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Tharid (Arabian Meat and Vegetable Stew Over Crispy Bread)

Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8
Tharid (Arabian Meat and Vegetable Stew Over Crispy Bread)
Vegetables and lamb simmer in an aromatic stew that moistens crisp flatbread in this Arabian dish.
(Kristin Perers / For The Times)
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Tharid is the Arabian Gulf version of the Levantine fatteh, made with a lot more bread and topped with a hearty meat and vegetable stew. It is said to have been the prophet Muhammad’s favorite dish and is a staple during Ramadan, being an essential part of the iftar meal. Whereas bread is an equal component of fatteh, the whole point of tharid is that bread be a substantial part of the dish. In the Gulf, the bread used is regag (see below) but this is not readily available in the United States. The nearest you can get to it is toasting markouk (handkerchief bread) or very thin lavash until it is completely crisp, then breaking it up and using it as with regag. Both markouk and lavash will require more broth to soften, so make sure you add enough broth to moisten the bread before topping it with the meat and vegetables.

Tharid (Arabian Meat and Vegetable Stew Over Crispy Bread)

1

Place the meat, caul fat and water in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Drain off the broth and pour the same amount of clean water over the meat. This will ensure you have a clean-tasting broth.

2

Combine the tomatoes, fresh ginger, garlic and onion in a food processor and process until completely puréed. Add the tomato purée to the lamb along with the tomato paste, dried limes, bay leaves, chiles and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, until the lamb is tender, about 1 hour.

3

Add the carrots and potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for 10 more minutes.

4

Break up 2 sheets of regag or 1 sheet of toasted handkerchief bread in a shallow serving dish. Pour enough lamb broth over the bread to let it become soft but not soupy. Spread another layer of broken bread and add more broth. Make another layer, softening the bread with broth until you have a fairly thick layer of moistened bread, about 2 inches/5 cm deep.

5

Arrange the meat and vegetables over the bread and serve immediately.

B'zar (Arabian Spice Mixture)

1

Combine the peppercorns, cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, chiles and nutmeg in a spice grinder and process until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the ginger and turmeric. Transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Note: Regag is a very thin crisp bread from the Arabian Gulf that is made by rolling a ball of loose dough over a hot plate to leave a thin film that is scraped off as soon as it becomes crisp and golden. Some of the older ladies who make it seem oblivious to the intense heat of the plate so close to their hand and are very adept at rolling the dough, but younger ones use a flat plastic panel (or sometimes a DVD case) to roll the dough over the hot plate. Regag is delicious but rather difficult to make, not unlike warqa or brik, both of which use the same principle of leaving a thin film of dough on a hot plate. The difference is that regag is crisp and eaten on its own or broken up and used as a bed for a stew, while warqa is soft and pliable and used to make a variety of savory filled pastries.

Adapted from Anissa Helou.