Hi there! Today, I am sharing one of my favorite ground beef and rice recipes: Mediterranean Hashweh Rice with Beef, Nuts, and Raisins. This is an extra special post because this dish takes me back to winter of 2000, when I first met my husband. I’ll tell you about that in a minute.
I won’t apologize that this dish does not incorporate any gingery, cranberry, or candy cane elements. This is SOOO holiday worthy; but you can still have it any time of the year.
As of the publishing of this post, we are officially 05 days, 14 hours, 20 minutes, and 50 seconds away from Christmas. If you’re really into the whole countdown thing, click on this Christmas Clock. But, if this makes you panic because you are still looking for one last quick side dish for your Christmas dinner, I am here to help! This Mediterranean Hashweh Rice would make an easy and impressive addition at your holiday table.
What is Hashweh? My four-year-old Hannah defines Hashweh Rice very fittingly as “dirty rice.” The word “hashweh,” however, means stuffing. To simplify, it’s a lamb or beef and rice dish that is quite familiar in the Middle East and parts of the Mediterranean. Places like Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Morocco, Turkey and others have variations of this dish.
Hashweh starts with medium-grain rice like Goya or these other rice options. It is cooked stove-top, so no special rice cooker required. In addition to meat, Hashweh usually incorporates toasted nuts and dried fruit; and is seasoned with great earthy spices like allspice, cinnamon, and cloves. This all makes it not so white, and therefore “dirty rice,” in the eyes of my little one:-) You can even substitute the meat with chicken or turkey; or add peas and carrots. Any way you prepare it, it is glorious! I chose to go with a beef and rice recipe that is closest to the Lebanese version of Hashweh.
My husband read this post last night and thought I was being a little too cheesy sharing about when the two of us first met. No matter.
I think some of my closest friends and family members may not even know the particulars of our romantic encounter, so here it goes. It was a cold winter night in Grand Rapids, MI, when a college friend of mine insisted we go out to dinner to this family-owned Mediterranean restaurant near campus. My friend had just returned from Egypt and was so eager to have some of the food he was introduced to on his trip. So three of us college kids went to this Mediterranean restaurant on 28th st seeking a hearty meal. Nothing more. Just a meal. There, we were greeted and waited on by the owner’s son; a young, kind, and very handsome dude. At his recommendation, I went ahead and ordered kabobs with a side of Mediterranean Hashweh Rice. He was supposed to charge me a little extra for the rice, but he did not. I wondered why?!
I returned to my dorm room that night and told my roommate that I had just met the person I believe I am going to marry! Yup, that handsome dude from the restaurant. Come to find out, Saba shared with his friends and roommates about me too! Through mutual friends, we found a way to occasionally “stumble” upon each other. A meeting of the families took place a few months later. And upon graduating college, one year and a few months from the day we met, we said “I do.”
This is probably the fist and last time that you will read a story about love and a beef and rice recipe together. Call me cheesy, crazy or whatever; I believe in love at first sight.
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Hashweh; beef and rice recipe with nuts and raisins (print-friendly recipe to follow):
Soak rice in cold water for 15 minutes or until you are easily able to break one grain of rice between your thumb and index fingers. When ready, drain well.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a heavy cooking pot. Toss chopped red onions in the oil on medium-high heat. Add ground meat and cook briefly; then season the meat mixture with 1 1/4 tsp allspice, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is fully browned (8-10 minutes); stir occasionally.
Drain the meat from fat, leaving it in the same pot.
Top the meat with the rice. Season the rice with a little salt and the remainder of the allspice, ground cloves, and cinnamon. Add 2 1/2 cups of water and 1 tbsp of olive oil.
Turn the heat to high and bring the liquid to a rolling boil. Let boil until the liquid has significantly reduced (see picture).
Now, turn the heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes until moisture has completely been absorbed, and the rice is fully cooked (no longer hard or sticky). Remove from heat.
Place a large serving platter on the opening of the rice pot. Carefully flip the pot contents onto the platter so that the meat layer now tops the rice (see picture).
Garnish with parsley, toasted pine nuts, almonds, and raisins.