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Thursday, 25 July 2013

Machboos Rubyan - Traditional Bahraini Dish of Rice & Shrimps

Machboos Rubyan - Bahraini Rice & Shrimps Dish

Machboos is one of my favourite Bahraini dishes.

I was first introduced to Machboos through a colleague in Bahrain and instantly fell in love with it. However, she refused to give me the recipe, as some people do. In fact it used to be very common for most people to tell you that a recipe is secret and not for sharing. More so in the past than today, but until today many people still look at recipes as top secret and not for sharing.

I really wanted to learn how she made her Machboos because it is by far the best I have had, but never was lucky enough to convince her of it. Years later another Bahraini friend shared her recipe with me, which I have tweaked and worked and tweaked some more trying to achieve the flavours of the first secret recipe and never did! However, I did end up with this recipe which is slightly different but just as good :)

TIPS You can adapt this recipe to chicken or meat, you just have to cook them through before adding to the rice - which means longer cooking while making the broth about 1 hour or until the meat is cooked through. 
Classically these dishes are made with meats on the bone, however, feel free to use boneless meats. Meats on the bone usually give a richer, deeper flavour, way more flavoursome than boneless. If it is the presentation that bothers you, or fiddling with bones as you eat, then cook the meat on the bone in making the broth, then separate and discard the bones before adding to the rice.
Finally, traditional recipes will instruct that you cook the shrimps with the rice. I do not do that as the shrimps will over cook by the time the rice is cooked through. Instead I saute the shrimps in a skillet with olive oil and season only with salt and black pepper. Do not over crowd the skillet with the shrimps, go in batches and cook only for 3 minutes or just until they start to get pink. The shrimps should be crunchy, once rubbery and dry they have been overcooked. Do this just before serving, then top the cooked rice with the shrimp or for a more authentic presentation, mix the shrimps with the cooked rice.  (Olive oil sauteed shrimps/prawns, sprinkled with herbs and a squeeze of lemon or lime are an easy and super fast nibble that can be served on their own when not used in this dish. But I assume you already know that lol!)  

Machboos Rubyan
Serves 4
You Need
1 Kg Prawns, shelled and deveined. Tails in tact
1 large cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 onion, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 dried lime (lumy),
1 ½ liters water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, halved and sliced then caramelised
3 cardamom cloves
1 tsp saffron
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp rosewater
3 tbsp finely chopped coriander
4 medium tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups long grain rice, washed and drained

Bring 1 ½ liters of water to the boil, add quartered onion, cinnamon sticks, bay leaf, ground turmeric and sliced garlic. Squeeze the juice of the quartered lemon in the boiling water and drop the wedges in as well. Reduce the heat and allow the water to reach simmering instead of boiling. Add the shrimp shells and heads to the water and simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain separately reserving the broth.

Bahraini Machboos Rubyan by Seddiqoo
In a large pot, saute the minced garlic and coriander in olive oil only until translucent. Add the finely chopped tomatoes, dried lime and rosewater then stir to coat. Once the tomato mixture boils, add the fried onions and stir. Top all with the drained rice, then add just enough of the shrimp broth to cover. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, continue to cook on high heat until the liquid is reduced and the rice is starting to show on the surface. Reduce the heat to low and leave to cook until all the liquids are absorbed and the rice is cooked through. 

Meanwhile, Saute the shrimps in olive oil sprinkles with salt and black pepper.
Pour the rice over a serving platter and top with the shrimps. Sprinkle all with finely chopped parsley and serve hot alongside a spicy salad or pickles.

Give this recipe a try, you will love it and your guests will too. 


Food For Thought
"Real generosity isn't lavish spending, it is thinking of others then yourself"

Come back tomorrow for more, but before you leave let me know what is your favourite rice dish from the Gulf Region? While you are at it, why not share with me your favourite Ramadan Iftar experience? 
By the way do you have a top secret recipe that you would never share with anyone? you don't have to share it here, just tell if you do :) 

Come back tomorrow for 
Al Hakawati Tradition (The Story Teller tradition)  :)

The world is beautiful, all its people are beautiful, all cultures equally important, and all the same in the end - all out there for us to explore...
Ramadan Kareem