More Peas Please

By Habeeb Salloum

August is the best month to enjoy the bounty of the garden. One of the most used pulses in kitchens across the world, peas seem to fit into almost every cuisine. Not only does their flavour and texture make them a much loved ingredient, they also add an appealing colour to any dish. And the best part of all this is that they are readily available fresh or frozen all year round. This is one of my favourite stews. I always enjoyed it when mother served it with rice as a one-dish meal. In fact, whenever we were asked as children what we wanted for dinner, we children would cry out, “peas, please!”. This dish is best served over a bed of warm rice.

Peas with Meat – Bizayla Ma’ Laham

Serves – 4 to 6

1-pound lamb or beef, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

3 cups water

2 cups stewed tomatoes mixed together with 1 cup water

2 cups shelled fresh peas (frozen peas may be substituted)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Heat oil in a saucepan then add the meat and sauté over medium heat until it begins to brown. Stir in onion and garlic then sauté for a further 10 minutes, stirring a number of times. Add water, then cover and simmer over low heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water to ensure that there is just enough during the process to cover the meat. Stir in remaining ingredients, cover and cook over medium-low heat for a further 20 minutes. Serve hot over Plain Cooked Rice (see recipe below).

Plain Cooked Rice

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup Basmati or any other long grain rice, rinsed

2 cups boiling water

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a frying pan, melt butter then sauté rice over medium heat for a minute, stirring continuously. Stir in remaining ingredients then bring to boil. Cover then cook over medium-low heat for 12 minutes. Stir then re-cover and allow to sit in its own steam for 20 minutes.