Bazeen, an Amazigh dish most often made from barley, is one of the most distinctive North African dishes. It is a staple in Western Libya, and often served for lunch on Fridays. There are variations on the basic lamb bazeen, serving it with stews featuring camel meat, chicken, squid or broad beans. A favourite winter variation is Bazeen served with Hassa soup made with dried meat (gideed). The most well-known Bazeen is made of a mixture of 3 parts barley flour to 1 part wheat flour. The flour is cooked in salted water to make a hard dough, and then formed into a rounded, smooth dome, with the tomato sauce, potatoes, boiled eggs around it, the mushroom shown in the picture is my addition, not part of the original recipe. An untraditional alternative is to serve bazeen as dumplings in a stew.
about 1 kilo meat (preferably shoulder and leg of lamb)
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
500g pumpkin cut into medium sized cubes (optional)
for the dough
1 kilo barley flour
1/4 kilo plain / wheat flour
1 tbspoon salt
about 11/2 litre boiling water ( more as needed )
Pour the olive oil in a pot.
Add the fenugreek, onion and chillies to the pot. Stir and cook until the onion begins to soften.
Add the meat to the pot.
Add the spices and mix.
Add the roughly chopped garlic cloves.
Add tomato paste, mix well.
Add about 1/2 litre of boiling water. Cook on low heat for about 15 minutes then add another litre of boiling water and cook on medium heat for further 45 minutes
Add potatoes halves, cook on low heat, meanwhile prepare the dough
Mix the barley with the plain flour in a deep bowl.
In a deep pot, pour 1 litre of boiling water and add 1 tbsp salt.
Pour in the barley mix, all at once.
With a wooden spoon, push in the edges, creating an island of flour in the middle of the pot, allowing the water to bubble around it. Do not disturb the flour in the middle. Do not cover the pot.
Stick a wooden spoon in the middle of the island, and move the spoon a little so the water can bubble up inside, then do not disturb. Leave the dough to cook for 45 minutes on medium heat.
Hard-boil 6 eggs.
Test the potatoes. They should be just cooked, firm rather than mushy! Remove the sauce from heat at this point.
After 45 minutes the dough should be ready. Using the wooden spatula mix well with the water in the pot, you might need to add more hot water to make a medium hard dough. Using the spatula press the dough against the edges of the pot to remove any lumps. The best way to do this is to place the pot in the sink, holding it against a corner with one hand to get a good purchase.
If you have a machine that will knead bread dough then it will handle bazeen fine, and you will get a smooth ball of dough in minutes.
Test the dough by pressing it in your fist and checking if it holds together well. Remove the dough from the pot. Place in a large flat serving bowl and knead it to get rid of the lumps, then form into a ball. If there are deep cracks you need to knead it again.
Form the bazeen by placing your palm on the ball and rolling in circular motions around the dish until you have a smooth dome with a flat base.
Press the edges down to make the dough stick to the dish.
Pour the tomato sauce around the dough. Arrange the meat, potatoes, and pumpkin if used. Peel and add the six hardboiled eggs. Bazeen is served with fresh chillies and lemon and is typically eaten in a communal dish, using the right hand.