Saturday, February 7, 2009

Libyan Scenes

As-Salaamu alaikum

I will post some pics of Libyan scenery here inshaAllah.


Sunset at a Libyan beach

Spices used in Libyan cooking

As-Salaamu alaikum

I am posting this at the request of sister Oum Ismail. :)

'Baharaat' or 'hararaat'

The baharaat (also called Hararaat) used in my Libyan recipes is made from several different spices which have been ground and mixed together. The baharaat can be bought as whole spices to be ground up at home or ready ground.

The mixture can vary but most baharaat include Cinnamon, Cloves, Cardamon, Ginger, Nutmeg (optional) and Rosebuds.

There are a couple of ingredients that I do not know the name of and which I should investigate further inshaAllah. One is a brown root which I think may be called Zeodary and another ingredient which looks like a dry papery crumpled 'leaf' which is brown on one side and greyish on the other side. Having said that, it is not leaf-shaped unless you compare it to a minature crumpled lettuce leaf! ... are you now sorry you asked sis Oum Ismail? lol...

To be continued................

Friday, February 6, 2009

Basic Libyan Mahshi (Stuffed Peppers, Courgettes, etc.)

Basic Libyan Mahshi

(stuffing) for vegetables (Peppers, Courgettes / Zucchini, Vine leaves, Spinach, Cabbage, Aubergines,etc.)


1 medium onion - chopped

2-3 green onions - chopped

1-2 bunches fresh Parsley - chopped

1 bunch fresh Coriander leaves - chopped (Coriander is typically used in the eastern side of Libya, while Dill (shibit) is more preferable in the western parts of Libya)

1 tomato - chopped

1 hot green pepper (optional) N.B. remove seeds and finely chop

1 cup Egyptian rice (round grain)

Lamb’s meat cut into small pieces (approx size ½ inch x ¾ inch) 1-2 handfuls

Tomato paste – 2 tablespoons approx

2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil / Vegetable Oil OR 1 tablespoon Ghee (clarified butter)

1 teaspoon Salt

1 – 2 teaspoons baharaat/ hararaat/ Garam Masala

1 teaspoon Red Chilli powder

1 teaspoon Turmeric

1 teaspoon Dried Mint


In a large bowl combine all the above ingredients gently.

This is a basic stuffing used to stuff all manner of vegetables e.g. Peppers, Courgettes / Zucchini, Vine leaves, Spinach, Silig, Cabbage, Aubergines, etc. Stuffed Peppers and Courgettes : Tips. Peppers and Courgettes may be cooked together. *Instead of slicing the tops off the peppers just cut around the stem and pull out the seeds gently without splitting the pepper. This holds the stuffing in and makes the peppers much easier to handle and more attractive.

*Small slices of potato may be used to ‘plug’ the pepper after stuffing.

*If you have used lamb which you have cut off the bone the bones may be placed in the pan to add more flavour to the Mahshi.

*If stuffing courgettes don’t throw away the cores as this can be used to line the pan before putting in the stuffed vegetables to help protect the vegetables from burning.

To Cook:-

Place Peppers and/or Courgettes in a saucepan or baking tin upside-down ensuring quite a snug fit to prevent the vegetables falling over and losing their stuffing during cooking.

Add enough water to boil (3-4 cups approx.), cover with a lid or foil and boil at a moderately high heat for 15minutes approx. topping up water if required to prevent burning.

A little tomato puree and some of the spices may be added to the water for more flavour.

Then turn them right side up ,add a little more water if required and cover.

Continue boiling for another 5-10 minutes until rice is tender.

Finish by baking in a hot oven for a few minutes to brown (not absolutely necessary).

Stuffed Vine Leaves - Libyan ‘Brak’

If using Spinach or Sillig (Chard - similar to Spinach but larger and courser) or Cabbage, the leaves need to be softened a little (in the case of Spinach a few seconds only) in boiling water to make them supple for wrapping around the mahshi.

To Cook:- Any bones from the meat and stalks from the leaves may be used to line the pan. Arrange the stuffed leaves snugly around the pan. Add water to almost cover and boil until the rice is tender. Can also be transferred to a baking dish to ‘dry’ slightly in the oven after boiling.

Enjoy inshaAllah!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Libyan Recipe ~ Osban & Musareen

Osban & Musareen ~

Mahshi (stuffing) for the lamb's intestines and / or lamb's Tripe (stomach/ kersha) Ingredients :

1 Onion - chopped
1 bunch of Green Onions - remove any yellow or wilted leaves first and chop
1 bunch of Parsley - chopped
1 Bunch Coriander leaves - chopped (Alternatively you can use 'Shibit' which is the herb Dill. Tripoli and other western parts of Libya tend to use Dill in their mahshi also 'Habuq' (Basil), while Coriander leaves are more popular in the eastern parts of Libya)
1 tomato - chopped
1 Hot chilli pepper (green) - chopped
1 lb Liver - cut into small pieces (not too small but remember that it has to fit in the 'Musareen')1 Lamb's Heart - cut into small pieces
1/4 lb - 1/2 lb good quality Lamb - cut into small pieces
1 cup of Egyptian Rice (Round-grained rice)
1/2 - 1 tablespoon red pepper - harr
1/2 - 1 tablespoon Baharaat 1/2 - 1 tablespoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of dried mint / 1 tablespoon of fresh mint (chopped)
Olive oil - a few tablespoons1 tablespoon tomato puree
Pre-cleaned Musareen or Kersha* (see below for method of cleaning the Musareen and Kersha)

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Method of preparation:

Mix all of the above ingredients except for the Musareen and /or Kersha after the necessary washing, chopping and cutting of the meats and vegetables (try to ensure that any water from the cleaning is strained off or the stuffing will be watery towards the end of the stuffing process . I usually wash the herbs when they are a loose bunch then shake them).

Stuff the musareen (an art in itself but easy once you've done it once inshaAllah) N.B. DO NOT STUFF TOO FULL - flatten them out a little along their whole length and cut into lengths of around 1 ft or so or they will split.

If using Tripe wrap the stuffing in cut pieces of Tripe to form balls (either sew them together or wrap cotton thread around several times to hold it while cooking, this can be cut off later).

After Stuffing , boil the musareen or Osban for approximately 1 hour in plenty of water to cover, to which has been added salt and turmeric.

Then remove from the liquid to finish off in the oven or grill to brown slightly.The liquid may be used to boil rice according to how many cups you require add water or reduce the amount of liquid as necessary.


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* How to Clean the Intestines for Mahshi :

Lamb's intestines will have some fat on the outside, most or all of which will need to be removed. It is healthier to remove all of the fat of course but a small amount of fat left will make a much tastier Musareen or Sausage.(If there is any 'solid matter' still inside the intestines these will need to be flushed out first - squeeze along the length of the intestine into a double layer of plastic bags then rinse through with water.

1. The easiest and quickest way to remove the fat is to lay the intestine on a cutting-board and scrape it off with a knife. Hold the knife at an angle as you scrape so that you don't cut into the intestine.

2. Find the wide end of the intestine and start to turn it inside out - hold it under the steady flow of water from your kitchen tap / faucet and you will find that the weight of the water will start to carry the rest of the intestine through as you continue to hold the wide-end in your left hand (these are the instructions for right-handed people) while lifting the remaining intestine with your right hand straight above the open wide end. After a little while, as the remaining intestine gets shorter it will simply and quite suddenly slip through from the weight of the water. You should then have an inside-out intestine.

3. If it has not been scraped (which it probably hasn't) then it will still be slightly yellow and slimey. Lay the intestine on the cutting-board and scrape with a knife to remove the slime. You will see that the intestine becomes white inshaAllah.( Some use flour to remove the slime but I have never tried this method - it sounds like more mess to me).

4. The easiest way (for me anyway) to stuff the intestines is to turn them back so that any fat is back on the outside ( using the method in step 2 ).Then, with your stuffing or 'mahshi' at the ready starting with the narrow end of the intestine, start to turn the intestine in on itself using a small amount of the stuffing. The fat ends up back on the inside.
Tip: Holding the intestine horizontally will give you more control over the amount of mahshi that goes in as when held vertically the intestine can turn inwards under the force of gravity ending up with only a small amount of mahshi inside. A wide shallow dish will make it easier. Flatten out the intestine a little as too much stuffing will cause it to split during cooking.

Please let me know if you try this recipe and please don't hesitate to ask me if you have any queries.
As-Salaamu alaikum and welcome to Aisha's Kitchen, my new Libyan recipes blog.

I hope that this recipe blog will come in very useful to others as well as myself inshaAllah. Some of the recipes which I shall be including may not be Libyan recipes but are those which I have personally tried and tested.
I would really appreciate it if you would please post your comments in the blog with any of the recipes that you try - thank you.