Wednesday, May 9, 2012

0 Mishmishiya – Huh??? Apricot & Lamb Stew – Eww???

Sometimes things sound more appetizing in their original language. Mishmishiya (mish – mish – eye- ah) derives it's name from the Arabic word for Apricots – Mishmish. This recipe's origins seem to come from a 13thcentury cookbook produced in Persia (Iran). Although I've also read that it originated in either Egypt or Morocco. Of course over time, nearly 800 years, there have been many changes made to the recipe. If you find the original recipe you'll discover that they used closer to 1 tsp of nearly all of the spices and 2 tsp of cinnamon, they also cooked the dried apricots in a separate pot of water, strained them through a sieve and added both the cooking water and the apricots to the stew. Several modern recipes use whole dried apricots, and sometimes raisins and chickpeas.

The recipe below came from my good friend Gareth. It's really a pretty easy dish to make and has a nice spicy (not hot) taste to it. Since lamb is both expensive and hard to find he often substitutes beef. As I always say – when you cook from scratch you have the ability to experiment and change the recipe to suit your taste. I prefer to cut the cinnamon in this recipe down to ¼ tsp as I don't like too much cinnamon in my food. Traditionally this dish was probably served with or over rice or couscous. However you can add chickpeas to it like a lot of people do today, or add lentils, or potatoes to it, or serve it over quinoa, bulgur wheat or even pasta.

2 lb lamb or beef sliced thin
2 onions, finely chopped
2 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp ginger or ½ inch sliced ginger root
¼ tsp saffron or turmeric
¼ tsp mastic (optional – used as a thickener)
½ lb dried apricots, diced
1/3 c almonds, chopped fine or ground
1 tsp rose water (optional – adds a rose flavor/scent to the dish)
black pepper to taste
salt to taste

Heat oil in large skillet. Brown meat with onion, salt & spices. Add apricots and almonds, cover with water, cook slow for about 2 hour, sprinkle with rose water. Add water depending on how thick you like your stew. Serve hot over rice or couscous.

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