Category Archives: Lunch

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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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.

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?!?!”

Herbed Lentil and Bulghur Salad

I found this recipe the other day via SparkPeople.com.  I am trying to get my family and I to eat more healthier foods so now I am on the look out for recipes that I know everyone in the family will eat.

I made this two days ago and it was so good.  It is like a tabbouli salad but with more fresh herbs, and the addition of brown lentils, a little more veggies, and some walnuts.  My husband and I really liked the salad…the kiddos…well three out of four ate it and liked it.  I will definitely make it again.

Here’s the recipe:

Herbed Lentil and Bulghur Salad (makes 4 to 8 servings)

Ingredients:

1 cup of brown lentils

2 cups of water (for cooking the lentils)

1 cup of bulghur

2 cups of boiling water (for soaking the bulghur)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

3 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped

3 tablespoons of fresh dill, chopped

3 -4 green onions, chopped

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

1 stalk of celery, chopped

1/4 cup roasted walnuts, roughly chopped (or if you prefer roasted pine nuts or roasted slivers of almonds)

1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives or sliced pimento olives

1/4 cup of lite feta cheese , used to top the salad with

chopped tomatoes for topping

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Wash and rinse the brown lentils.  Add to a pot  with the 2 cups of water.  Partially cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Drain and place into a large bowl.

While the lentils are cooking, soak the bulghur wheat in a bowl with the 2 cups of boiling water.  When the lentils are done cooking drain and remove as much of the water from the bulghur and then add to the lentils.

In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the minced garlic.  Cook for just a couple of seconds and then add to the lentils and bulghur.

Add the remaining ingredients, except for the feta cheese and tomato, and then add salt and pepper to taste.  I really don’t think it needs additional salt because of the olives.  The tomatoes and feta will be used to top the salad when you serve it.  Just put about a tablespoon of the feta cheese on top of the salad and as much as the chopped tomatoes as you want.

Yummm, this is just soooo good!  I am going to make some more for lunch today!  Oh, and I want to add that this would go really well with some grilled chicken breast.

Enjoy!

Grilled Hamra with Hashwa

Today’s “Fish of the Day” is Hamra.  In English this fish is also known as Red Snapper.

I will show you in today’s recipe how to prepare Hamra with an easy to make hashwa (stuffing).  Hashwa literally means “stuffing”.  This stuffing recipe is very easy to make and brings a wonderful aroma and flavour to fish.

Grilled Hamra with Hashwa or Grilled Red Snapper with Cilentro and Onion Stuffing

Ingredients:

Hamra (Red Snapper) 1 kg or larger (the fish only needs to be gutted.  Do not scale or trim the fins!)

1 large onion, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium-sized green bell pepper, chopped (optional)

1 bunch of cilentro (kuzbara) chopped

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 heaped teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cumin powder (or Arabian Spice mix)

Since you will be grilling the Hamra the only thing you will need to do to the fish is have it gutted.  Gut the fish from the belly so that you will have a pocket to stuff the hashwa in.

Do not scale it or trim the fins. The reason for this is that you will be placing the whole fish directly onto the grill and having the scales still on the fish will prevent it from sticking to the grill.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix all of the ingredients (from chopped onion to cumin powder).  Note:  that this hashwa can easily be doubled or tripled according to how many fish you will be grilling.

cilentro, onion, garlic, green bell pepper

salt, black pepper, tumeric, ground ginger, cumin powder

Prepared hashwa

Now all you have to do is stuff each hamra with the hashwa as seen in the picture below.

stuffed Hamra waiting to be sewn up

Now you will need a large-eye needle and some cooking twine (I didn’t have any twine so I just used cotton yarn) for sewing up the belly of the fish.

All the Hamra sewn up

A close-up of my needlework!

Sewn up Hamra up close.

Now all you have to do is prepare your grill.  Grilling time will be approximately 1 hour.  Every 30 minutes turn the fish over so it will not char.  Do not turn the fish over before 30 minutes because it will break up over the grill and you don’t want that!

Hamra on the grill with some shrimp.

When the Hamra is finished serve on a platter.  When you get ready to eat it just peel away the skin.  Serve with the hashwa with a squeeze of lemon if you wish.

When I prepare grilled fish with hashwa I serve it with white rice, daqoos is optional, lemon wedges, and fresh greens.

If you so happen to plan a picnic on the beach in the evening all you need is a roaring fire, some lemons and bread from an Iranian bakery (khobuz Irani).

Enjoy!

Red Snapper on FoodistaRed Snapper

Fried Fish with a Dry Spice Rub

Since I am posting the pictures of Fish of the UAE I will go ahead and post this recipe to frying fish UAE style.

The recipe that I am sharing with you today is basically fish coated with a dry spice rub.  Almost all of the fish that you will in the UAE can be fried.  Depending on the size of the fish you will need to cut it into big chunks or if frying a whole fish that is fat in size, you will need to make a couple of slits on the sides to ensure even cooking.

In this recipe today I am using Chennad (Kingfish).  It is quite long so I had it cut into big chunks.

Ingredients:

fish

1 heaping teaspoon of Arabian Spice (or you can use garam masala or curry powder)

1 teaspoon of tumeric

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon of salt

(Note:  the spice mixture can easily be doubled or tripled according to how much fish you will be cooking.)

Corn oil for frying (I like to use Coroli corn oil)

Arabian spice mix, tumeric, cumin, and salt

Mix all the spices together in a small bowl.

Since this is a dry rub, sprinkle the fish with the spice mixture and then gently rub into the fish.  Let this sit, covered for at least 30 minutes.  The moistness from the fish will soak in the spices.

On a high flame, heat the oil in a deep skillet.  When you see the oil slightly smoking turn the flame to low.  Add the fish.

Cook for 5 minutes and then gently turn the fish over and fry for another 5 minutes.  Take fish out and drain on paper towels.

Serve with basmati rice, daqoos, and fresh greens.  Enjoy!

Fish of the UAE – Sultan Ibrahim

Today and the next few days I will share with you a few kinds of fish found here in the UAE.  My husband is a fisherman and MashaAllah (how Allah wills) he brings home fish on a regular basis, Alhamdulilah (thanks to Allah).

Because each emirate here in the UAE is located on the Arabian Gulf you will find a fish souk.  Every day of the year you can find a variety of fresh fish and each fish has its own season.  Now that is colder weather fish like Shari and from the Jesh family are huge…about 2.5 to 4 kgs!

When shopping at the fish souk (Souq As-Samak) you will find two groups of fish.  One group is the fish that are caught by the fishing dhows in which the dhows go out on fishing trips that last about 10 days to 2 weeks.  Whenever fish is caught by a dhow they are kept in the boat’s freezer compartment for that amount of time and then brought to the fish souk to be sold.  The fish is still technically fresh (fresh frozen) and still good to buy of course.  The main stalls of the fish market sell fish from the dhows.

The other group of fish are the ones caught by fisherman who go out for 1 or 2 days and will bring back very fresh fish (some of which are still alive).  When buying fish from these fisherman you will find them on the outer perimeter of the souk.

Sultan Ibrahim (Threadfin Bream)

Sultan Ibrahim is best bought small (about 6 to 8 inches) if you should buy this fish bigger than that it has no taste at all.  This is one of my favorite fish to eat because it tastes so much like shrimp…but cheaper. 🙂

I season this with some local Arabian spice called bizar, salt, and tumeric and then deep-fry it until it is crunchy.

Fried fish at my home is always served with basmati rice and daqoos along with a variety of fresh greens like arugula and green onions.

This is picture of what I cooked the other day:  Sultan Ibrahim and Garfa.

More about fish tomorrow, InshaAllah (if Allah wills).

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

DSC00036

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!