Sunday, August 5, 2012

BAHRAIN: THE FOOD

I have to say, this meal impressed me, even if I didn't follow the directions to a T because I got distracted (and hungry). But nonetheless, my skeptical husband absolutely loved it.

The bread I made is called khubz, a type of flatbread. The ingredients were simple; it starts with mixing yeast and a little sugar in warm water and adding that to the flour. After letting the dough rest and more kneading, it's rolled into balls and flattened out. The key difference in this bread than the other breads I've made is that the oven is heated to 500 degrees! After the oven heats up, the baking sheet goes in for about 10 minutes. Then your transfer the dough pieces to the heated baking sheet and bake until it's a golden color (about 10 minutes or so). I read that it's supposed to have a pocket like a pita, but mine didn't. I may have used too much water when developing the dough. Regardless, it was a very good bread.

The main meal I made is called chicken machboos. It can also be made with fish, which I seriously contemplated doing. I was really happy that I had enough spices to make my own baharat spice mix to go on the chicken (comprised of black pepper, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, and paprika). After cooking the chicken in with the spices and some onions, garlic, and tomatoes, I added some water and let it slowly cook for an hour. (I left out the dried black limes, something I had to look up on Wikipedia.) Now, at this point is where I started to deviate from the recipe, more than I had anyway. It called to take the chicken out and grill it. (No grilling on my part. It was already so tender, I have no idea how it could be done.) After letting rice cook in the chicken broth, I forgot to add in the butter and lemon juice into the rice, and it was really salty. My husband, however, thought it was really good. This is where the khubz bread comes in to save the day.

This morning, I started my day off with Bahraini cardamom coffee. It called for gulf coffee, but I used a kona blend instead. I read that gulf coffee is generally a light to medium roast, so I thought the kona blend should suffice. It also called for some saffron added to the coffee and cardamom and boiling water. A strong coffee at first, but the cardamom and saffron flavors comes out in the aftertaste. Definitely good, definitely needed.

I have to admit, I wasn't as psyched for this meal going into it, just simply because I thought, "Oh, I just did a chicken and rice dish for the Bahamas." But it was completely different on many levels. The flavors were complex as it was when I did the food from Algeria, utilizing the sweet spices and savory spices together. It goes to show what this blog is all about: setting aside your initial feelings on a country and just experience it, let yourself take it in and be amazed at where it can take you.

Up next: Bangladesh

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