Thursday, March 7, 2013

Baharat-spiced beef stew

Other than Chinese 5 spice powder, baharat has to be one of my favorite spice mixtures. Baharat is literally the Arabic word for spices, and is comprised of black pepper, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, and/or paprika. I love it mixed with ground beef, and its the essential component in my favorite Assyrian-style meatballs and lahamajeen (basically an open faced thin dough or tortilla topped with ground beef and spices). But baharat can also be used to flavor fish, vegetables, grains, and stews.

Stew. "More of a thick soup than a name really".

Here we have a pretty "traditional" beef stew with a hint of Middle Eastern flair in the form of baharat, turmeric, and cumin. The flavors are there, but relatively mild, so they don't overpower the stew. They just add that bit of "warmth" and "homeyness" that baharat adds.

So if you're interested in putting a bit of a spin on a traditional meal, try adding some baharat to your life.

Buen Provecho,

Bahart-spiced Beef Stew, adapted from Spicie Foodie

1 lb lean stewing beef, cubed
3 carrots, sliced diagonally into 1" pieces
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 small leek, thinly sliced and only bottom white section
4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 sweet red peppers, roughly chopped (I used orange bell peppers)
8 small potatoes, halved or 16 very small potatoes left whole, unpeeled
1 TBSP tomato paste
1 TBSP bahart spice
1/2 TBSP sweet paprika for mild stew and chile (Cayenne) powder for spicier stew
1 tsp ground turmeric powder
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and black pepper, to taste
1-2 TBSP sunflower oil or olive oil
4 cups of beef broth or 1 low sodium (no MSG) beef bouillon cube dissolved in 4 cups water
Optional toppings: thinly sliced green/spring onions or fresh cilantro

  1. Pat dry the beef with paper towels then set aside. Heat the oil in a large pot, brown the beef on all sides. Remove from pot and set aside. 
  2. In the same pot fry the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and leeks and fry for 2 minutes. Then add the rest of the vegetables (except potatoes) and fry for another 5 minutes (If you want your vegetables to have a bit more body to them and not be super soft, feel free to add them in Step 4 with the potatoes). Add tomato paste and cook for an additional minute.
  3. Add the beef back to the pot and sprinkle all of the spices into the pot. Stir the pot to distribute the spices well. Pour the broth into the pot, cover and under medium low heat simmer for ~1 hour.
  4. Add the potatoes and continue simmering until meat is tender, another 1 to 1.5 hours. (Mine took about 2 hours total for the meat to be tender but still maintain its shape.)
Serve: The stew can be enjoyed on it’s own as a filling lunch or a light dinner. It can also be served with crusty bread or steamed rice on the side.


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