- 250 g boned leg of lamb, diced
- 1 level tablespoon plain flour
- pepper, salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 250 g peeled carrots, diced
- 1 tsp cumin seed
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 400 ml lamb stock
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 10 pitted dried dates
- lime wedges to garnish
- 100 g burghul
- boiling water
Maraq tamer, an Iraqi dish. Long ago orange carrots and tomato purée were still not to be found in Iraq. But dates were there in abundance. According to the Hadith (tradition) the Prophet Muhammad would have said dat the date tree originated in Paradise. A revealed truth! The fact is that recent investigations have demonstrated that ‘the tree of knowledge’ on the earliest depictions of Paradise in the Middle East was a date palm.
In Iraq – ancient Babylonia – date palms were pollinated by hand as early as 3000 BCE, as it is still done today in modern commercial plantations in the Middle East and North Africa. Sad to hear that the current production in Iraq has collapsed due to all the disasters that happen there. In his time Saddam Hussein could become jovial and peaceful when somebody stated that Iraqi dates were the best in the world.
The best are still grown around date town Basra. The beautifully shaped leaves qualify the surroundings to such an extent that a Basrani poet compared the long eyelashes of his sweetheart to them.
- Mix meat with flour, pepper and salt. Heat the oil in a frying pan (or open pressure cooker). Cook the meat cubes until lighly browned, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Add chopped onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in carrot, cumin seed and tomato purée. Add stock and lime juice. Lower the heat, cover and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours until tender. When using a pressure cooker it will take 35 minutes under highest pressure.
- Add the dates and reduce the liquid over high heat into a shiny supple sauce, stirring from time to time. Ladle into a flameproof dish, keep warm.
- Wash burghul in a sieve, cover with boiling water. Leave to stay for 10 minutes. Press the liquid out of it with the round side of a spoon. Ladle aroud the stew, garnish with parsley and lime segments.
- Starter: Radish salad. Grated radishes on salad leaves. Sauce: 1 tbsp tahin mixed with 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt, garlic, lime juice, peper, salt. With pitta bread.
- Dessert: a juicy pear.