Join The National and Table Tales on a culinary journey around the Middle East to savour the quintessential dishes that embody the spirit of Ramadan. From table staples to family favourites, this series of recipes – one for each day of Ramadan – pays homage to the holy month.
Salonat lahem is a classic Emirati stew that is intentionally brothy, so it can be soaked up with rice. The dish is bursting with the flavours of seasonal vegetables and meat, along with the aroma of local spice mix bzar.
While the bzar alchemy is at the heart of most Emirati dishes, also unforgettable is incomparable lumi, or black lime, which adds a pungent, fruity flavour. This sun-dried lime is used abundantly in the Gulf and gives food a unique flavour.
Salona, which originates from the Urdu salan, is adapted from South Asian curries.
Recipe contributor Maisa Al Qassimi, senior project manager at Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, says: “Traditionally, my family makes salona with goat meat, but you can easily make it with lamb, mutton or chicken. Root vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, are key, and I add beans, okra, squash or any seasonal vegetable at hand.
“You can also adjust the seasoning and spiciness to your taste, as well. I serve it in a large tagine, with plain basmati rice and achaar – pickled mango or lime – on the side.”
Maisa Al Qassimi's salonat lahem (braised goat and root vegetable stew)
Serves 6 to 8
- 3 tbsp bzar (Emirati spice mix)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- ¼ tsp cloves
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp chilli powder, to taste
- 2kg bone-in goat meat, medium pieces
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 450g onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 10 cardamom pods, crushed
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 dried lumi, cracked in half
- 1-2 green chillies, halved
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1,500ml chicken stock or water
- 225g canned tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tomatoes, cut in half
- 340g potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 225g carrots, peeled and cut in chunks
- 225g green beans or okra, halved
- 25g fresh coriander, chopped
Mix the bzar, cinnamon, coriander powder, cloves, pepper and chilli powder in a small bowl. Rub the meat with half of the spice mixture. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Swirl the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Add the onions and saute for five minutes until golden. Add the crushed garlic and continue to saute for two minutes.
- Working in batches, sear the meat on high heat in the Dutch oven on all sides; remove when finished and keep warm.
- Add the cardamom, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, lumi and fresh green chilli, and stir for one minute. Stir in the remaining powdered spices, salt and pepper.
- Return the meat and pour in the chicken stock or water. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for one-and-a-half to two hours, until the meat is almost tender.
- Stir in the canned tomatoes, tomato paste and halved tomatoes, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and carrots, and let them cook for 10 minutes before adding the beans and any softer vegetables.
- Bury the meat in the stew; add more broth if needed and simmer for another 30 minutes, until the meat is tender but still clings to the bone.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle in the fresh coriander, cover and cook for another five minutes. Serve in a large bowl, family-style.
This dish has been brought to you by Maisa Al Qassimi and curated by international recipe hunter Hanan Sayed Worrell, author of Table Tales: The Global Nomad Cuisine of Abu Dhabi. The Table Tales concept celebrates the people and stories that give flavour to the recipes of the Middle East.