KARACHI: If you’re looking for something new to add to your Ramadan menu, prominent Pakistani chef Gulzar Hussain has a “unique” suggestion: a popular, one-pot rice dish from the Gulf region called Ruz al Bukhari.
A cousin of Kabsa, an Arab mixed rice dish, Raz al Bukhari is said to derive its name from a city situated in Central Asia called Bukhara, part of modern-day Uzbekistan and a major trading hub on the Silk Road. Ruz Bukhari is typically made with chicken, lamb, or mutton, with the rice cooked in the aromatic broth of the boiled meat. The spices used include cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, and black pepper.
“It [Ruz al Bukhari] is a very popular recipe in the Middle East,” said Hussain, a cooking show host at Aaj Entertainment who brings a variety of cuisines from all over the world into Pakistani kitchens with easy-to-execute recipes.
“It is made in a pot in the style of pulao (rice dish) with an Arabic taste. One can consume it for iftar dinner as well as in sehri if they like to eat rice.”
Hussain said Bukhari rice, another name for the dish, was a healthy iftar and sehri option “for the entire family” as it used little oil and mild spices.
But to add some extra zing to the recipe for Pakistani tastebuds, the chef suggested adding green chili paste to the original recipe.
“Ruz al Bukhari has everything but the spice level that Pakistanis crave,” said Hussain.
The ingredients for Ruz al Bukhari, according to Hussain, include 500 grams of rice, 700 grams of beef, 250 grams of chickpeas, an onion, 2-3 carrots and cloves of garlic each grated, one teaspoon of cumin, one teaspoon of crushed black pepper, half a cup of tomato paste, half a teaspoon of crushed cardamom, two pieces of cinnamon, two to three tablespoons of oil, and salt to taste.
Hussain explained that you start by pouring oil into a pan and frying cinnamon in it and then adding onion, garlic, and beef.
“Toss it well, before adding tomato paste, black pepper, cardamom, cumin seeds, and salt,” Hussain said.
“Once [the mixture] has dried and leaves off oil, add water and leave the beef to boil. When the beef is almost tender and the broth is ready, add rice to it. Once the rice is cooked, add chickpea and leave it for a few minutes. Then add carrots and mix well before dishing it out.”
Ruz al Bukhari tastes best when served hot, the chef added and could be topped off with nuts and dried fruits.
“It is a different dish to make on Eid too,” Hussain said. “It will make your guests feel special.”