The Walima October Challenge is representing the Kuwaiti Cuisine.
The State of Kuwait (Arabic: دولة الكويت, pronounced [Dawlat Alkuwayt]) is a sovereign Arab emirate bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and Iraq to the north and west. The greatest distance from north to south is 200 km (120 mi) and from east to west 170 km (110 mi). The name is a diminutive of an Arabic word meaning "fortress built near water." It has a population of 2.889 million and an area of 18,098 km². Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government, with Kuwait City serving as the country's political and economic capital. Kuwait also includes several offshore islands, the largest of which is Bubiyan near the Iraqi border.
Located in the north-east corner of the Arabian Peninsula, Kuwait is one of the smallest countries in the world in terms of land area. The flat, sandy Arabian Desert covers most of Kuwait. There is little difference in the country's altitude with the highest point in the country being 306 m above sea-level. It has nine islands, all of which with the exception of Failaka Island are uninhabited. With an area of 860 km², the Bubiyan is the largest island in Kuwait and is connected to the rest of the country by a 2,380 m long bridge. The land area is considered arable and sparse vegetation is found along its 499 km long coastline. Kuwait City is located on Kuwait Bay, a natural deep-water harbor.
Kuwait has some of the world's richest oil fields with the Burgan field having a total capacity of approximately 70 billion barrels (1.1×1010 m3) of proven oil reserves. During the 1991 Kuwaiti oil fires, more than 500 oil lakes were created covering a combined surface area of about 35.7 km². The resulting soil contamination due to oil and soot accumulation had made eastern and south-eastern parts of Kuwait uninhabitable. Sand and oil residue had reduced large parts of the Kuwaiti desert to semi-asphalt surfaces. The oil spills during the Persian Gulf War also drastically affected Kuwait's marine resources.
The influence of Islamic and Arab culture on its architecture, music, attire, cuisine and lifestyle is prominent as well. The most distinctive characteristic of local Kuwaiti culture are the dewaniya's, a large reception room used for social gatherings attended mostly by close family members. While, unlike neighboring Saudi Arabia, the Islamic dress code is not compulsory, many of the older Kuwaiti men prefer wearing dish dasha, an ankle-length white shirt woven from wool or cotton while the minority of women wear abaya, black over-garment covering most parts of the body. This attire is particularly well-suited for Kuwait's hot and dry climate. Western-style clothing is also fairly popular, especially among Kuwait's youth.
Seafood has been the mainstay of the Kuwaiti diet for centuries. The Arabs in the Persian Gulf region played a crucial role in the spice trade between India and Europe and spices have remained an important ingredient of Kuwaiti cuisine. Food plays a large part in Kuwaiti culture. The national dish of Kuwait known as Machboos (Arabic: مكبوس) consists mainly of mutton, chicken, or fish placed over or mixed in a large mass of well-cooked and prepared rice. Food is almost always prepared and served in large amounts, and it is extremely common for households to invite guests over to share meals. Kabsa which borrows heavily from South Asian cuisine. As in other Persian Gulf states, Kuwait takes part in the tradition of Qarqe'an during the month of Ramadan.
Our Savoury Dish is the Chicken Machboos or Mechbous. The dessert challenge is Cardamom Sponge Cake, and in both dishes the Cardamom is the major spice used.
Kuwaiti Chicken Machboos or Mechbous
1 whole fryer*
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
2 or 3 whole cloves
5 black peppercorns
3 cups basmati rice (or other short-grained rice)
Onion-spice topping (hashu):
2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
¼ cup golden raisins, soaked in water
¼ tsp. ground cardamom ¼ tsp. dried black lime (loomi), or ½ tsp. lime zest
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
½ tsp. sugar
Tomato sauce (duqqus):
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp. water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tb. tomato paste
Rinse chicken inside and out. Place in a stockpot with enough water to cover. Add cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, and continue to boil uncovered over medium heat until chicken is done (approximately 40 minutes). Remove and drain the chicken, reserving broth.
Drain fat off the top of the broth and strain broth to remove spices. Prepare three cups of basmati rice according to package directions, using broth from chicken instead of water. Add salt if necessary.
While rice is cooking, cook onions in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until clear. Sprinkle with a little water and stir quickly until onions are brown and the water has evaporated. Stir in oil, drained raisins, and spices. Cook for one minute. Remove mixture from skillet and set aside.
Lightly dust the boiled, drained chicken with flour. In a clean skillet over medium-high heat, brown the chicken, turning frequently, until the outside is brown and crispy.
For the tomato sauce, add water, chopped tomatoes, crushed garlic, and tomato paste in a small skillet or saucepan, and sauté until tomatoes are soft and the sauce well blended.
When the rice is done, spread it on a serving platter. Sprinkle the onion-spice mixture over the rice, and place the chicken on top. Pass the tomato sauce to spoon onto individual plates.
*Chickens in Kuwait are much smaller than in the United States; two Cornish hens can be substituted for the fryer for a more “authentic” appearance.
*** Many Kuwaiti dishes call for loomi, which is dried and blackened lime, generally unavailable in the United States. Its flavor is strong and unique. Grated lime peel is suggested as a substitute for loomi in this recipe, but the taste will only approximate that of Mechbous made with loomi.
¾ C confectioner’s sugar
¾ C flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
A little shortening or butter for greasing the pan
1 tsp. sesame seeds
Beat eggs well in a mixing bowl. Gradually beat in sugar. Sift flour and baking powder together and mix well. Combine flour mixture with eggs and sugar. Add cardamom and saffron.
Pour mixture into a greased 8" baking pan. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 20 minutes. Cuts best with a serrated knife
Caramelized onions & raisin Tomato sauce