Kapsa

Chicken Kapsa is a popular chicken and rice dish found in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East. It is a dish we cook regularly in our house. It is considered the national dish of Saudi Arabia and is often eaten at family dinners. There are many kinds of Kapsa. This version has some unique ingredients that you will have to either make yourself or hunt down in a Middle Eastern grocery store. One of these ingredients is dried lime (sometimes called "black lime", or loomi) or lemon. Dried limes or lemons are exactly what they sound like, which means they're dried until they're completely desiccated. You can make them yourself but it will take weeks or even months (I haven't tried using a dehydrator). You need to poke 3 or 4 holes in the dried limes so that the flavors can permeate the dish. Also, you can either buy Arabic Seven Spice (called baharat in Turkey, which simply means "spices") in a Middle-Eastern grocery store or make it yourself (see ingredients below). Basmati rice is the rice of choice; other rices simply won't work very well with this dish. If you can get aged Basmati rice, it tastes better. You can augment Kapsa with raisins, almonds or pine nuts. While Saudis often eat lamb at ceremonial or festive occasions, they are the highest consumers of chicken per capita in the world. If you can find soft kimaje flatbread, that's a good complement to this dish. Salata Kheyyar Bel-Labban is a yogurt, cucumber and mint "salad" that is excellent with Kapsa. Using strained (Greek, Indian, or Middle Eastern) yogurt is best. Pre-prepared sauces are not nearly as tasty. Like many foods, the yogurt salad and the Kapsa itself taste better the next day.

Kapsa Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken cut up
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 small can tomato paste, fresh tomatoes or small can of tomatoes
  • 2 tablepoons Arabic Seven Spice
  • 1 cinnamon stick, or a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 4 dried lemons or limes (with 1/4 inch holes poked in them)
  • 2 tablespoons raisins (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic (optional)
  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 cups rinsed Basmati rice

Arabic Seven Spice (baharat) Mixture

Thoroughly mix the following finely ground spices:

  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preparation

  1. Put the chicken and all the other ingredients except the rice into a medium large pot.
  2. Bring to a boil and then cover pot and simmer on medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
  3. Transfer the chicken pieces (leave behind the limes and tomatoes) from the pot to an oven-proof dish and place dish into an oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Add rice to the pot on the stove top.
  5. Bring to a boil again, cover and reduce heat to low.
  6. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the rice is fully cooked and all the broth is absorbed.
  7. Fill a serving dish or platter with cooked spice rice, putting the chicken pieces on top of the rice.

Salata Kheyyar Bel-Labban (Yogurt & Cucumber Sauce)

Combine in a mixing bowl the following:

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped or quartered and sliced very thinly *
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed or chrushed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint

* Peeling the cucumber is optional. Usually I puree half the sliced cucumbers, and mix half the yogurt along with the salt, garlic, olive oil and mint in a food processor. Afterwards I combine the pureed mixture with the remainder of the cucumbers and yogurt. For a slightly different taste, dill can be substituted for the mint.

Recipe and photo: T. Johnston-O'Neill

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Coq au vin

The following recipe is based mostly on Julie Child's recipe from her acclaimed book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Like many artistic endeavors, it does take a bit of patience and care. Coq au Vin literally means "Rooster with Wine" in French. Child can be credited with the fame the dish achieved, and nowadays many celebrity chefs have their own versions. The origins of Coq au Vin are shrouded in the mists of history. The ingredients and cooking techniques are very similar (albeit with beef) to Boeuf Bourguignon which we featured in a previous recipe of the month. Like that dish, Coq au Vin uses some very useful cooking techniques (sautéing mushrooms, making a roux and flambé) with wider applications. Child ended her final book, My Life in France, with the following words "... thinking back on it now reminds that the pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite—toujours bon appétit! This recipe requires you to do three things at once: while the chicken is cooking you should prepare the onions and mushrooms. Alternatively, you can prepare the onions and mushrooms beforehand, adding them as the final step of preparation. Also, please note that the chicken stock, thyme and bay leaf are used to make both the chicken and the onions.

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices thick bacon
  • 1 large stewing chicken, cut up
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 1 cup (Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Beaujolais or Chianti - Note: Don't use Cabernet!)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (use half for main pot and the other half for onions)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme (use half for main pot and the other half for onions)
  • 1 1/5 bay leaf (use half for main pot and the other half for onions)
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 25 to 30 pearl onions
  • 2 tablespoons of light olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 pound mushrooms, washed, trimmed and quartered if large or halved if small.
  • 2 sprigs of parsley

Preparation:

This recipe calls for a large and deep skillet or pan that has a cover. A Dutch oven works fine.

  1. Slice the bacon into 1-inch pieces and cook on medium heat in a large skillet until lightly crisp.
  2. Remove the bacon from the skillet.
  3. Brown chicken pieces in bacon fat, turning to brown all sides. Use a large enough skillet so that the chicken isn't crowded. If the chicken is wet, dry with paper towels first. The USDA recommends washing poultry before you start cooking because otherwise there are risks of contamination from splashing the contaminated water about.
  4. After the chicken is brown, return the bacon to the pan, cover the skillet and cook the chicken for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Turn the chicken over in the skillet, cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  6. Uncover the pan and pour in the cognac all around the top of the chicken. Flambé by carefully igniting with a lighted match. Swirl the pan around and let the cognac burn off all its alcohol.
  7. Pour the bottle of red wine into the pan and add just enough chicken broth to completely cover the chicken pieces.
  8. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme.
  9. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover the pan and simmer slowly for about 30 minutes or until the chicken meat is tender when pierced with a fork or an instant-read meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  10. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.
  11. Turn the pan to high heat and boil until there is about 2 cups of liquid remaining and then reduce to a simmer.
  12. In a small bowl, blend 3 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons of softened butter until it becomes a smooth paste.
  13. Whisk the butter/flour paste into the simmering liquid in the pan.
  14. Continue stirring the pan until the sauce thickens (about a minute or so). If the sauce becomes too thick, add more chicken stock. If it is too thin, simmer until it thickens.
  15. Taste the sauce and add more salt or pepper to taste.

Browned Braised Onions

  1. Create a herb bouquet by placing the thyme, parsley and bay leaf in a tea ball or by making a pouch with some cheesecloth.
  2. Cut off the root end of each pearl onion.
  3. Bring 2 to 3 cups of water to a boil and drop in the onions for 1 minute.
  4. Remove the onions from the pot, allow them to cool, and then peel.
  5. Add butter and olive oil and heat until the butter stops bubbling.
  6. Add the onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, gently moving the onions about so they do not burn.
  7. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and the herb bouquet. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer the onions for 40 minutes on low heat.

Sautéing the Mushrooms

Although it is often used somewhat indiscriminately as a term, sautéing refers to cooking ingredients on high heat while tossing them so that they don't burn. Sautéing requires less oil than frying and that is the best way to cook the mushrooms for this dish. It is worth the effort.

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan and heat until the butter stops bubbling.
  2. Sauté on high heat, tossing continuously for 4 to 5 minutes, until mushrooms are lightly browned.

Finishing the Preparation

Return the chicken to the sauce and add the onions and mushrooms, basting everything with the sauce.

If any of the ingredients have become cold during preparation, just bring the sauce back up to temperature and heat through.

Coq au Vin can be served with potatoes, wide noodles or even rice. The dish is particularly good with wide German egg noodles. Like many dishes, Coq au Vin is even better tasting the day after it was prepared.

Recipe by T. Johnston-O'Neill
Photo by Shari K. Johnston-O'Neill

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Lahmacun

Lahmacun (or Turkish pizza) can be enjoyed at any time of the day as a delicious snack or entree, and is wonderful for lunch or picnic. The combination of garlic, lamb, vegetables, tomato, yogurt, and crispy dough work in perfect harmony to create a satisfying culinary experience that will transport you to the Middle East.

Thought to have its origin in Turkey, lahmacun which means "meat with dough" in Arabic is a popular treat found in Turkey, the Middle East and some European countries. In the Netherlands it is know as Turkish pizza. It is eaten in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi-Arabia, Syria and Turkey. It is also a popular dish in countries such as Germany and the Netherlands where a substantial number of immigrants from Turkey and the Middle East live.

Lahmacun is composed of a thin, round dough base which is topped with a mixture of minced meat, onions, fresh tomatoes, peppers and parsley. It can also be made as a vegetarian dish. In that version feta cheese, eggs, parsley and butter are used. Some fillings also include green peppers and tomato paste. Lahmacun is cooked in an oven (brick being best) but can also be prepared on a grill.

Lahmacun is served in a variety of ways, flat right out of the oven, rolled and cut into smaller pieces or rolled into a cylinder shape similar to a rolled taco. When served rolled, it is not uncommon to include fresh parsley and thinly sliced onions. Lemon juice is frequently squeezed over the top of the lahmacun. In the Netherlands it is usually served stuffed with red cabbage, garlic sauce and sambal (spicy chili-based Southeast Asian sauce which is now readily available in grocery stores in San Diego).

Lahmacun is great as a snack but it can be also eaten for dinner or lunch. It is especially enjoyed by people who are in a hurry. In the Netherlands it is very often eaten as a late night snack after a party. Lahmacun has become so popular in the Netherlands over the last 10 years that it can sometimes even be bought from the supermarket as a ready-made meal./p>

Ingredients:

The dough:

  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 ounces active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • sunflower oil for greasing the bowl

The lamb sauce:

  • 1/4 pound lean ground lamb
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • pepper for taste

The garlic sauce:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

The garnish:

  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage

or

  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • thinly sliced tomatoes, cucumber and red onions

Preparation:

Preparing the lamb topping:

  1. Cut the onion, red and green peppers, parsley, and tomato into small pieces.
  2. Pulse the vegetables in a food processor until the are finely chopped.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the vegetables and ground lamb.
  4. Add tomato paste and oil to the mixture.
  5. Season with salt, pepper and paprika.
  6. Add 1/2 cup of water to the mixture.
  7. Mix thoroughly until consistent.

Mixing the garlic sauce:

  1. Combine the yogurt, parsley and crushed garlic.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Stir well and set aside.

Preparing the dough and assembling the Lahmacun:

  1. Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of warm water.
  2. Combine the flour, butter, milk, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl, and add the yeast mixture.
  3. Use your hands to mix the dough thoroughly.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled bowl.
  5. Cover with a wet towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 430 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  7. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface, and cut the dough into 10 equal portions.
  8. Shape each portion into a round ball.
  9. Flatten each round with your hand and then roll with a rolling pin until it is the size of a 10-inch round tortilla. The rolled-out dough should be thinner than a tortilla, more like the thickness a crepe.
  10. Place the rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  11. Spoon the lamb sauce onto a dough round spreading it thinly to the edges.
  12. Bake the "pizzas" for 7-8 minutes or until their edges turn a light tan color.
  13. Remove the Lahmacun from the oven.
  14. To complete the Lahmacun, drizzle with garlic sauce, top with shredded cabbage, and roll it up. For a spicy kick add some variety of chili sauce like Sambal, Tabasco or Harissa.

Recipe by Mari-Liis Muiste
Photo by Heidi Adams

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Pavlova

Despite it's unassuming apperance Pavlova (a sweet meringue-like dessert) created a decades-long culinary war between New Zealand and Australia. Due to its airy consistency (inspired by ballet dancer Anna Pavlova), the dessert is especially perfect for the summer months as it can be topped with all kinds of seasonal fruit.

>Pavlova is a sweet meringue-like crust that is topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. The dessert itself was named after the Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova, who visited Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. She created such a frenzy with her visits that during the decades to follow it, the name “Pavlova” was used for all kinds of desserts, from trifle-like, gelatin-based creations to cakes and meringues in various forms.

According to Anna Pavlova's biographer, Keith Money, the original dessert to honor the famous ballet dancer, was created in 1926 by a chef at a hotel in Wellington (New Zealand) who drew the inspiration for the dessert from one of Pavlova's tutu's that was covered in netting and green silk roses. The first official recipe of Pavlova—the way we know it today—was published in 1929 in the New Zealand Rural Magazine. However, it wasn't until 1935 that a Perth (Australian) chef Bert Sachse developed his Pavlova recipe, that the name and recipe became more widely known around the world. Currently, most sources agree that Pavlova was first created in New Zealand, although both Australia and New Zealand have contributed to its present form.

Traditionally, Pavlova is made by beating egg whites to a stiff consistency and then folding in sugar, white vinegar, cornstarch, vanilla extract, and cream of tartar (a thickening and rising agent). Cream of tartar can be substituted for lemon juice or extra white vinegar to achieve a similar result. After mixing, the mixture is baked slowly, similarly to a meringue.

The main difference between Pavlova and meringue is the addition of cornstarch, which changes the consistency of the dessert. Unlike meringue which is solid throughout, Pavlova has a crisp outer shell, but a soft, marshmallow-like inside. The addition of cornstarch also makes Pavlova significantly more fragile than a meringue. As Pavlova is notorious for deflating if exposed to cold air, it is very important to leave it in the oven to fully cool down before the oven door is opened.

Before serving, top the Pavlova with whipped cream and chopped fresh fruits. Most of the traditional Pavlova recipes call for strawberries, passion fruit and kiwis to decorate the dessert. In principle, however, any seasonal fruit can be used (raspberries, blueberries, pineapple, pomegranate seeds, mango, etc.). Some of the recipes even include pistachio nuts or almonds.

Although it might seem a bit strange to see a dessert that uses fresh fruit as a traditional Christmas dessert, it makes perfect sense when we think of the location of these countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Christmas season in Australia and New Zealand is not about snow, sleigh bells and reindeer, but about barbecues, sun and Pavlovas.

Take a chance and bring some Christmas feeling into your summer this year!

Ingredients:

For the Pavlova:

  • 4 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

For the topping:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 kiwis
  • 1/2 pound strawberries
  • 2 passion fruits

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F (140 degrees C) and place the rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch circle on it. Set aside.
  3. Clean the bowl and all the utensils to make sure that no grease particles get into the mix.
  4. Beat the egg whites in a medium-sized bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until the whites form soft peaks.
  5. Be careful not to overbeat them as then they will deflate when being mixed with other ingredients.
  6. Gently sprinkle the sugar into the egg whites, one teaspoon at a time. Be careful not to stop beating the eggs until you have added all the sugar.
  7. Continue beating until you have glossy stiff peaks.
  8. Mix cornstarch, lemon juice and vinegar together.
  9. Fold them in gently to the egg whites with a spatula.
  10. Add the vanilla extract and gently fold the mixture again.
  11. Gently spread the mixture in the circle on the parchment paper.
  12. Make sure the edges of the Pavlova are slightly higher than the center so you have slight depression in the middle.
  13. Bake the Pavlova for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it has a slightly pinkish egg shell color.
  14. Turn the oven off and leave the door slightly ajar to let the Pavlova cool completely. The Pavlova might crack slightly as it cools.
  15. Take the Pavlova out of the oven just before serving.
  16. Remove it gently from the parchment paper and place it on a flat serving plate.
  17. Whip the cream with the sugar until it forms peaks. Be careful not to whip it for too long.
  18. Prepare the fruit by washing it and slicing it in the desired way.
  19. Gently spread the cream over the top of the Pavlova with a spatula and place the fruit on top.
  20. Serve immediately.

Recipe by Mari-Liis Muiste
Photo by Heidi Adams

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Abgoosht

Persian Abgoosht with Doogh is a hearty stew made with meat and garbanzo beans. Historically a peasant and laborer food, it is now enjoyed by Iranians from all walks of life.

In Farsi (the language spoken by Iranians) abgoosht, sometimes spelled "ab-goosht" when rendered in the Roman alphabet, is a contraction or portmanteau of ab meaning “water” and goosht a general term for "meat", but it refers to various forms of stew. It is usually made with lamb in Iran, but beef can also be used.

Abgoosht is traditionally cooked in small clay pots called dizi and cooked slowly over a charcoal fire. At Abgoosht shops, many dizi are cooked at the same time. The dizi are also used as serving vessels, so abgoosht is also colloquially known as dizi. Finding a dizi to cook abgoosht in might be a challenge here in the States, a Dutch oven over low heat or even better a crockpot (my 30 year old one has a ceramic interior) works fine. It seems possible that you could speed the cooking time up with a pressure cooker, but the potatoes would have to be cooked subsequently or they will be mushy.

The most unusual ingredient used in abgoosht is black-lime, known at limo amani or simply dried lime. Dried limes can be purchased at the Balboa Market (near Genesee Ave.). Dried limes are used as flavoring through out the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. If you are looking to explore other recipes with dried limes, try the Syrian kapsa recipe found in the Participant Observer Cookbook. Dried limes are more of a flavoring than something to be eaten directly (although this can be done), but beware they are rather tart and strong tasting. During cooking they become soft. Poking holes in them before they are added to the pot allows liquid to infuse into the lime and thereby release its flavor. Lime juice can be used as a substitute although the flavor is quite different.

What sets abgoosht apart from other stews is it's final preparation. After the stew cooks for 3-4 hours, it is drained with a colander and the resulting broth is reserved. The remaining solids are then mashed with a pestle (similar to one found a in mortar and pestle set) known as a goosht koob. The amount of mashing seems to depend on personal preferences but it often ends up much like a rather smooth meat-vegetable pâté. The soup part is eaten first. Often pieces of dried flatbread (sangak, barbari, lavash or even pita) are broken off into the soup just before eating it. Balboa Market sells fresh flat breads like sangak (which is a huge single piece of flatbread).

After the soup is eaten, the solid abgoosht is then eaten with a fresh (not dried) flat bread. Spring onions, fresh mint, radishes and small slices of fresh lime can also be eaten with the abgoosht. A special mixed-vegetable pickle known as torshi is also a normal accompaniment for this meal. A very easy to make mint yoghurt drink known as doogh offers a minty cool compliment to the thick stew and the astringent sour of the torshi pickle. Sometimes Abgoosht is used as a sandwich filler.

Notes:
Some cooks simply put whole onions, whole tomatoes, meat (lamb or beef), water, limes, garbanzo beans and spices in the pot and cook it slowly for several hours (again adding the potatoes in the last hour). Cutting everything up into smaller bits certainly makes mashing things easier. Bone-in cuts of lamb or beef (shanks) are preferred for the marrow. Garbanzo (Nakhod) beans are a key ingredient, but sometimes white beans, kidney beans or black-eyed peas are added with the garbanzo beans.

Abgoosht is mostly associated with cold winter weather, but it really can be enjoyed any time of the year.

Ingedients:

  • 1 and a half pounds of beef shanks
  • 1 larger or two medium onions (chopped coarsely)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup of canned garbanzo beans (drained)
  • 2 dried limes
  • 3-4 medium sized tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 medium sized potatoes cut into medium sized chunks
  • 2 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 cups of water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Cut up onions and put them on the bottom of the crockpot or heavy pot. Add meat, tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic cloves, garbanzo beans, spices and 6 cups water.
  2. Bring to a low simmer
  3. Poke a couple of holes in the each of the dried limes and add them to the pot, pushing them down so that they fill with liquid.
  4. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 ½ to 3 hours until the tomatoes completely dissolve and the meat is falling off the bone.
  5. Add potatoes, cover the pot again and cook everything until the potatoes are fork-soft but not mushy.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste. To bring out the richness of the dish, you might have to use a bit more salt than you usually do. If you have high-blood pressure or other conditions that require you to restrict your salt intake, adjust the amount of salt according to your needs.
  7. After the potatoes are fully cooked and the meat is very tender, place a colander in a pot or large bowl and drain the liquid from the solids.
  8. Return the solids to the cooking pot and have at them with a potato masher. Again personal preference dictates how much mashing you should do.
  9. If necessary, reheat the broth and then serve it in bowls. Breaking bits of dried flat bread into the broth is a common way of eating the broth.
  10. 10. Serve the abgoosht on a plate along with torshi pickles. Dolmas (as shown in the photo) also go well with this meal. Small slices of lime, mint leaves and spring onions add a nice touch.

Doogh (Yoghurt-Mint Drink)

Doogh is an easy to make yoghurt-mint drink. Mix a half cup of Greek style yoghurt with two cups of either club soda, sparkling water or regular water. Add a heaping teaspoon of dried mint or finely chopped fresh mint, a pinch of salt and even a very small amount of pepper to the concoction. Serve over ice. Add a sprig of fresh mint to add a final bit of panache and minty aroma.

Befarma'id! بفرماييد (Bon Appetite in Farsi

Recipe by Tom Johnston-O'Neill
Photo by Heidi Adams

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The Joomla! content management system lets you create webpages of various types using extensions. There are 5 basic types of extensions: components, modules, templates, languages, and plugins. Your website includes the extensions you need to create a basic website in English, but thousands of additional extensions of all types are available. The Joomla! Extensions Directory is the largest directory of Joomla extensions.

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