It’s cold. No, it’s more than cold. It’s frigid, artic, polar. This afternoon, it took me about 20 minutes, if not more, to dig out my car from the foot of snow that drifted down on south eastern Michigan. But I know that we all have similar snow stories, don’t we? To everyone venturing out into the cold. Stay warm and stay safe!
On cold days like these, eating something warm is a necessity. And a staple dish in Chaldean households is maraka. I have a few maraka recipes to share already: qarnabeet (cauliflower with potatoes and curry), bomya (okra), ka’ree (curry), and now, lobia (long green beans). The difference between lobia and fasoolia (green beans) is not much. They are both long , thin, and green. Lobia, however, has a much stronger taste than green beans. I enjoy green beans, but sometimes they are just bland. Lobia is not. These beans have a much earthier flavor and are hardier. Even after cooking for a long time, they don’t mush as easily as green beans.
Marakas follow the same formula. You have beef that is cooked, tomato paste or sauce, and then some sort of vegetable. Once cooked all together, the final product is served with basmati rice. Makes for a simple yet filling meal. For this particular recipe, I will guiltily admit that I did not cook it. My brother, the famous chef in our family, is the author of this recipe. He’s a pro, especially when it comes to cooking things authentically.
6oz (1 can) tomato paste
1 medium onion
2 pounds long green beans
1.5 pounds beef
2-3 cloves of garlic, halved (or quartered, depending on the size)
3-4 cups water
salt and pepper
In a pot, place the chopped meat and set heat to high. 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.
Wash the lobia, and then cut the beans into roughly one inch chunks. Add the chopped lobia to a pot and cover with water. Boil on medium to high heat, allowing the lobia to cook until tender.
Once the meat is cooked, remove it from the pot and set aside. Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in the pot. Add the onions and lightly sprinkle with salt. Let the onions cook until they are lightly browned. Add 6 ounces of tomato paste and chopped garlic. Mash the paste to the bottom of the pot, allowing it to sear. Browning the tomato sauce gives the stew a much deeper flavor, as opposed to simply adding water.
When the tomato sauce has browned, add about 3 cups of water to the pot, the cooked lobia, and the cooked meat. Stir. Let all of the ingredients boil together for about 5 minutes. Taste, add salt, pepper, and lemon as desired.