Category Archives: Dinner

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.

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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.

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?!?!”

How to cook Basmati Rice

I have a finicky Emirati husband.  Basmati rice has started many wars in my house.  

There were times my husband would refuse to eat the rice I cooked and would go to one of the public kitchens and buy a container of cooked rice to eat with the stews I cooked.

The rice was either overcooked in that it was mushy or  undercooked and still crunchy.  I used to just add water and cook it with the quick-boil method but the rice would stick together.

It has taken me years to learn how to properly cook basmati rice so that it turns out nice and fluffy.  The secret is in the size of the pot you use and how long you let the rice soak.  You need an extra-large pot to cook the rice in.  The rice needs lots of room to move around when it is boiling.

Here is my recipe:

2 cups of Basmati rice (I use India Gate because the rice has been aged and the kernals of the rice are long…plus it has a delicious taste!)

india gate

extra-large pot

salt

1 tablespoon cooking oil

a timer

Place the rice in a large bowl and fill it up with water. 

Carefully wash the rice so that you do not break the kernals.  Cup your hand slightly and slowly wash the rice.  I turn my hand in the bowl 20 times. 

Drain the water and repeat the above two more times. 

Drain the water and then pour water over the rice again with enough water to just cover the rice by about an inch.

Now you let the rice soak for at least 30 minutes but better if you let it soak for an hour.

Meanwhile, fill the extra-large pot half way with water.  A good guide is to use 3 liters of waters for every 1 cup of rice.

Add 1/4 cup of salt and 1 tablespoon of oil to the pot of water.

Bring the water to a full rolling boil.

Drain the rice in a strainer and add to the pot.  Stir once.

Cover the pot with a lid and when the water starts boiling again remove the lid.  This takes about a minute.

Have a large strainer waiting in the sink to drain the rice.

Let the rice boil for exactly 5 minutes.  Trust me when I say exactly 5 minutes because if it is less time or more time it will greatly affect the texture of the rice.

Drain the rice in the strainer and gently, very gently, shake the strainer to get out all of the excess water.

Return the rice to pot and keep warm until ready to serve.

When you are ready to serve the rice.  Gently fluff the rice with a large fork or large wide serving spoon.

Arrange on a platter.

An tasty variation:

At the end of cooking the rice you have the option of adding fried onions.  It is very, very delicious!  I do not do this often because it is fatty but try to at least make it this way once.  You will need the following:

1 small onion, chopped

1/4 cup cooking oil

Heat the oil in a frying pan.  When hot add the chopped onion and stir.  Stir the onion every now and then until it becomes a nice golder color.

Now take a large spoon and scoop out the fried onion and scatter it over the cooked rice that is still in the pot.  Drizzle the oil that you cooked the onion in over the rice. 

When it is time to serve the rice.  You will fluff the rice and the onion and oil will be incorporated into the rice.  Yummy!

(No pictures available right now, but I will post ASAP)

Marak Laham, Salona Laham, Meat Stew

This delicious stew is a regular lunch staple at my home.  I use lamb because this is preferred by us at home and when I cook with lamb the meat is more tender.  You could use beef if you wish but here in the UAE the beef available never cooks tender no matter what method I use to cook it.  It always turns out chewy and stringy.  

The stew is very versatile in that you can cook it with or without vegetables and you can make it is thick or thin as you like.   It can be served with plain white rice or flat bread. 

I finally got around to taking pictures and uploading them.  Much more pleasing to the eye and you will know what the end product will look like!  I will try do that to all the new recipes I post from now on, InshaAllah.

 

2 cups of chopped purple onions

2-3 cloves of minced garlic

1-inch cube of ginger, grated

2 cups chopped tomatoes

1 medium-sized capsicum (green bell pepper) chopped

½ cup finely chopped parsley

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¼ cup corn oil

1 kilo lamb stew meat with bone, cubed into 2-inch piecesDSC00032

1 ½ teaspoons Madras Curry powder

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1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground loomi aswad

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground red kashmiri chili powder

2 cubes of Maggi Chicken stock

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1-2 green chilies, whole

1 loomi aswad (dried black lemon), whole

¼ cup tomato paste

1 ½ liters of water (about 6 cups)

* Potatoes, calabaza squash, zucchini, okra, carrots (see the star below)

Salt to taste

In a medium-sized cooking pot, heat the corn oil.  When hot add the chopped onion.DSC00031

When the onion is translucent, add the lamb cubes.  Stir often and sauté the lamb until it is nicely golden brown on all sides.

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Add the minced garlic and grated ginger.  Stir to mix.

Add the chopped tomatoes and all of the ground spices.  Mix together and sauté until the tomato becomes very soft (like a mushy consistency).

Add the capsicum/bell pepper and the chopped parsley.  Stir.

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Add the tomato paste and water.  Stir.

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Add the green chilies and the whole piece of loomi aswad.

Bring the stew to a boil and then lower the flame to very, very low.  Let the stew simmer, covered, for 1 ½ hours or until the lamb is tender.

After the lamb is tender, the liquid level should be at half the pot.  At this point you will need to add more water or boil until the liquid level is half of the pot.

* You can now add your vegetables.  For my large family, I will usually add 3 large potatoes.  Each potato is quartered and added to the pot after the lamb becomes tender.   If you wish to add a mixture of vegetables you can use:

                1 large potato, quartered

                1 carrot cut into 1 ½ inch chunks

                1-2 small squash

                Potatoes and carrots are the usual combinations though that I have

                seen.

If you add vegetables to your stew, you will need to add approximately 30 minutes to the cooking time.

After adding the vegetables, bring the stew to a soft boil and after 10 minutes, taste and adjust for salt.  When I cook with potatoes I will add an additional 1 teaspoon of salt (but this is for my family).  Softly boil for an additional 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

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Your stew is now ready to enjoy!  Serve with plain Basmati rice or Khobuz Irani (if you are in the UAE) and a nice green salad made from a mixture of local-grown greens!

Spiced Tomato Rice

 

This is a wonderful and an extremely easy to make and rice dish that is delicious on its own served with a side dish of yogurt as a complete vegetarian meal or as a nice complement to my version of baked chicken. 

 

If you are married to a finicky  Emirati husband who is reluctant to try dishes that he did not grow up with then this dish, in my opinion, with the spices I have used gives it a close enough Arab or Indian flavor that he will be used to.  I am sure that this will become a family favorite.

 

This recipe can easily be doubled and is terrific to take to a potluck or Ramadan get-together.

 

2 cups of basmati rice, washed and soaked for at least 30 minutes

2 tablespoons of ghee

½ cup of chopped onion

1 cup of chopped tomato

¼ cup of chopped cilantro

½ cup of chopped green bell pepper

1-2 cloves of minced garlic

1 green chili chopped; or deseeded and chopped (this ingredient is optional)

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

½ teaspoon ginger powder

½ teaspoon cardamom powder

¼ teaspoon red Kashmiri chili powder

1 cinnamon stick

2 Maggi chicken stock cubes

Pinch of black pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 cups of hot water

 

In a large pot, sauté the onion in the ghee until lightly browned. 

 

Add the tomatoes, bell pepper and cilantro. Stir well.

 

Add all of the spices, Maggi stock cubes, and tomato paste.  Mix well.

 

Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

 

Drain the rice and then add to the pot.

 

Add the 3 cups of hot water.  Gently stir.

 

Bring to a boil.  Lower the fire to very low and cover.  Cook for 17 minutes.

 

Serve this with my recipes for yogurt and cucumber salad and tangy baked chicken.

Tangy Baked Chicken

 

This baked chicken recipe pairs well with my Spiced Tomato Rice recipe.  It was an experiment in the combination of spices I used.  I first made this dish over 11 years ago and it has become a dish that I make often.

 

In this recipe, I use black lemon powder.  This tiny dried lemon is a staple pantry ingredient here in the UAE home.  It is a key lime and is dried out in the sun and then used whole or in powder form in cooking for stews and mitchboos rice dishes. The dried lemon will either be black or brownish in color.  I prefer to use the black lemons.  If you live in the UAE or other Gulf countries then this is called Loomi Aswad and can be bought in either whole or powder form.  If you live in the States, this dried lemon is available whole and can be bought at any Arab supermarket.  When you get home just break a whole bunch of them open and take out the seeds and then grind them in a spice grinder.

 

The ingredients I give are for one baked chicken.  I have a big family and I usually make three fresh chickens 600 grams each!  Any leftovers make delicious cold sandwiches of course!

 

1 kg (2 pounds) of fresh chicken

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika powder (OR 1 teaspoon Mexican chili powder seasoning)

1 teaspoon oregano or mixed Italian spices

1 teaspoon ground black lemon

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil (or more to make a paste)

 

Clean your chicken very well inside and out.

 

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix well to form a paste.

 

Scoop up a bit of the paste and you will now coat the chicken inside and out with this paste.  If you have any paste leftover you can add it to the two pockets between the skin and breast meat area near the thigh.

 

Bake the chicken for 45 minutes to one hour or until done.

 

Enjoy!

Tomato and Egg Scramble

This is a dish that I will regularly serve for breakfast and dinner.  I usually serve it with sliced cucumbers, olives, and feta cheese drizzled with olive oil.  I also serve it with either Lebanese khobuz or Khobuz Irani.  This is another favorite of my children.

 

The recipe I am giving is for just one serving.  It easily doubles and triples.  For my family, I will use 8-10 eggs, 2 ½ cups of chopped tomatoes, and I will increase the spice amounts to 1 ½ teaspoons.

 

Ingredients for one serving:

2 eggs

½ cup chopped tomato

3 tablespoons cooking oil

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground tumeric

Salt to taste

 

Heat the oil in a pan and add the chopped tomato.  Saute until the tomato is “mushy”. 

 

In a small bowl add the eggs and whisk until thoroughly mixed.

 

Add the spices and salt and stir.  Now add the eggs and with a wooden spoon slowly stir until the eggs are cooked.

 

Serve hot and enjoy!

Chicken Soup

I experimented with this soup during Ramadan 2008 and came up with a soup that has a very rich taste, and silky texture. It is absolutely delicious. Other ingredients can easily be added to it such as corn, diced chicken breast, mixed vegetables, or vermicelli noodles. The stock for this soup comes from the Fried Chicken Emirati Style and Yellow Rice recipes.

Chicken Soup

Strained stock from the above two recipes
5 tablespoons oatmeal
generous pinch of saffron
juice of one lemon
two Maggi chicken stock cubes (optional)
one cup of vermicelli noodles

The stock that you will have from the Yellow Rice recipe will fill a huge pot. Boil the stock until it reduces to half a pot.

Put the oatmeal in grinder to turn it into a powder. Add water to the oatmeal and stir until there are no longer any lumps. It should be smooth and watery. Add this to the chicken stock and stir with a large whisk.

Add the saffron, lemon juice, stock cubes, and noodles (optional but I like to add it). Stir well. Bring to a boil and then turn the fire to low.

At this point, you can feel free to add a cup of diced chicken breast, 1/2 a cup of corn, or 1/2 a cup of mixed vegetables.

Let simmer for at least 10 minutes so the noodles can cook.

That’s it! Very easy and very tasty. I hope that you enjoy it.