Lucy Ayoub grew up in a blended family: her mother is the daughter of Holocaust survivors from Romania, while her father grew up in the Christian Arab community. In her family, it’s customary to serve hashweh rice at funerals — the filling of the mahshi (stuffed vegetables such as zucchini or onions). At Schmaltzy, a recent storytelling event at Asif, she shared how after returning from a vacation abroad, her father brought the dish to the table as a way of sharing the news that her maternal grandmother had passed away.
500 grams (1.1lb) basmati rice, washed and drained
For the yogurt-tahini sauce:
⅓ cup raw tahini
½ lemon, juiced
½ cup sheep milk yogurt
½ cup water
Salt, to taste
Prepare thekifteh: Preheat the oven to 200C/ 400F degrees in fan mode (if the fan mode is not available, preheat the oven to 210C/425F).
Place all the ingredients except for the samneh in a bowl and using your hands, mix well to a paste-like dough. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your taste (either taste the raw meat, or fry a little of the mixture and taste).
Generously grease a roasting pan with olive oil and spread the meat in an even layer. Arrange the sliced tomato, onion and chili pepper (if using) on top. Drizzle the samneh and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 160C/ 350F and roast for 35 minutes (the high heat browns the meat on the outside, while the low heat keeps the kifteh tender on the inside).
Prepare thehashweh: Heat olive oil and butter (or samneh) in a wide pot over a high heat. Add the minced meat and fry until browned. Add half the amount of all of the spices and mix well.
Add the drained rice and the remaining spices and mix well. Add 3½ cups (850ml) water, mix and taste the water, adding more salt if necessary. Cover, bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.
Reduce to a low heat, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and use a wooden spoon handle to make three holes in the rice, to release heat and steam. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes.
Prepare the sauce: Using a fork, whisk all the ingredients into a runny sauce.
To serve: Serve the rice with the kifteh and drizzle the sauce on top. It’s served with a fresh vegetable salad on the side.