Michigan weather is constantly changing. One day it’s 10 degrees with the windchill making it -14, and the next day, it’s raining and 40 degrees. Rain or snow, this weather still mandates warm bowlfuls of comfort. In a Chaldean household, comfort food usually means riza oo maraka, rice with some sort of stew. Growing up, and even today, I would say that the marakas we cooked most often were ka’ree (curry), bomya (okra), fasoolya (green beans), or spinakh (spinach). Ka’ree is definitely one of my favorites, but settled on something different this time around. I’ve been obsessing over cauliflower this winter, so I decided to try a maraka with qarnabeet (cauliflower).
When I asked my mom about it, she said that I could flavor the maraka with just salt, pepper, and lemon, or I could also add a bit of curry. I went with the curry flavoring; in case you haven’t noticed, I really like spices, especially on a cold winter day! Overall, I would say that this dish came out splendidly. One bunch of cauliflower turned out to be a lot more than I expected for the small batch that I cooked, but hey, I’m not complaining about more cauliflower! Also, next time I make this dish, I might up the spiciness factor.
1 bunch cauliflower
1 tomato, diced
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 small onion, diced
2 tsp curry
2 cups water
salt and pepper
1 pound chicken breast, chopped into thin chunks (or beef chuck)
- Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and lemon. (About 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 2 tbs lemon). The chicken will have more flavor if you let it marinate for at least a few hours, but no worries if you’re short on time.
- In a small pot, heat a few teaspoons of oil. Add the chicken pieces, cooking them on medium-high heat. I recommend cooking the chicken in batches; when you cook too many pieces at once, the chicken doesn’t get a nice golden sear.
- After the chicken have finished cooking, remove them from the pot. Add a few more teaspoons of oil, and add the diced onions. Let the onions cook on medium heat until they have become translucent or golden brown. Add the diced tomatoes. After a few minutes add 2 tsp of curry, and stir. Add about 1/2 of the tomato sauce, and let it brown in the pan. Browning the tomato sauce gives the stew so much more flavor! Add the rest of the tomato sauce, 2 cups of water, cauliflower, and chicken. (I cooked the chicken in bigger chunks so it wouldn’t dry out, but I chopped the chicken into smaller pieces before adding it to the stew) Stir.
- Let the maraka boil for about 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender.
- Serve with white rice or bulgur.