My father is proudly from Ghariyan, a mountain town, 100km south of Tripoli, Libya. 46 years in Britain has never shaken his love for home, and with it comes the most delicious cuisine which he often cooks up for us all. Today I share with you quite possibly my favourite (so hard to choose!): Libyan Sharba. A North African staple, particularly for a Ramadan ‘iftar’ dinner when it feels like a full meal in one slurp.
We are cooking for up to 10 people, but it’s also great to batch cook and eat for a couple of days as the flavour enriches.
- Virgin Olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 red onion medium sliced
- 2 white onions medium sliced
- 5 fresh tomatoes whole, in a bowl of boiling water for 20 minutes, until the skin peels cleanly off
- 1/4 tube tomato puree
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp chilli powder
- 2 tsp salt (we are using Himalayan rock)
- 2 tsp oregano
- 3 tsp mint
- Handful of Lisan al Asfoor – birds tongue – or commonly known as Orzo.
- 200g fresh spring lamb small diced pieces
- Generous handfuls of fresh parsley, mint, coriander, chopped
Begin by peeling the tomato skins off and discarding, mashing the rest into a pulp, adding the tomato puree, and keeping the water as this holds the flavour!
In a large stove top pot with a lid, coat the base of the pan generously with olive oil. Brown the onions and garlic.
Once this is nicely glistening, add the meat, to brown.
Add salt and spices and oregano, coating everything to a beautiful amber hue, on a medium to high flame.
Add in the tomato pulp in all its water and leave on high to boil. Once it is boiling, lower the heat and leave for an hour or so. You will see the oil separate from the water which is a good sign!
Taste for salt at this stage and add to your preference, then top up with 500ml of boiling water as it will be reducing down.
Leave to simmer for another 45 minutes, add the fresh herbs and dried mint, and 5 minutes before serving add the Lisan al Asfoor / Orzo.
Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon. A large piece of fresh bread is also a perfect accompaniment!
Enjoy, and do let us know in the comments below how you get on if you try it at home.
Love and Light,