Tag Archives: middle east

Conscientious Traveler: Caravan-Serai

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This Month: Caravan-Serai

Welcome back to Conscientious Traveler–-our monthly series in which we showcase a fantastic travel organization that supports humanitarian and/or environmental work. This month is all about Caravan-Serai!

Caravan Serai is a Seattle-based tour operator that guides clients through the Middle East and North Africa, as well as parts of Iran, Caucasus, Cuba and now even an Arctic Adventure Cruise (ask WIT for deets). They are our go-to affordable experts in the Middle East, and we’re proud to feature them as one of our top recommended vendors. Travel with them include reputable guides, accommodation, most meals, and some flight connections.

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Salaam Culture Museum: A Way to Give Back

So where does the Conscientious Traveler come in? Rita Zawaideh, owner of Caravan-Serai, is also the Founder of Salaam Cultural Museum. The SCM is based out of Seattle and they regularly host a variety of educational exhibits, lectures, publications, seminars and folklore evenings. Stop by if you’re in the Pacific Northwest! (3806 Whitman Ave. N., Seattle 98103)

Through her work running tours and the museum, Rita has always aimed to promote cultural understanding of the Arab World. Over the years, the museum has refocused its efforts as a humanitarian organization. The philanthropic SCM Medical Missions is dedicated to providing humanitarian aid to people affected by disaster within Middle East and North Africa.

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In the past few months, SCM have shipped out blankets and school supplies to Syrian refugees; run clothing drives in partnership with Value Village thrift store; volunteered at refugee camps in Greece. In 2013, SCM opened up the Malki Children’s Center in Amman, educating refugee children ages 6 to 12 who have been traumatized by war.

Their program for Humanitarian Goods involves a team of volunteers who knit warm clothing and make arrangements to ship them to Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Click here to learn more or to donate. You can also volunteer to assist in clothing drives or even as an humanitarian volunteer in Greece.

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Winter Recipes: Shushbarak

Every year, Caravan-Serai shares unique holiday recipes from the Middle East that we love. Here is a special dish from this winter’s roundup.

 

All photos courtesy of Caravan-Serai
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Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Mhalabia

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Happy Holidays from Caravan-Serai Tours and Willamette Intl Travel!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

Today’s recipe is a Syrian pudding recipe from Aleppo. It’s made with milk, rose water, crushed pistachios, some cardamom, corn starch as sugar. If you have traveled to Syria or Jordan you have probably tasted this light and exotic tasting pudding. Treat your family to it this holiday season!

Flickr Creative Commons (c) Andrea Nguyen

Flickr Creative Commons (c) Andrea Nguyen

3 cups milk

1 cup heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup sugar

1 tbs rose water

1 cup cold water

2 cardamom pods, crushed

6 tbs corn starch

Crushed pistachios

  • Mix milk and sugar together in a sauce pan, then heat to a boil – stirring frequently.
  • Whisk water and cornstarch together in a bowl until smooth; stir into boiling milk. Cook milk mixture over medium heat until thickened to the consistency of cake batter, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and stir cream, rose water, and cardamom into milk mixture.
  • Divide into 6 serving dishes or keep in a bowl, what ever you prefer, and put into the refrigerator to cool – about 2-4 hours
  • Just before serving sprinkle crushed pistachios on top.

Caravan Serai is a Seattle-based company that specializes in small-group escorted tours to destinations in the Middle East and North Africa such as Jordan, Turkey and Morocco. Expert guides escort guests through fun-filled and tasty itineraries, valuing comfort and safety all the while trekking across ancient paths and historical ruins.

Call Willamette Intl Travel to Discuss More Options for Travel in the Middle East!

To read what a Sample 5-Day Tour through Jordan might look like, click here:

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Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Cucumber Salad & Galayat Bandura

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Happy Holidays from Caravan-Serai Tours and Willamette Intl Travel!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

Cucumber & Yogurt Salad ~ Salat Khyar

  • 1lb cucumber
  • 2lb yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh mint

Peel and dice the cucumbers, crush garlic with salt and mint and stir into yogurt. Add the cucumbers and mix. Serve with mint garnish.

Galayat Bandura

This dish is a popular dish which can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner, as hot mezza or main course. You can add scrambled eggs, tuna, or chicken – whatever you like! “Gulayat” is the Arabic word for skillet, so the name literally translated means skillet of tomatoes.

  • 1lb tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 green chili peppers
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Saute the pine nuts in oil until light brown, remove from oil and save as the garnish (save the oil in the skillet).
  2. Finely chop tomatoes and chilies
  3. Slice garlic and saute in the same oil until light brown, then add the tomatoes, chilies (I recommend starting with half the amount of chilies and taste the mixture after a few minutes to see if you want to add more), and salt
  4. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes
  5. Pour into shallow serving dish and garnish with pine nuts

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 to discuss options for travel in and around the Middle East.

To read what a Sample Tour through Morcco & Tunisia would look like, click here.

Caravan Serai is a Seattle-based company that specializes in small-group escorted tours to destinations in the Middle East and North Africa such as Jordan, Turkey and Morocco. Expert guides escort guests through fun-filled and tasty itineraries, valuing comfort and safety all the while trekking across ancient paths and historical ruins.

To read more about Caravan-Serai, click here.

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Filed under Caravan Serai, Middle East, Travel by Taste, Vendors

Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Tahina Salad

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Happy Holidays from Caravan-Serai Tours and Willamette Intl Travel!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

Today’s recipe is another quick and easy salad from the Petra Kitchen:

Tahina Salad ~ Salat Khodra bil Tahina

3 large tomatoes
3 medium cucumbers
1 hot green pepper
1 small onion
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup tahina
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup vinegar
2 garlic cloves

  • Peel and dice the cucumbers and onions
  • Chop tomatoes very finely
  • Mince hot pepper and add to vegetables
  • Crush garlic with salt, stir into dressing of tahina, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt
  • Dressing mixture should be the consistency of cream, if too thick add a little water to thin
  • Pour tahina mixture over vegetables and stir well. Serve with a garnish of parsley sprig

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Filed under Africa, Middle East, Morocco, Travel by Taste

Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Baba Ganuj

Happy Holidays from Caravan-Serai Tours and Willamette Intl Travel!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

Today’s recipe: Baba Ganuj or Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ganuj

 

2lbs (1kg) eggplants

1 large tomato

1 green pepper

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves

1 Tbs salt

1 Tbs mint

2 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs lemon juice

2 Tbs pomegranate molasses

 

  • Roast the eggplant s on a baking dish in medium oven approximately one hour, or until the skin darkens and begins to split, remove from oven to cool
  • When eggplants are cool enough handle, break open and scoop out the insides
  • Mash the pulp with a fork until a smooth puree
  • Add olive oil and lemon juice and set aside
  • Finely chop tomato, pepper and onion, add them to eggplant puree and stir
  • Crush garlic in a pestle with salt and stir into juice and olive oil
  • Add liquid to vegetable mixture and mix well
  • Stir in the mint
  • Serve in a shallow bowl with garnish of tomatoes or parsley sprigs and pita bread

A variation on this recipe is to cook the eggplant on a BBQ, it will enhance the smokey flavor! Enjoy!

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 to discuss options for travel in and around the Middle East.

To read what a Sample 5 Day Emirates Desert Adventure with Caravan-Serai would look like, click here.

Caravan Serai is a Seattle-based company that specializes in small-group escorted tours to destinations in the Middle East and North Africa such as Jordan, Turkey and Morocco. Expert guides escort guests through fun-filled and tasty itineraries, valuing comfort and safety all the while trekking across ancient paths and historical ruins.

To read more about Caravan-Serai, click here.

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Filed under Africa, Egypt, Middle East, Morocco, Travel by Taste, Turkey, UAE, VOTM

12 Days of Holiday Cooking

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Welcome to the 2014 12 Days of Holiday Cooking from Caravan-Serai Tours!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

 

Lentil Soup ~ Shourbat Abas

1 Cup brown lentils
6 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 up olive oil or ghee
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
a dash of pepper
croutons for garnish

  • Rinse lentils and drain
  • Place in a saucepan with the water over medium heat and bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat and simmer for half an hour
  • Remove from heat; strain/mash lentil and water mixture through a vegetable strainer
  • Return pureed lentil mixture to pot and cook over medium heat and stir in cumin, salt, and pepper
  • Brown the chopped onion in oil or ghee, then add to the lentil mixture
  • Cook the lentils and onion over medium heat for 5 minutes
  • Sprinkle the soup with chopped parsley and croutons

This makes a great first course, is easy, and requires very few ingredients! It’s also great on a cold winter day. Enjoy!

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 to discuss options for travel in and around the Middle East.

To read what a Sample 9-Day Tour of Jordan with Caravan-Serai would look like, click here.

Caravan Serai is a Seattle-based company that specializes in small-group escorted tours to destinations in the Middle East and North Africa such as Jordan, Turkey and Morocco. Expert guides escort guests through fun-filled and tasty itineraries, valuing comfort and safety all the while trekking across ancient paths and historical ruins.

To read more about Caravan-Serai, click here.

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Filed under Caravan Serai, Middle East, North America, Travel by Taste, Vendors, VOTM

On the Ground in Dubai!

Last January 2013, WIT Agent Pam Davis took the nonstop flight from Seattle on Emirates Airlines to the luxury city of Dubai. With the airline expanding new ports all over the world, it’s not uncommon that your trip to Russia or Africa is going to have a forced overnight in Dubai! Why not attach an extension on your trip to explore the Arab World? Check out the details in our On the Ground with Pam.

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Dubai is a fascinating destination. The country is part of the United Arab Emirates—there are seven different emirates which have banded together. The largest of these are Abu Dhabi, the capital, and Dubai. Abu Dhabi has more oil resources while the economy of Dubai is based more on business and tourism.

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Dubai is a country of superlatives. They have the largest shopping mall in the world (complete with an indoor ski slope!), and the Burj Khalifa which is the tallest building in the world (I went to the top in the fastest elevator in the world – it took 30 seconds to climb 125 floors to an observation tower). Everything seems over-the-top. Hotels are opulent, and Dubai 962construction seems to be going on everywhere. I stayed at the Atlantis Hotel, located at the top end of Palm Island,a man-made series of sand islands that jut out into the gulf and from the air look like a palm tree. Even the public transportation is luxurious—the metro line has first and second class cars; the first class cars have leather seats, and each train has a separate car designated for women and children only. There are special pink taxis with women drivers, also designated for women and children.

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The population of the emirate is now 75% expatriate—local citizens represent only 25% of the population. Most of the people are workers who come from India and the Philippines, with some Europeans and Americans who work for foreign companies. The locals have some extraordinary benefits— free housing (and it looks very nice), free education (even at foreign schools), and no income tax. No wonder they love Sheik Mohammed, the hereditary ruler. While the resort hotels accept Western-style dress, much of the country is still somewhat conservative. Men wear traditional white robes, and women wear black burkas which are basically robes covering street clothing when out in public. Inside the shopping malls are uniformed women who patrol the corridors, passing out dress code requests for women whose skirts or sleeves are deemed too short.

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Dubai is on the edge of the desert, and while there I was able to go 4-wheeling in the desert dunes, a Dubai 935popular pastime for tourists and a good contrast to the city and beaches. The service on Emirates Airlines was excellent, and they have an extensive route system connecting their Seattle gateway with the Middle East, Asia and Africa. They also have some good stopover packages—with a 3 or 4 night stay en route to another destination, you can experience much of what Dubai has to offer.

WIT Agent Pam would love to share with you more of her firsthand tips from Dubai! Call her at 503-224-0180 for more information on Dubai or Emirates. 

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