Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bahrain/Kuwait/Oman/Qatar/Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates: Basal Mahshi (Stuffed Onions)

This is my last dish for the September 2011 Cook Around the Globe event. HubbyGrouch will be happy to hear it. He had started to complain that he was getting fed up with Arabic food. I, on the other hand, really like those flavors and I will try and continue to incorporate Arabic dishes into my meal plan. These stuffed onions are very tasty; and the tangy sauce perfectly rounds up the flavor of the onion rolls. It does take a little bit of time to prepare these rolls but I made extra ones  that will be frozen for later use. To save some cooking time, I prepared this dish in a pressure cooker. I also prepared more sauce and added some leftover onion to the sauce.


3 large onions
500 g ground beef (or lamb)
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice, rinsed
1 1/2 tsp Baharat spice mix
1/2 tsp turmeric
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped plum tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp chopped parsley
5 tsp oil
1/2 cup tamarind concentrate
1-2 tsp sugar

Peel onions and carefully cut out the root with a pointed knife. Slit onion on one side through to the center, cutting from top to root end. Bring a large enough pot of water to a boil, add onions, and cook for 8-10 minutes until softened. Drain and let cool. For the filling, mix together meat, rice, Baharat, turmeric, salt, pepper, tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, and 2 tsp oil. Separate onion layers carefully. Cut outer layers in half if very large. Place about 2 tbsp of meat mixture on a layer of onion and roll up firmly. Grease a large pan (or pressure cooker) with remaining oil. Pack rolls in pan with seam down. Sprinkle layers lightly with salt. Combine tamarind concentrate with sugar and 2 cups of water. Pour over rolls. Invert a heavy plate on top of rolls to keep them intact during cooking. (I didn't do that in my pressure cooker. Instead, you can wind some kitchen twine or thread around rolls to keep them intact.) Cover pot with lid. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours (45 minutes in the pressure cooker. Thicken sauce with cornstarch if desired. Serve rolls hot with salad and flatbread or acini di pepe ("peppercorn") pasta.


  1. Oh my gosh! These look so good. I was intrigued by the title of the post and am so glad i checked it out. These look like great German comfort food, perfect for those cool Fall days. Great post!

  2. I had to laugh at your husband's reaction. The whole reason I changed from going through one magazine to multiple magazines every month was because of my Hubby. He'd get so tired of what he called "fru-fru" food and just want something basic and meat-and-potatoish.

    Like you, though, I could eat the more complex, exotic stuff forever. I'm loving these onions and the Mediterranean flavors. Sign me up.

  3. @ The Mom Chef: HubbyGrouch is usually a good sport when it comes to trying new dishes. But I guess this month was a bit too much for him. (That's why he got a plain ol' steak yesterday.)