Bazeen

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Bazin.jpg

Bazeen (pronounced [baːˈziːn]; also spelt bazin; Arabic: بازين‎) is a starchy Libyan food. The main ingredient is barley flour; this is sometimes mixed with wheat flour. Bazeen is typically served with a tomato sauce, eggs, potatoes and mutton.

Originally the staple food of the western arable regions of Libya, it is now well-known all over Libya, and is usually only eaten on special days such as Friday.

The bazeen dough is made of a mixture of barley flour (200 grams per person) and plain flour (15 grams per person). The flour is boiled in salted water to make a hard dough, and then made into a rounded, smooth dome placed in the middle of the dish.

The old way of making bazeen is to form the dough into palm-size cakes and cook in water in a special copper pot called a qidir. The barley cakes, having become solid, are then broken up in the pot with a large, flat, wooden ladle and mixed to form one large piece. Nowadays, a blender is often used, or the dough is cooked immediately in water like a pudding.

The bazeen sauce is made of frying the meat (preferably shoulder or leg) with chopped onions, turmeric, salt, chilli powder, helba (fenugreek), sweet paprika, black pepper and tomato paste. Broad beans, lentils and potatoes may also be added. The sauce, shelled eggs, potatoes and meat are arranged around the dough dome. The dish is typically served with lemon and fresh or pickled (imsaiyar) chillies.1

1 It is said that imsaiyar chillies are best suited to couscous due to the drier texture of the food, and not bazeen; green chillies are the more traditional option for bazeen.

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