There is nothing better on an early spring day than coming home to a dinner of Fasoolia Kuthra. Consisting mostly of green beans and tomato broth, it is a light, yet warm and comforting stew perfect for an evening when the sun is setting around […]
White beans braised in a tomato based sauce is Fasoolia Baytha. Fasoolia means “bean” and baytha means “white” in Arabic. Thus, this is a white bean stew. This dish could not get any simpler. You can use canned or dried beans for this recipe, whichever […]
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!
Welcome to the first of a series of posts entitled “Medley of Marakah.” Marakah (accent on the first syllable) is an Arabic word for a tomato-based stew/sauce and there many different kinds of Marakah. Arguably the most popular Marakah in our family is Basalia and […]
“What color rice would you like for dinner?” a question frequented by our mom. Options were white, brown, red, and yellow. Besides brown rice, our rice colors are not based on the type of grain, but the broth we used. Always using basmati, of course.
The Iraqi style of cooking rice is to fully immerse the rice in the flavored broth. In red rice, we use a mix of water, tomato sauce, and chicken broth. Then, we cook the rice in the mixture, so each scoop is a mouthful of savory tomato goodness. Contrary to Persian rice, the Iraqi saffron (yellow) rice is made similarly to red rice. The entire pot of rice turns yellow compared Persian where the saffron flavored rice mainly resides on the top of the rice.
Our Nana Badriya would make her own version of red rice by adding some eggplant and other vegetables to the pot. We are sticking to the basic recipe now but can’t wait to share our Nana’s version of red rice soon!
Iraqi Red Rice
- 1 1/2 cup basmati rice
- 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 3/4 cup water
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp salt
- Wash rice by placing in a strainer and rinsing for 15 seconds
- In a separate bowl, mix tomato sauce, tomato paste, and 1/2 cup of water
- Sprinkle 1 tbsp of olive oil at the bottom of a heavy-bottomed pot. Place washed rice in the pot and add tomato sauce mix, chicken broth, water, salt, and 2 tbsp of olive oil. Stir all ingredients together
- Cook rice on medium/high heat. Once boiling, cover the pot and reduce heat to simmer. Leave pot covered for 30 minutes and stir. Cover pot again and leave on low heat until most liquid has evaporated (about 10-15 more minutes). Rice is ready to serve