In our second round of the MENA Cooking Club Challenge, we arrive to the B in Bahrain. The name of this small Arabian Gulf country literally translates into two seas, which is fitting and a huge clue to the local food. Bahrain is in fact barely a teenage in historical age, and used to be part of the larger Ahsa region before the division by British conquests.
Today, the Persians and the Arabs have Bahrain smack in the middle of their tug-of-war. The island-country has long been claimed by the Arabs, and have an Arab king, but fair play is not in the Persian's dictionary. Politics aside, Bahrain's sheer geographical location makes the merge of cultures unavoidable, which shows up beautifully in their cuisine. Clear influences from various neighboring countries is evident, and the Iraqi influence over this crusty pumpkin rices is evidence of that. I used butternut squash because it is less watery than pumpkin when cooked, plus all the pumpkins are good for the non-physiological sicknesses of the heart. In our beloved Prophet's (ص) Sunna, pumpkin is prescribed to heavy hearts, sad hearts, and sick hearts. Pumpkin stew was actually one of our beloved Mohammed's (ص) favorite foods.
2 cups Basmati rice
3 tsp salt
10 cups water
1 small butternut squash
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp butter
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil (same as cooking pasta) and boil your rinsed rice for 7 minutes.
Drain the lot and let the rice sit in the strainer while preparing the following.
Peel and cut the butternut squash into 1/4 inch rounds.
In the same pot you boiled the rice in, heat the oil over med-high heat and place the butternut rounds to cover the base and bring to a sizzle.
Salt the butternut and sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon. Return the rice to the pot over the butternut without compressing it.
Dot the surface with the butter. Cover the lid of the pot with a towel.
Cover the pot with the towel-lid, bring the heat down to low, and let steam for 45 minutes.
You now have perfect fluffy steamed rice.
To serve, flip the pot on your serving dish with the unbelievably chewey, caramelized, golden butternut squash rounds on top surrounded by the crispy crunchy rice. A feast of taste and textures for sure.
صحة و عافية