Bazin (Libya)

Feeling compassion and a heavy heart for folks who have to endure a tragic and nightmarish situation  in Libya, I escaped  into the kitchen and made a very ancient and traditional Libyan dish, bazin.

Libya is an extraordinary country with a wide coastline of beautiful beaches and a rich history replete with Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Ottomans and finally Italian presence. Incredible archeological sights, with a capital, Tripoli, described as the Bologna of Africa due to  its Italian architecture.

Image from iwantsun.co.uk

Mona al-Khalil, whom I met in Tyre, Lebanon, who has been protecting the giant turtles’ eggs off her coastline, told me then (in reply to my question): “Do you know where in the Mediterranean giant turtles go to lay their eggs? the Libyan coast!”

What is bazin?

It is like a giant dumpling, made of barley flour, and served in the middle of the plate surrounded by a stew. The traditional way is to eat it with one’s fingers. A rustic and filling tomato-based dish,  redolent of spices such as paprika (mild and hot) and turmeric.

INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 servings

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 pound of lamb shoulder chops or beef stew or chicken
  • Potatoes or pumpkins, cut up (figure on one medium potato per serving)
  • 4 Tablespoons of tomato paste or 4 large tomatoes, peeled and cut in dice
  • Spices: 1 Tablespoon of paprika, one tablespoon of hot paprika, 1/2 Tablespoon of turmeric, salt, black pepper
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 2 cups of barley flour, preferably organic (250 g.)

METHOD:

  1. Make the stew first: Heat the pot, add the olive oil and the onions and fry the onions for a few minutes; add the lamb chops or stew meat and brown for 15 minutes, flipping it every 5 minutes.
  2. Add the paprika, both hot and mild, turmeric, salt, black pepper, tomato paste and 3 cups of water. Close the lid and let the stew simmer for 30 minutes or so, adding more water if necessary.
  3. Add the potatoes or pumpkin pieces to the stew (or both) and cook 25 minutes longer, adding more water to the pot. Uncover the pot towards the end of cooking time to let the sauce thicken a bit and taste, adjusting seasoning.
  4. Make the dumpling: Pour a quart of water into a pot; add 1/4 cup of oil and a teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil. Dump the barley flour on the simmering water and without touching it, let the mass of flour float and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the mass of dough into a bowl, reserving the cooking water nearby. Using a long stick or a long and thin rolling pin, start stirring the dough, gradually adding more water, until the dough becomes a compact and smooth form, just like a cookie dough. Pinch off large pieces of dough and form into a mound in the middle of the plate, using a large spoon to form a crater in the middle.
  5. Spoon the hot stew on the crater and all around the dumpling. Serve.

NOTE: The stew can be prepared with fish or chicken as well. While eating it with one’s fingers was traditional amongst tribes in the desert, I feel more comfortable eating this with a fork and a spoon for catching the sauce! The barley flour can be substituted with wheat flour or rice flour.

Once the dumplings have been formed, it is OK to put them in the stew to keep them warm.


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42 Comments

  1. Posted February 28, 2011 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    un résultat magnifique et bon! merci du partage de toutes ces précisions..

  2. marianna
    Posted February 28, 2011 at 1:37 am | Permalink

    Very interesting recipe! the bisquits are similar to what we make here in Karpathos for the seventh day tradition feast of a newborn baby!

  3. Posted February 28, 2011 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    A country that we don’t know well…

    What a gorgeous dish!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  4. Posted February 28, 2011 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    Bonjour Joumana, un joli volcan d’ où s’ échappe une délicieuse ” lave ” gourmande et pleine de saveurs richement colorées. Merci aussi pour ces belles photos qui nous font un peu voyager, bisous et bonne journée

  5. Posted February 28, 2011 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    So interesting… Libya is so close and yet so far, as we Europeans prefer to look the other way…

  6. Posted February 28, 2011 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    A great dish!!

  7. Posted February 28, 2011 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful recipe. My partner’s father spent some years in Libya and although it was not an easy period at all, he would always tell us about a beautiful country with memorable food. He introduced a couple of Libyan inspired recipes in the family tradition, but I’ve never heard of this one.

  8. Posted February 28, 2011 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    This dish looks absolutely delicious, comforting and warming… Just the kind of thing to eat with family. I am absolutely going to make this. In fact, I want to make every dish I see on your blog, just about, which leads me to believe I must be in love with Lebanese food. I recently did a post on a marinade/sauce recipe from my favourite Lebanese restaurant in Cape Town. Won’t you let me know what you think?

    Robyn

  9. Posted February 28, 2011 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    This looks so yummy!

  10. Posted February 28, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I’ve never even seen bazin before and now I’m intrigued. These look fantastic. Definitely saving the recipe. Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. Posted February 28, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    What a lovely dish. I really like the combination of spices and the two paprikas. Your photos are stunning.

    My heart goes out to the people of Libya as the violence continues. It must be frightening to live there right now. As Rosa said in her comment, a country we don’t know well. Perhaps that will soon change, for the better I hope.
    Sam

  12. Posted February 28, 2011 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Awesome! We love you for your compassion. :-)

  13. Posted February 28, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Marvellous dish, dont know much about Libyan dishes..

  14. Posted February 28, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I have a few friends tell me that Libya s a beautiful country but I have no experience of my own. But I always believe exploring of a country starts with food and that certainly can be done from our own kitchens. Thank you for posting !

  15. Posted February 28, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Great to learn about Bazin, sounds like a very delicious specialty, I would love to try this and I actually have some organic barley flour on hand to make it. Thanks!

  16. Posted February 28, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    An informative post, we don;t hear much about Libya beyond Ghadaffi or recent events. The dish looks wonderful and there’s hope that that Libya will open up more and tourists can see this lovely country.

  17. Posted February 28, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    A beautiful salute to the culture and our brothers and sisters in Libya, sacrificing everything for right to live freely. Thank you Joumana.

  18. Posted February 28, 2011 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I love the idea of ancient dishes but always wonder, what must they have been like before the tomato??? I am sure that Libya got them early so 400 odd years of tomatoes do make for a long tradition, but what did they use before to moisten the dish??? Inquiring minds….

    Looks great, Joumana. Just got some barley and might make a trial version… very exotic, isn’t it??

  19. Posted February 28, 2011 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Love this post. So informative. Beautiful shots. And of course lovely food once again! Thanks for sharing.

  20. Posted February 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Un plat et un pays que je ne connais pas du tout.
    Je réalise aussi que j’ai rencontré très peu de Libyens dans ma vie.
    J’espère qu’ils s’en sortiront et très vite.
    A très bientôt.

  21. Posted February 28, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I love dumplings in stew and gladly use my fingers to eat it! Somehow I enjoy food twice as much when I do this. I’ll make this with fresh turmeric which I have at the moment and remember the beautiful side of Libya! This is one of your many beautiful good feeling posts! Thanks for sharing!!!

  22. Posted February 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful post. I am so sad at the situation in Libya too
    Beautiful pics and the dumplings look too good

  23. Posted February 28, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Hope that Gadhafi’s regime collapses soon and things will change there so that the Libyans can have the freedom they are fighting for. I just realized that we don’t see any Libyan food bloggers and have no idea about their food. Thanks for posting this Joumana, it sounds like a very comforting dish.

  24. Posted February 28, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    My heart goes out to all those Libyans whose lives are at stake and lives compromised… Great post and interesting information. At least we learn about Libya not just what we see on TV but through this rich and savory dish that you just shared with us Thank you.

  25. Posted February 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m so sad to think of the agonies people are suffering in Libya. What a terrifying and heart-rending situation. I love that made this beautiful dish in honor of them.

  26. Posted February 28, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Nice recipe but, more importantly, a nice glimpse into a Libya we don’t often see on TV. Thanks.

  27. Posted February 28, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    what a wonderful way to celebrate the courage of the Libyan nation! so thoughtful of you. delicious recipe

  28. Posted February 28, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    What a wonderful way to present a country that is beautiful and is being torn apart and then to pay homage to its people and culture with such a lovely dish! Barley flour? Fantastic!

    You have a gift my dear so keep on keeping on :)

    chow! Devaki @ http://www.weavethousandflavors.com

  29. Posted February 28, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Oh all those pictures are gorgeous!

  30. Posted March 1, 2011 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    This is quite an appropriate post for the times. Libya needs all the support it can get, and what better way than to celebrate their cuisine. This looks delicious.

  31. Posted March 1, 2011 at 4:17 am | Permalink

    It looks gorgeous, I’m eager to realise this dish! :)

  32. Posted March 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    What an interesting sounding dish, and what gorgeous photos of Libya. I never would have known how beautiful the country was, my only reference being the tragic images we are all seeing from Tripoli. Thank you for posting this- S

  33. Posted March 2, 2011 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    What I enjoy most about you Joumana is how much of a well rounded person you are.
    I always come away from your place a little more knowledgeable and of course, more empowered.
    It’s nice to know about the more enjoyable side to countries like Libya as opposed to relating it always to its unrestful situations.

    Barley flour is one I have yet to see…on the list it goes ;o)

    Thanks for always trying to share interesting moments with us,
    Claudia

  34. Posted March 2, 2011 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    I have a daughter who is allergic to wheat.I think I will try this recipe with the rice flour for making the dumpling.The dish looks delicious.

  35. Posted March 2, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    What a wonderful post…it is so unsettling to hear of things that are going on there. This is a beautiful dish and one that I would love to try.

  36. Posted March 3, 2011 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I really like how you make dishes to pay homage to countries and cultures …. so much can be learned through food. This dish reminds me of Ghanaian cuisine – the dumpling and the sauce, and then the way it is meant to be eaten with the fingers.

  37. Posted March 12, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    a beautiful dish- one does not see Libyan recipes on line. i love this stew (I have a Libyan-Finnish friend from Rome) and am so excited to see the recipe here. hope you’ve been well, Joumana. x shayma

  38. Akram Twil
    Posted July 6, 2011 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    I have been looking for this recipe for a long time, since my child hood, Thank you for sharing it with us

  39. Posted July 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your receipt, it looks in great details but the picture of the dish it is bit unclear, because we have similar dish call” asydh”. Anyway I’m looking for someone who can make it!! not the dish. Many thanks

  40. Posted October 8, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Joumana and you readers for your sympathy, we can only hope that Libya completes its liberation and is as sucessful in the much more difficult task of building a real state after a war and 4 decades of brutal one (crazy) man rule have traumatized our society.

    Your bazeen looks so good and I am so impressed that you tried it! We have Palestinians and other Levantines who have lives in Libya for decades and still refuse to eat traditional Bazeen, though my mother once got got some drop-in guests to try it by ‘disguising’ it as Barley dumplings in a potato and pumpkin stew

    @Ivy, There are Libyan food bloggers :) we just write about an entirely unknown cuisine and a country that is a bit of a black hole even to other Arabs

  41. Amira
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I love Bazin I am polish and my husband is Libyan ;)

  42. Posted October 31, 2012 at 4:36 am | Permalink

    MashAllah this looks so good. You know I love pumpkin so much but Saudis do not like it so you can never find anything here with it hardly :(

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  1. [...] From the Taste of Beirut blog: “Feeling compassion and a heavy heart for folks who have to endure a tragic and nightmarish situation in Libya, I escaped into the kitchen and made a very ancient and traditional Libyan dish, bazin.” [...]

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