It is thanks to my dear aunt Wadad (90 years-young) that I discovered this stew. She had summoned me to her place telling me “it is urgent”. I got there, and was told to sit down; she proceeded to tell me why she had called; “you know”, she said, “next Sunday is Palm Sunday”. She paused for a few seconds for emphasis; “and the following Sunday is Easter”. Oh, and? That was the extent of the exchange. She had nothing more to say, Bless her.
She had this stew and a plate of baba ghannouj for lunch. I had always had it with meat. The meatless version is lighter and just delicious. Fresh peas are in the market these days and it is worth shelling them, gobbling a few raw ones on the way.
The implement in the photo is an old-fashioned three-tiered tin (matbakiyeh) made out of brass, now sold in plain metal. It would hold a workman’s luncheon, with one tier for rice or a starch, one for the stew and one for a salad or cut-up fruits. Kind of a Lebanese bento box. A present from another dear aunt, Tante Claire.
The tradition in Lebanon was to call anybody who was a girlfriend of one’s mom, Tante (Aunt). You’d automatically be the assigned aunt of lots of children.
INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 servings
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 pound peas (in the shell), shelled or 1 bag of frozen peas
2 yellow onions, chopped
8 garlic cloves, 4 mashed in a mortar and 4 kept whole
1 bunch cilantro, leaves chopped
1 bouillon cube
5 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1. Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat; add the onions and fry till light golden, add the garlic and cilantro and fry 30 seconds, add the carrots and peas, add the water and the bouillon cube and bring to a simmer; simmer for 20 minutes or so until the veggies are tender. Serve with a starch of your choice. (I used coarse bulgur #4)
NOTE: Heat a bit of oil in a saucepan, add the bulgur and fry gently for 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 volume of water or stock and cover; bring to a simmer gently, reducing the heat, and let it cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. The bulgur will absorb the water and forms small holes (just like rice); fluff up and serve.