Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Olympic Food Challenge: Azerbaijan - Musembe

When I sat down to meal plan for the Olympic Food Challenge I made sure that we wouldn't be eating the same thing two days in a row.  I separated out the beef dishes, the fish dishes and the chicken dishes.  It appears that I wasn't paying attention to what the meals consisted of.  Tonight's meal from Azerbaijan, is the third meal in four days to consist of meat and vegetables braised in a turmeric rich sauce.

Unlike the previous two meals Musembe requires a little construction rather than throwing everything into a pan.  The meat* is cooked in water until it is tender before turmeric and cinnamon are added.  Once the spices have been stirred into the beef, the vegetables (onion, aubergine, tomato, pepper and potato) are layered into the pan so that they steam over the meat for the rest of the cooking time.

I was a little concerned that the dish would dry out, but the liquid that the vegetables gave off produced enough liquid to finish cooking the beef** and make a great sauce.  Luckily for us we had a guest around for tea tonight, as I ended up cooking enough for a handball team.  H has been following Tonight's Menu for some time and was not in the slightest bit phased by an Azerbaijani dish that she knew nothing about.

The layering of the dish meant that its preparation took more time than I had anticipated, but it meant that the girls had plenty of time to "catch up" before we sat down to eat.  I only wish that I hadn't been so fastidious with the layering as my tetris like tessellation was destroyed as soon as the dish was served.  We plumped for wild rice to have with the musembe and there is still a portion left over.  As Azerbaijan is famed for its soup, it seems only fitting that the leftovers are headed in that direction.

For the record, Azerbaijan have already won a bronze medal in weightlifting.  Go Azerbaijan!

*I chose beef over mutton or lamb, mainly because Z doesn't like lamb and we have mutton coming up later.
**I used a combination of braising steak and shin beef.

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