My key ingredient: bezar

Executive chef Bassel Ibrahim shares with us his recipe for jisheed which uses Emirati bezar seasoning

Bezar spice mix. 
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Bassel Ibrahim, executive chef at Seven Sands, says: "My favourite ingredient to work with is our homemade Emirati bezar seasoning, a traditional blend of spices that features in many of our dishes. It's unique to the UAE and the mix is a well-hidden secret that varies not only across the Emirates but also between families. At Seven Sands, we use a special blend of 18 whole spices, which create a fantastic aroma when roasted and blended together. It is great for subtly enhancing a dish without diminishing the original flavour, such as in this jisheed recipe.

“This is not widely known, but shark meat is very popular in Emirati cuisine, with its lovely flavour and flaky consistency. In this traditional recipe, dried lemon and lime impart a distinctive flavour, with the addition of bezar to give a pure, complex flavour to the fish. Then, as we say in the UAE, bel’afiah.”


Serves 10

Ingredients for the dish

500g basmati rice

2kg baby shark fish

100g Emirati bezar spice mix

100g turmeric powder

50g salt

500ml corn oil

500g onions, finely chopped

500g green peppers, diced

100g ginger, finely chopped

100g garlic, finely chopped

100g dried lime

3 lemons, squeezed

Ingredients for the sauce

100ml corn oil

400g green or red peppers, chopped

400g tomatoes, chopped

100g red onions, finely chopped

50g garlic, chopped

50g Emirati bezar mix

5g salt

100ml water

200g Emirati ghee


Boil the rice with a pinch of salt. Once cooked, strain the water and set to one side.

While the rice is cooking, bring a large pan of water to boil and then reduce the heat to a slow simmer – add the shark fillet, bezar, turmeric and salt, and cook for 40 minutes, then remove the shark and shred the meat to small pieces.

Meanwhile, heat the corn oil in a large frying pan, and add the onion, peppers, ginger, garlic and dried lime; sauté until golden in colour then add the cooked shark meat.

Stir gently until you have a nice, soft texture then add the juice from the lemons. Remove from the heat and set to one side.

To make the jisheed sauce, heat the corn oil in a pan and add all the ingredients except the water. Sauté for five minutes or until the ingredients start to caramelise, then add the water and seasoning to taste.

Stir over a gentle heat until the mixture takes on the texture of a compote (if you have a blender, use to create a smooth consistency).

To serve, place the rice on a serving dish and top with the shark mixture, then pour the sauce over the top and serve topped with Emirati ghee and prawns (optional).

Jisheed with prawns. Courtesy Seven Sands

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