Every December 2, the United Arab Emirates celebrates National Day, a celebration of the unification of the seven emirates. It is one of the most highly anticipated holidays of the year and is marked with festivities and feasting on traditional dishes, such as machboos.
Machboos is a dish of rice, meat, vegetables and spices cooked slowly together in one pot. The meat—usually lamb or chicken—may be prepared in one of three styles: mandi, where it is barbecued in a deep hole; mathbi, where it is grilled on flat stones; or madghut, where it is cooked in a pressure cooker.
“The best lamb to use is locally farmed and fresh, while the best spices come from Yemen – they add a depth of flavour and authenticity to the dish,” says Sohan Singh Negi, Chef De Partie at Fraser Suites Dubai.
“Middle Eastern culture focuses on sharing meals with the people you love, as it’s believed to lead to a happier, healthier life. This holds true for a lot of other cultures that live here too, whether it’s sharing a big pizza, a pot of biryani or machboos,” he adds.
Culture Tip: Traditionally, this dish is eaten together with family or friends from one large plate. Mint-infused red tea is usually served after the meal, which aids digestion.
CHEF SOHAN’S CELEBRATORY LAMB MACHBOOS
Ingredients (serves 3):
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tomato, diced
800g lamb with bone, cut into pieces
1 sachet Kabsa Arabic Mix
2 dried limes, cut in half and seeds removed
2 litres water
2 cups basmati rice
1 cup golden raisins
In a large rice pot, saute diced onion in vegetable oil until golden. Add tomato and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add lamb pieces, Kabsa Arabic Mix, dried limes and water, and bring to a boil.
Once lamb is cooked, add rice and raisins, and adjust the water level so that there is around 3cm more water than rice in the pot. Cover and simmer until water is absorbed and rice is fully cooked.
Serve on a large platter with sliced cucumber and yogurt raita. You can also add vegetables such as carrot or peas to the lamb machboos to make it a complete meal.
Adapted from Fraser Cachet Issue #37 © Frasers Hospitality and SPH Magazines