Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 14-Bahrain - click on link below for recipe - Up Next, Bangladesh

First off, how many can name Bahrain's geographic location, much less it's ancient history and culinary traditions? Once again, I'm totally humbled (and a little humiliated) by my lack of awareness of a country whose history dates back 5,000 years. Known as Dilmun to the Sumerians, Bahrain is considered by many to be the first great civilization of the Middle East.   The name Bahrain means "The Sacred Land" or "The Land of Life," possibly because it's a verdant island amidst many desserts. Some say this island was the inspiration for the Garden of Eden - how cool is that?!

First of course, it's location, since I firmly believe that you can't know who you are you in relation to others until you know where you are:

Over the centuries,  Bahrain was a vibrant trading and commercial center at times occupied by Babylonians, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Portuguese, and British. In 1971, Bahrain's full independence was proclaimed and in 1973 a new constitution was produced, making Bahrain it's own independent country. Yay!

So now the food. As always, I like to try to find traditional food that best represents the true flavor (get it?) of the country. I decided to make Machbous, Spiced Fish with Rice. As in many of the countries in the Asian and Arabic countries, rice is the starch that binds the dish - in fact, in every country thus far, rice is a major staple. The spices in combination produce a heady, aromatic scent that is so different from Western spices and transports me via my olfactory senses to distant lands.

But before I get into the recipe, I MUST give a MAJOR shout out to the Holliston Superette, my local butcher shop that has been an invaluable resource to me as I've embarked on this project. Hereto-with, "my" Superette:


The Holliston Suprette - A Real Life, Full Service, Seriously Awesome Butcher Shop and Marktet

Chris, who runs the show and makes the place fun

Original Memorabilia on the walls

Now for the exotic combination of spices
Haddock (fresh off the truck) and Parsley

A slightly over exposed photo of Machbous - delicious, light, aromatic and healthy!

And now for the recipe, Machbous which is Bahrain's most traditional dish. It can be made with lamb or fish, served with rice.


  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. ground corriander
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 cardamon seeds
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 lbs. fish or lamb
  • salt
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. grated lime peel .....(people, anything with lime rocks)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 cups rice
  • 3 1/2 cups water

Mix the black pepper, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, cardamon, nutmeg and paprika and set aside.

Saute the onions in the oil, add the lamb or fish and cook till brown (if you're using fish, only cook for a 2-3 minutes). Add the spice mixture, the tomatoes, parsley, lime and turmeric. Mix well, bring to gentle boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered (15 minutes for lamb, 5 minutes for fish). 

Serve over rice and enjoy! Final assessment - a delicious, simple, satisfying meal I highly recommend!

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