As we all know, the second letter of the alphabet is B. With seventeen options, I was rooting for Brazil. More accurately, I was rooting for an excuse to make those delicious little cheesey tapioca rolls they give you at Fogo de Chao. Yes, this may be against the spirit of this little experiment (I’ve made them before, and God knows I’ll make them again), but c’mon, those little suckers are addictive. But no. Upon getting the number thirteen I flipped back to Excel and saw the sad truth: Bahrain.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Bahrain. But in all honesty, I didn’t know much about it. I figured it was somewhere in southwest Asia (turns out I was right!), but that was about it. Technically named the Kingdom of Bahrain, it is a small island nation located in the Persian Gulf. Also, it’s capital is Manama; I had that Muppet song going through my head the entire time I was cooking. Anyway, onto the food!
According to my research, the national dish of Bahrain is Machbous, a rice dish with some sort of added protein. And while that sounded delicious, my CSA was going pretty crazy at this point meaning I had a bunch of vegetables to use. Thus, I based my dish of the week on a Bahraini stew recipe I found on a Middle Eastern Cuisine website. The flavor profile was largely the same, but it used the vegetables that were starting to take up too much room in the fridge.
Unfortunately, I had some limitations for this recipe primarily because I live in New Jersey and not Manama. One was the spice blend; pretty much every recipe I saw called for a baharat spice blend. Sort of like a Bahraini curry, there is no specific recipe for baharat and no stores in my area seemed to carry it. Instead, I had to search a little bit and found a recipe to make my own. The more difficult thing for me was the lack of loomi. Loomi are dried black limes used throughout the Middle East to provide a citrusy and smokey kick to a dish. Short of drying limes myself, though, there was no way I was going to get my hands on loomi. Instead, I subbed in some lime zest. Maybe not the most authentic thing in the world, but sometimes a girl has to improvise.
Overall, I loved this dish. I tend to be a bit of a veggie fiend and this certainly satisfied my produce craving. Also, it reheats beautifully, so leftovers are fantastic. A word of advice, though: after a day or two in the fridge, the heat really permeates the dish. If like me you love spice, this isn’t a problem. But, if you’re a little bit of a spice wuss, consider yourself warned.
Bahraini Vegetable Stew
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 pablono peppers, diced
- 2 tbsp baharat spice (see below)
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into medium-small pieces
- 1 large zucchini, cut into medium rounds
- 2 medium eggplants, cut into medium sized pieces
- 1 cup green beans (I used hari-coverts) cut in half
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 6 tbsp tomato paste, dissolved in a ¼ c. of water
- 2 tsp lime zest
- Juice of one lime
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Salt, to taste
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté the onions in olive oil untilthey are translucent. Add garlic, poblano, and baharat and cook, stirring, until it is fragrant.
- Add potatoes, zucchini, and eggplant and mix until the vegetables are covered in the spice. Cover, and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and stir. Cover again and cook another five minutes.
- Add the green beans, tomato paste, salt, and lime zest, reduce heat, and cook, covered, for about ten-fifteen minutes, until the potatoes are almost done and a sauce begins to form.
- Uncover, add lime juice, and simmer for another five minutes.
- Stir in cilantro and remove from heat. Serve hot over rice.
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
Per Recipe: 1,031 calories, 204 grams carbs, 17 grams fat, 34 grams protein, 61 grams sugars
Per Serving (6 servings): 172 calories, 34 g carbs, 2.83 g fat, 5.67 g protein, 10.2 g sugars