Today is our MENA cooking round up and we’re back with round 2 of Bahrain, a little country located in the Gulf and only a three hour drive for us here in Riyadh. Bahrain has a really big US military presence, so both my brothers who are in the US Navy have lived there previously. It’s one the places that a lot of people in the Navy want to get stationed at. This month we introduced our secret ingredient. Every month we will have traditional recipes listed as usual and a secret ingredient too, that we have to use in the recipe that we choose. This month it was pumpkin, since it’s Fall (somewhere). Luckily, in the Gulf pumpkins are used quite a bit in cooking, plus they’re versatile enough to have in both savory or sweet dishes.
I chose to cook Thareed, now this may get confusing (it is in my head anyway), but I’m going to try to explain this well. You see the Gulf countries have some similar foods, you may find the same dish with the same name in a few countries or it may be the same dish with a different name. Also, sometimes a recipe will have a whole new name just because of one ingredient or step. While some of the Gulf has foods that are the same, they also are very different, even within countries. For example, Saudi cuisine is very different depending on where you go. Here in Riyadh (central area) it’s called Najdi, Jeddah (the west) is Hijazi and the East (Bareqi). People in the east (Bahrain border) don’t eat what Saudis eat in the West, they eat more like Bahrains, which is a lot of seafood since it’s on the sea.
I posted about a popular (and delicious) lamb stew in the past called marak laham (lamb marak). This is a VERY popular dish in both Bahrain and UAE, sometimes it’s referred to as marak and others saloona or salonat, depending on who you ask. NOW, if you add more liquid to this dish and bread, it’s then thareed, another dish also popular in both countries and a main staple during Ramadan. And last but not least if you make these recipes meatless it’s referred to as Al Khothrah.
There are two types of bread used to make this dish; tameez (tanoor style) or raqaq a super thin and crispy bread. The only difference would be adding more liquid when you cook the stew and allowing the bread to fully soak before serving. I hope I explained all that well. Also, one really interesting fact is that this dish is said be known as Prophet Muhammads (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam) favorite dish.
You can use whatever vegetables that you like in this dish, I chose potatoes, green beans and pumpkin. When I made the marak I used lamb chunks with the bones, but this time I bought boneless, it’s just too hard to eat with the bones. I don’t know about you, but when I eat, I just want to get to it. You could also use chicken or beef with this dish, but I’ve found cubed beef to be really weird here in Saudi.
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 kg lamb chunks
4 whole black peppercorns
2 whole cardamoms
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon Gulf Spice
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/4 cup chopped white onion (I used the food processor)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 green chili
1 tablespoon Gulf Spice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup green beans
1 large potato, cleaned and cut into cubes
2 cups cubed pumpkin
1 small bunch fresh coriander
3-4 tablespoons tomato paste
chopped cilantro, for topping
1. In an 4-quart saucepan on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, turmeric and Gulf spice, mix. Add lamb and allow to lightly brown on all sides. Cover the meat with water and bring to a full boil, skim any froth that appears on top. Cover and allow to cook for 1 hour. After the meat has cooked, strain the broth and sit both the broth and meat aside.
2. Meanwhile, in an 8-quart saucepan on medium heat, add remaining butter, onions, garlic, tomato paste, salt, ginger, chili, Gulf spice and chili, mix and allow to cook for a few minutes.
3. Add potatoes, pumpkin, loomi and lamb, stir being careful to not crush the vegetables. Carefully pour in the lamb broth, cook for 15 minutes, or until vegetables have fully cooked.
4. Add lemon juice, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, throw away the loomi. Meanwhile, in a serving bowl, crush rake bread up and fill the bottom of the bowl. Carefully spoon the stew over the top, not mixing. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then serve.
Yields: 6 servings