Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Bzaar Mix

You will notice that in all my recipes I call for a tablespoon (at least) of ''bzaar.'' Early on in the blog I described it as the essential Libyan spice mix. It has a little bit of everything from black pepper to coriander power to ginger. As far back as I can remember, my mother always had her bzaar made in Libya. Obviously, it was made in mass quantities and would last till the next Libya trip. What I didn't realize was that the exact mixture of my mother's bzaar was specific to the city we're from in Libya--Gheryan.

Every region, city, or family has a different variation of what is in bzaar but since I make my recipes based on my mothers combination of spices, I think its important that I post a recipe on which spices to combine to get that mixture. I have created a spice mixture that is as near to the original as I could get. I concocted this mix and tried it in my own kitchen and found it to be a great substitute. Its a combination of 5 spices that are easily found at most grocery stores and certainly at an ethnic food store. It hits all the same notes that my mother bzaar does and creates the backbone of Libyan cooking.

 What you'll need.

- 1 heaping tablespoon of turmeric
- 1 tablespoon of caraway powder
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon 7-spice (If you cant find 7-spice, here is a link to make your own.)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Macroona Embowkha

Macroona Embowkha is a Libyan dish that is geographically unique in that it is traditionally made only in the East of Libya. The broken up pieces of vermicelli pasta is steamed in a steamer pot. It is almost identical to Ruzz Embowkh (steamed riced) recipe. Obviously when you read this recipe, its a lot of pasta. This is a family sized recipe. It will serve 5-7 people.

What you'll need:
- 8oz can of tomato paste
- 1.5lb broken vermicelli pasta
- 2 tablespoons Bzaar
- 1.5 tablespoons salt
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 piece lamb per person
- 1 small onion
- 8 cups water

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ruzz Embowikh

Ruzz Embowikh can roughly be translated to mean steamed rice. This dish requires a steamer pot. The bottom portion holds the sauce and in the top portion, the rice is cooked from the steam of the sauce. Every Libyan household has one of these pots, they are essential to cooking other staples such as couscasee. This is a great dish because it serves as an alternative to pasta. It is also unique because it is one of the few rice dishes in Libyan cuisine.

What you'll need:
- 8oz can tomato paste
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion
- Lamb ( 1 piece per person)
- 3 cups short grain rice
- 3 potatoes
- 6 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoon Bzaar
- 1 teaspoon Cheyenne pepper

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Macroona bil Boosla

This is a simple and delicious pasta dish that is a winner. The pasta is tossed in a bit of sauces then topped with caramelized onions. Please note, the recipe for the Boosla is NOT included here. I've made a separate entry for it under ''The Basics'' because its a standard recipe for Boosla that can be used for multiple dishes. After talking to a few fellow Libyans I have come to find that this a more traditionally western Libyan dish. Geography aside, its worth a try!

What you'll need:
-1 Jalapeno sliced in half 
-1 medium onion
-1/3 cup olive oil
- 1lb lamb cut
-A 6oz can of tomato paste
-6 cups water 
- 1.5 tablespoons bzaar
-1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1lb box of penne 


Boosla just means onion. Its a topper thats used on many main Libyan dishes. Its always the same recipe. If I call for Boosla, this is it!

What you'll need:
- 3 onions
- 2 tablespoons samin ( سمنة ) or ghee
- 1 cup garbanzo beans
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Harrarat

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Khubzit Howsh--Homemade Bread

As much us Libyans love our pasta, we equally love our bread. So much so that often we eat bread WITH our pasta. As far as I can remember my mother always baked her own bread. Grocery loafs were rarely purchased. During community picnics or gatherings my mother was always responsible for making the bread. All bias aside, my mother (MASHALLAH) makes the best bread. This technique and recipe is hers. I learned from the best. Having said that, you'll notice that my mothers bread isnt all white. She is staunch about her ''healthy'' bread, making it 50% whole wheat. Depending on preference the ratio of wheat to white may increase or decrease.
      While super easy, it is time consuming and takes a bit of upper body strength. Kneading dough is a work out, but its one that pays off! The secret for fluffy bread is kneading the dough multiple times. 

What you'll Knead:
  • 8 cups bread flour
  • 8 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 tlbs + 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbls + 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3cups (warm) + 6.5 cups (water room temp) 
  • Olive oil 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mahshee-- Stuffed Bell Peppers

Although stuffed bell peppers is not a uniquely Libyan dish the mixture of this stuffing has all the hallmarks of Libyan cooking. Olive oil, tomato paste, parsley, and the blend of spices makes it ours. This recipe is awesome in a number of ways. First, its delicious. Second its flexible in that once you have the mix you can stuff anything you'd like, not just bell peppers. I love to use the same mix and stuff onions, zucchini and even tomatoes! You'll note this recipe calls for Cilantro. I know there are a lot of people who do not like cilantro and believe it to have a soapy taste. Although I disagree with you, feel free to omit it--it will still taste great. Two final notes: First-- In the recipe I used 3 bunches of parsley and 2 bunches cilantro. After chopping I measured the cup value. Second-- make sure you wash your herbs VERY well to avoid grit from sand and soil.

What you'll need:
- 12 bell peppers
-12 oz small cubed lamb
- 5 cups chopped parsley
- 3 cups chopped cilantro
- 12 chopped green onions
- 1/2 diced onion
- 2 medium sized tomatoes diced
- 12oz can tomato paste
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup short grain rice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Bzaar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Salt
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 cups water (Differs depending on pot).
- Deep bowl to mix