Old School Middle Eastern Recipes with Some Modern Day Twists

Tag: rice

Fasoolia Kuthra (Green Bean Stew)

Fasoolia Kuthra (Green Bean Stew)

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 […]

Fasoolia Baytha (White Bean Stew)

Fasoolia Baytha (White Bean Stew)

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 […]

Akil Majnoon (Braised Vegetable Stew)

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.

Akil Majnoon

Cauliflower, eggplant and cabbage are braised in a tomato based sauce that is peppered with the warm spices of bahar. Eaten with rice, it is such a cozy and easy meal.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time1 hr 50 mins
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 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
  • cups water

Instructions

  • 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!

Notes

*Feel free to add more or less of each vegetable depending on your preference. You can add other vegetables if you prefer as well. Adjust the cooking liquid to the amount of volume in your pot. There should be enough liquid to allow the vegetables to simmer in, rather than fully submerged in. Keep in mind, there will be additional liquid release from the vegetables as they braise. 
Rice with Hikaka

Rice with Hikaka

Rice with hikaka is a staple in our house. But, what is hikaka (pronounced hick-ka-ka in Arabic) you may ask? Hikaka is the delicious, crispy rice that forms at the bottom of a pot of cooked rice. When ready to serve the pot is flipped […]

Basalia (Pea Stew)

Basalia (Pea Stew)

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 […]

Iraqi Red Rice

Iraqi Red Rice

“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

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: dinner
Cuisine: Middle Eastern, Rice

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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
Ras Asfour

Ras Asfour

This dish takes the tomato sauce base found in many Middle Eastern dishes to the next level by adding potatoes, spices, and small meatballs. And, of course, it is eaten with rice. The is another dish in our “Medley of Marakah” series. You may wonder […]