farmlands and along the edge of roads, where other plants would not survive. It is best to handle these figs with thick rubber kitchen gloves as the microscopic spines latch on to the skin and can be very irritating and difficult to remove. Peel the figs by first cutting off the ends, then making a slit down the side, and sliding a paring knife all the way around.  Best eaten refrigerated, this fruit also makes good juices, jams and salads. Green hindi is still early in its season; within a few months it will turn into beautiful magenta and yellow hues, and will be much sweeter. 

Try a Local Recipe

Sahara Burgers: Camel Burgers w/ Libyan Salsa and Rocket 

Try this Libyan twist on the classic American hamburger for your 4th of July barbeque this year. The use of camel meat has many benefits over the traditional beef; camel meat is low in cholesterol, high in protein and is free-range and local.  Always ask for young camel meat or gu'ud when buying from the butcher, as the older variety can be very tough.  The accompanying salsa is a variation of a traditional Libyan summer salad, which can be served as a side dish or as a light meal with bread and watermelon. 

Makes 6 burgers

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 15 minutes 


For the burger:

6 hamburger buns or bread rolls

1 kg ground young camel meat gu'ud

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper harissa (chili paste)

2 bunches rocket leaves (arugula) 

For the salsa:

2 medium plum tomatoes

1 small onion

1 large cucumber

3 radishes

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

2 tbsp chopped parsley 

Start by making the salsa, as the burgers will cook quickly and are best served hot. Finely chop the tomatoes, onion, cucumber and radishes.  In a bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar/ lemon juice, salt and sugar. Add the vegetables and chopped parsley. Mix well and set aside. 

In a large bowl, season the ground camel meat with salt and pepper. Mix well. Divide into six equal portions. Shape each portion into a round patty, slightly large than the size of the bun, to allow for shrinkage as some of the fat cooks off.  Make the edge slightly thicker than the center of the patty, this will allow the meat to cook more evenly. Brush the burgers with vegetable oil, to prevent from sticking to the cooking surface. 

Grill the burgers on a barbeque, or fry in a heavy non-stick or cast-iron pan. A few minutes on each side should do, depending on your temperature preference; i.e. how well done you would like it to be cooked. 

Serve the burgers on the buns with a dollop of harissa (go easy on this if your not big on the heat), a couple of tablespoons of salsa and some rocket leaves. 


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Published July 2010