What does eating sustainably mean to you?
By definition, sustainable food is nutritionally healthy, supports local agriculture and guarantees a fair wage to workers. Sustainable agriculture maintains and enriches the natural resources that our food supply depends on.
On a personal level, eating sustainably entails more than picking up a kilo of organic apples at the supermarket. It’s reading about humane conditions on local farms and slaughter houses, finding out where your staple foods come from and making informed choices. It’s about choosing produce that’s in season, then taking it home and cooking it with the flavors of the place you live in.
It’s amazing how right food tastes when it’s appropriate to the locale.
Eat Like A Sustainable Saudi Arabian
As vegewarian as we may be – which means choosing less meat in our diet - it would be futile to deny that Saudi Arabians eat meat as often as they can. Lamb and chicken are the main meats, most often grilled, fashioned into kebabs, combined with rice or packed into a revolving rotisserie spit as shwarma. Saudis eat an enormous amount of chicken. (But here’s a meatless Saudi vegewarian recipe.)
The Beduin drink sheep, goat, or camel milk. Labneh is a popular base for sauces. Ful beans, rice and wheat, and dates are important elements in the traditional Saudi menu too. And the traditional flatbread, khubs, is eaten at all meals, sometimes being used to scoop food out of one’s plate or mop up delicious traces of sauce. Other breads are lafa, a large, flexible flatbread often used as a wrapping, and fatir, or barley bread.
Saudi Arabian cuisine features rich textures and big, spicy flavors. This chicken and rice recipe proves it.
Kabsa, Saudi Arabian Chicken and Rice
Recipe adapted from Food.com
Yield: 4 Servings
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
cup basmati rice, washed and rinsed
2 tablespoons oil
2 bay leaves
1 diced onion
2 diced garlic cloves
6 whole green cardamom pods
5 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 dried limes (available in Middle Eastern shops) or juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
4 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 cup mixed pine nuts and raisins
Soak the rice in water to cover for 15 minutes.
Saute onions, in an 8-quart stockpot on medium-high heat, until golden. Add garlic and bay leaves, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks, dried limes, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, ginger and cardamom. Blend well and continue to fry for 30 seconds.
Add tomato sauce. Mix well until sauce thickens. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add chicken and sauté for a 1 minute.
Stir the chicken to absorb flavors on all sides.
Add water until chicken is completely covered. Bring to a full boil then reduce to low. Cook for 35 minutes covered.
Remove the chicken from the sauce to a broiling pan.
Measure 2 cups of sauce. In a separate saucepan, cook the rice in the measured sauce, bringing it to a boil then reducing heat to low. Cook 10 minutes.
Broil the chicken 5 minutes.
Spoon the rice over a platter and arrange the chicken on top. Garnish with hard-boiled eggs, pine nuts, and raisins.
More on sustainable eating in the Middle East:
6 Slow Food Revolutionaries in Lebanon
7 Books On Sustainable Food
Israel’s Best-Loved Vegetables Carry Heavy Pesticide Load
Photo of men serving kabsa from Shutterstock.