Week 28. Bahrain. Machboos.

I found a site which gives “Fun and Interesting facts about Bahrain”. The first “fun” fact was this:

The island country of Bahrain is spread over a total area of about 665sq.kms. It is a country which experiences some arid, mild winters and very long and humid summers”

Um….that’s not fun and interesting – it’s insanely dull. For my sins I read on:

“The total amount of arable land in Bahrain constitutes to just about 2.82% of the total available area. Desert constitutes about 92% of the total land”

Oh my – are you serious? You wrote a website and called it “fun and interesting”.

“The relationship within a family runs very high in Bahrain. Bahraini people love dance and music and hence their culture is rich in various kinds of art forms”

Yeah – bit better.

Bahrain has been proposed as a site for the Biblical Garden of Eden”

What? It has been proposed as a site?  So what! I propose that there is a possibility some of my relations were in the Royal Family at the time of Henry VIII. I have utterly no idea if that is true and I wouldn’t publish it on a bio of me, but this seems to be what has happening with the Garden of Eden.

In order to check the validity of this claim I have done some research. These days there aren’t many Serpents in Bahrain, but they do have sand snakes, but what confused me far more is that the names of Adam and Eve don’t appear anywhere near the top 10 baby names and in fact Adam didn’t even come in the top 4 names beginning with ‘A’ (Adel, Ahmed, Ali, Anas). I remain unconvinced.This being the case I decided to move onto the food of Bahrain and I was not let down. Traditionally Middle Eastern there is a lot of humus, rice, dates and floral sweet flavours. For one of the first times I decided to make the national dish which is Machboos.

Machboos interested me for a couple of reasons. Firstly as it uses a spice mix I haven’t used before (Buhurat) but also the rice excited me as it was infused with lemon, spices and Rosewater. Essentially a long grain Risotto with chicken on the side, the process of making this dish was fun. Each task was very simple but mixed together and with a couple of processes on the go at the same time it all got a bit hectic before all coming together well at the end. Taste wise the rice was phenomenal. With each mouthful floral, spicy and rich flavours took patient turns to excite my taste buds. The chicken was “meh”;  It was highly ok and admittedly I had slightly overcooked it, but it seemed a bit of an afterthought. If I were to make it again I would add chillies, use no chicken (didn’t need it) and slapped an enormous dollop of home-made humus on top. If you ever want an amazing rice dish though – adapt recipe below.

Recipe: Serves 2.

500g Chicken

1 Cup Rice (I used brown)

1 Tomato

Buharat Spice Mix

½ tsp Ground Black Pepper

½ tsp Ground Coriander

½ tsp Ground Cumin

1 tsp Paprika

½ tsp Ground Nutmeg

½ tsp Ground Cardamom

½ tsp Tumeric

Handful Chopped Coriander

1 Onion

1 Inch Ginger Diced

1 Garlic Clobe

3 Tbsp Rose Water

3 Tbsp Lemon Juice

1 Tbsp Salt

1 Tbsp Butter

Steps:

1                     Dice the onion and brown on a low heat in a large casserole dish

2                     Whilst the onion is cooking get the brown rice cooking in water as you will need to cook it for 20 mins

3                     Also whilst the onion is browning mix all the dry spices together and mix with the chicken (which you could leave whole or dice). Set aside

4                     When the onions are brown add the garlic, ginger  and diced tomato for 3 minutes

5                     Now add the chicken mix and cook for 3-5 mins.

6                     At this point add 750ml of water which should cover the chicken. Add the coriander. Put the lid on the pot and stir occasionally. This should be for 20 mins.

7                     After 20 mins drain the rice and take the chicken out of the bubbling sauce. Put the rice into the sauce and continue to cook. The rice will start to absorb the sauce

8                     Put the chicken on a tray for the grill and set aside.

9                     When the rice is nearly ready and the sauce has been absorbed, move it to an oven dish. Add the lemon juice, Rosewater and the butter and stir. Add to the oven for 20 further minutes.

10                 Take the rice out and turn the grill on. Grill the chicken on each side for 5 minutes until they are browned.

11                 Dish up and enjoy.

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