Akil Majnoon (Braised Vegetable Stew)
Cauliflower, eggplant and cabbage braised in a tomato based sauce is the basis of Akil Majnoon. The warm spices of bahar, make this such a cozy winter meal. Naturally vegan, it is just as much considered comfort food like Basalia and Bamia and is recipe #3 in the “Medley of Marakah.”
Akil in Arabic means calm/sane, and majnoon means crazy/insane. So basically the dish translates to “sane insane.” No matter how many vegetables you throw into this dish, it still comes out tasty. See?… “sane, insane.” Sometimes the Arabic translations of things can be a stretch, especially sayings, but there is some humor and charm to it. Lol, check these out. Another example of funny translations is the dish Ras Asfour, which means “bird’s head” because of the resemblance of the meatballs to the shape of a birds head, NOT because there is any form of bird in the dish.
For such a complicated name, Akil Majnoon is the opposite. It is low fuss. Basically you chop up all these vegetables, leave it on the on the stove on low heat to braise a bit, then eat with rice. The slow braise allows the vegetables to soften, deepen their flavor and release their natural sweetness. Simple and delish. Sane and insane.
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped (~2 cups)
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into rough florets (~8 cups)*
- 1 eggplant, pealed and cubed (~2 cups)*
- ½ green cabbage, core removed and sliced (~4 cups)*
- 15 ounces tomato sauce
- 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes, plain or fire roasted
- 5 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp bahar, more or less to taste
- 3 tsp salt, more or less to taste
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2½ cups water
- Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot.
- Once the oil starts to glisten, add onions and cook until onions become almost translucent, ~5 minuets.
- Add cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, salt, bahar, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Mix until evenly coated. Cook for about 10 minutes to sear ingredients.
- Add tomato sauce and water to pot. Allow sauce to bubble for a few minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for ~1 – 1.5 hours, the longer you cook it, the more tender it will get.
- Serve with rice and enjoy!