My Ramadan Staples

Some people are curious as to what I stock up on and cook during Ramadan.  I actually don’t like to stockpile on the massive amounts of food that is being featured in the grocery stores.  Funny thing about Ramadan and shopping, all of the standard items are all boxed up foods and most are sweet stuff like cream, cake mixed, jelly mixes, custard mixes, soup mixes…It is a mix of mixes 

What I will stock up on and buy regularly is fresh dates, Vimto, and Laban Up (what would Ramadan be without these three?), Tang, some jelly packets, Nestle cream (for soups and desserts), Quaker oatmeal, some Maggi soups, samboosa wrappers…hmmm, and that is about it.  Everything else is basically fresh foodstuff.  I buy enough meat and poultry to last for at least two weeks so that I will not have to go to the store.  I will be making smaller meals anyway.

I really, really, really hate grocery shopping during Ramadan because of the crowds.  

Just the other day I was saying to my husband that the best time to shopping now is between midnight and seven in the morning just to beat the crowds and the heat.

Everyday for Iftar (the breaking of the fast), we will have dates, water, Laban Up, Vimto, samboosas, pakoras, some fruit like watermelon or cantaloupe, fruit salad, and a soup.  That right there you get filled up on.  Alhamdulilah (Thank God).  I will sometimes make big batches of Harees, Thareed, Madhrooba, or Arseeyah and share that with the neighbors.  If I cook those early they last for Iftar and Suhoor.

I will cook my husband a bigger meal like a rice dish and pack that along with things from the Iftar so he can take it to work with him.  He eats that for Suhoor.

For Suhoor, our meal will consist of either leftovers or some breakfast-type items like oatmeal, eggs, cereal, fruit, and water.

My daughter helps me in cooking up desserts during Ramadan.  This is the only time of year that we cook desserts on a regular basis.  Some desserts we usually make are Liqeemat, custards, creme caramel, poke cakes, brownies, and an Indian dessert called “Sevian” (I’ll post a recipe for that soon).

Writing it down, it all seems a lot, but it really isn’t.  I make just a little bit of this and a little bit of that..enough for that meal so we don’t have leftovers.

Harees…new recipe variation

Fasting for Ramadan 2013 starts tomorrow and my daughter and I have been doing food prep this past week.   Yesterday we filled about 250 samboosas and then froze them.  So we are good to go for a few weeks, InshaAllah (God Willing).

A daily Ramadan staple is Harees.  I only ever cook it during Ramadan.  It is tasty and filling and a great thing to have for suhoor.  The original recipe uses wheatberries which is locally called “harees”.  It is a thick porridge made with a few simple ingredients:  wheatberries, choice of meat, water, salt, pepper, and cinnamon.

I met a lady, originally from Iran, now living here in the UAE who once told me that she made Harees using Quaker oatmeal and nobody knew the better of it.  I was intrigued because when I make it, it takes forever and her way sounded much easier.  I never followed through with her suggestion until about 3 weeks ago when another lady on a Facebook group that I am on, shared her recipe for Harees and it included oatmeal…so I had to try it!  It was so easy and tasty to make…even my husband liked it and could not tell the difference until I told him!

So here it is…easy peasy:

Harees Using Quaker Oatmeal

1 kg (2 pounds of meat of your choice) you can use lamb, beef, or chicken.  Note:  if you use beef, I suggest it be 1/2 kg  or one pound.  When I first made this recipe I used 1kg of beef and the harees came out a darker color than usually…it was still very tasty but not so good looking.

3 cups of Quaker oatmeal

1 small onion, chopped

1 small stick of cinnamon

1.5 liters (6 cups of water)

1 tablespoon of salt

1/4 tsp of black pepper

1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder

1/4 to 1/2 cup of melted butter

Directions:

In a large pot, add the meat of your choice, the chopped onion, cinnamon stick, and water.  Bring to a boil and cook until very tender.

Remove meat/chicken…debone if you have to…and then place into a food process and blitz for a few seconds until shredded.  Or you can finely chop the meat/chicken.

Using a strainer, drain the stock into a large pot.  Add the shredded meat/chicken, the 3 cups of Quaker oats, salt, pepper, and cinnamon.  Stir using a whisk.  Add more water if necessary by the cupful.  Bring to a boil and check every 5 to 10 minutes.  Stir each time you check on it.  Add more boiling water if necessary.  Cook for about 40 minutes.  Add the melted butter, stir and then serve.

(Note:  Make sure you stir the Harees every few minutes because it will stick to the pot and become an awful burned mess!)

Thank you Fatema for sharing the recipe :)

Chocolate Chip Pancakes Made With Fresh Laban

Friday mornings are all about pancakes.  My daughter says this is the best day of the week.

I haven’t been able to find buttermilk here in the UAE but Al Marai’s Laban is a very good substitute and actually I prefer the taste of the tangy, thick and rich laban over buttermilk.

This recipe is from Joy The Baker’s blog.  Have you ever visited her blog?  Everything I have seen so far is delicious!

Here is the recipe adapted from her Milk Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes

2 cups of flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 cups of Al Marai Laban (I used full fat laban or you can substitute with 2 cups of yogurt)

4 tablespoons of melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup of chocolate chips

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a medium-sized bowl.  Mix well.

Add the eggs, laban, melted butter, and vanilla.  Whisk it all together.

Add the chocolate chips and gently mix into the batter.

Over a medium heat, in a lightly buttered pan, pour in ¼ cup of the batter.  Cook until the top of the pancake forms small bubbles on the surface.  Turn the pancake over and cook until the bottom gets to be a nice golden brown color (about a minute).

Repeat until you use up all of the batter.  Place the cooked pancakes onto a platter and place in a warm oven until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Vermicelli Rice and Baked Chicken

I made Vermicelli Rice and Baked Chicken for lunch yesterday.

The Vermicelli Rice goes really well with curry and I used this spice rub for the baked chicken which I originally posted about here a few years ago.  I like to use it mainly for baked chicken, grilled salmon, or lamb roast.

Okay on to the recipe…

Vermicelli Rice

1 cup of uncooked vermicelli noodles

2 cups of uncooked basmati rice

2 tablespoons corn oil

Directions:

Prepare the basmati rice according to my recipe  “How to Cook Basmati Rice”

While you are waiting for the water to boil for the rice you can prepare the vermicelli.  In a wok, heat the corn oil and add the vermicelli noodles.

Lightly stir the noodles until they turn a dark golden brown.  Remove from heat and set aside.

When the water boils and you are ready to put the rice in also add the fried vermicelli.

Boil for 5 minutes and then drain.  Put back in the pot and keep warm until ready to serve.

Baked Chicken

Ingredients:

1 kg (2 pounds) whole chicken

1 medium tomato cut into half

1 medium onion quartered

3 cloves of garlic left whole

salt and pepper

spice mixture

Directions:

Wash and pat dry the chicken.  Season the tomato, onion, and garlic with salt and pepper.  Stuff this into the chicken.

Prepare the spice mixture and rub it all over the chicken.

Bake in a 350F oven for 1 1/2 hours or until done and tender.

Kefta and Arayes

The other night I was in the kitchen making Arayes.  My kiddos kept on coming into the kitchen wondering what I was making and when I told them they were totally surprised that I knew how to make it.  They all asked me why I didn’t make them before (it has been well over 8 years?…Wow a really long time!)  and I told them that I totally forgot about it until I got a request via Facebook for the recipe.

This makes a really nice light lunch and dinner when served with a soup and some hummus and grape leaves.  You must really serve this along with hummus so don’t forget!  On to the recipe…I hope that you like it!

Arayes (A-ra-yes)

Ingredients for Kefta: 

(adapted from Kofta Kebabs http://allrecipes.com/recipe/kofta-kebabs/Detail.aspx)

 ½ kg (1 pound) ground lamb or ground chicken

1 small onion, chopped

2-4 cloves garlic, chopped (up to you how much you like)

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (you can use up to ½ cup)

1 tablespoon ground coriander

½ tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

*-*-*-*-*-*

½ cup of corn oil

12  fresh pieces of small (6 inch diameter) pita bread (the thin kind)

Make sure that the pita bread you use is fresh because if it isn’t it will be quite difficult to separate into halves.

Directions:

Place all of the kefta ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth.  Set aside.

 Open up each of the pita bread so that it forms two halves.

 Take about ¼ cup (maybe a little less) of the kefta mixture and thinly spread it on one side of a pita half.  Place other half of the pita on top and press down so that it sticks together.  Set aside.

 

Note:  you need to spread the kefta thinly so that it will cook evenly and quickly.  If you spread it on thickly it might be undercooked when the bread has turned a golden brown.

Do this with the remaining kefta mixture and pita bread.

Once you are finished with all the pita bread, you can either lightly pan fry the Arayes or you can grill them.

If you are pan frying, you will need to cook on very low heat.  If you are grilling the Arayes, then you will need to place the grill on the highest level from the coals.  I much prefer grilling them because you will get that nice smoked flavor.

Lightly brush the Arayes on each side with the corn oil and place on either the frying pan or the grill.  When I cooked them this time I didn’t brush the outside of the pita with oil.  I had just added a teaspoon of oil to the pan and pan fried them that way.

 Cook until the bottom side is a nice golden brown color.  Flip it over and cook the other side the same way.

Once done place them either in a hotpot or on a large platter covered with a clean kitchen towel to keep warm.

Serve with Laban Up, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, and a nice soup.

Enjoy!

Serves 5-6

Print the recipe here.

Arseeyah

Arseeyah (Ar-see-yah)

Arseeyah is a simple and hearty rice and chicken dish.  I consider of the UAE’s great comfort foods.  It is a great food for young children (it is one of my children’s favorite foods) and adults love to eat it as well.  I cook this often during Ramadan and it is also a dish which is always made at my sister-in-laws house every Eid for breakfast time.  I like to make this for a simple lunch or dinner.

This past April, Sharjah had a Heritage Festival.  If you are able to go please do it is held every April.  Anyway, this was a common dish being offered there.  I was able to ask one of the women there how she made hers and it was the same except that she used basmati rice instead of calrose (short grain) rice like I do but she assured me that it could be made using the calrose rice.  I have never tried making Arseeyah with basmati rice.

Arseeyah is very easy to make and only has just a few ingredients.  I use chicken breast to make mine but you can definitely use a whole chicken which will give you more flavor of course.  Okay, now for the recipe.

Ingredients:

2 cups of calrose (short grain) rice

1 kg (2 pounds) of chicken breast or 1200 grams of whole chicken

2 liters of water (about 8 cups)

1 large piece of cinnamon bark

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper powder

Melted Samen or ghee

Directions:

In a medium size pot add the chicken, water, and cinnamon bark.  Boil the chicken breast for one hour or the whole chicken until it is falling off the bones.  Remember to skim off the scum.  Strain and reserve the broth.

Cool and then debone the chicken.  The chicken will now need to be cut into finely chopped pieces.

In a large pot add the rice, the strained broth, the chopped chicken, salt, pepper and cardamom powder.  Stir.

Bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.  The pot needs to be covered.  Every ten minutes go and stir the Arseeyah so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.

I like to use this heavy spatula to help stir and scrape the Arseeyah.

Every ten minutes you will need to stir the Arseeyah.

Turn off the heat and remove the lid to let all the steam out.

Once, it finished cooking it will look like this…not dry but still moist.

Taste for salt.

With an electric mixer set on high, mix the Arseeyah until the rice and chicken are “melted” into each other very well.

Arseeyah needs to be served hot.

Place the Arseeyah onto a platter and spoon melted samen (ghee) over the entire surface and smooth out.  Since it is Ramadan I am serving the Arseeyah in a huge hot pot (I just love these!  It will keep the food nice and hot for hours!).

Variation:  I like to add 1 can of Nestle Cream to the Arseeyah and then mix it well using the electric mixer.

I hope that you try and enjoy my recipe!

Print this recipe.

Thareed Laham (Flat Bread Layered with Lamb Stew)

Thareed  is another popular dish to make when a Muslim is fasting.  It is very common to make Thareed  for Iftar (breaking of the fast) during Ramadan because it is light on the stomach.  It is basically crispy flat bread layered with a meat soup.  Actually it is a cross between a hearty soup and a soupy stew.  (Does that make sense?)

It is often mispronounced as “Fareed” but the correct way to say it is Thareed.

Thareed is even mentioned in a hadith of the Prophet Mohammed 

Thareed can be made with lamb, chicken, and also with just vegetables.  Today I will give you the recipe for Thareed with lamb and will post the recipes for the chicken and vegetable later on, InshaAllah.

The best bread to use when making Thareed is Khobuz Raqaq which is a crispy wafer-thin bread.

If you live in the UAE you can usually find it in abundance during Ramadan.  There are women who make this early in the morning and will sit out front places like the Co-Op or the fruit and vegetable market selling these for Dh10 a bag.

You could also use Khobuz Irani which is a thin flat bread (about the thickness of tortillas) and this can be bought at any Iranian bakery.  Sorry I don’t have a picture to share of what it looks like.  Here in Sharjah there are many Iranian bakeries which are little hole-in-wall places in the neighborhoods of Ghafiyah andUmmKhanoor.

When I was living in the US, I would substitute Roti which I bought from the frozen food section of an Indian grocery store.  You could also use regular pita bread.  I have never used it before but a friend of mine has.

 This recipe can easily be halved but since it is Ramadan it is nice to share with your neighbors or to feed the poor.

Okay so on to the recipe:

Thareed Laham (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

1 kg (2 pounds) lamb stew meat

1 ½ liters of water (6 cups)

2 cups of finely chopped onions

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon of corn oil

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 large potatoes, each potato quartered

4 small koosa (courgettes or  kalabasa squash) each piece cut into half

1 large carrot cut into 4 pieces

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 pieces of whole black dried lemons

1-3 pieces of green chili

3 cubes of Maggi

1 tablespoon of Arabic Bizar spice mix

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon black lemon powder (loomi aswad)

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

½ teaspoon black pepper powder

¼ teaspoon red Kashmiri chili powder (or cayenne pepper)

¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped

5 large piece of Raqaq bread or 2-3 pieces of Khobuz Irani (or you can substitue Roti or Pita bread)

(Note:  Tear the Raqaq bread or the Khobuz Irani into large pieces…about the size of the palm of your hand.  Leave the pieces out to air dry on a large platter on your kitchen counter or dining room table.  If you do not have Raqaq bread or Khobuz Irani available, you use Roti or Pita bread.)

Directions:

In a large pot, boil the lamb meat removing the foam when it starts to boil.  Boil for one hour.

Strain and reserve the broth.

In a large pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions until they get a nice golden brown color.  Don’t burn the onions.  Add the garlic and stir until fragrant.

Add the tomato paste and all of the vegetables, EXCEPT the koosa (squash) mix together to coat the vegetables with the tomato paste.

Rinse the two whole dried lemons and then pierce each one once with a sharp knife.

Add the lamb meat, reserved broth, Maggi cubes, and the remaining ingredients, EXCEPT the koosa and  the chopped cilantro.

Add more water if necessary to make this stew a bit soupy.  Taste for seasoning.

Bring to a boil and then simmer until the potatoes are almost done.  You can now add the koosa (squash) and the chopped cilantro and cook until the koosa is fork tender.

Preparation:

Carefully remove the meat and vegetables from the pot and keep aside on a large platter.

In a large deep sided bowl, add one layer of Raqaq bread (or whichever bread you are using.

Add another layer of bread and ladle some more liquid.

Each layer of bread will be soaking with the liquid from the stew.  None of the bread should be left dry.

Ladle the remaining liquid from the pot onto the bread.

Now you arrange the vegetables and lamb meat over the soaked bread.

You can garnish with a little bit more chopped cilantro if you wish.

Serve and enjoy!

Note:  Thareed is best eaten on the same day.

Print this recipe.

Pakora (Deep Fried Vegetable Balls)

Pakora’s are a delicious fried little munchie that seems to be another Ramadan staple but of course it can be enjoyed all year round.  Oh! and this is soooo delicious with Laban Up.

The Pakora’s that I either bought or ate somewhere else were always hard and heavy feeling.  I played around with the ingredients and have come up with this lighter and crunchier version that is filled with more vegetables.  I hope you try it and like it!  It is very easy to make and I will provide you with 4 variations on what to put inside.

Pakora (Deep Fried Vegetable Balls)

Ingredients for batter:

3/4 cup chickpea (besam) flour (this can be found in an Indian grocery store)

1/4 cup corn meal or rice powder (I prefer using the corn meal though)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon red chili powder (or 1 heaping teaspoon Mexican-style chili powder)

1 teaspoon tumeric powder

1 egg

1/2 cup water

In a medium size bowl, mix all these ingredients together.

Ingredients for vegetable variations:

Variation #1:  

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped cilentro

1-2 finely chopped green chilies (it is up to you on the heat…deseed if you want)

Variation #2:

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoon finely chopped cilentro

8 oz uncooked potato, shredded

1 green chili finely chopped (optional)

Variation #3

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of finely chopped cilentro

1 small raw carrot, shredded

1 small raw zucchini, shredded

1 small raw potato, shredded

Variation #4

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cups of small okra (okra zero) or 1 cup sliced okra

Cooking Directions:

Once you have chosen which vegetable variation you will use just add it to the batter.  Mix it very well.  It should be thick like in the 2nd picture below.

You can fry it now or you can place this in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (not necessary) but I like for the flavors to blend together and also I like to prepare it in advance so I can fry it 45 minutes before Iftar (breaking our fast during Ramadan).

If you let the mixture settle in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, you will notice that it has become a little runny…no worries…this is how turns out if you let it sit for a while.  You will need to add a little bit more of the chickpea flour and the cornmeal.  You can add an additional 3 tablespoons of chickepea flour and 1 tablespoon of corn meal at a time. It will be 1/4 cup total addition.

Go ahead and heat up enough oil (I like to use corn oil or canola oil) in a wok or  deep-sided frying pan.  Turn the heat down to medium-high.

Drop by tablespoonfuls into the hot oil.

Gently fry the pakoras until they get a nice golden brown color.  Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

This recipe will make around 24 pakoras.

I like to serve this with 1 cup of yogurt and 1 packet of salad dressing mix (basil & thyme).  It is sooooo yummmy!   

Enjoy!

edited (07-27-2012): to add the variation #4 and to fix up the wording of the recipe.

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Harees

Harees bil Dajaj (Harees with Chicken)

Harees is one of the daily Ramadan staples here in the UAE.  It is easy on the stomach after a long day of fasting.  It is a very simple, delicious,and filling dish that can be eaten at Iftar (breaking the fast) or for Suhoor the meal before Fajr (morning) prayers.  It is served either alone as a main dish or as a side dish with all the other goodies during Ramadan.

During Ramadan, you will find this is one of those dishes that is widely shared between neighbors….if you should receive a bit too much or you get tired of eating it, it will freeze very nicely.  Just freeze it in an aluminum container, thaw it out in the fridge, and then heat it up in the oven.

Harees is also one of those dishes that you will find at every occasion…Ramadan, Eid, weddings, engagement parties, any special event…so I would classify it as one of the foods in UAE popular culture.

The “harees” grain is wheatberries in English and can be made with either lamb or chicken.  When my family was living in America, I also used pearl barley for this because it looked so similar to wheatberries and I achieved the same tasty result using it.

Also, you can add as much or as little chicken or lamb as you wish.  For the 2 cups of harees, I will usually use 1 kg of meat.  Of course, the more meat you use the more richer the dish.  But for economic reasons the harees would be more.  If you are using lamb this is a good time to use those bones and make a stock from it and debone what you can use.

Harees (wheatberries) up close

I made Harees Laham (Lamb Harees) just the other day and I experimented using the crockpot/slow cooker.  It is summertime and the temperatures outside are at least 45C.  During Ramadan in the summer, I want to spend as little time in the kitchen!  The results…I think it turned out better in the crockpot than cooking it over the stove top!

Okay now, on to the recipe:

Harees  (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

2 cups of harees (wheatberries) For best results, you will need to soak the harees (wheatberries) overnight or for at least 8 hours.

1 kilo (2 pounds) of chicken or lamb

2 sticks of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of black pepper powder

2-3 teaspoons of salt

water

samen (local-made clarified butter) or melted butter

Directions:

First of all, you will want to boil the chicken or the meat until tender.  After boiling until tender, debone your chicken or lamb.  Save the stock to use later on in this recipe.

In a large pot, add the harees, deboned chicken or lamb, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and the stock.  Add water if needed.  The stock/water need to cover the harees  by about 2 or 3 inches.

Bring to a boil and then turn down the fire/heat to low.  Let it boil, boil, boil until it reduces to a watery oatmeal-like consistency.  Total cooking time will be about 1 hour…I didn’t time it.

(Note:  Be sure to check every 10 minutes and just stir the pot so that the harees won’t burn at the bottom.)

Now you are ready to blend the harees.  Using a hand mixer, blend the harees in the pot until smooth.  It won’t be entirely smooth.  You can also use one of those hand blenders to do the job.

The harees when ready will have a thick consistency.  Serve on a small platter and spoon the samen (clarified butter) or melted butter on top to cover.  Some people will decorate the top of the harees with powdered cinnamon in a simple pattern.

Harees bil Laham (Harees with Lamb)

Cooking Harees in the crockpot or slow cooker:

This was my experiment:  If you cooking the harees using a crockpot, you will just need to add all the ingredients to the crockpot.  Add enough stock and water to equal 3 liters (12 cups).  I cooked this on high for 6 hours.

I added the lamb without deboning (I don’t think I will do that again).  I had to add a little more water so that I could blend it and then let it cook a little bit more (maybe an hour).

I will be making the harees again this way today because I think that it turned out much better than on the stovetop.  This time though I will be using already cooked and deboned lamb.

Harees at the end of cooking time. I just needed to add a bit of water to blend.

Marak Samak (Fish Stew) with Halwayoh

The fish that I am using in this recipe is called Halwayoh in the local Arabic (pronounced helll-why-oh).  the fish has small, itsy-bitsy scales and is very easy to clean.  It is a rather plump fish and has a creamy-white flesh.  Whenever my husband would bring home a Halwayoh to cook it would always be made into a stew, but just this past year we have enjoyed cooking it fried and even cooked in the oven stuffed with a hashwa (herb stuffing) like the one I made in this recipe  Grilled Hamra with Hashwa…(hell-why-not)…sorry I just couldn’t resist 

I really don’t think that you can overcook Halwayoh.  I have done so by mistake a couple of times when I have made it into stew and it did not turn out hard like or fall apart like some other kinds of fish.

 

I think the name Halwayoh is akin to the Arabic word for Heloo meaing “sweet” or “nice”…well, to me it does anyway… I think I asked my husband about it once a long time ago.

Correct me if I am wrong though about the word relation 

Everyone always praises and values using the Hammour (grouper) but I much prefer this fish in stews, baking, and even in frying.  It is very delicious no matter how you cook it.  If you should find this in the fish souk (or local market) buy it without hesitation!  It is rare to find and will be a little bit costly but it is well worth it!

Here is what you will need:

1 kg fish cut into 3-inch slices (I prefer to use a chunky fish such as hammour or halwayoh for this dish)

For the marinade:

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Arabian Spice Mixture

1 inch cube of fresh ginger, grated

1 teaspoon salt

juice of 1 lemon

For the stew:

2 tablespoons corn oil

1 cup of onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

1 large tomato, skinned, de-seeded, and chopped

1 to 2 green chilies

1 heaping teaspoon of Arabian Spice Mix

2 Maggi stock cubes

1 teaspoon tumeric powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

2 inch cube of dried tamarind, soaked in hot water

2 tablespoons tomato paste

6 cups of water

2 dried black lemons (loomi aswad)

1/2 cup cilentro, finely chopped

1/4 cup of corn oil for frying

Directions:

Mix all marinade ingredients together.  Thoroughly rub with the fish with marinade and set aside for 20 minutes.

Heat 1/4 cup of corn oil in a wok or deep frying pan.  Add the marinated fish pieces.  Lightly fry until just golden brown.  You do not want to thoroughly cook the fish because you will be letting it simmer and finish cooking in the stew in just a little bit.  Drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Mix the soaking tamarind seeds with your hands to separate the seeds.  Drain into another bowl and save the water.  Discard the seeds.

In a medium sized pot, heat the 2 tablespoons corn oil.  Add the chopped onion and sautee until the onion is soft and translucent.

Add the garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and green chili.  Stir until the tomato has become soft.

Add the Arabian Spice Mix, Maggi stock cubes, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and dried lemons.

Add the tomato paste, tamarind juice, and water.  Stir.  Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the cilentro and then gently add the fried fish chunks.  Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Serve in individual soup bowls accompanied with basmati rice and a platter of fresh greens.

Enjoy!

Note:  I have come across some Khaleeji recipes that cook this fish stew with potato chunks.  In all the times I have had Marak Samak (fish stew) at my mother-in-law’s or other in-laws homes I haven’t ever had any stew with potatoes in it.  I asked my husband one time about putting potatoes in the stew and he gave me the weirdest look sooo….it’s up to you if you want to try it with potatoes…If you are married to a local (Emirati) ask him first if he would like potatoes in his fish stew…before he gives you that “Are you crazy look?!?!”