Recipes from the Books

Bazeen – A doughy ball of barley in the midst of stew-like yummies.

This recipe is taken almost whole from the Libyan Food Blog, just converted to American units, and the directions modified by the style of my particular kitchen.

For the stew:
2 lbs meat*
1 large chopped onion
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp fenugreek
1 tbsp tumeric
1 tbsp red chilli
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 large garlic clove
2 chopped fresh green chillies*
3-4 medium potatoes peeled and halved
4-6 boiled eggs, peeled
3-4 cups pumpkin cut into medium sized cubes (optional)
6 cups water


For the dough:
4 ¼ cups barley flour
1 ¾ all purpose wheat flour
1 tbsp salt
6 1/3 cups boiling water (more as needed)

Place your olive oil in a good sized soup pot and turn the heat to medium. Add the fenugreek, onion, and chillies to the pot. Cook until the onion begins to soften. Add the meat, then the spices, garlic, and tomato paste, stirring well after each addition.

Once it’s mixed well, pour in two cups of boiling water. Cook on low heat for fifteen minutes. Add another four cups of water and cook on low for about forty-five minutes longer. Add in the potatoes. Cook on low for about another half hour. Watch your meat-stew-mix; the potatoes should be cooked, but not mushy. Remove from the heat when the potatoes are ready.

Meanwhile, prepare the dough. Get a deep pot and boil 4 ¼ cups of water (1 liter). Once its boiling, add the tbs of salt. Mix the barely flour and all purpose wheat flour together in a large bowl. Pour the flour all at once into the pot of boiling water. Do not stir! Take a wooden spoon and pull the flour away from the sides, piling it into an island (looking somewhat volcano like) in the middle of the pot. Stick your wooden spoon in the center of your flour island and give it just enough of a stir for the water to bubble up a little inside the island (let your volcano erupt!). Turn your heat to medium low, do not cover, and leave your island of loose flour boiling alone for forty-five minutes. (This is a point in the recipe that I divert just a little from the real Libyan cook, so use your own judgment on this. I’ve made this recipe a total of two times, and find myself adding a little extra boiling water toward the thirty minute mark, to keep just a little liquid in the pot and stop the flour from burning on the bottom.)

After the forty-five minutes are finished, mix your flour into whatever water might be left in the pot with your wooden spoon. It will be dry. Place it in your mixer with the bread dough hook, and add boiling water. Start with a cup at a time, kneading well with the hook before you add more. You are watching for a fairly smooth ball of dough. I have to add quite a bit of water, maybe even another liter (about four cups).

Once it starts balling, remove it from the mixer and roll it with your hands on a large platter or bowl (something that will hold both the barley dough ball and the stew). Get the cracks out as you can, roll it into a pretty ball, and stick it to the center of your platter. Arrange the meat, sauce, potatoes, eggs, and pumpkin (if using) around the barley ball. Enjoy as a communal meal, pinching off pieces of dough and dipping it in the delicious sauce!

*Notes on Ingredients:
The recipe states “preferably shoulder and leg of lamb,” and I think that would be such fun. So far I have not used lamb, as it is harder to find in my area. I’ve used stew meat cuts of beef.
Lazy shopper who heralds from New Mexico; I suggest roasted green chilis instead of fresh work all right.

*Notes on Variations:
Next time I make it I’m going to enjoy changing the spice amounts according to our personal taste, and plan to put some of the spices in the barley loaf itself. As it is, the dough ball is yummy, but just a bit bland. Now that I’ve made it authentic a couple of times, I look forward to playing with the bazeen ball and making it our own Smith style.

A Few Select Favorite Quotes

"To be a good ruler one must be the best of servants." – Aaron Gruben, King

"Nearly all the best and most precious things in the universe you can get for a halfpenny. I make an exception, of course, of the sun, the moon, the earth, people, stars, thunderstorms, and such trifles. You can get them for nothing." - G.K. Chesterton

"'Sometimes in the middle of the night, the sun can seem like it was only ever dream. We need something to remind us that it still exists, even if we can't see it. We need something beautiful hanging in the dark sky to remind us there is such a thing as daylight. Sometimes, Queen Sara’ - Armulyn strummed his whistle harp – ‘music is the moon.''" -Andrew Peterson, The Warden and the Wolf King

"The heart is as insatiable as the grave till Jesus enters it, and then it is a cup full to overflowing." – Spurgeon

"Bah! If a Frenchman can get on his knees, two Americans ought to be able to get on their feet." - Michel Ardan from Jules Vern's Round the Moon