Growing up in the middle east, you become very familiar with the small bowl of vegetable broth that comes out with most meals to accompany your rice or maftool or freekah. My work has seen me manage humanitarian and development programmes across the middle east, and I have been lucky enough to be invited to eat with many communities we have worked with. Whether a small farm in Iraq, a priest’s house in Egypt or a refugee camp in Gaza you always get a lovely bowl of broth, called mara’ in Arabic. It’s usually the juices that the meat has been cooked in with vegetables added to it. If you are making maftool, you would use the chicken juices for this. However, if you don’t eat meat or you are taking a shortcut you can use vegetable stock, which is the recipe I am sharing here.
1 courgette, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
4 fresh plum on-vine plum tomatoes
2 pints veg stock
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp tomato puree
Extra virgin olive oil
Soften the vegetables (minus the tomato) in the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat for a few minutes
Add the tomato and cook for a further few minutes
Add the stock, puree, bay leaves and bring to the boil
Reduce heat and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Serve hot.