Tashreeb is the name given to any dish with broth-soaked bread topped with meat or vegetables. This is because the word "tashreeb" in Arabic means "to soak", making it a very fitting name! It is a very rustic Iraqi concept that started out as a dish made by the poor who were able to put whatever they had to hand in the stew and then serve it over bread in order to make it filling. Nowadays, it has become a staple in many Iraqi and Middle Eastern households and for good reason; it is absolutely delicious!
This dish has many variations and differs from one family to another. This recipe was given to me by my husband's aunt who was taught it by her Iraqi in-laws. Although the ingredients seem very basic, the combination is incredibly flavourful and comforting you'll want to eat it over and over again.
When cooking this dish, using lamb chunks on the bone means you'll have a richer and more concentrated broth, but feel free to use boneless lamb chunks if you prefer. Make sure you skim off any impurities that may rise to the surface once the meat comes to a boil to ensure you have a pure and clear broth to work with, since it is the base of the dish.
In Iraq, the bread used for Tashreeb is usually an Iraqi flatbread, but in London, I found that the closest bread to it is the Iranian Sangak bread, which usually comes in the form of thin bread shaped into a large rectangle. If all else fails, you could also use naan or pita bread, although it won't be exactly the same.
When making Tashreeb, make sure you taste it as it is cooking and adjust it to your taste. Everyone likes their stews in a particular way and using different spice blends means that you may need more or less of a specific spice, so do make sure you taste the dish regularly.
I chose to serve the dish in a large platter merely for the visual affect, but it is more traditionally served individually. Each person usually tears up some of the bread and places it in their plate, then ladles the stew over the bread. It can then be eaten with a spoon or you could use the bread to scoop up the stew. Also, if you prefer, you could serve the stew over some rice, although it is not customary.
With the weather cooling down, this recipe is perfect to have in your repertoire. I hope you guys love it as much as I do!
- 1kg lamb chunks (on the bone)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 5 cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick, halved
- 1 piece mastic, crushed
- ½ onion, sliced
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 onions, sliced into half moons
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 can chickpeas
- 2 pieces lumi (dried limes), pierced
- 1½ tbsp mixed spices
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Flatbread (I used Iranian Sangak)
- In a large pot, brown the meat in the olive oil, add the spices, onion and mastic and add enough water to cover the meat by three inches. Cook until tender.
- Drain the meat and reserve the stock. Set both aside.
- In the same large pot, add the butter and sauté the onions. Add a pinch of salt to soften the onions and to stop them from caramelising.
- Once softened, add the tomatoes, chickpeas, lumi, mixed spice and curry powder. Sauté together for a few minutes and then add the tomato paste. Make sure to mix the paste in very well and cook for a few minutes before adding the meat stock.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the onions and tomatoes are softened and the stew is slightly thickened.
- This dish is traditionally served individually. The bread is torn in each plate and then topped with the stew. If you would prefer, you can serve it in a large serving dish. Make sure to squeeze the lumi juices over the plate and enjoy!