Kurdish Proverb: A zikê birçî tune guhên – A hungry stomach has no ears
Kurdistan is located in the North of Iraq and was officially formed in 1970 after years of ethnic violence between the Kurdish people and the Arab Iraqi government. Peace did not last and since mid 1970 Kurds have faced continuous attack from the dominant government. Genocides ordered by Saddam Hussein during both the Iran-Iraq war and in 1991 devastated the Kurdish population. Since the death of Saddam Hussein and the withdrawal of US troops, tensions between the Kurds and Arabs have remained. More recently Kurdistan has seen an influx of more than 2 million displaced Iraqi and Syrian refugees fleeing war and settling in the region.
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Fasolia and Rice
As with many of the dishes from the Middle Eastern region, this dish really reminds me of the food I ate growing up. Kurdistan actually lies in between Iraq and Iran and the food in differs depending on the proximity to those two countries. Iraqi Kurdish food is very similar to the cuisines found in the gulf and this white bean stew is no exception. Dishes are usually served with vermicelli rice and various side salads.
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 70g concentrated tomato paste
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tin berlotti beans
- 1 tin butter beans
- 2 tsps cumin
- 3 tbls ghee or vegetable oil
- 1 portion vegetable stock
- 1 cup of rice
- 1/2 cup of vermicelli
- Salt & pepper
In a pestle and mortar crush garlic with a little salt until smooth. Add crushed garlic to hot 1 tablespoon of hot ghee or oil and cook gently for 1 minute. Once golden add tomato paste and stir then add 3 cups of boiled water. Cook gently for 10 minutes before adding chopped tomatoes, stock and cumin then leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, make rice. Fry vermicelli in one tablespoon of hot ghee or oil until brown then add rice and a pinch of salt. Once the rice has become white cover until a centimetre above with boiling water. Turn down the heat as far as possible, cover and leave to cook for 15 minutes. Once cooked, turn off the heat and leave the lid on – the steam will keep the rice warm and prevent it from going claggy.
Your sauce should have reduced by now. Add the tinned beans (you can use soaked dried beans of course!) and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Serve with rice and fresh chopped parsley. I also had some pickled chillis and fresh radish on the side which is great!
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