I woke up this morning to hear rain viciously beating against my window. As I laid in bed, thinking about my list of things to do, I realized what I wanted to cook for dinner: maraqa. There is nothing more comforting on a cold, rainy day than a bowl of rice and maraka. While it was by no means cold (it was 101° yesterday! 88° today), it was definitely rainy. And, it’s been a while since I’ve cooked maraka.
The best way I can describe Maraka is a tomato stew to which various spices, veggies, and meats are added. When I was younger, we had some sort of maraqa at least once a week. One of my absolute favorites has always been Ka’ree. I love the spiciness of the curry, the thickness that the potato adds to the tomato sauce, and the tender beef (or chicken) that shreds into the simmered stew.
Luckily, we had all of the ingredients on hand. We often buy meat in advance, chop it, portion it, and freeze it for meals just like this. Potatoes. Check. Beef. Check. Cooking time!
I made this recipe for the first time a long time ago, back when I was a freshmen in high school or maybe even still in middle school. My mom was at work, but I called her, and had her walk me through the steps. My mom always cooks without measuring ingredients. She does everything from memory, just adding a pinch of this and a couple of spoons of that, and oh, maybe a handful of this too. Unable to comprehend this style of cooking at the time, I had begged her to write down, in quantifiable measurements, what I needed to add. I only needed that little piece of white paper once. Now, I can happily say that I cook this recipe my mother’s style: no guidelines.
1lb chuck roast
6-8 small potatoes (or 4-5 larger potatoes)
1 small onion (or half a medium onion)
6oz tomato paste
15oz tomato sauce
3-4 cups water for sauce
4 cups water for beef (cook with 2 cups at a time)
2-3 tbsp of curry
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp citric acid powder (or 2 tbs lemon juice)
1 tsp dried lime (Noomi Basra)
1 tbsp oil
1. Cut the meat into cubes, about 1 inch in size. Place the chopped meat into a pot and set heat to high.
2. Add salt, pepper, and garlic to the meat. Stir. Allow the meat to cook until all of its juices have cooked away. Then, add two cups of water, and reduce heat to medium. Allow meat to cook until all the water has cooked away. Repeat at least once or until meat is tender.
3. Once the meat is cooked and tender, remove it from the pot and set aside. Add oil and finely chopped onion and let it cook until slightly browned.
4. Once the onions have slightly browned, add curry and dried lime. Stir.
5. Add the tomato paste to the onion and spices and allow to cook or brown. It’s okay if it burns a little, it adds a nice depth to the sauce!
6. Add vinegar to the browned tomato paste.
7. Reduce heat to low (you don’t want to get splashed with hot tomato sauce!) and add the tomato sauce. Then add 3-4 cups of water, one cup at a time, stirring in between each addition. Add the chopped potatoes and cooked beef.
8. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender. Add salt, pepper, and lemon to taste. If the sauce becomes too thick, add water as needed. Serve with Basmati rice.