What’s vegewarian? It means reducing the amount of meat you eat every week, celebrating delicious food and sustainability with vegetable-based dishes. This week we bring you Ruz Bukhari, a traditional and well-loved Arabic dish.
Pilgrims from Uzbekistan brought Ruz Bukhari with them long ago, as they traveled to Mecca and Medina. We’re sure they traveled by camel caravan, but nowadays pilgrims make their haj in all kinds of ways, even by bike. Along the way, the recipe infiltrated borders, as recipes tend to do, with Pakistan, Afganistan, and Arabic countries, eventually reaching Yemen.
Every country has its own version. Some cook Ruz Bukhari with lots of blended tomatoes. Some like it with fewer spices but accompany it with a salad made fiery with chillis. I prefer to serve this vegetarian version hot-spicy, with a cooling drink like Turkish Aryan or cold almond milk. Seasonings vary with the characteristic taste of every region. But everyone agrees that the spices make the dish.
Make this with brown rice for more nutrition, or white for more tradition. But the rice must be Basmati quality and no other.
2 cups Basmati rise, rinsed and soaked in salt water 1/2 hour, then drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions, chopped
1/2 cup black raisins
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice or baharat spice
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne flakes
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
5 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 large carrot, diced
500 grams – 1 lb. fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups water, boiling
Clean kitchen towel
Sauté onion in the olive oil till golden.
Keep heat at medium and add all the spices, stirring and cooking for 3 minutes.
Add carrots. Cook 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes and continue stirring for 10 minutes. Cook until the tomato juices have reduced and are just beginning to dry. You must keep a sharp eye on the pot here.
Add water carefully, avoiding the steam that will spurt up. Stir the bottom of the pot to loosen anything sticking there.
Add rice and raisins.
Cover with a kitchen towel and then the pot lid. Reduce heat to minimum. Steam for 20-30 minutes.
Allow the rice to sit off the heat 5 minutes before serving.
Then enjoy – it’s awesome.
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Photo of rice with vegetables from Shutterstock.