Bahrain

All evidence suggests that there is really only one distinctively Bahraini dish, and that seems to be Machbous. Actually it seems to be knocking about Qatar and the UAE as well, but whatever, it’s specific enough for our purposes.

So that probably explains why, when we came to prepare our Bahraini meal, both starter and main course were variations on Machbous. Joe’s starter was, as is his wont, a modern take on the classic, with the chicken and rice parts prepared separately and then combined within rosti rings. The use of Thai glutinous rice moved us further from the traditional. Which was just as well, because Machbous Take 2 was a traditional affair, rice and chicken combined in a baking dish and baked under foil. Both came out very well, and were different enough (in terms of turmeric and lime content, as well as presentation) to count as different dishes. For dessert, Sophie had some trouble getting the custard/batter to thicken, but once it had been in the freezer the yoghourty consistency seemed about right. This custard surrounded a medley of fresh fruit, dried fruit and almonds, and complemented the earlier courses perfectly.

I’m not sure we were expecting great things from Bahrain in advance, but it all turned out very nicely.

Machboos

Machboos

Machboos (starter)

  • Onion, chopped
  • Clove garlic, finely sliced
  • Lime, halved
  • Chicken breasts
  • Tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • Small chili, seeded and chopped
  • pinch salt
  • lemon juice
  • chicken stock
  • sticky thai rice

Mix all the dry spices and salt and combine with the chicken. Place in the fridge.

Cook the rice in the chicken stock. Meanwhile, fry the onion to golden brown, add chili, ginger and garlic and fry briefly. Add chicken and spice mix and cook for 3 minutes. Add the tomato and some warm water and heat through.

Combine all with rice to serve.

Machboos (main)

This is modified from a UAE version, which looked the most promising of the options I could find.

3 cups water
2 chicken Oxo
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken breast fillets, cut into thirds
1 fresh lime, halved
1⁄8 teaspoon saffron
1 large onion , chopped
1/2 tin chopped tomatoes
1 garlic clove , finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoons garam masala
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup basmati rice , rinsed and drained

1. Oven to 190°C and grease a 9″x13″ baking dish.
2. Make stock, add lime and saffron and put on to simmer.
3. Rub chicken with half the spices (except the garlic).
4. Heat the olive oil in a large pan on med-high to high heat and fry the chicken till both sides are brown. Remove the chicken to a plate.
5. In that same pan fry the onions for 2 minutes, add tomatoes, garlic and remaining spices and cook another 2 minutes, then take off heat.
6. Add the rice and stir for about 30 seconds till well coated.
7. Spread rice in the baking dish and place the chicken pieces over the rice.
8. Squeeze the lime halves and remove from broth. Pour over the rice and chicken and cover tightly with foil.
9. Bake for 40-45 minutes–do not open the foil cover at all until the time is up.

Lab-e-Shireen

  • 3 bananas, sliced
  • 2 apples, chopped
  • cornflour
  • jelly x 2
  • raisins
  • almonds
  • pot double cream
  • caster sugar

Combine the cornflour, sugar and cream and heat to thicken. Make the jelly and break up into lumps when done. Toast the almonds. Throw it all in a bowl and serve.

Scores

Food: 3/5

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