Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Happy Ramadan

The Mezquita or Mosque in Cordoba, Spain

Ramadan is a special month for muslims in terms of its religious importance, social importance, and culinary importance. Every country has its own set of customs centered around the family and activities in ramadan. The most important event in the day amongst other religious rituals is breaking fast. Usually the food is heavy and extremely tasy, with enough energy to keep you running for a whole day.

This month I will explore typical ramadan dishes through posts of different nature. For now I will start with a not so typical Ramadan dish before I delve deeper in the labyrinths of cuisine.

Lamb Machboos

This is a dish that is my most favorite by far. It is a typical north Gulf dish that is mostly associated with Gulf areas. However the recipe is very different from one country to another. In bahrain it is more similar to the indian biryani. It is a very simple rice and meat dish, yet is capable to metamorphize from one country to another, from one fireej (neighborhood) to another, and from one family to another. Once you understand it, you easily appreciate how such a simple dish gives you such a spectrum of wonderful flavor bursts. It is hard to identify the origin of machboos, but one can speculate that it is the product of many nations. The use of indian spices, along with the use of persian saffron in the Kuwaiti version, and cooking styles along with the milder taste buds of the indigenous arab cooks all contributed to this fantastic dish.

I remember the first time I cooked machboos I had invited a bunch of friends to come over for the feast. If my friends were cannibals, I would assume they would've had me as the feast instead. It was a complete disaster. That was my start in the world of cooking. Maybe if some of the amateur readers follow this track, they might end up as star chefs! So here is my own version of Lamb Machboos.


For rice:

3 kg. Lamb Shanks
4 cups basmati rice
6 cups water
2 tbs. finely chopped onion
2 tbs. ghee or vegetable oil
2 sticks cinnamon
8 cardamom pods
8 cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tbs. saffron strands
1/4 cup rose water
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tbs. salt

For Hashoo (onion garnish)

1 large onion chopped
1/2 cup cooked yellow split pea lentils
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tbs. Mixed kuwaiti spices (Garam masala acceptable)
1 tbs. ghee or vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt

For Dakous (tomato sauce)

5 tomatoes chopped
5 cloves garlic minced
2 tbs. tomato paste
2 tbs. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp paprika


Soak rice in water for 1 hour minimum, wash gently and drain to dry. Meanwhile wash lamb shank carefully and rub with turmeric powder and a bit of salt. Marinate for 30 minutes, then wash again. Heat oil in deeps dish. Fry onion, cinnamon sticks, cardamom, cloves, and bay leaf quickly and then add lamb. Stir until browned completely and cover for 10 minutes. Add 6 cups boiling water, bring to a boil. Lower heat and leave to simmer for 2 hours. Make sure the water doesnt dry out. It is ok if you have less water to cover the meat, it will still cook the meat well after occassionally stirring. You can then dillute later. The key to good rice shape is not to stir alot. When done remove lamb from broth.

In a small cup add heated rose weater, saffron and cardamom powder.

Meanwhile fry the hashoo mix in a a pan over a low heat until the onion becomes deep brown and set aside. For the dakous, in a small sauce pan heat oil and quickly fry garlic and mix in the tomatoes. Simmer and cover for 10 minutes. Mix in tomato paste, paprika and salt and simmer for a further 10 minutes. I like my dakkous thick, but you can thin it with water. Keep warm.

In another deep pot, heat oil and add the washed and soaked basmati rice. Fry for 3 minutes until oil is fully dispersed on rice. Pour the lamb broth on rice. Make sure the broth is approximately an inch above the rice level, if not just add water. If the water is too little it will become dry, if the water is too much it will become soggy. Add 2 tbs. oil and 1 1/2 tbs. salt. Stir gently, bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Fry lamb again with vegetable oil and kuwaiti spices for 3 minutes.

When rice is done, pour the rose water and saffron mixture, add the lamb shanks, and hashoo on the side. Cover and let to rest on very low heat for atleast 30 minutes (yetsakar). This will allow all the flavor to mingle and develop.

Serve rice, lamb shank and hashoo together and top it with a little bit of dakkous or as per your liking.

Optional: granish with maabooch (chilli mixture) and an assortment of kuwaiti pickles, my favorite would be thoom yebal (mountain garlic pickle).


Blogger ray said...


that's my specialty :D

i love cooking machboos + mutabaq zbeidi :D

my recipe is similar to yours :), but with different sequence/ other small details

as for the 7ashu, i mix vegetable oil with butter for extra flavor :) and i only use black pepper, salt and "loomi aswad" , with onions of course .. and some times i use raisins and chickpea ( it depends on whom am i cooking it for)

and you're right :), thoom yebal is the best :P. specially if it's home made .. yummy

10/05/2005 01:04:00 AM  
Blogger Stinni said...

Why didn't I find this site sooner?! My God - do you own a restaurant? I'll be testing some of your recipes - they all sound delish.

10/05/2005 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger samboose said...

Imbarak 3alayk Al-Shahar!!

I think your post is a risky post to read while fasting... My mouth will be watering all the way until futoor time, and I don't even eat Lamb/red meat!!

10/05/2005 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger MissCosmoKuwait said...

Imbarak 3alaik el shahar....loved the picture and the ingredients for the machboose...I actually don't cook much but I'm proud to say that I learnt how to do machboose out of necessity and have never forgotten it since...ok..not fair to be talking about machboose while we're fasting...I'll check back after futoor...gotta go...bye..!:)

10/05/2005 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Ray: The sequence is very important. The ket to a perfect machboos hehe. Lets try you m6abaq and mix it with thoom yebal ahhhhh ;)

Stinni: Yes ;)

Samboose: 3alainaa oo 3alaich :) Im an starving now. Writing it was torture hehe

Misscosmo: 3alainaa oo 3alaich :) If you know how to cook machboose, you know how to cook many other things as well. I hope so hehe

10/05/2005 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Stinni: I hope you have good recipes to share. Your very own. Welcome to my blog :)

10/05/2005 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Jewaira said...

And a very good choice to start with. I can smell your delightful machboos already.
I noticed you mentioned using several different pots/pans in the procedure. I was always told to use the same pot for everything in order to be more flavorful. From your experience does it make a difference?

10/05/2005 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger Not_Without_My_Heels said...

Kil3am winta ibkhair! :D
I'm so hungry shift ilmoot ib3aini! 3ala hali9yam I should immediately get a get out of jail free card and a one way ticket to heaven!

Moo minni, min ilyoo3!

10/05/2005 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Jewaira: Well it is true, but the minimum you should use is 2 pots. Reason is you need one to hold the broth and the other to hold the rice. You can use the same rice pot to fry the hashoo, the meat for a second time and then later the rice. For some that like it old fashion, would add a bit of (dihin 3adanee) which i will post on later.

10/05/2005 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Healy!! loool you should never check this blog while fasting hahaha.

10/05/2005 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger Not_Without_My_Heels said...

Check my blog, there's something on there for you.. :)

10/05/2005 11:51:00 PM  
Blogger Erzulie said...

Inzain Machboos Diyay? My friend wants to taste Kuwaiti food but I don't want him getting food poisoning; chicken is a bit safer than red meat cooking-wise. My mom gave me the recipe but it's not very specific i.e. how much is a pinch?

10/06/2005 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger Mama Fusla said...

Wanasa..this feels like an e-tasyoora without the big hair, bling bling dara3a and excess bukhoor!

3'obal ma negdar in3azzi ONLINE inshallah...
Kil 3am wintaw ib khair
o moqadaman 'wees wees'!
p.s. Any1 got a decent Kobbat Fagi3 recipe?
My granma died o khathat il recipe wyaha...unless u have was6a on the other side..

wv:maehay (Maithai a7la no?)

10/06/2005 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Mama Fusla said...

oh and btw
when u see ppl in public SAY HI!

10/06/2005 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Healy: Check back ;)

Erzulie: Its the same, except that you dont need to fry the chicken first and the cooking time for chicken is 40 minutes. Fry the chicken before serving to crisp the skin. Add some of the saffron rose water mix to it for extra falvor.

Mama: LOOL wentay ib5air. Kobbat fagi3 mmmm I think I have tasted it before, not that common though. You know good recipes are literally taken to the grave, so no hope in that department. Usually with kubbas the the main ingredient is a filling. In this case fagi3.

Since I have no idea how it tasted, I will have to concoct my own recipe.



3 cups chopped fagi3 (dessert truffles)
1 Large Onion chopped
6 cloves garlic minced
1/4 packed chopped parsley
1 tbs. Kuwaiti mixed spices
1 tsp. Loomi powder (dried black lime)
1 tsp. salt
1 tbs dihin 3adanee
3 tbs vegetable oil


1 part boiled potatoes
1 part cooked rice
1 egg
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt


Fry garlic and onion until soft. Add fagi3 until it sweats. Add parsley and spices and salt. Cook for 5 minutes or until mixture is soft.

Mince rice and potato and mix together with egg, turmeric and salt.

Create small balls, create a hole with finger and widen to fit a small tea spoon. Spoon in filling and seal the top. Refrigerate for an hour.

Fry and serve. 3awafee

10/06/2005 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger Peach said...

mbarak 3alek el shahar pot boy ;)

10/06/2005 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger ray said...

hmmm ...
can i like ... kidnap you for a day or so ?

don't worry i'll share :D

10/07/2005 12:44:00 AM  
Blogger Rimyoleta said...

please help me God...it's Ramadan and that guy is still writing yummy stuff...plz eqi (have mercy)...
still I love ur Blog ;)
and kol sana we enta 6ayyeb..

10/07/2005 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Peach: pot boy? hehe doesnt sound good. 3alainaa oo 3alaich.

Ray: it depends on what ur planning to do hehe

Rimyoleta: Wentay 6ayba, how is it overe there? Invite me over for futoor? :p

10/07/2005 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Mia said...

Thank you it was fantastic! I was invited for Ramadan dinner at a friend's and I made this dish for them. We all loved it.

10/08/2005 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger Jewaira said...

Wow Equalizer! Now that is what I call a great recipe :) when you get comments like the one above

10/08/2005 10:35:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home