Fellow Human(itarian)s, Greetings...
This past weekend I took a shot at making this divine recipe for the #cookforsyria initiative- Syrian Lamb chops and green beans with pilaf rice (garlic and vermicelli cooked into the rice). Having familiarised oneself with the fundamentals of Syrian cuisine, there is one laudable aspect that bears mention: Syrian food is not necessarily spicy but it is rife and full of flavour!
On the topic of Syrian cuisine, you may (or may not yet) know that the majority of the Syrian population are practicing muslims. And as you may (or may not yet) know, muslims only cook, bake and create with Halaal ingredients. As a personal sidebar, I want to briefly engage (with you) on what "eating Halaal" means to me. By definition, Halaal translates to "permissible", the corollary of which is "Haraam", i.e. impermissible. As a practicing Muslim myself, living in Cape Town, I make a conscious choice to eat Halaal. As you may (or may not yet) know, Cape Town (and by implication South Africa) is one of the very few places in the world where its relatively easy to find Halaal... this is probably attributable to the growing Muslim population (and the warm acceptance thereof) in (and by) South Africa.
[Before I continue, allow me to clear the air around any misconceptions, Halaal food can be consumed by one and all, and is not mandated only for 'muslim' tastebuds... Anyway,]
Having said that, I find it hard to believe that many restaurants, cafés and hotels, do not cater for the growing Halaal food market, yet there seems to be a surge in the "Vegan" market... It's borderline offensive that the playing field is so uneven. This is by no means an attempt to bash the Vegan diet, I'm merely trying to foster a discourse on the issue. Opting to eat Halaal food shouldn't have to mean that you have to think twice about 'finding' a restaurant to enjoy a meal at, because the restaurant you'd prefer to go to might not cater for your 'dietary preference'. Yes, I, and many other muslims, some times choose the vegetarian option available on a particular the menu... This notwithstanding, my question ultimately is, why should we have to? Why aren't there more Halaal (or even Kosher) menus at restaurants - just like there are counters for different meats at the supermarket. I appreciate that South Africa is not a dominantly muslim country, however, South Africa is arguably the most diverse country in this day and age - and we have often come to find solace in our shared diversity.
All things considered, and back to the meat of things... I was able to make this wonderful dish and plate it within an hour (tops!), so once your meat is thawed through (or bought fresh), everything else goes rather quickly.
Recipe: Syrian lamb chops and green beans
8 lamb chops- fat removed
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion-chopped
2 large cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 small red pepper- cut and pips removed
1 teaspoon chopped dried Greek oregano
1/4 cup water
One handful of green beans- edges cut to soak in the flavour
1 can of whole totmatoes
Salt and pepper, to taste
Once the fat has been removed from the chops, brown the chops in the butter and olive oil for a few minutes on a medium heat.
Chops the onions, mince the garlic (you can use a mortar and pestle), and add these to the lambs chops, along with the bay leaves, rede pepper and Oregano.
Let the chops simmer for about 5 minutes on the medium heat.
Add the green beans- first wash thoroughly, chop the edges off.
Add the water, and canned tomatoes, and condiments.
Let is simmer for about 20 minutes with the lid on, and voila!