Tomato rice (Harrak osba3o)

tomato rice

The name of this dish in Arabic is “burnt his finger”. Presumably this is such an irresistible food a child burnt his finger eating it without waiting for it to cool down. Prior to making this I was unconvinced; how can something so simple be that good? it is just rice cooked with onions, tomatoes, and flavored with garlic and pomegranate molasses; set atop a bunch of fried pita croutons. 

The rice mixture was ready, the pita croutons were duly fried in olive oil. I figured I should have at least one tablespoon. Then another. Then yet another; I had probably a cup and I was not even hungry. And yes, I did slightly burn the tip of my tongue!

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup rice

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 1/2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses

3 garlic cloves, mashed in a mortar with a dash of salt

1 bouillon cube (optional)

2 tomatoes, diced fine (keep the tomato juice to cook the rice in)

salt, pepper or seven-spice to taste, add a dash of cinnamon if desired

1 Tbsp dry mint powder (optional)

1 cup water or chicken stock

1 pita bread, cut into croutons and fried in 1 cup of oil 

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1. In a saucepan, over medium heat, pour the oil; add the chopped onions and fry till golden. Add the rice and fry for 20 seconds until all the grains are coated with oil. Add the tomatoes and garlic and stew the mixture for 5 minutes; pour the water, bouillon cube and cover. Simmer the mixture for 20 minutes until the rice is soft and has soaked up the water. Fry the croutons in oil till crisp and browned, drain and place on a plate. Pour the rice over the croutons and serve immediately. 

NOTE: It is preferable to fry the croutons a few minutes before the rice is done. 

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First time I saw a coffee grinder used as a percussion instrument! 

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19 Comments

  1. Posted July 14, 2013 at 2:42 am | Permalink

    A delicious rice dish. That is indeed an interesting music instrument!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. Posted July 14, 2013 at 4:28 am | Permalink

    Beautiful rice! Fesenjoon on the menu tonight, so maybe…..

  3. Posted July 14, 2013 at 5:10 am | Permalink

    Looks very interesting. Love the addition of pomegranate molasses. I’ve never of dried mint powder though could dried mint be substituted.

  4. Joumana
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    @Elizabeth: the mint powder I am referring to is dried mint! :)

    @Mark: Your recipe sounds so clever and stylish! I think you are the best in this case! :)

    @Nidal: c’est surtout au Liban et en Syrie qu’on l’utilise je crois, vu que les grenades poussent bien ici; on en a dans le jardin, des douces et des amères pour la mélasse. ça donne un goût fruité au plat et un peu citronné. C’est bon, surtout avec des aubergines.

    @Nidal; oui, ici on le fait aussi avec des lentilles donc il y a les 2 versions; j’avais parlé de la version lentilles qu’avait préparé Rima @ Rimram gourmet et c’est un délice!!
    http://www.tasteofbeirut.com/2013/01/brown-lentil-casserole-horrak-esba3o/

    @Nidal: le reportage est super sympa, merci!!! et merci de tous ses compliments! :)

    @Phil in the kitchen: You can add it at the same time as the tomato or later; one recipe book says later, personally I like to add it with the sauce and the mint later at serving time.

  5. Mark Wisecarver
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Wow! Once again excellent post and fotos!
    I make a dish very similar to this that is loved by all so I’ll explain mine a bit.
    First I halve the pita then in a hot pan with Olive oil in goes the pita half.
    I add spices to the hot bread and then flip it, flip it back and then plate it with the additions and finally slice the hot crispy pita into wedges that now form “spoons”.
    It’s quick, very simple and loved. As always, you are the best. :)

  6. Nidal
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Bonjour Joumana,
    Autant le nom de ce plat est très, très familier à mon oreille, autant le plat ne me disait pas grand chose….Jusqu’à aujourd’hui. Merci !
    Serait-ce une des versions orientales du risotto Italien…?
    J’ai encore le goût de ce “Harrak osba3o” à la bouche. Y compris le goût de la menthe séchée et légèrement broyée que ma mère incorporait à cette recette.
    En revanche, le “Pomegranate molasses”…C’est une substance que je n’ai jamais vu utiliser par Mesdames le cuisinières de Jordanie et de Palestine…

  7. Posted July 14, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Rice sides are always so handy to have around. This one looks perfect.

  8. Gabi
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Most countries have that kind of simple dishes with a minimum of ingredients but in the right combination. One should pay a lot more attention to those recipes. Usually everything is available and in stock at home. I like the mint in this one and will definitely give it a try.

  9. Nidal
    Posted July 15, 2013 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    C’est encore moi…Je suis désolé !
    Joumana, je te livre, ici, la recette telle que la préparait “Im Bassel”, notre voisine en Jordanie (Amman). Je viens d’appeler mon père et ma sœur en Jordanie, qui m’ont donné, chacun à sa façon, leurs description de ce plat.
    Im Bassel, est aussi la meilleure amie de ma mère. Elles faisaient ensemble, avec d’autres femmes, leurs séances d’épilation à la pâte molle de sucre caramélisé, pendant que nous enfants, assis en deuxième rang, nous nous contentions de lécher les restes dans les casseroles.
    Sa recette est différente. Forcement, car elle est faite à base de lentilles vertes et de pâtes fraîches coupés en rectangle ou en lanières.
    Je me souviens très bien de son plat déposé dans le garde-manger, pour être manger froid le soir. C’était une préparation très épaisse, avec des lentilles très cuites, de la Coriandre, des oignons…et des rectangles de pâtes fraîche déposées (Donc cuites légèrement par la chaleur de la sauce ds lentilles)
    C’est un plat qui se mangeait froid (chaleur ambiante).
    Le lien, ci-dessous, le montre en version syrienne:
    http://chefindisguise.com/2012/09/02/horaa-osbao-%D8%AD%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82-%D8%A7%D8%B5%D8%A8%D8%B9%D9%87-%D8%B1%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%82%D9%87-%D9%88-%D8%B9%D8%AF%D8%B3/

  10. Posted July 15, 2013 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    Love this recipe and the name. Perfect combination with the pomegranate molasses (that makes everything better).

  11. Joumana
    Posted July 15, 2013 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    @Nidal: Très drôle, la séance d’épilation, très exotique! vraiment tu devrais écrire un livre !

  12. Nidal
    Posted July 15, 2013 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    C’est parfait, Joumana !
    Les deux versions existent donc. Je ne le savais qu’à moitié…
    Je profite de l’occasion pour te féliciter de la qualité de tes prises de vue (photos) mais surtout pour l’harmonie parfaite entre les couleurs, les textures et les supports (Belle vaisselle, nappes, couverts…etc.) Tout cela donne une élégance à tes compositions qui reflète ta personnalité. Comme on dit ici: “A l’image du personnage”.
    Je sors un peu du sujet, mais ne pouvais pas m’empêcher de t’envoyer ce lien (Que tu connais déjà, peut être ! ):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oyrFXut3pA

  13. Posted July 15, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    There’s an Armenian version of this dish that I could eat
    EVERY
    DAY!

    The pom syrup and mint are a lovely variation and crispy pita is irresistible.
    I can’t wait to try this Lebanese version, Joumana.
    Thanks!

  14. Posted July 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like a real flavorful rice! Love pomegranate molasses and spices in it! Is that coffee grinder? I’ve never seen it before and it’s so creative to use it as a musical instrument.

  15. Posted July 15, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Just my sort of dish. I sometimes wonder how I ever managed to cook much at all before I discovered pomegranate molasses. I can’t live without it now. Just to be certain – do I add the pomegranate molasses and mint to the rice at the same time as the water?

  16. Posted July 15, 2013 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    Hahah, what a charming dish name and origin. I love love love tomato rice in any cuisine. I haven’t tried the Lebanese version, so this is going onto my list!

  17. Posted July 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    What a flavorful way to prepare rice! I had to smile about the croutons :)

  18. Posted July 29, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Hi Joumana, thank you for another wonderful recipe. I’ve never eaten rice made in this way, but that will change thanks to you. Looks delicious!

  19. Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Very good post. I certainly love this website. Thanks!

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